Famous 18th Century Businessmen

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century Business People, including Cornelius Vanderbilt, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, Robert Owen, John Jacob Astor and Richard Arkwright.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 18th Century Businessmen

 1 Cornelius Vanderbilt

Cornelius Vanderbilt
Famous As: Business Tycoon & Philanthropist
Birthdate: May 27, 1794
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Staten Island
Died: January 4, 1877

Cornelius Vanderbilt was an American business magnate credited with vastly expanding and improving America's transportation infrastructure. For his contributions to the country's railroad industry, Vanderbilt was made an inductee of the North America Railway Hall of Fame in 1999. He is also remembered for providing an initial $1 million endowment to Vanderbilt University, which was named in his honor.

 2 Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Mayer Amschel Rothschild
Famous As: Banker
Birthdate: February 23, 1744
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: September 19, 1812
The Founding Father of International Finance, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, started what is known as the Rothschild dynasty, which shaped the trajectory of banking and finance in Europe. He had started off as a rare coins dealer and later expanded his banking business through his five sons.

 3 John Jacob Astor

John Jacob Astor
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: July 17, 1763
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Walldorf, Germany
Died: March 29, 1848
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 4 Robert Owen

Robert Owen
Birthdate: May 14, 1771
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales
Died: November 17, 1858
While working as an apprentice to a clothes manufacturer, Robert Owen often spent hours reading at his employer’s library. He later explored the textile industry and led a Manchester firm. Remembered as a pioneer of the co-operative movement and utopian socialism, he improved the working conditions of factory workers.

 5 Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins
Famous As: Entrepreneur & Philanthropist
Birthdate: May 19, 1795
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Anne Arundel County, Maryland, United States
Died: December 24, 1873

 6 Nathan Meyer Rothschild

Nathan Meyer Rothschild
Famous As: Banker
Birthdate: September 16, 1777
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Free City of Frankfurt Frankfurt, Holy Roman Empire
Died: July 28, 1836

 7 Frederick Trump

Frederick Trump
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: March 14, 1869
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kallstadt, Germany
Died: May 30, 1918
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 8 Matthew Boulton

Matthew Boulton
Famous As: Businessperson, Engineer
Birthdate: September 3, 1728
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Birmingham, England
Died: August 17, 1809

British manufacturer and engineer Matthew Boulton is best remembered as the financier of Scottish engineer James Watt’s pathbreaking steam engine. His Soho Manufactory initially produced metal parts, and he later stepped into John Roebuck’s shoes to partner with Watt, after Roebuck went bankrupt. He also established the Soho Mint.

 9 Timothy Dexter

Timothy Dexter
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: January 22, 1747
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Malden, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 23, 1806

 10 George Peabody

George Peabody
Famous As: Entrepreneur & Philanthropist
Birthdate: February 18, 1795
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Danvers
Died: November 4, 1869

 11 Robert Morris

Robert Morris
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 20, 1734
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Died: May 8, 1806

 12 Samuel Wilson

Samuel Wilson
Famous As: Meat-packer
Birthdate: September 13, 1766
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Arlington, Massachusetts Menotomy, Province of Massachusetts Bay
Died: July 31, 1854

 13 Elihu Yale

Elihu Yale
Famous As: Merchant
Birthdate: April 5, 1649
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 8, 1721

Born in Massachusetts, Elihu Yale moved with his family to Britain at age 3. An East India Company official, he had been the President of Madras and later started a diamond business in London. He later turned into a generous philanthropist and became the main benefactor of what is now Yale University.

 14 James Mayer de Rothschild

James Mayer de Rothschild
Famous As: Banker, Art collector, Economist, Businessperson
Birthdate: May 15, 1792
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: November 15, 1868

German-French banker and the youngest child of Mayer Amschel Rothschild, James Mayer de Rothschild. He took over the reins of his family banking firm after the death of his brother Nathan and headed the French Rothschild banking family. The Légion d'honneur winner later also invested in a vineyard.

 15 Samuel Slater

Samuel Slater
Famous As: Industrialist
Birthdate: June 9, 1768
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Belper, United Kingdom
Died: April 21, 1835

 16 Dom Pérignon

Dom Pérignon
Famous As: Monk
Birthdate: November 30, 1638
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sainte-Menehould, France
Died: September 14, 1715

 17 David Thompson

David Thompson
Famous As: Fur trader
Birthdate: April 30, 1770
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Westminster, England
Died: February 10, 1857

David Thompson was a British-Canadian explorer, fur trader, and surveyor. He was known to some native peoples as Koo-Koo-Sint or "the Stargazer". He traveled over 90,000 kilometers (56,000 mi) across North America over the course of his career and established a successful fur trade. He was married to a Metis woman and had numerous children. 

 18 Jean-Baptiste Say

Jean-Baptiste Say
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: January 5, 1767
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: November 15, 1832

French economist Jean-Baptiste Say supported free trade and competition. Scholars of economics know him for his law of markets, which states that supply creates its own demand. He had experimented with many jobs, from being a journalist to owning a cotton mill, and eventually became an economics professor.

 19 Haym Salomon

Haym Salomon
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: April 7, 1740
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Leszno, Poland
Died: January 6, 1785

Polish-American businessman Haym Salomon not only contributed to the establishment of the Philadelphia synagogue Mikveh Israel, but also lent huge amounts of interest-free money to soldiers and other borrowers during the American Revolutionary War. The financier eventually died in poverty, with the American government owing thousands of dollars to him.

 20 Thomas Hutchinson

Thomas Hutchinson
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: September 9, 1711
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: British America
Died: June 3, 1780

 21 Stephen Girard

Stephen Girard
Famous As: Sailor, Entrepreneur, Banker
Birthdate: May 20, 1750
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bordeaux
Died: December 26, 1831

 22 Peter Cooper

Peter Cooper
Famous As: Industrialist & Inventors
Birthdate: February 12, 1791
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: April 4, 1883

 23 Joseph Marie Jacquard

Joseph Marie Jacquard
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: July 7, 1752
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: August 7, 1834

 24 Moses Montefiore

Moses Montefiore
Famous As: Financier
Birthdate: October 24, 1784
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Livorno, Italy
Died: July 28, 1885

 25 Amschel Mayer Rothschild

Amschel Mayer Rothschild
Famous As: Banker
Birthdate: June 12, 1773
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: December 6, 1855

 26 Thomas Mifflin

Thomas Mifflin
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 10, 1744
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: January 20, 1800

 27 Eliza Lucas

Eliza Lucas
Famous As: Agriculture in colonial South Carolina, where she developed indigo as one of its most important cash crops.
Birthdate: December 28, 1722
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda
Died: May 26, 1793

Eliza Lucas was an agronomist who redefined agriculture in colonial South Carolina by developing indigo as one of the region's most prominent cash crops. The processing of indigo as dye influenced the colony's economy greatly before the Revolutionary War. She was the first woman to be be inducted into the South Carolina's Business Hall of Fame in the 20th century.

 28 Matthias W. Baldwin

Matthias W. Baldwin
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: December 10, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Elizabethtown, New Jersey, United States
Died: September 7, 1866

 29 Henri de Saint-Simon

Henri de Saint-Simon
Famous As: Political Theorist
Birthdate: October 17, 1760
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 19, 1825

Henri de Saint-Simon was a French political, economic, and socialist theorist and businessman. His ideology was the inspiration behind the political and economic movement known as Saint-Simonianism. He left a major influence in the fields of politics, economics, sociology, and philosophy of science. His ideas also inspired and influenced the concept of utopian socialism.  

 30 Charles R. Walgreen

Charles R. Walgreen
Famous As: American pharmacologist
Birthdate: October 9, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Knoxville, Illinois, United States
Died: December 11, 1939

 31 Anson Jones

Anson Jones
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 20, 1798
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Great Barrington
Died: January 9, 1858

 32 John Macarthur

John Macarthur
Famous As: Former Member of Legislative Council of New South Wales
Birthdate: 1767 AD
Birthplace: Plymouth, England
Died: April 11, 1834

 33 Madame Clicquot Ponsardin

Madame Clicquot Ponsardin
Famous As: Businessperson
Birthdate: December 16, 1777
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Reims, France
Died: July 29, 1866

Madame Clicquot Ponsardin was a French businesswoman and Champagne producer. Clicquot is best remembered for taking over her husband's business and turning the company into a world-famous Champagne house. Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, the company which still bears her name, is credited with inventing a novel technique called riddling which is still used today to make better Champagne.

 34 William Henry Ashley

William Henry Ashley
Famous As: Miner
Birthdate: 1778 AD
Birthplace: Powhatan County, Virginia, United States
Died: March 26, 1838

 35 Hennig Brand

Hennig Brand
Famous As: Merchant
Birthdate: 1630 AD
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: 1710 AD

Apart from being an army officer and a physician, Hennig Brand was also an alchemist who was constantly looking for the mythical philosopher’s stone. His research led him to discover phosphorus by accident, which he kept a secret, though it was later formally discovered by Robert Boyle from England.

 36 Simon Cameron

Simon Cameron
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: March 8, 1799
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Maytown, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: June 26, 1889

 37 James Lick

James Lick
Famous As: Real Estate Investor
Birthdate: August 25, 1796
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: October 1, 1876

 38 Richard Hennessy

Richard Hennessy
Famous As: Military personnel and Founder of Hennessy
Birthdate: 1724 AD
Birthplace: Cork, Ireland
Died: October 8, 1800

 39 John Wilkinson

John Wilkinson
Famous As: Pioneer in cast iron manufacturing
Birthdate: 1728 AD
Birthplace: Bridgefoot
Died: July 14, 1808

 40 Pierre-Esprit Radisson

Pierre-Esprit Radisson
Famous As: Fur Trader
Birthdate: 1636 AD
Birthplace: Avignon, France
Died: 1710 AD

Pierre-Esprit Radisson was a French fur trader and explorer who undertook many adventures with his brother-in-law Médard des Groseilliers. As a young man, he was captured and tortured by the Iroquois though he later managed to escape. He eventually became a successful fur trader and also embarked on several missionary expeditions. The town of Radisson, Quebec is named after him. 

 41 James McGill

James McGill
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: October 6, 1744
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: December 19, 1813

James McGill was a Scottish Canadian politician, philanthropist, and businessman best remembered for founding McGill University in Montreal, Canada. One of the most important members of the Château Clique, McGill was also one of the founding members of the famous gentleman's dining club, The Beaver Club.

 42 Henry E. Steinway

Henry E. Steinway
Famous As: Piano Manufacturer
Birthdate: February 15, 1797
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wolfshagen, Germany
Died: February 7, 1871

 43 Carl Mayer von Rothschild

Carl Mayer von Rothschild
Famous As: Banker
Birthdate: April 24, 1788
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: March 10, 1855

 44 John Walter

John Walter
Famous As: Publisher
Birthdate: January 1, 1738
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
Died: November 16, 1812

 45 John Slidell

John Slidell
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: 1793 AD
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: July 9, 1871

 46 Francis Lewis

Francis Lewis
Famous As: Member of the United States House of Representatives
Birthdate: March 21, 1713
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Llandaff
Died: December 31, 1802

 47 John Molson

John Molson
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: December 28, 1763
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moulton, England
Died: January 11, 1836

 48 Philip Livingston

Philip Livingston
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 15, 1716
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Albany, New York, United States
Died: June 12, 1778

 49 Daniel Drew

Daniel Drew
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: July 29, 1797
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Carmel Hamlet, New York, United States
Died: September 18, 1879

 50 James Gadsden

James Gadsden
Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: May 15, 1788
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 26, 1858