George Lauder (Scottish industrialist)

George Lauder (November 11, 1837 – August 24, 1924) was a Scottish industrialist. A trained engineer, he was the "cousin-brother" of steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and a partner in the Carnegie Steel Corporation.[1] The sale of Carnegie Steel to J.P. Morgan created U.S. Steel where Lauder was on the board of directors. This was the first corporation in the world with a market capitalization exceeding US$1 Billion.[2]

George Lauder
BornNovember 11, 1837
Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
DiedAugust 24, 1924 (aged 86)
Greenwich, Connecticut, United States
Resting placePutnam Cemetery
Other namesDod
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
OccupationMechanical Engineering, Business magnate
Known forRevolutionizing the steel industry as a partner at the Carnegie Steel Corporation and later with U.S. Steel
Net worthUSD $19 Billion (in 2018 dollars)
Spouse(s)Anna Maria Romeyn Varick
ChildrenGeorge Lauder Jr., Harriet Lauder Greenway, Elizabeth Storm Lauder
Parent(s)George Lauder, Sr. & Seaton Morrison
FamilyLauder Greenway Family

Early years

George Lauder was the son of George Lauder, Sr.. and Seaton Morrison. His father, a local shop owner on the high street, also known for his commitment to Scottish nationalism, egalitarian democracy, and the Chartism cause. He was a keen radical for the time, championing the preservation of human and public rights which led to the Reform Acts of 1836. Very well read, Lauder Sr. was instrumental in the upbringing of his only son George, as well as his nephew Andrew Carnegie.[3]

Lauder Jr. and Carnegie were two years apart in age and best friends as a result of their shared experiences. They affectionately referred to one another as "Dod" and "Naig" (respectively),[4] due to their mutual inability to full say each other's names as young children. After Andrew and his family left for America, George stayed in Scotland where he would go on to graduate from Glasgow University with a degree in mechanical engineering while studying under Lord Kelvin.[3]

Business life

In 1873, Carnegie wrote to Lauder, who, despite still living in Scotland, had never ceased to be his closest confidant and advisor, to inquire about a term used in a new contract for the steel for use in the new Eads Bridge in St. Louis, Missouri. The term unknown to Carnegie was 'the modulus of elasticity' of Elastic modulus. Lauder, an academic, answered swiftly and capably which provoked Carnegie to ask Lauder to join him in America as a partner in the Carnegie Steel Corporation.[5] Lauder accepted, and joined Carnegie and the other partners in Pittsburgh.

Lauder brought a new dynamic to the business with his formal education, and expertise in, mechanical engineering. Surprisingly, this was both rare and unique among the partners of the business, which included Carnegie, Carnegie's brother (and also Lauder's cousin) Thomas M. Carnegie, Henry Phipps, Jr., and Henry Clay Frick—most of whom had learned business as they went and none of whom had technical training of any kind.

After joining the syndicate, Lauder brought several new developments to the steel industry in America. Included was the process for washing and coking dross from coal mines, which resulted in a significant increase to the overall value of the business and became industry-standard world-wide in the production of steel.[3]

Lauder would also go on to lead the development of the use of steel in armor and armaments, which had been a business Carnegie balked at entering until President Benjamin Harrison personally appealed to him by provoking patriotism. Lauder and Charles M. Schwab would spend significant time at the Krupp factory in Germany in 1886 before returning to build the massive armor plate mill at the Homestead Steel Works that would revolutionize warfare forever.[1]

By the turn of the twentieth century, Lauder was a director of Carnegie Steel, ran both the coke and ore businesses, and was the company's second largest shareholder after Carnegie.[1] After over thirty years as a senior member of the syndicate, Lauder was seen as the "balance wheel" for his moderate and cautious counsel and the lone "brake" for his often impulsive cousin Carnegie. Partner Daniel Clemson referred to Lauder as a "father figure" to the rest of the company.[5]

After the successful sale of Carnegie Steel Corporation to J.P. Morgan, leading to the formation of U.S. Steel in 1901, Lauder joined the board of directors of the new company which became the first corporation in the world with a market capitalization exceeding US$1 Billion.

Marriage and Issue

George Lauder married Anna Maria Romeyn Varick. His wife, a member of old Dutch New York Society, was a descendant of both Joris Jansen Rapelje, the "Adam" of New York City and a member of the Council of Twelve Men, the first democratic institution in the United States, and Richard Varick, the first mayor of New York City.

They had three children together. They had two daughters including Harriet Lauder Greenway, who married Dr. James C. Greenway, the founder of the Yale School of Public Health, and purchased what would become the Lauder Greenway Estate in Greenwich. Their children included renowned ornithologist James Cowan Greenway, arts patron G. Lauder Greenway who lead the Metropolitan Opera Association, and pioneering pilot and CIA officer Gilbert C. Greenway. Their other daughter was Elizabeth Storm Lauder.

Their son, George Lauder Jr. was a world-renowned yachtsman whose yacht, the Endymion, held multiple records including the fastest trans-Atlantic crossing.[6] His daughter Polly Lauder Tunney would later marry Gene Tunney in one of the most talked about marriages of the early 20th Century and their son, John V. Tunney, would go on to become a congressman and senator from California.

Family Estate

George Lauder lived out the last eleven years of his life as a widower at the Lauder Greenway Estate in Greenwich, Connecticut. Built for industrialist John Hamilton Gourlie in 1896, it was purchased by Lauder's daughter Harriet in 1905.[7] At the time of purchase, the estate included 57 acres and included fruit-bearing orchards, a chicken and pig farm, as well as the French Renaissance mansion, to which the family added two wings in the early 1910s and expanded the estate to over 100 acres.

Still considered to be "...Greenwich, Conn.’s last Great Estate, an opulent robber baron-era property enveloping 50 prized acres along the tony New York suburb’s waterfront." It is the largest surviving Gilded Age mansion in Connecticut.[8] It became the most expensive private residence in the United States in 2014 when it sold for $120 million.[9]


  1. Skrabek, Quentin R. (2012). The Carnegie Boys: The Lieutenants of Andrew Carnegie that Changed America. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-7864-6455-5.
  2. "What was the first company with a $1 billion market cap?". Investopedia. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  3. Carnegie, Andrew (1920). The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie. New York and Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 15, 144. ISBN 1609421981.
  4. Edge, Laura Bufano (2004). Andrew Carnegie: Industrial Philanthropist. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Biographies. p. 12. ISBN 0-8225-4965-4.
  5. Casson, Herbert Newton (1907). The romance of steel: the story of a thousand millionaires. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. p. 147.
  6. "The Last Great Race of Princes". The Atlantic. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  7. "Greenwich's Copper Beech Farm sells for unprecedented $120 million". CT Post. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  8. "Touring Greenwich's (Newly Price-Chopped) $140 Million Copper Beech Farm". Forbes. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  9. Carlyle, Erin (16 April 2014). "Most Expensive U.S. Home Sale Ever: Connecticut Estate Goes For $120 Million". Forbes. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
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