William Henry Aspinwall (1807-1875)

Founder of the Pacific Mail Steamship Co., & the Panama Canal Railway

Associated Houses

Rockwood Hall


William Aspinwall was primarily a shipping merchant; considered honest and pious, he was also a fearless international entrepreneur and an avid art collector who co-founded the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Both sides of his family were prominent in shipping and when his parents married in 1803 their two firms merged to create Howland & Aspinwall, generating huge profits in the Chinese Opium trade and dominating the trade across the Pacific Ocean. By 1837, the fortune of William Aspinwall was said to have been greater than that of Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877). From 1860, he lived at Rockwood Hall and he and his wife were the parents of five children. 
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 20/12/2018 and last updated on 01/04/2022.