During the 19th century, the Astors became one of the wealthiest families in the United States. Toward the end of that century, some of the family moved to Britain and achieved great prominence there. During the 20th century, the number of American Astors began to decline, but their legacy lives on in their many public works including the New York Public Library. In fact, the family remains the seventeenth wealthiest family in history. By marrying into two British noble families, British descendants of the Astors hold two hereditary peerages: a viscountcy and a barony.

The English branch of the Astors housed Stephen Ward, who lived in a cottage on the Astors' Celiveden Estate and was linked direclty to the Profumo Affair.