Sir Arthur Guinness


Rev. Hosea Guinness
Arthur Guinness
William Lunell Guinness
Edward Guinness
John Grattan Guinness


Sir Arthur GuinnessPainting of Arthur Guinness

Guinness was born in Celbridge, Co Kildare, in 1725. His father was land steward to the archbishop of Cashel, Dr Arthur Price, and brewed beer for workers on the estate. When Price died in 1752, he left £100 each to the two Guinnesses, which may have encouraged the young man to lease a brewery in Leixlip, Co Kildare, in 1756. Three years later, he left this brewery in charge of a younger brother, and took over one at St James' Gate in Dublin.

He began by brewing beer or ale, and within eight years was master of the Dublin Corporation of Brewers. In 1761 he married Olivia Whitmore, a relative of Henry Grattan, and ten of their twenty-one children lived to establish a dynasty which has spread into many activities and countries. The family's long association with St Patrick's Cathedral began with a gift of 250 guineas for the chapel schools, and Dublin enjoyed other benefactions. There was, however, one dispute with Dublin Corporation, whose investigators concluded that Guinness was drawing more free water than his lease permitted. In 1775, the brewer seized a pickaxe to defend his supplies from the sheriff, and eventually reached a peaceful solution after protracted litigation. Duties on beer proved another problem, and in 1795 Guinness enlisted Grattan's oratory to persuade the government to remove the burden.

In 1778, Guinness began to brew porter - the darker beer containing roasted barley and first drunk by London porters - and exploited Ireland's new canals to extend his market. In 1799, he brewed ale for the last time. Sales of porter increased threefold during the Napoleonic Wars, and in time St James's Gate became the largest porter and stout brewery in the world, its 'extra stout porter' becoming known simply as stout.

On the last day of December 1759 a determined young man named Arthur Guinness rode through the gate of an old, dilapidated ill-equipped brewery sited on a small strip of land on Dublin's James's Street. He had just signed a lease on the property for 9,000 years at 45 per annum. His friends shook their heads in disbelief. For ten years, Mark Rainsford's Ale Brewery (for such it was) had been on the Market and nobody had shown any interest in it. The Street was already festooned with similar small breweries, all attracted to this spot by a good supply of water. Throughout the city of Dublin there were about 70 breweries at that time, all, it must be assumed, small. Mr. Guinness's newly acquired brewery was no more than average. But Arthur was about to change all of that. He was 34 years old. He knew that the products of this teeming, almost domestic, industry were highly unsatisfactory. Trade fell off badly when import regulations which favoured the London Porter breweries, were prolonged. At that time, beer was almost unknown in rural Ireland where whiskey, gin and poteen were the alcoholic drinks most readily available. In spite of this and the poor quality of beer available in larger centres like Dublin, it was recognised, paradoxically, that brewing - although constantly under threat from imports - was probably the most prosperous of the very few industries in Ireland at that time. In addition to ales, Arthur Guinness brewed a beer relatively new to Ireland that contained roasted barley which gave it a characteristically dark colour. This brew became known as "porter" so named because of its popularity with the porters and stevedores of Covent Garden and Billingsgate in London. "Porter" had been developed in London Guinness.jpg, 21964 bytes, 10/15/00some years earlier and was imported into Dublin to the detriment of local brews. Arthur Guinness finally had to choose between porter or the traditional Dublin ales. Deciding to tackle the English brewers at their own game, Arthur tried his hand at porter. He brewed the deep, rich beverage so well that he eventually ousted all imports from the Irish market, captured a share of the English trade and revolutionised the brewing industry. The word Stout was added in the early 1820's as an adjective, qualifying the noun "porter". An "extra stout porter" was a stronger and more full bodied variety. "Stout" evolved as a noun in its own right, as did the family name of Guinness. In 1825 Guinness Stout was available abroad, and by 1838, Guinness' St. James's Gate Brewery was the largest in Ireland. In 1881, the annual production of Guinness brewed had surpassed one million barrels a year and by 1914, St. James's Gate was the world's largest brewery. Today, Arthur Guinness would have been proud of St. James's Gate. No longer the largest (although still the largest Stout brewery) it is certainly one of the most modern breweries. Guinness is now also brewed in 35 countries around the world, but all these overseas brews must contain a flavoured extract brewed here at St. James's Gate. So the very special brewing skills of Arthur's brewery, remain at the heart of every one of the 10 million glasses of Guinness enjoyed every day across the world

Guinness gradually handed over control to three sons, and spent his last years at Beaumont, his country home in Drumcondra, now a Dublin suburb. He died on 23 January 1803.


GUINNESS, the name of a family of Irish brewers. The firm was founded by ARTHUR GUINNESS, who about the middle of the 18th century owned a modest brewing-plant at Leixlip, a village on the upper reaches of the river Liffey. In or about 1759 Arthur Guinness, seeking to extend his trade, purchased a small porter brewery belonging to a Mr Rainsf~rd at St Jamesís Gate, Dublin. By careful attention to the purity of his product, coupled with a shrewd perception of the public taste, he built up a considerable business. But his third son, BENJAMIN LEE GUINNESS (1798ó1868), may be regarded as the real maker of the firm, into which he was taken at an early age, and of which about 1825 he was given sole control. Prior to that date the trade in Guinnessís porter and stout had been confined to Ireland, but Benjamin Lee Guinness at once established agencies in the United Kingdom, on the continent, in the British colonies and in America.

The export trade soon assumed huge proportions; the brewery was continually enlarged, and when in 1855 his father died, Benjamin Lee Guinness, who in 1851 was elected first lord mayor of Dublin, found himself sole proprietor of the business and the richest man in Ireland. Between 1860 and 1865 he devoted a portion of this wealth to the restoration of St Patrickís cathedral, Dublin. The work, the progress of which he regularly superintended himself, cost £160,000. Benjamin Lee Guinness represented the city of Dublin in parliament as a Conservative from 1865 till his death, and in 1867 was created a baronet. He died in 1868, and was succeeded in the control of the business by Sir Arthur Edward Guinness (b. 1840), his eldest, and Edward Cecil Guinness (b. 1847), his third, son.

Sir ARTHUR EDWARD GUINNESS, who for some time represented Dublin in parliament, was in 1880 raised to the peerage as Baron Ardilaun, and about the same time disposed of his share in the brewery to his brother Edward Cecil Guinness. In 1886 EDWARD CECIL GUINNESS disposed of the brewery, the products of which were then being sent all over the world, to a limited company, in which he remained the largest shareholder. Edward Cecil Guinness was created a baronet in 1885, and in 1891 was raised to the peerage as Baron Iveagh.



Benjamin Lee, Dublin merchant d. 1745

Thomas Lee, a farmer of Milltown, whose will is dated 1679, and proved 1680, had two sons, Thomas and Henry.
Thomas inherited the farm in Milltown.
Henry had premises in Ship Street, and houses in Kevin Street. He died in 1680, and in 1701, was moved to St Peter's graveyard. There is no record of children.
Thomas married Sarah Paris, daughter of Henry Paris, a founder, who was the eldest son of Nicholas Paris of Milltown, who died in 1709.
Thomas's will, dated 1699, named two sons, Thomas and Henry.
Thomas married a Mary Waters in 1715, and we have no further information about him.
Henry is probably the merchant who was a bricklayer, and had premises in Fleet Street, Jervis Street, Stafford Street, and Dawson Street, and also owned brickfields at Merrion. He died in 1713, leaving Elizabeth, his wife, and sons, William, d. 1732, James, d. 1735, Benjamin, and daughters Jane and Hester.
The third son, Benjamin, whose will is dated 1745, had three illegitimate children; Benjamin Lee alias Furniss, Jane, who married William White of Wexford, and had a daughter Elizabeth, and another Benjamin Lee, born in August 1745, two months after the death of his father.
Benjamin Lee born 1745, married Susanna Smyth, daughter of Rev John Smyth, and had a son, Joseph, and three daughters, Anne, Jane, and Rebecca. Benjamin moved to Bath, in England, where he died in 1781. He left all his property to his wife. His will was proved in 1786.
Miss Gertrude Thrift, a genealogist, who compiled this history, was unable to establish any connection with the Earls of Litchfield as described by Burke (ie Burke's Peerage).
Benjamin Lee's connection with Bath, near the Bristol channel, may signify ties with the merchant families who traded with Dublin.
Anne Lee, daughter of Benjamin Lee, married Arthur Guinness junior of Beaumont, Drumcondra, in Dublin, in 1793. He was one of the 21 children of Arthur Guinness senior, the founder of the brewery. The eldest son of Arthur junior and Anne, born in 1798, was Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness MP, owner of the brewery, Lord Mayor of Dublin and benefactor of St Patrick's Cathedral to the sum of £160,000 between 1860 and 1864. Also in the 1860's he bought numbers 80 and 81, St Stephens Green, and combined them into what is now Iveagh House, the Department of Foreign Affairs.
He was created a baronet in 1867, and he died in 1868. A statue of Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, Baronet, was erected in 1875, and stands outside the cathedral, at the St Patrick's Close entrance.
The youngest of Benjamin's three sons, Edward, was the first Earl of Iveagh, and Edward's son, Rupert, the second Earl, gave Iveagh House to the state in 1939. Another son, Arthur Lee Guinness, lived at Stillorgan, co Dublin.
Iveagh is the region around county Down which was the territory of the Mac Aonghusa, or McGennis, family, from whence the name Guinness.
Charles & William Lee
GO Ms 262, p 211 records that Charles Lee, an officer, who was by family tradition, a descendant of a younger branch of the Earl of Litchfield's family, had a son, William Lee, who was born in England in 1708, came to Ireland as a child, and was a merchant in Dublin. He married Elizabeth, born 14 Jan 1704, daughter of Ralph Widdington of Northumberland. William died in 1783.
William and Elizabeth had a son, Thomas, born on 19 February 1732, who married twice, and whose will is dated 20 March 1786.
His first wife was Susanna, daughter of Michael Lewis of Tullagorey, Kildare, and she had these children: Michael, Robert Weldon, Thomas, and Richard.
His second wife, Katherine, daughter of Andrew Hamilton of Ballymadonell in Donegal, was still living in 1821. They had these children:
James, Major in the 92nd Regiment of Foot, served in Egypt, Holland, Portugal, Spain and France under the Duke of Wellington. He took the name and arms of Harvey by royal sign on 10 March 1821. He married Margaret, daughter of John Harvey of Castle Temple in Renfrewshire;
Henry, who married a Miss Shute; and
James and Margaret, now Harvey, had four children:
John, born 2 February 1817, married a Rea Harvey; James Harvey, born 1821, married a Miss Octavius Lee; Catherine; and Margaret.
George Alexander Lee 1802 - 1851
Born in London in 1802. He came to Dublin, where he began his career as a tenor singer and conductor in 1822. Soon afterwards, in 1826, he returned to London. In 1830 he became acquainted with a Mrs Waylett, and he married her in 1840, after her husband died. He was a musical composer, and a manager of a number of theatres, including the Tottenham Theatre, 1829-30, Drury Lane 1831-2, and the Strand Theatre 1834. From 1835-6 he had a music shop in Frith Street, and was a conductor at the Olympic Theatre 1845, the Vauxhall 1849, and a pianist at the 'Poses Plastiques' in Bow Street.
He died on 8 October 1851.

Arthur known affectionatly as Uncle Arthur.

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