Fernando Alfonso Yznaga (1850-1901)

Fernando A. Yznaga, Financier, of New York City

He was best friends with William Kissam Vanderbilt who was married to Alva, the sister of Fernando's wife, Jennie. He died unexpectedly young, and was given a full obituary in The New York Times on March 7, 1901:

"Fernando Yznaga, who died yesterday at the Minturn Hospital from diphtheria, was one of the best-known men in New York and foreign society and club life. His sudden death produced a great shock in this city, where he had many friends. Mr. Yznaga was one of the most entertaining of men, very clever at epigram and repartee, and famous for quaint sayings. His life had been quite adventurous and, from a domestic point of view, somewhat of a stormy nature.

He was the only son of the late Antonio Yznaga del Valle. His mother was from Louisiana and a member of a well-known family there. She was a Miss Clement. His father for years was a merchant in New York. He was a Cuban by birth, holding large estates in that island, and engaged in the Cuban trade. He belonged to the well-known family of Yznaga del Valle, many members of which have lived in New York and other American cities.

Fernando Yznaga was educated abroad. His father went out of business and settled in Louisiana on a plantation near Lake Concordia. The family lived there and in Cuba for a number of years, and they were all well known in New Orleans society. Fernando Yznaga remained in that city until about the year 1880. He had three sisters. The eldest of these, the beautiful Consuelo Yznaga, and her mother passed part of the year, after she grew up, in New York and its vicinity. They have many relatives here. Mrs. Yznaga had a small house in East Orange, and it was there, after mother and daughter had met Lord Mandeville, that they nursed this nobleman through an attack of African fever. A short time after that Consuelo Yznaga married the heir of the Duke of Manchester.

Fernando Yznaga came to New York to live just after his sister's marriage. It was here that he met Miss Jenny Smith, the sister of Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt. Lady Mandeville and Mrs. Vanderbilt were very intimate friends, and shortly after the meeting Mr. Yznaga married Miss Smith. Becoming the brother-in-law of Mr. Vanderbilt, the foundation of his fortune was established. It is said that one of his wedding presents was a seat on the Stock Exchange and he entered into the firm of H.B. Hollins & Co., who have always done a great deal of the Vanderbilt brokerage business. Fernando Yznaga and William K. Vanderbilt remained very devoted friends through all the domestic complications which followed, and Mr. Yznaga was generally one of the guests on the many cruises of the Valiant. In fact, Winfield Hoyt, Mr. Yznaga, and Louis Webb were frequently referred to as the "Three Vanderbilt Musketeers." as they were always seen together and with William K. Vanderbilt. Mr. and Mrs. Yznaga did not live very happily, and fifteen years ago they were divorced. Mrs. Yznaga remarried, her second husband being William George Tiffany of the Baltimore family of that name. They are living at Maison Lafitte, near Paris. 

Society was astonished about twelve years ago to hear of the announcement of the engagement of Miss Mabel Wright and Fernando Yznaga. Miss Wright had appeared with Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt at the opera on a Friday evening, and her engagement was then announced to her friends. Miss Wright was a very beautiful girl. She had appeared at some charity entertainment and had made a sensation with her beauty. Her father was a designer of carpets for the Higgins Mills. He and his daughter lived very quietly in a boarding house. Miss Wright's face was her fortune, and after a trip to Narragansett and a short visit to Newport she became the toast of the season. The wedding was quietly celebrated in less than a week from the announcement of the engagement. The ceremony took place at the house where Mr. Wright and his family boarded, and Mr. and Mrs. Yznaga sailed the following day for Europe.

On their return to this country they lived in New York and at Tuxedo. About six years ago there were again rumors of domestic unhappiness. This culminated when Mrs. Yznaga went to Dakota and secured a divorce. Soon after this she married Count Zichy, at St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church. The Count and Countess Zichy are living in Hungary, where the Count's family have large estates. The Count was a well-known figure in Newport society for several Summers. His wife became a Roman Catholic at the time of her marriage to him, and she had the previous marriage with Mr. Yznaga annulled by the Church.

For the past six years, since Mr. Yznaga had been a second time divorced, he had been out a great deal in society. His brother-in-law, William K. Vanderbilt, also divorced, had him as an almost constant companion. There have been several rumors of his intention to marry a third time, but Mr. Yznaga always treated these stories lightly. It was even announced, only a few weeks ago that he would marry Mrs. Constance Biddle, a woman recently divorced from her husband, and who had gone on the stage. The report was denied.

Mr. Yznaga was an excellent business man, and is said to have made a fortune in Wall Street. He was a member of the Union and Tuxedo Clubs, as well as one of the original members of the Metropolitan Club, where he lived.

Surviving Mr. Yznaga are his mother, Mrs. Antonio Yznaga, who is at present on her Southern plantation, and three sisters, the eldest the widowed Duchess of Manchester, known here so well as Lady Mandeville; Natica, Lady Lister Kaye and Emily, who is unmarried. They are all abroad. Mr. Yznaga last year made a Winter trip to Davos, where he was with his sister, the Duchess of Manchester, at the death of her only surviving daughter. He had never seemed a very strong man since then, and it is thought by those who heard yesterday of his sudden death, that his constitution had never recovered from the long, nervous strain which he went through at that time. He left no children."


Contributed by Mark Meredith on 15/10/2018 and last updated on 18/07/2019.