Boston Brahmins

Boston Brahmins, also called the First Families of Boston and cold roast Boston, are the New England families which claim hereditary and cultural descent from the English Protestants who founded the city of Boston, Massachusetts, and settled New England. They are considered part of the historic core of the East Coast establishment.

The First Families of Boston are the most established and historically idealogical of all the Northeastern United States.

The term Brahmin is of Indian origin, deriving from Sanskrit and referring to the highest caste in the Indian caste system. In America it has been applied (after it was coined by writer Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. as part of a January 1860 article in the Atlantic Monthly called “The Professor’s Story”) to the old, upper crust New England families of British Protestant (usually English) origin that were extremely influential in the development and leadership of arts, culture, science, politics, trade, and academia. The term was certainly applied half in jest to characterize the often erudite nature of the New England gentry to outsiders. The term has never gained currency among “Brahmin” families themselves who would simply consider themselves to be a particular breed of Yankee.

The nature of the Brahmins is summarized in the doggerel “Boston Toast” by Harvard alumnus John Collins Bossidy.

"And this is good old Boston,
The home of the bean and the cod,
Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots,
And the Cabots talk only to God."

Members of these families are generally known for being fiscally conservative, socially liberal, and well educated. These families often have deeply established traditions in the Congregationalist, Unitarian, and sometimes Episcopal faiths. According to Yankee magazine, many Brahmin families intermarried and were perceived as marked by their manners and distinctive elocution, the Boston Brahmin accent, version of the New England accent.

Boston Brahmins

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