Historic Beer Birthday: William S. Gossett

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Today is the birthday of William Sealy Gosset (June 13, 1876–October 16, 1937). He “was an English statistician. He published under the pen name Student, and developed the Student’s t-distribution.” He also worked his entire career for Guinness Brewing, and was trained as a chemist, but it was his pioneering work in statstics, in which he was self-taught, that he is remembered today.

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Here’s his biography, from Wikipedia:

Born in Canterbury, England to Agnes Sealy Vidal and Colonel Frederic Gosset, Gosset attended Winchester College before studying chemistry and mathematics at New College, Oxford. Upon graduating in 1899, he joined the brewery of Arthur Guinness & Son in Dublin, Ireland.

As an employee of Guinness, a progressive agro-chemical business, Gosset applied his statistical knowledge – both in the brewery and on the farm – to the selection of the best yielding varieties of barley. Gosset acquired that knowledge by study, by trial and error, and by spending two terms in 1906–1907 in the biometrical laboratory of Karl Pearson. Gosset and Pearson had a good relationship. Pearson helped Gosset with the mathematics of his papers, including the 1908 papers, but had little appreciation of their importance. The papers addressed the brewer’s concern with small samples; biometricians like Pearson, on the other hand, typically had hundreds of observations and saw no urgency in developing small-sample methods.

Another researcher at Guinness had previously published a paper containing trade secrets of the Guinness brewery. To prevent further disclosure of confidential information, Guinness prohibited its employees from publishing any papers regardless of the contained information. However, after pleading with the brewery and explaining that his mathematical and philosophical conclusions were of no possible practical use to competing brewers, he was allowed to publish them, but under a pseudonym (“Student”), to avoid difficulties with the rest of the staff. Thus his most noteworthy achievement is now called Student’s, rather than Gosset’s, t-distribution.

Gosset had almost all his papers including The probable error of a mean published in Pearson’s journal Biometrika under the pseudonym Student. It was, however, not Pearson but Ronald A. Fisher who appreciated the importance of Gosset’s small-sample work, after Gosset had written to him to say I am sending you a copy of Student’s Tables as you are the only man that’s ever likely to use them!. Fisher believed that Gosset had effected a “logical revolution”. Fisher introduced a new form of Student’s statistic, denoted t, in terms of which Gosset’s statistic was {\displaystyle z={\frac {t}{\sqrt {n-1}}}} z=\frac{t}{\sqrt{n-1}}. The t-form was adopted because it fit in with Fisher’s theory of degrees of freedom. Fisher was also responsible for applications of the t-distribution to regression analysis.

Although introduced by others, Studentized residuals are named in Student’s honour because, like the problem that led to Student’s t-distribution, the idea of adjusting for estimated standard deviations is central to that concept.

Gosset’s interest in the cultivation of barley led him to speculate that the design of experiments should aim not only at improving the average yield but also at breeding varieties whose yield was insensitive to variation in soil and climate, i.e. robust. This principle only appeared in the later thought of Ronald Fisher, and then in the work of Genichi Taguchi during the 1950s.

In 1935, Gosset left Dublin to take up the position of Head Brewer, in charge of the scientific side of production, at a new Guinness brewery at Park Royal in northwestern London. He died two years later in Beaconsfield, England, of a heart attack.

Gosset was a friend of both Pearson and Fisher, a noteworthy achievement, for each had a massive ego and a loathing for the other. He was a modest man who once cut short an admirer with the comment that “Fisher would have discovered it all anyway.”

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And this biography is from the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive:

William Sealey Gosset was born on June 13, 1876 in Canterbury, England where he was the oldest of five children. He died at the age of 61 in Beaconsfield, England on October 16, 1937. He attended the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich to b ecome an engineer before he was rejected because of poor eyesight. William Gosset was never employed as a statistician. In a world of quarrelsome statistics, but he got along with everyone. He was a very helpful, quiet, patient and loyal person.

He went to school at Winchester and was well educated before entering the New College in Oxford. Here he won a first degree in chemistry in 1899. After getting his degree as a chemist, he got a job at Guinness brewery in Dublin in 1899, where he did important work on statistics, but her was never hired at a statistician. It was his environment at Guinness’ that made him a statistician. The brewery was interested in how they could make the best beer.

In 1900, the Guinness Research Laboratory was opened, which was head by the most distinguished brewing chemist, Horace Brown. Horace Brown along with the other brews were wondering how to get the raw materials for brewing beer at the cheapest but getting the best. There were many factors that they had to take into account such as varieties of barley and hops, what conditions of dying, cultivation and maturing factors.

After a few years of research, given that they were given a free hand to explore the conditions of brewing. This gave Gosset a chance to work as a statistician. He was able to take the data from the different examples of brewing to help find out which way was the best. As the young brewers work together, it seemed natural for them to take the data to Gosset to solve the numerical problems.

Gosset, in 1903, could calculate standard errors. In 1904 he wrote on the brewing of beer. This report lead to Karl Pearson consulting Gosset. Gosset met Pearson in July of 1905 when they had long talk together. Pearson, in an hour and a half, m ade Gosset understand the theory of standard errors. Gosset went back to the brewery and practiced those method for the next year. The meeting was also successful in which Pearson got Gosset to take up the study of the law of error.

Gosset wrote paper in his spare time under the name “Student.” His paper were on the probability of error of the mean and of the correlation coefficient for publication. Gosset even managed to run cooperative experiments with Hunter a nd Bennett at Ballinacurra, Buffin at Cambridge, and Beaven at Warminster in the testing of seeds against other seeds. Gosset also work with R.A. Fisher. The funny part is that Fisher did not get along Pearson, but Gosset studied under Pearson and also got along with Fisher.

To quickly recap William Gosset, he was born in 1876 and died in 1937. He did mathematical research for beer brewing, but had the problem working with only a small sample size. He work on the concept of probable errror of a mean. He also analysi sed an extended and broad range of problems such as the counting with a haemacytometer, probable error of a correlation coefficient, cereals, agronomy and the Lanarkshire milk experiment.

A very personal friend, McMullen, said this about Gosset, “he was a very kindly and tolerant and absolutely devoid malice. He rarely spoke about personal matters but when his opinion was well worth listening to and not in the least superficia l.”

Pricenomics has a good overview of Gossett’s contributions to mathematics and statistics, entitled The Guinness Brewer Who Revolutionized Statistics.

Historic Beer Birthday: Lord Benjamin Iveagh

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Today is the birthday of Lord Benjamin “Benjie” Iveagh (May 20, 1937-June 18, 1992). His full name was The Rt. Hon. (Arthur Francis) Benjamin Guinness, 3rd Earl of Iveagh. “Lord Iveagh (often popularly known as Benjamin Iveagh) was born into the Anglo-Irish Guinness family, being the son of Arthur Onslow Edward Guinness, Viscount Elveden, and Elizabeth Cecilia Hare. He was educated at Eton College, Trinity College, Cambridge, and the University of Grenoble. He inherited the title from his grandfather, The 2nd Earl of Iveagh, in September 1967. He lived at Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park in Dublin and was chairman of Guinness 1961–1992. He was a trustee of two charitable housing associations, the Iveagh Trust in Dublin and the Guinness Trust in London.”

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Here’s Guinness’ obituary from The Independent:

Arthur Francis Benjamin Guinness, businessman, born 20 May 1937, styled Viscount Elveden 1945-67, Director Guinness 1958-92, Assistant Managing Director 1960-62, Chairman 1962-86, President Guinness plc 1986-92, succeeded 1967 as 3rd Earl of Iveagh, Member Seanad Eireann 1973-77, married 1936 Miranda Smiley (two sons, two daughters; marriage dissolved 1984), died London 18 June 1992.

As far as the business world is concerned, the Earl of Iveagh will be remembered chiefly as the man who recruited Ernest Saunders to Guinness.

His own business career was at best undistinguished and at times positively disastrous. By the early 1980s, Guinness’s need for a dynamic new chief executive was desperate. With every day that passed, the Guinness family fortune seemed to slip further into the sea as the company’s stock price plummeted new depths. The City was clamouring for management changes.

It was in these circumstances that Saunders, head-hunted from a top marketing job with Nestle in Switzerland, went to Ireland to be interviewed at Iveagh’s house, Farmleigh, in Phoenix Park on the outskirts of Dublin.

Iveagh’s undoing was probably in being appointed chairman of Guinness at too young an age – a mere 25. His reign was marked first by a phase of unbridled diversification away from the core brewing business and then a prolonged period of debilitating decline. By the time Saunders had his first meeting with him, Guinness was engaged in, among other things, snake-farming, orchid-growing, and the manufacture of babies’ plastic potties.

Saunders remembers Farmleigh as a cold, empty, lonely sort of place with ‘an enormous entrance hall lined with dozens and dozens of wellington boots’. In his son’s book Nightmare, Saunders paints a picture of aristocratic decay – lunch at a tiny table in the middle of a huge draughty dining- room punctuated by the sound of a butler padding down forgotten corridors. At one point a cat jumps up on the table and tiptoes through the butter.

Saunders believed that he was seen by Iveagh and the rest of the Guinness family as a kind of gamekeeper. He still tells the story of how at a family wedding he was put below the salt on the servants’ table during the reception. He believes that the Guinnesses, as much as anyone else, made him into a scapegoat for what later occurred.

In truth Iveagh was the perfect chairman for a thrusting, dynamic and unscrupulous chief executive such as Saunders. From the beginning Iveagh abdicated all responsibility and power to Saunders. Often away from London at his home in Dublin, he became like an absentee landlord. At the same time he became a highly useful foil to Saunders, who would use Iveagh to bolster his management decisions. ‘I have spoken to Lord Iveagh and he is entirely in agreement,’ Saunders would say, often falsely.

Indeed, when Saunders was put on trial over the Distillers takeover, there were some famous and bitter recriminations between the two. Time and again, what Saunders said happened was at odds with Iveagh’s account. The sadness of it all was that by the time Iveagh gave evidence, Saunders’s claim that what was being heard was the rambling, confused and muddled account of a befuddled alcoholic suffering from some form of amnesia was all too believable. It was plain to all who witnessed Iveagh on the stand, that by giving Saunders and his henchmen such a free hand, Iveagh had failed in his duties as chairman, and indeed to that extent could be held accountable for the financial scandal that followed.

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And here is his obituary from the New York Times:

The third Earl of Iveagh, who served as chairman of Guinness P.L.C. during a period of change and turmoil for the British brewing and spirits giant, died here on Thursday. He was 55 years old.

Company officials said he had died of a throat ailment but declined to provide further details.

Lord Iveagh was a descendant of the Arthur Guinness, the brewer who founded the company in Dublin in 1759. Lord Iveagh served as chairman from 1962 until 1986 and as president from 1986 until last month, when he left the company.

By the late 1970’s, the company, whose name is still most widely associated with the stout that bears its name, was stagnating and appeared to be in danger of becoming a takeover target. A program undertaken by Lord Iveagh to diversify out of alcoholic beverages did not do much to improve the company’s performance. Consumption Increased

To breathe new life into Guinness, Lord Iveagh recruited Ernest W. Saunders from Nestle, the Swiss food giant, to be chief executive in 1981. Mr. Saunders began the marketing effort that increased consumption of Guinness stout, whose sales are among the fastest growing of major beers in the world.

Mr. Saunders also began to pursue the acquisition strategy that helped to transform Guinness into a world powerhouse in spirits, especially Scotch and gin. Under Mr. Saunders, Guinness bought Arthur Bell & Son, a Scotch producer, for $574 million in 1985 and the Distillers Company, a leading British spirits company, for $4 billion in 1986.

It later emerged that Mr. Saunders had taken part in an illegal scheme to prop up Guinness’s share price during the takeover fight for Distillers to give Guinness’s stock-and-cash offer a better chance of prevailing.

When the scandal broke, Lord Iveagh at first backed Mr. Saunders but then changed his mind. Guinness’s board, including Lord Iveagh, voted to dismiss him in January 1987. Mr. Saunders later went to jail.

Under Anthony J. Tenant, who succeeded Mr. Saunders as chief executive and is now chairman, Guinness has become one of the world’s most successful and profitable drinks companies. But the scandal tarnished the Guinness name. Over the centuries, the family had earned a reputation as philanthropists and enlightened employers.

The Saunders era also brought about the end of the Guinness family’s dominance over the company. As a result of the issuing of new shares by the company to pay for acquisitions, the family’s stake in Guinness fell from about 25 percent in the late 1970’s to less than 2 percent today. Lord Iveagh’s decision not to seek re-election to the company’s board in May left it without a Guinness director for the first time.

Arthur Francis Benjamin Guinness, who was known as Ben to friends, was born on May 20, 1937, to Viscount Elveden and the former Lady Elizabeth Hare. His father died in action in World War II in 1945, and he became Viscount Elveden and heir to his grandfather, the second Earl of Iveagh.

He was educated at Eton, at Trinity College, Cambridge, and the University of Grenoble.

A shy man and bibliophile who once dreamed of becoming a farmer, he found himself drawn into the family business instead. He was elected to the board of the company in 1958, became assistant managing director in charge of the Park Royal brewery in London in 1959 and succeeded his grandfather as chairman three years later. Married in 1963

He married Miranda Daphne Jane Smiley in 1963 and became the third Earl of Iveagh when his grandfather died in 1967.

Lord Iveagh, who had a home in London and estates in Suffolk, England, and Castleknock in County Dublin in Ireland, loved horses and racing. He also served four years as an appointed member of the Irish Senate in the 1970’s.

Lord Iveagh’s marriage ended in divorce in 1984. A newspaper obituary today in The Daily Mail by his cousin Jonathan Guinness, said the divorce was amicable and Lord Iveagh had been cared for in his former wife’s home in London during the illness that caused his death.

He is survived by their two sons and two daughters. The earldom now goes to his eldest son, Arthur Edward Guinness.

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Benjamin Guinness and his wife Miranda Smiley, from their wedding in 1963

Historic Beer Birthday: Arthur Guinness II

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Though his father’s birthdate is uncertain, today is definitely the birthday of Arthur Guinness II (March 12, 1768-June 9, 1855).

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Here’s his story, from Wikipedia:

Arthur was the second son of Arthur Guinness and his wife Olivia Whitmore, and was born at their home at Beaumont House (now a part of Beaumont Hospital, Dublin). He attended White’s Academy in Grafton Street, Dublin, (now the site of Bewley’s). Arthur started working for his father at the St James’s Gate brewery from the 1780s. In 1790 his father, then aged 65, commented in a letter that the expansion of his brewery was partly due to his help:

“..one of my sons is grown up to be able to assist me in this Business, or I wd not have attempted it, tho’ prompted by a demand of providing for Ten Children now living out of one & twenty born to us, & more likely yet to come.”

On his marriage to Anne Lee in 1793 the lease of the brewery was assigned to their marriage settlement, proof that he was intended to take over the management of the brewery on his father’s death. At the time his younger brothers Benjamin (d.1826) and William (d.1842) were also working in the brewery.

In 1782 his father had also founded the “Hibernian Mills” beside the River Camac in Kilmainham to mill flour for the expanding city’s population. This was due to the expansion of Irish exports and commerce fostered from 1779 by the Irish Patriot Party, which the Guinnesses supported.

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On his father’s death in January 1803, he and his brothers Benjamin and William Lunell created a partnership trading as: “A. B. & W.L. Guinness & Co, brewers and flour millers”. He bought Beaumont House from his elder brother the Revd. Hosea Guinness, who was Rector of St. Werburgh’s Church, Dublin. In 1808 they bought their first steam engine from Boulton and Watt for pumping water.

Sales grew from 360,936 gallons in 1800 to 2,133,504 gallons by 1815. A slump followed, with sales dropping from 66,000 barrels to 27,000 by 1820.

From its rebuilding in 1797–99 the brewery had stopped brewing ale and concentrated on porter. From the 1820s enhanced and stronger varieties of porter known as “Extra Superior Porter” or “Double Stout” were developed in Dublin for the export trade to Britain. By 1837 the young Benjamin Disraeli mentioned that he had: “.. supped at the Carlton.. off oysters, Guinness and broiled bones”.

In the background Arthur’s brewery benefited hugely until the 1830s from the difference between the malt tax levied in Britain and Ireland, easing his higher-value exports to Britain, and so Arthur became more of a supporter of the union as it was in the 1830s, having been a supporter of Grattan’s form of home rule in his youth.

In 1839 Guinness assisted his nephew John in establishing a short-lived brewery in Bristol.

By his death in 1855, St James’s Gate was brewing and selling 78,000 hogsheads annually, equivalent to 4,212,000 gallons. Of these, 42,000 hogsheads were exported, mainly to the British market.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Arthur Guinness

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Today might be, though it probably isn’t, the birthday of Arthur Guinness (March 12, 1724-January 23, 1803). But this is as good a day as any, and in some ways better than many others have suggested. I’ve been collecting holidays, dates, birthdays, etc. since the late 1970s. I bought a cocktail paperback book and in the back, one of the appendices had four reasons to drink for every day of the year. Intrigued, I bought a thin diary and started writing them down as I came across new ones. When I outgrew that one, I bought a bigger one and hand-copied all of them from one to the other. Thank goodness computers came along so I didn’t have to keep that up. To save space, everything was color-coded and I never noted the original source, primarily because in those early days it was just something goofy I did for myself and I didn’t envision any practical application for such a list. Silly rabbit. Fast forward thirty years and the first website I set up, in 1998, was The Daily Globe, which was to house my collection of dates, among other things. It was then it became apparent that having the original sources would have been useful, but the damage was done. At some point I stumbled on the birthdate of Arthur Guinness, given as a day in September. Several years ago, after the Bulletin started, I ran my daily list as a matter of course on the date I had for Arthur Guinness’ birthdate, and got called out by the Beer Nut for the source of the date. Of course, I had not been keeping them but have always taken the position that it’s better to celebrate the person’s life even if you don’t have the exact right date than ignore them entirely.

Eventually, I got around to trying to find that earlier source, and in the process opened a can of worms. That September date is more than likely wrong, of course, and was simply made up in 1991 by the Guinness company “apparently to end speculation about his birthdate,” as if that would do any good. That’s probably where I got the date, but since I didn’t keep my sources, who knows? In 2009, Guinness decided to declare September 24 “Arthur’s Day” further muddying the waters. The first year was to mark the 250th anniversary of Guinness, but in subsequent years it became a music festival and opportunity to do a worldwide toast to promote the beer. They kept up that farce on the 3rd Thursday in September each year until 2013, but cancelled it in 2014. So clearly September is a dead end.

In 2012, my favorite British beer historian, Martyn Cornell, weighed in on Guinness myths and scandals, including the date of his birth.

Arthur Guinness was born in 1725 in Celbridge, County Kildare.” The Dictionary of Irish Biography claims he was born on March 12, 1725. However, that does not match the statement on Arthur Guinness’s grave in Oughterard, Kildare that he died on January 23, 1803 “aged 78 years”, from which it can be inferred that his birthday must have been between January 24, 1724 and January 23, 1725. The most accurate statement, therefore is that his date of birth is unknown, but he was born 1724/5.

Here’s his gravestone:

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So if March 12, 1725 can’t be correct, but it must be “between January 24, 1724 and January 23, 1725,” then maybe it was 1724. So for no better reason than it fits the span of dates, maybe The Dictionary of Irish Biography simply got the year wrong by one. Maybe not, but I like having a date to hang my hat on. So until I find something more compelling, and merely for the purposes of commemoration, I’ll toast Arthur Guinness on March 12.

Arthur Guinness, of course, founded the Guinness Brewery in 1759, famously signing a 9,000-year lease for the St. James’ Gate property in Dublin. Shortly afterwards, in 1761, “he married Olivia Whitmore in St. Mary’s Church, Dublin, and they had 21 children, 10 of whom lived to adulthood.”

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The Colson Center, a Christian website, has a short biography:

Arthur Guinness was born to a family of brewers on the estate of Arthur Price, the Protestant Church of Ireland archbishop of Cashel. Arthur’s father Richard was Dr. Price’s brewer, and was known for his particularly fine porter beer. He taught Arthur the craft of brewing.

Arthur must have been a particular favorite of Dr. Price, because on the archbishop’s death in 1752 he bequeathed to Arthur the sum of £100, the equivalent of four years wages. Over the following three years, he perfected his skills as the brewer for an inn owned by his stepmother. In 1755, he struck out his own, purchasing a small brewery in the village of Leixlip. He may have seen brewing beer as a service to the community: this was the era in which gin was devastating poor communities and beer provided a far healthier and less intoxicating alternative.

In 1759, Arthur moved to Dublin. There he found an abandoned brewery at St. James’ Gate, for rent for £100 down and £45 per year. Arthur somehow managed to get the owner to agree to a lease for up to 9,000 years on these terms, and so Arthur opened his new brewery in Dublin.

Arthur was a very dedicated member of the Church of Ireland. In Dublin, he attended a church in which John Wesley preached, and Wesley’s ideas about hard work, the goodness and responsibilities of wealth, and the importance of caring for the poor had a powerful impact on Arthur’s faith.

As a result, Arthur became involved in a variety of social welfare organizations. He was on the board and became governor of Meath hospital and was dedicated to ensuring that it provided care for the poor. He also gave to a number of charities, promoted Gaelic arts to encourage pride in the Irish heritage, and joined the Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick, an organization dedicated to ending the practice of dueling.

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He was also a champion of the Sunday School movement in Ireland, which provided basic education to children. For Arthur, this was part of an interest in prison reform: he believed that education combined with Biblical teaching would keep people from falling into a life of crime.

Even though a dedicated Protestant in a community that looked down at Roman Catholics, Guinness advocated for the rights of Catholics and treated them well at his brewery. This may have cost him business, but he believed it was the right thing to do.

Meanwhile, Guinness continued to develop and improve as a brewer. In 1779, he was named official brewer of Dublin Castle. At this point, he was brewing ales as well as a variety of dark porters.

Gradually, though, he decided to specialize in porter; he finally gave up brewing ale in 1799. Porter was very popular in England, and when Arthur and his fellow Irish brewers finally figured out how to produce a good quality black porter (stout), specializing in this kind of beer made sense. Soon Guinness’s porter was in demand not only in Dublin but increasingly in England as well.

Arthur died just a few years later, in 1803. But his story does not end there. Over the next century, Guinness grew to be one of the largest and most respected breweries in the world. That story is a tribute to Arthur’s hard work and insistence on excellence, qualities which he passed on to his children and heirs. But that is only part of the Guinness story. The other part is the amount of good Guinness has done for its employees and their families and for Dublin, all of which is also part of Arthur’s legacy.

Arthur Guinness Stamp

And here’s another bio:

The Guinness story began in a small Irish village Celbridge, which was the home of Arthur Price, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Cashel with a sufficient security. Arthur was one of those people who did not want to burden himself with a daily routine, and therefore he had hired Arthur Guinness (1724 or 1725 – January 23, 1803), a manager for all the cases. As time passed a very real 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 had a benefit of all necessary equipment at his basement for this. In 1752, Arthur Price died. Such a tragic event, however, marked the beginning of 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).

Guinness story began in a small Irish village Celbridge, which was the home of Arthur Price, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Cashel with a sufficient security. Arthur was one of those people who did not want to burden himself with a daily routine, and therefore he had hired Arthur Guinness (1724 or 1725 – January 23, 1803), a manager for all the cases. As time passed a very real 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 had a benefit of all necessary equipment at his basement for this. In 1752, Arthur Price died. Such a tragic event, however, marked the beginning of 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).

However, all this time, Arthur continued to produce the same ale. Arthur Guinness started producing the dark beer only in 1799. The production of the dark beer with creamy foam originated in 1799 that further made the company one of the symbols of Ireland. Four years later after this momentous event, at age of 78, Arthur Guinness died. As a legacy to their children businessman left 25,000 pounds, which by today’s standards would amount to about 865,000 pounds.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Anthony Durkin

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Today is not the birthday of Anthony Durkin (1831-January 15, 1868), but instead the day he died in 1868. Before the mid-1800s, record-keeping was spotty at best and only the well-heeled and royal consistently kept birth records. Durkin was born in Ireland, in County Mayo. He made his way to San Francisco, California as a young man, in the 1850s.

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Durbin at 25, in 1857.

There’s not too much I could find about him, apart from this overview, from Brewery Gems.

In 1860, he established A. Durkin & Company, at 608-610 Mission St., for the purposes of brewing ale and porter. His two partners in the company were Charles M. Armstrong, a 35 year old Irish immigrant, and a German immigrant, Louis Luhden. In naming the brewery Anthony simply referenced its location, thus the Mission Street Brewery.

In their history of the Hibernia Brewery, there’s also this:

The first serious incident occurred on June 16th, 1861. The following account was reported by the Daily Alta California:

“A beautiful child, aged seven years, daughter of George Coffee, Boiler Inspector, fell into a vat of boiling beer in the Mission Street Brewery, last evening. A young man named Thomas Kennedy attempted to rescue the child and he also fell in. John McCabe, the cooper of the establishment, was severely scalded in his efforts to get them out. The child died almost immediately. Kennedy was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital. He will probably die.”

In spite of this tragic accident the business experienced steady growth and in 1863, in addition to its ale and porter, the brewery began producing lager beer. This wasn’t lager in the traditional sense, but a lager peculiar to the San Francisco area called steam beer. It was made without refrigeration but with a bottom fermenting yeast. Another steam beer producer, and major competitor, was a company that also took their name from their location, the Broadway Brewery.

In 1864, Anthony severely injured his left arm, leaving him partially disabled, but he didn’t quit brewing. Then in July of 1865, all that changed. The following is a newspaper account from the July 4th edition of the Daily Alta California:

“Anthony Durkin, the brewer who was disabled about a year since, by falling under a street car which fractured his left arm so that it was found necessary to perform the operation of excision of the elbow joint, met with another unfortunate accident while running to the fire with Engine Company No. 2, on Sunday morning. He tripped and fell while holding by the rope, and his arm, which had become in a measure useful again, went under the wheel of the engine, which crushed it into a shapeless mass, making what is termed by surgeons a ‘compound comminuted fracture’ of the worse description. Dr. Murphy, who is attending upon Mr. Durkin, has little hope of being able to avoid a full amputation this time.”

As a consequence of the accident, Anthony sold his interest in the brewery to his partner, the month after the incident.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Matthew Nunan

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Today is actually the day that Matthew Nunan passed away, January 7, 1916, and was born in 1834, or possibly 1836, or maybe even 1828, but the exact date or even month is unknown. There are even some sources that give his date of death as January 13. He was born in Limerick, Ireland, and emigrated to the U.S. when he was fourteen, settling in California in 1855. Lured there by dreams of striking it rich in the goldmines, he soon tried of mining, and first opened a grocery store in San Francisco, but eventually bought the Mission Street Brewery. When they moved the brewery and built a larger one, they renamed it the Hibernia Brewery. Matthew Nunan also served two terms as Sheriff of San Francisco, 1876-1877 and 1878-1879.

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Gary Flynn has a more thorough Biography of Matthew J. Numan at her terrific Brewery Gems website. He also has a lengthy history of the Mission Street Brewery (1860-1867) and [its] successor The Hibernia Brewery (1867-1920).

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Historic Beer Birthday: James W. Kenney

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Today is the birthday of James W. Kenney (January 2, 1845-). He was born in Ireland, but followed his older brother to Boston when he was eighteen, in 1863. He was involved in starting and running several different breweries in Boston over the span of his life, starting with the Armory Brewery in 1877. Then he opened the Park Brewery, the Union Brewing Co. and finally was involved in the American Brewing Co., plus he bought the Rockland Brewery at one point. It also seems like he was involved in the Kenney & Ballou Brewery, but I wasn’t able to confirm that one. Suffice it to say, he was an busy, industrious person, involved in a lot of Boston breweries.

James-W-Kenney

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Here’s a short biography from “Important Men of 1913″

Kenney, James W., born near Derry, Ireland, Jan. 2, 1845, and educated in the national schools of his native land. Came to Boston, 1863, and was placed in charge of a large grocery conducted by his brother. Became master brewer in a large brewery. In 1877 started Amory Brewery; 1881 Park Brewery; 1893 organized Union Brewing Co. Was mainly instrumental in organizing the American Brewing Co.; member of directors’ board two years. Large owner and operator in real estate, with interests in railroads, gas companies, banks, newspapers, etc. President, director and vice-president of Federal Trust Co.; director Mass. Bonding and Insurance Co. and Fauntleroy Hall Association of Roxbury; member of American Irish Historical Society and of numerous social and benevolent organizations. Married, April 24, 1876, Ellen Frances Rorke, of Roxbury. Residence: 234 Seaver St., Roxbury, Mass.

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Norman Miller’s “Boston Beer: A History of Brewing in the Hub,” has a few paragraphs on several of Kenney’s businesses.

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Here’s a rundown of his breweries:

Armory Brewing Co., 71 Amory Street: 1877-1902

This was his first brewery, but it was only known by that name until 1880, and I think he may have then sold it to a Mr. Robinson, who called it the Robinson Brewing Co., although some accounts indicate it was called the Rockland Brewery, which was his nickname. Their flagship was Elmo Ale, named for Robinson’s son, and not for the beloved Sesame Street Muppet. Other sources seem to suggest it was then bought back by Kenney at some point.

Park Brewery, 94 Terrace Street: 1881-1918

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Four years later he opened the Park Brewery, which apparently produced only Irish Ales.

American Brewing Co., 249-249A Heath Street: 1891-1918

This was a larger brewery than his other ventures, and he was merely one of the investors in the business, and was on the Board of Directors, though he did hired all Jamaica Plain brewmasters. Apparently it survived the dry years by operating a “laundry” (wink, wink). After repeal, the Haffenreffer family bought it and used it briefly as a second brewery, before closing for good in 1934.

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The Jamaica Plain Gazette described their neighborhood American Brewing Co.:

The most “handsome” of all the remaining Boston breweries, the American Brewing Company was active from 1891 to 1918, and then again from 1933-34. Owned by James W. Kenney, who also owned the nearby Park and Union breweries, the Queen Anne style building stands out architecturally with beautiful granite arches and a distinctive rounded corner, topped by a turret.

Historically, one of the most unique features of this brewery was the “customer” room in the basement. Customers were entertained here in a room with walls, ceiling and floor painted with German drinking slogans, flowers and other reminders of the source of the Lager recipes.

The Jamaica Plain Historical Society has even more information on it in their piece about Boston’s Lost Breweries:

The brewmasters were Gottlieb, Gustav and Gottlieb F. Rothfuss, all of Jamaica Plain.

This is undoubtedly the most handsome of all the remaining breweries in Boston and once can see at a glance the pride the owners had in the place, the process and the product. The architect was Frederick Footman of Cambridge. It was built in three phases, with the oldest part on the left, the second one with the American Brewing Company name came next and then the third wing with the beautiful granite arches and terra cotta heads which was the office complex emblazoned with the initials ABC. The granite was probably either Chelmsford or the slightly grayer Quincy.

Still visible in the main, or brewing, building is the large overhead access shaft where the malted barley and water were lifted to the top floor with hoists and pumps. The barley was stored in cedar-lined rooms in the top two stories of the main building to prevent insect infestation. The brewing process was started there as the grain was cooked. The cooked mash then flowed to the floor below where the grain was removed as waste and hops and other ingredients were added to the residual brew, along with the yeast that triggered the fermentation that produced the alcohol. The final product was then stored in temperature-controlled areas at the lowest level. Also still visible in the lower level is the capped wellhead that had delivered countless thousands of gallons of pure Mission Hill spring water to the process.

A wonderful touch of the spirit of the times is the “customer” room in the basement. Customers were entertained here in a room with walls, ceiling and floor painted with German drinking slogans, flowers and other reminders of the source of the Lager recipes. The offices had beautiful arched, semi-circular windows with stained glass. The tower is rounded and has a clock fixed at seven and five, the workers’ starting and quitting times. It also has granite carriage blocks to protect carriage wheels from breaking if too tight a turn were attempted when entering or exiting.

During Prohibition it was used as a laundry. After 1934, Mr. Haffenreffer used it for a time as a second brewery. Most recently it was used by a fine arts crating and shipping company, the Fine Arts Express Co. It is presently being converted to housing units.

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The American Brewing Co.

Union Brewery, 103 Terrace Street: 1893-1911

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Next was the Union Brewery, this time to brew German Lager beer exclusively. Here’s a brief description of the Union Brewery from the Jamaica Plain Historical Society, detailing it in Boston’s Lost Breweries:

The Stony Brook culvert sits very close to the surface of Terrace Street, the home of two very productive breweries. The Union Brewery, active from 1893 to 1911, was located at 103 Terrace Street. It produced only German Lager beer. It had a large six story, arched, main building and two smaller buildings housing a stable and a powerhouse. The two smaller buildings and the mural-decorated smokestack, which now also does duty as a cell phone tower remain. The former stable is now Mississippi’s Restaurant.

While for those breweries, it’s certain they were owned by James Kenney, I’m less sure about a couple of others. From either 1878-1880 or 1898-1903 (sources differ) there was a Kenney & Ballou Brewery. It’s seems at least like that James Kenney may have been the Kenney in the name, although it could have been his older brother Neil Kenney, who James worked for when he first arrive in America. That seems even more plausible when you look another brewery founded in 1874, the Shawmont Brewery. In 1877, it became known as the Neil Kenney Brewery, but in 1884 it changed names again, this time to the James W. Kenney Brewery. It apparently closed in 1888, but it appears pretty clear that he and his brother worked together on one, if not both of these breweries. Unfortunately, except for listings in Breweriana databases, I couldn’t find any information whatsoever about either brewery, and they’re not mentioned in any accounts I found of Kenney, either.

Historic Beer Birthday: Michael Edward Ash

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Today is the birthday of Michael Edward Ash (December 17, 1927–April 30, 2016). He “was a British mathematician and brewer. Ash led a team that invented a nitrogenated dispense system for Guinness stout, which evolved to become the beer now sold globally as Draught Guinness. As the manager in charge of the Easy Serve project, Ash is credited as the inventor of nitrogenated beer (sometimes known as “nitro beer” colloquially).”

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Michael Ash in the 1950s.

“Following graduation from Cambridge, Ash lectured in mathematics at The Bedford College for women for three years before joining Guinness & Co. at their London Brewery in Park Royal in January 1951.

After training as a brewer by 1954 Ash also had experience of running two departments (Brewing and Forwarding) and in 1955 he was given his own department the ‘Sample Room’, which had facilities for experimentation. The ‘Draught problem’ was given to Ash as part of his briefing from the managing Director, Hugh Beaver. At the time, Guinness used a convoluted draught system in which highly conditioned beer was blended with aged, nearly still beer. It was a slow, arduous process that limited the ability of draught dispense to reach a more global market.

Guinness had for years been looking for a system in which a barman with no special training could pour a glass of draught in a matter of seconds to settle quickly with a head (3/8″ in a normal ½ pint glass).

Ash realized the solution lay in the use of a blend of nitrogen and carbon dioxide (beer typically just uses the latter), but it took years to figure out a mechanism to dispense nitrogenated beer. Inside Guinness, Ash’s quest was regarded as quixotic, and other brewers chided it as “daft Guinness” and the “Ash Can.” Eventually, working with a keg designer, Ash hit on a revolutionary, self-contained two-part keg, with one chamber full of beer and the other full of mixed gas under pressure, and the introduction of nitrogen.[5] Nitrogen is less soluble than carbon dioxide, which allows the beer to be put under high pressure without making it fizzy. The high pressure of dissolved gas is required to enable very small bubbles to be formed by forcing the draught beer through fine holes in a plate in the tap, which causes the characteristic ‘surge’.

Ultimately called the “easy serve system,” it began to replace the old “high and low” taps used in Ireland and spread to Great Britain and beyond beginning in the 1960s. The invention, which made for a smoother, less characterful beer, was not without controversy, and for years a minority of Irish drinkers complained about the change. Eventually, nitrogrenated stout became a standard, not just at Guinness but among all Irish makers of stout.

Ash left the brewing side of Guinness in 1962 to become managing director of Crooks Laboratories in Park Royal (owned by Guinness). Crooks moved to Basingstoke in 1965. At Crooks Ash was responsible for acquiring the licence for the anti-depressant Prothiaden (Dosulepin) in 1967. From 1970 onwards Ash followed various interests including business education and was a founding governor of Templeton College Oxford.”

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Ash with Pete Brown.

Pete Brown, who’d met Ash recently, wrote his obituary for the Morning Advertiser after he passed away in April of this year at 88 years old, entitled The man who created the nitro stout.

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A photograph of Ash taken by Jeff Alworth during his visit to Guinness in early 2016.

Similarly, Jeff Alworth wrote a piece for All About Beer Magazine, The Man Who Invented Nitro the month after he passed away.

Alworth’s article online includes an audio clip of Michael Ash describing the process he used to create Draught Guinness using nitrogen.

And this biography of Ash was prepared by Guinness’ marketing department:

Michael read mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge and was awarded a triple first in his studies – top scholar that year in Cambridge. Between 1948 – 1950, Michael was allowed to reduce his national service conscription by teaching Maths at a University (other than Oxbridge). He taught at Bedford College. Up to the end of World War Two, the Guinness Company had a policy of recruiting only first class honours science graduates from Oxford or Cambridge. Michael was the first non-brewer to be recruited into Guinness.

It was in this role, he led a team of over 20, and their primary role was to seek to improve the shelf life of bottled Guinness. However, Michael felt that the real prize was in developing a proper system for Draught Guinness and began dedicating his time to the ‘Draught Problem’.

The rise of lagers available on draught, especially in the UK in the 1940s and 1950s, was encroaching on traditional Guinness sales, and Michael felt that there was a great opportunity for Guinness, should the stout be available in Draught format. However, the essential problem was with the gas. Carbon dioxide was used to pressurise kegs of bitter and lager, and it was easy and effective for everyone concerned. Guinness, though was too lively to be draughted with carbon dioxide alone.

Of the 20 plus men on his Sample Room team, he could only afford to assign 2 people to work part-time with him on ‘Daft Guinness’ as it became known with the Park Royal Brewery. Michael talks about working weekends and late nights over a long period of time to eventually come up with a nitrogen gas solution.

He worked hand in hand with Eric Lewis, of Alumasc, who supplied Michael with prototype after protoype of metal kegs with different experimental gas chambers. The fact that nitrogen is an inert gas meant that they bubbles lasted longer and were smaller. The right amount of nitrogen, created the ‘surge’ and allowed for a controlled, creamy head that lasts for the whole pint.

The eventual solution was a ‘mixed gas dispense’ system. Known initially as ‘The Ash Can’, The Easy Serve Cask was a self-contained, two-part keg, with one chamber full of beer and the other full of mixed gas under pressure.

Having seen the possibilities, [the company] was in a hurry to get Draught Guinness out into the market place, and he demanded that it should be launched in 1959 – the year of the Guinness bicentenary. At a board meeting of 9 December 1959 – Viscount Elveden (later 3rd Lord Iveagh) reported that about half the draught Guinness outlets had now been changed to the Easy Serve system, and the changeover of the remainder should take place by mid-January 1960.

Here’s a short video that Guinness made about Michael Ash:

Historic Beer Birthday: Edward Cecil Guinness

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Today is the birthday of Edward Cecil Guinness a.k.a. Edward Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh (November 10, 1847–October 7, 1927). He was one of three sons of Benjamin Guinness, 1st Baronet, and younger brother of Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun. He ran the Guinness brewery beginning in 1868 when his father died. He later became the chairman of the board for life, a position he held until his death in 1927.

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He was born in Clontarf, Dublin,and educated at Trinity College Dublin, graduating with BA in 1870, he served as Sheriff of Dublin in 1876, and nine years later became the city’s High Sheriff. That same year, he was created a baronet of Castleknock, County Dublin, for helping with the visit of the then Prince of Wales to Ireland. In 1891, Guinness was created Baron Iveagh, of Iveagh in County Down. He was appointed a Knight of St Patrick in 1895, and ten years later was advanced in the Peerage of the United Kingdom to Viscount Iveagh. Elected to the Royal Society in 1906, he was two years later elected nineteenth Chancellor of Dublin University in 1908–27, he served as a vice-president of the Royal Dublin Society from 1906–27. In 1910 he was appointed GCVO. In 1919, he was created Earl of Iveagh and Viscount Elveden, of Elveden in the County of Suffolk.

Lord Iveagh was chief executive of the Guinness partnership and company, from his father’s death in 1868 until 1889. He subsequently became the chairman of the board for life, running the largest brewery in the world on 64 acres (26 ha). By the age of 29 he had taken over sole ownership of the Dublin brewery after buying out the half-share of his older brother Lord Ardilaun for £600,000 in 1876.

Over the next 10 years, Edward Cecil brought unprecedented success to St James’s Gate, multiplying the value of his brewery enormously. By 1879 he was brewing 565,000 hogsheads of stout. 7 years later, in 1886, he was selling 635,000 hogsheads in Ireland, 212,000 in Britain, and 60,000 elsewhere, a total of 907,000 hogsheads.

He then become the richest man in Ireland after floating two-thirds of the company in 1886 on the London Stock Exchange for £6,000,000 before retiring a multi-millionaire at the age of 40. He remained chairman of the new public company Guinness, and was its largest shareholder, retaining about 35% of the stock. The amount can be compared to the 1886 GDP of the UK, which was £116m.

By 1914 the brewery’s output had doubled again from the 1886 level, to 1,877,000 hogsheads

Edward Cecil Guinness (1847-1927), 1st Earl of Iveagh

A portrait of Edward Cecil Guinness, painted by Henry Marriott Paget (1856–1936).

Like his father and brother, Lord Iveagh was a generous philanthropist and contributed almost £1 million to slum clearance and housing projects, among other causes. In London this was the ‘Guinness Trust’, founded in 1890. Most of his aesthetic and philanthropic legacy to Dublin is still intact. The Dublin branch of the Guinness Trust became the Iveagh Trust in 1903, by a private Act of Parliament, which funded the largest area of urban renewal in Edwardian Dublin, and still provides over 10% of the social housing in central Dublin. In 1908 he gave the large back garden of his house at 80 Stephens Green in central Dublin, known as the “Iveagh Gardens”, to the new University College Dublin, which is now a public park. Previously he had bought and cleared some slums on the north side of St Patrick’s Cathedral and in 1901 he created the public gardens known as “St. Patrick’s Park”. In nearby Francis Street he built the Iveagh Market to enable street traders to sell produce out of the rain.

Iveagh also donated £250,000 to the Lister Institute in 1898, the first medical research charity in the United Kingdom (to be modelled on the Pasteur Institute, studying infectious diseases). In 1908, he co-funded the Radium Institute in London. He also sponsored new physics and botany buildings at Dublin University in 1903, and part-funded the students’ residence at Trinity Hall, Dartry, in 1908.

Iveagh helped finance the British Antarctic Expedition (1907–09) and Mount Iveagh, a mountain in the Supporters Range in Antarctica, is named for him.

Interested in fine art all his life, from the 1870s Edward Cecil amassed a distinguished collection of Old Master paintings, antique furniture and historic textiles. In the late 1880s he was a client of Joe Duveen buying screens and furniture; Duveen realised that he was spending much more on fine art at Agnews, and refocused his own business on art sales. He later recalled Edward Cecil as a: “stocky gentleman with a marked Irish brogue”.

While he was furnishing his London home at Hyde Park Corner, after he had retired, he began building his art collection in earnest. Much of his collection of paintings was donated to the nation after his death in 1927 and is housed at the Iveagh Bequest at Kenwood, Hampstead, north London. While this lays claim to much of his collection of paintings, it is Farmleigh that best displays his taste in architecture as well as his tastes in antique furniture and textiles. Iveagh was also a patron of, then current artists such as the English school portrait painter Henry Keyworth Raine.

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Portrait of Guinness, by Walter Stoneman, 1926.

Here’s his obituary from The Times, October 8, 1927:

Guinness, Edward Cecil, first Earl of Iveagh 1847-1927, philanthropist, was born at St. Anne’s, Clontarf, county Dublin, 10 November 1847, the youngest of the three sons of Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness [qv.], brewer, of Dublin, by his wife, Elizabeth, third daughter of Edward Guinness, of Dublin. His eldest brother, Arthur, was raised to the peerage as Baron Ardilaun in 1880. Edward Cecil Guinness was not sent to any public school, but was prepared by a tutor for entrance to Trinity College, Dublin, where he took his degree in 1870. His father died in 1868, leaving him a share in the Guinness brewery at St. James’s Gate, Dublin. The brewery had been bought by his great-grandfather, Arthur Guinness, in 1759 from Mark Rainsford, and in 1855 Sir Benjamin Guinness had become the sole proprietor. A large export trade was developed, and the business became famous all over the world. After leaving the university Edward Guinness took up his part in the management of this great concern, and showed administrative and financial ability of a very high order. He also interested himself in public affairs, and from early manhood was a prominent figure in Dublin municipal life. He was high sheriff of the city in 1876, and of the county in 1885.

In 1886 the Guinness brewery was incorporated as Arthur Guinness, Son, & Co., Ltd. When the public company was formed the capital required by the vendors was subscribed many times over. Indeed the applications received amounted to more than a hundred million pounds, so anxious was the public to acquire shares. Edward Guinness became chairman.

Three years later Guinness retired from active management of the company, though he retained the chairmanship. In November of that year (1889), in order to mark his retirement, he placed in trust the sum of £250,000, to be expended in the erection of dwellings which could be let at such rents as would place them within reach of the poorest of the labouring population. £200,000 was to be spent in London, and the remainder in Dublin. Guinness followed up this gift by presenting another quarter of a million pounds to Dublin for the purpose of pulling down slum property in the Bull Alley district. As a result seven acres which had been covered with squalid dwellings were cleared. This was one of the greatest benefits that Guinness ever conferred upon his native city. Among later instances of his munificence was a contribution of £250,000 to the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine in London for the endowment of bacteriological research.
In 1885 Guinness was created a baronet, and in 1891 he was raised to the peerage of the United Kingdom as Baron Iveagh, of Iveagh, county Down. During the South African War he equipped and maintained an Irish field hospital. In 1903, when King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visited Ireland for the first time after their coronation, Lord Iveagh gave £5,000 to the Dublin hospitals, and he repeated this act of liberality on the occasion of the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.

In 1905 Lord Iveagh was raised to a viscounty. By this time he lived chiefly in England, where he had bought Elveden Hall, in Suffolk, a well-known sporting estate. Here he entertained both King Edward and King George for pheasant and partridge shooting. But his interest in Ireland did not diminish. The Iveagh markets, which were opened in Dublin in 1907, were due chiefly to his generosity. In 1908 he was elected chancellor of Dublin University in succession to the fourth Earl of Rosse—an appropriate honour, for his services to his old university had been both liberal and judicious. In September 1909 he received a striking compliment, when the nationalist corporation of the city of Dublin presented him with an address of thanks for his many and lavish gifts to Dublin, gifts which, in the words of the address, constitute the noblest monuments of your generosity and civic patriotism. About the same time there was a movement among the nationalists to offer him, notwithstanding his strong and openly expressed unionist views, the lord mayoralty of Dublin; but, with a tact which was characteristic and which left behind no ill feeling, he declined to allow his name to be put forward.

The disturbances in Ireland during and immediately after the European War caused much distress to Lord Iveagh. He took no active part in the settlement of 1922, but he maintained his connexion with the Irish Free State, and continued his many charities under the new régime. In 1919 he was advanced to the dignity of an earldom, becoming Earl of Iveagh and Viscount Elveden. In March 1925, when the Ken Wood preservation committee had come to the end of its resources, he purchased the remainder of the Ken Wood estate to the north of Hampstead Heath, about seventy-six acres, and arranged that this area should become public property in ten years’ time, or at his death should it occur before that term. The estate was thus saved from being sold for building purposes.

Iveagh was a man of quiet and unassuming manner, impressing all who came into contact with him by his courtesy and genuine kindness no less than by his high sense of public duty and undoubted ability. He certainly took the utmost care that his great benefactions should be used to the best advantage of those whom they were intended to benefit. In addition to his other honours he was created a knight of St. Patrick in 1896 and received the G.C.V.O. in 1910. He was elected F.R.S. in 1906 and was granted honorary doctorates by the universities of Dublin and Aberdeen. He married in 1873 his cousin Adelaide Maud (died 1916), daughter of Richard Samuel Guinness, M.P., of Deepwell, co. Dublin, and had three sons. He died at his London house in Grosvenor Place, 7 October 1927, and was succeeded as second earl by his eldest son, Rupert Edward Cecil Lee (born 1874).

Lord Iveagh’s estate at his death was valued provisionally at £11,000,000. He bequeathed to the nation a valuable collection of pictures, including twenty-four examples by Reynolds and Romney. It was his intention that these should form the nucleus of an art gallery at the house at Ken Wood which he endowed with the sum of £5,000 for this purpose.

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Men of the Day, No. 511, published in Vanity Fair, 1891.

Historic Beer Birthday: Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun

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Today is the birthday of Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun (November 1, 1840–January 20, 1915). He was the great-grandson of Arthur Guinness (1725–1803), and the “eldest son of Benjamin Lee Guinness, 1st Baronet, and elder brother of Edward Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College Dublin, and in 1868 succeeded his father as second Baronet.”

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In 1868 Guinness was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for the City of Dublin, a seat he held for only a year. His election was voided because of his election agent’s unlawful efforts, which the court found were unknown to him. He was re-elected at the next election in 1874.

A supporter of Disraeli’s “one nation” conservatism, his politics were typical of “constructive unionism”, the belief that the union between Ireland and Britain should be more beneficial to the people of Ireland after centuries of difficulties. In 1872 he was a sponsor of the “Irish Exhibition” at Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin, which was arranged to promote Irish trade. Correcting a mistake about the exhibition in the Freeman’s Journal led to a death threat from a religious extremist, which he did not report to the police. In the 1890s he supported the Irish Unionist Alliance.

After withdrawing from the Guinness company in 1876, when he sold his half-share to his brother Edward for £600,000, he was in 1880 raised to the peerage as Baron Ardilaun, of Ashford in the County of Galway. His home there was at Ashford Castle on Lough Corrib, and his title derived from the Gaelic Ard Oileáin, a ‘high island’ on the lake.

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Owning 33,000 acres recently bought by his father or himself in Counties Galway and Mayo, Ardilaun was placed in a difficult and unusual position during the Land War of the 1880s. Tenant farmers had started a rent strike against absentee landlords who cared little about their estates. In contrast, Ardilaun lived at Ashford for much of the year, and invested heavily in his lands, but was forced to sell land from the 1880s and saw two of his bailiffs killed in what became known as the Lough Mask Murders. His attempt to preserve the landscape at Muckross, Killarney from 1899 for aesthetic reasons was under challenge as soon as 1905. With the Digby family he was a joint owner of the Aran Islands that were compulsorily purchased by the Congested Districts Board in 1916.

Ardilaun was, like many in the Guinness family, a generous philanthropist, devoting himself to a number of public causes, including the restoration of Marsh’s Library in Dublin and the extension of the city’s Coombe Women’s Hospital. In buying and keeping intact the estate around Muckross House in 1899, he assisted the movement to preserve the lake and mountain landscape around Killarney, now a major tourist destination. From 1875 he was a sponsor of the “Dublin Artizan’s Dwellings Company”, which built cottages for poor Dubliners at reasonable rents, and was the forerunner of the Iveagh Trust later set up by his brother Edward.

In his best-known achievement, he also bought, landscaped, and gave to the capital, the central public park of St Stephen’s Green, where his statue commissioned by the city can be seen opposite the Royal College of Surgeons. To do so he sponsored a Private bill that was passed as the Saint Stephen’s Green (Dublin) Act 1877, and after the landscaping it was formally opened to the public on 27 July 1880. It has been maintained since then by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland (now the Office of Public Works)

An intermission in Ardilaun’s philanthropy provoked Yeats’s powerful poem “To a Wealthy Man….”

He was also President of the Royal Dublin Society from 1892 to 1913.

Ulysses by James Joyce includes several references to Ardilaun, as Joyce considered him to be a prime Irish example of Victorian conventional respectability. The porter brewed by the “cunning brothers” – he and his brother Lord Iveagh – was: “a crystal cup full of the foamy ebon ale which the noble twin brothers Bungiveagh and Bungardilaun brew ever in their divine alevats, cunning as the sons of deathless Leda. For they garner the succulent berries of the hop and mass and sift and bruise and brew them and they mix therewith sour juices and bring the must to the sacred fire and cease not night or day from their toil, those cunning brothers, lords of the vat.” “Bung” referred to the stopper in a wooden barrel of beer. In the “Nighttown” section, the breasts of a girl who is undressing are “Two ardilauns”, meaning “two high islands”, a play on the Gaelic meaning of the word.

In 1871 Lord Ardilaun married Olivia Hedges-White, daughter of the Earl of Bantry whose family home is Bantry House in County Cork; this was a happy but childless marriage. He died on January 20, 1915 at his home at St Anne’s, Raheny, and was buried at All Saints Church, Raheny, whose construction he had sponsored. Those present at the funeral included representatives of the Royal Dublin Society, of which Lord Ardilaun was president for many years, the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland, the Irish Unionist Alliance, and the Primrose League. His barony became extinct at his death, but the baronetcy devolved upon his nephew Algernon. On his widow’s death St. Anne’s passed to Algernon’s cousin Rev. Benjamin Plunket former Bishop of Meath, who sold most of the estate to Dublin Corporation in the 1937, keeping Sybil Hill as his residence. The corporation has preserved much of the estate as one of Dublin’s most important public parks, though the house itself burnt down in 1943, with the remaining lands used for housing.

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From Vanity Fair, May 8, 1880.