In this article, we will share Arthur Guinness’s biography (an Irish brewer) and the history of Guinness beer and brewery. Enjoy reading the story about a great company, great people, and delicious Guinness beer!
Guinness beer is the pride of Ireland. Born about three hundred years ago, it has sunk into the hearts of local citizens, becoming one of their favorite drinks. The history of the Guinness brand is also the story of one of the most famous books in the world. Yes, the famous Guinness World Records book is directly related to the beer brand, and we will tell you about it.
The Beginning of Guinness History
A history of Guinness began in a small Irish village, Celbridge, which was the home of Arthur Price, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Cashel, with sufficient security. Arthur did not want to burden himself with a daily routine, so he hired Arthur Guinness (1724 or 1725 – January 23, 1803), a manager for all the cases. As time passed, a genuine friendship ensued between them to the point that Price baptized Arthur’s son Arthur Guinness II, born on March 12, 1768, who helped his father since childhood on the farm of the generous employer.
In his spare time, Arthur Guinness brewed real ale. Dr. Price benefited from all the necessary equipment in his basement for this. In 1752, Arthur Price died. It was a tragic event but marked the beginning of the Guinness Brewing Company’s story. The thing is that Arthur Price left a legacy of 100 pounds to both of them: Arthur Guinness and his son (at the time, it was quite a large sum of money).
The first venture of Arthur Guinness was a small factory for ale brewing, which he rented in Leixlip, a town in northeast County Kildare, Ireland. Arthur asked Richard, his younger brother, to help him to conduct the business. And business has gone so well that Arthur decided to move to Dublin three years later to open a brewery. In 1759, in the city’s southwest, he found an old, dilapidated brewery named St. James’s Gate Brewery, which he agreed to lease for just £45 a year for almost endless time – 9,000 years. 34-year-old Guinness did not miss this opportunity and rented the factory. Of course, he had to make tremendous efforts to bring it to order. But the game was worth the candle.
In 1761, Arthur Guinness married Olivia Whitmore in St. Mary’s Church in Dublin. They had 21 children, and 10 of them lived to adulthood.
Since 1764, the family lived at Beaumont House, which Arthur had built on a farm of 51 acres. It’s the estate of Beaumont Convalescent Home, behind the central part of Beaumont Hospital, between Raheny and Santry in north County Dublin.
However, all this time, Arthur continued to produce the same ale. Arthur Guinness started having dark beer only in 1799. The production of dark beer with creamy foam originated in 1799 and further made the company one of the symbols of Ireland. Four years later, after this momentous event, Arthur Guinness died at the age of 78. As a legacy to their children, the businessman left £25,000, which would amount to about £865,000 by today’s standards.
The Guinness Dynasty
After the father’s death, three sons managed the business: Arthur II, Benjamin, and William. Of course, Arthur II, 35, led the company, as he helped his father grow his dream since childhood, and he knew its ins and outs. The company’s sales were approximately 809,000 gallons of beer a year — impressive, but it was only the beginning. By all achievements, Arthur II surpassed his father. Statistics say that during the management of his son, annual sales were growing by at least 10%. Of course, there were some problems when Napoleon started the war in Europe. The war led to an economic crisis and a slight decline in sales, but it did not cause severe problems for the Guinness Company.
Arthur had been leading the company for almost half a century and was able to bring its annual sales of 4 million gallons of beer per year. This is not to say that Arthur Guinness II was occupied only with the company. It is known that, above all, he was an Irish bank manager, a member of the country’s farmers, and also the President of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. He was a multi-faceted personality who succeeded in entirely different areas of business life. Arthur Guinness II died on June 9, 1855 in Dublin, Ireland. And if we convert the amount of Arthur’s II monetary status by modern standards, it would exceed £9 million.
Benjamin Lee (November 01, 1798 – May 19, 1868) controlled the company. He was born in Dublin and was the third son of Arthur Guinness II, his wife Anne Lee, and a grandson of the founder of the Guinness brewery – Arthur Guinness. He had been leading the Guinness brewery business for 13 years. During this time, he boosted Guinness’ sales seriously and became the mayor of Dublin in 1851. In 1967, his contributions were assessed by the government, which awarded Guinness the title of Baronet. And when the Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, 1st Baronet, died, his fortune was estimated at £65 million by today’s standards. The dynasty continued to prosper and move up the social ladder.
After Benjamin’s death, Guinness was headed by another member of the famous family, Edward Cecil (November 10, 1847 – October 7, 1927). Edward was born in Clontarf, Dublin. He graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a Bachelor of Arts in 1870.
Edward Cecil Guinness was chief executive at the Guinness brewery up until 1889. Later, he became the Chairman of the board, managing the largest brewery business on the globe on 64 acres (258,999 square meters).
By the end of 1886, he became a multi-millionaire by floating two-thirds of the Guinness Company on the London Stock Exchange for £6 million before he retired. Perhaps the most important event for the company during the management of Edward Cecil was that the company finally went public. Of course, most of the shares remained in the hands of the family.
A descendant of Edward Cecil remembered that it started to advertise its beer during his management at the company. Times changed, and then, to maintain high sales, the Guinness Company had to be felt by consumers. There is a second point of view as to why Guinness had been actively advertising its beer in those times: There was a severe crisis in the British economy, which decreased consumption, and to increase sales, they had to launch a broad advertising campaign.
However, that might be that Rupert Guinness, 2nd Earl of Iveagh (March 29, 1874 – September 14, 1967), was the last one of the dynasty of Guinness, who was seriously engaged in the company by playing an essential role in it. It was during Rupert’s management that the Guinness World Records published.
After the Second World War, the Guinness Company was led only by outsourced managers. Members of the dynasty moved from direct management of the company. Fortunately, it did not affect quality.
In 1967, the Chairman of the Board, Benjamin Guinness, was still one of the representatives of the family, but his health was relatively poor. Therefore, he left the company in 1986, giving all the reins to Ernest Walter Saunders (born October 21, 1935). He was known as one of the “Guinness Four,” a group of entrepreneurs who tried fraudulently to operate the share price of the Guinness business. Ernest Walter was condemned to five years’ imprisonment. Ten months later, he was released as he was believed to be suffering from incurable Alzheimer’s disease. Subsequently, he made a full recovery. Of course, the company’s business was not always rosy. However, Guinness was cleverly solving them out as it was still producing one of the highest quality brewing drinks of the Old World.
Guinness Advertising Story
A pelican portrayed on the first advertising Guinness poster was doing his best to hold a pint of beer in his beak. This was followed by an even more successful series of posters depicting an ostrich with a pint of beer stuck in its throat. It was an exciting advertising move. The company emphasized that the essence of the advertising message was straightforward. It turns out that even the ostrich understands how valuable Guinness’s beer is, so he manages to swallow a cup so that no one else can drink it. This complex job was done by a well-known artist of the time, John Gilroy, who explained the meaning of the art print.
But perhaps the most famous work of John Gilroy was a Guinness poster on which a man was carrying a pretty heavy bench. Those days, one of the company’s slogans was: “Guinness – for strength.” As soon as the posters began to appear in different bars of the country, many customers, when ordering Guinness beer, were required to bring them a similar bench to show their strength. Well, it was a pretty brilliant advertising idea!
However, Guinness gradually broadened their advertising campaign to popular magazines and newspapers, which required a different approach. The audience there was more educated, so the company used classic literature in advertisements. Namely, to create an absolute travesty of popular poetry of Lewis Carroll, John Keats, Edward Lear, Geoffrey Chaucer, Henry Longfellow, and many others. The campaign had tremendous success.
In addition, Guinness launched an advertising campaign aimed at young people, placing their ads in numerous academic journals. It was the right move, which brought them a lot of new fans.
Guinness Book of Records
Now it’s the time to talk about the famous Guinness Book of Records, which today is known by all, young and old. Legend has it that the idea of its creation came to a managing director, Sir Hugh Beaver (1890 – 1967), when he looked in a bar one day. During a conversation with friends, he told them he had been on the hunt and could not shoot a golden plover. One of the Beaver’s friends said that this bird was the fastest in the world, and Hugh could not catch it even if he wanted to. His statement was objected to by a friend who assured that the plover was not the fastest bird.
It was then that it dawned on Hugh Beaver that all over the globe, there were thousands of disputes like that that take place in such small gatherings over a pint of beer. He decided that he should create a book that would contain evidence of formal records in various fields. Soon, Hugh Beaver talked with one of the major news agencies based in London. During the meeting, Beaver and his new companions concluded that releasing such a book could be the right way to bring them a good income.
And there was a Guinness World Record, which quickly became the best-selling book in the world (of course, not counting the Bible).
The Present Days of Guinness
In 2011, when Visiting his ancestral home in Moneygall, Ireland, Barack Obama said the Guinness tastes better in Ireland than elsewhere.
Today, Guinness is one of the largest European beer brands. In Ireland, Guinness is a special drink that all people of this country respect. Not long ago, the company said they intended to restore the first Guinness brewery, which the founder of the company leased for 9,000 years. Now, the plant is not in the best condition. In addition, the company acquired the very first brewery of Arthur Guinness, which is located in the town of Leixlip. Perhaps returning to the roots will only benefit the Guinness Company.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Arthur Guinness’s biography and the amazing history of Guinness beer.
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