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For the New Zealand politician see Arthur Guinness
Arthur Guinness (1725 – 23 January 1803) was an Irish brewer and the founder of the Guinness brewery business and family.

Arthur Guinness was the founder of the Guinness brewery business, an entrepreneur, visionary and philanthropist. Guinness laid the foundations for Guinness Brewery. At 27, in 1752, Guinness's godfather Arthur Price, Archbishop of Cashel, bequeathed him £100 in his will. Guinness invested the money and in 1755 had a brewery at Leixlipmarker, just 17 km from Dublin. In 1759, Guinness went to the city and set up his own business. He got a 9,000 year lease on the four-acre brewery at St. James's Gate from Mark Rainsford for an annual rent of £45.


The Guinness family, though Protestants, claimed descent from the Magennis Gaelic Catholic clan of County Down in the 1600s. Recent DNA evidence instead suggests descent from the McCartans, another County Down clan.

Guinness's place and date of birth are the subject of speculation. His gravestone in Oughterard, County Kildare says he died on 23 January 1803, at age 78, indicating that he was born sometime in 1724 or very early in 1725. This contradicts the date of 28 September 1725 chosen by the Guinness company in 1991, apparently to end speculation about his birthdate. The place of birth is likely to be the maternal Read homestead at Ardcloughmarker County Kildaremarker where his father brewed for the local Ponsonby family.

In 2009 it was claimed he was born at nearby Celbridgemarker where his father later became land steward for the Archbishop of Cashel, Dr. Arthur Price, and may have brewed beer for the other workers on the estate. In his will, Dr. Price left £100 each to the Guinnesses.


In 1761 he married Olivia Whitmore in St. Mary's Church, Dublinmarker, and they had 21 children, 10 of whom lived to adulthood. From 1764 they lived at Beaumont House, which he had built on a 51 acre farm, which is now a part of Beaumont Convalescent Home, behind the main part of Beaumont Hospitalmarker, between Santrymarker and Rahenymarker in north County Dublinmarker. Beaumont (meaning beautiful hill) was named by him and the later Beaumont parish copied his original name. Three of his sons were also brewers, and his other descendants eventually included missionaries, politicians and authors.

He was buried in his mother's family plot at Oughter Ard in County Kildare in January 1803.


Guinness supported Henry Grattan in the 1780s and 1790s, not least because Grattan wanted to reduce the tax on beer. He was one of the four brewers' guild representatives on Dublin Corporation from the 1760s until his death. Like Grattan, Guinness was publicly in favour of Catholic Emancipation from 1793, but was not a supporter of the United Irish during the 1798 rebellion. Although he wanted Ireland to be free

See also Grattan Guinness

Brewer of porter

Guinness leased a brewery in Leixlip in 1755, brewing ale. Five years later he left his younger brother in charge of that enterprise and moved on to another in St. James' Gatemarker, Dublinmarker, at the end of 1759. By 1767 he was the master of the Dublin Corporation of Brewers. His first actual sales of porter were listed on tax (excise) data from 1778, and it seems that other Dublin brewers had experimented in brewing porter beer from the 1760s. His major achievement was in expanding his brewery in 1797–99. Thereafter he brewed only porter and employed members of the Purser family who had brewed porter in London from the 1770s. The Pursers became partners in the brewery for most of the 1800s. By his death in 1803 the annual brewery output was over 20,000 barrels.

Arthur Guinness Fund

To further honour the Arthur Guinness legacy, Guinness & Co. is establishing the Arthur Guinness Fund. The aim of the fund, which is an internal fund set up by Guinness & Co, is to enable and empower individuals with skills and opportunities to deliver a measured benefit to their communities. Guinness will donate more than £5 million to the Arthur Guinness Fund which will be active from September 2009.


  1. Guinness origins begin to settle
  2. Visit to Oughterard by Kerry J Byrne
  3. Corry, Eoghan and Tancred, Jim "The Annals of Ardclough" pp70-71 (2004)
  4. Plaque Unveiled in Celbridge to honour Birth Place of Arthur Guinness

See also


  • D. Wilson, Dark and Light (Weidenfeld, London 1998) ISBN 0-297-81718-3
  • M. Guinness, The Guinness Spirit (Hodder, London 1999) ISBN 0-340-72165-0

External links

RDS Speaker Series FREE Talk 'Arthur Guinness - Founder of a Dynasty' - Patrick Guinness on Wednesday, 7 October at 6.00pm, Minerva Suite, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, Ireland

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