The Guinness Family - a Brewing Dynasty

The Guinness Family - a Brewing Dynasty
This aristocratic Irish protestant family will forever be associated with Ireland's most famous product. As well as brewing, however, the Guinnesses have also made their marks in banking, politics and philanthropy.

But what lies behind the famous signature? And how did Arthur Guinness & Sons help create one of the world's most iconic brands? Here, for your historic pleasure, are Ten Facts to help you make the acquaintence of Ireland's most esteemed dynasty. 

1. The famous St Jame's Gate brewery was bought by Arthur Guinness in 1759. Its 9000 year lease cost just £45pa.

2. In 1778, Arthur began brewing the strong, dark porter that was to become Guinness. The name derives from its popularity with London's porters. 

3. Arthur's wife Olivia had 21 children - ten of whom survived. The couple's third son, Benjamin, inherited the business and established trade outside Ireland.

4. In 1851, Benjamin was elected Dublin's first Lord Mayor. He donated £150,000 for the restoration of St Patrick’s Cathedral, and his bronze statue stands in the cathedral grounds. From 1865 until his death three years later, Benjamin represented Dublin in Parliament as a Conservative MP.

5. Benjamin's first and third sons - Sir Arthur Edward Guinness (b. 1840) and Edward Cecil Guinness (b. 1847) - took successive control of the business. Like his father, Arthur served as a Conservative MP for Dublin in the British Parliament.

6. Under the control of Arthur's brother Edward - later Lord Iveagh - the Guinness brewery became the world's largest. Edward floated the company on the stock market in 1886 and retired a multi-millionare aged 40. 

7. Another prominent family philanthropist, Edward founded the Guinness and Iveagh Trusts for Dublin and London's homeless, and once donated £1m towards Dublin's slum clearance and housing projects.

8. On his death in 1927, Edward bequeathed his 50% controlling share of the brewery to his sons Rupert, Ernest and Walter.

9. Like his father, Rupert was Chancellor of the University of Dublin and a noted philanthropist. Under his 35-year chairmanship, the Guinness brewery expanded into London, Nigeria and Malaya. During Rupert's tenure, the Guinness World Records began in 1955 as a unique means of further promoting the brand.

10. Over recent decades the Guinness company has been bought over, and family ownership diluted in the process. Today, the Guinness family control just 3% of the company which is now owned by Diageo.

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  • Grand dynasty whom harbor arts, letters, music with exquisite taste...

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