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Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Consummate Gentleman: Winthrop Rutherfurd and Some of His Leading Ladies

The press was enamored of many dashing gentlemen during the Gilded Age, but no one quite so much as Winthrop Rutherfurd.  "Winty" was tall, handsome, and of good stock.  His father, Lewis Morris Rutherfurd, was a pioneering astronomer, but Winthrop also descended directly from Peter Stuyvesant who was the head of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, and from John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts.  Edith Wharton once referred to him as the "prototype of my first novels." Perhaps she thought of him as she wrote male characters who she wanted to portray the discreet proper gentleman or ideal suitor.  Rutherfurd visited Staatsburgh multiple times and his family became connected to the Mills family when his niece married Ogden Livingston Mills in 1911.

Winthrop Rutherfurd, circa 1895

His three best-known loves span different eras of his life, but there were also probably countless others that never became public record.  How many women succumbed to the charms of Winthrop Rutherfurd?  We may never know....