The first Arthur Guinness
was born in Cellbridge County Kildare in 1725, he was the son of
a land stewart
to the archbishop of Cashel Doctor Arthur Price, he brewed beer
for workers on the estate. When Price died in 1752 he left £100
each to Arthur and his father. Arthur set up his first brewery in
Leixlip in County Kildare in 1756 with this money. In 1759 he left
this brewery in charge of his younger brother and took over one
in at St. Jame's Gate in Dublin.
In 1761 ? he married Olivia
Whitmore, a relative of Henry
Gratten, they were to have twenty one children, ten of which survived
to found a dynasty which spread across the world.
His son also Arthur (1758-1858)
inherited the business, along with other flower milling interests.
Both the first and second heads
of the Guinness dynasty were active members of the Church of Ireland,
and were instrumental in starting many philanthropic activities;
among the causes they supported were Catholic emancipation, restore
hospitals, build almshouses, as well as housing projects and medical
In 1855 The company came under
the control of Benjamin Lee Guinness (1798-1868) son of Arthur II,
building on the sound financial base he inherited he made it the
largest business of its kind in the world, exporting beer to Europe,
Britain and the USA. He was elected the first Lord Mayor of Dublin
in 1851, and was Dublin's representative in the Westminster parliament
(1865-1868). It was he who funded the restoration of St Patrick's
Cathedral Dublin (1860-65) and was made first Baronet in 1867.
Benjamin Lee's third son Edward
Cecil Guinness (1847-1927) continued in the philanthropic spirit
of his father and grandfather, he was involved in the restoration
of public libraries, and the construction of houses in Dublin and
London for artisans.
In the 1980's the families holding
in the company had dwindled to about five percent as the company
expanded taking over companies such as Bell's whisky in 1985 and
the Distillers group in 1986.
It is thought that the family
may be descended from the Maguinnes clan who were Gaelic rulers
in the terrority of Iveagh in Ulster.