Edward Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh

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The 1st Earl of Iveagh.

Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh, KP GCVO FRS (10 November 1847 – October 7, 1927) was an Irish philanthropist and businessman.[citation needed]

Public life[edit]

Born in Clontarf, Dublin, Guinness was the third son of Sir Benjamin Guinness, 1st Baronet, and younger brother of Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun. 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, on the occasion of the visit of the then Prince of Wales to Ireland.[citation needed]

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 finally created Earl of Iveagh and Viscount Elveden, of Elveden in the County of Suffolk.[citation needed]


Lord Iveagh was chief executive of the Guinness company until 1889, subsequently becoming the chairman of the board, running the largest brewery in the world on 64 acres (26 ha). By the age of 29 he had taken over the Dublin brewery after buying out the half-share of his older brother Lord Ardilaun. Over 10 years, Edward Cecil brought unprecedented success to St James's Gate, multiplying the value of the brewery enormously. By 1886 he had become the richest man in Ireland after floating two-thirds of the company on the London Stock Exchange for £6,000,000 before retiring a multi-millionaire at the age of 40. He remained chairman of the public company and chief shareholder, retaining about 35% of the stock. The amount can be compared to the 1886 GDP of the UK, which was £116m.[1]

Public housing[edit]

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. He founded the Iveagh Trust in 1890 which funded the largest area of urban renewal in Edwardian Dublin, and still provides housing and amenities for the poorer people of the city. 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.[2]

Medical and scientific research[edit]

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.[3] He also sponsored new physics and botany buildings at Dublin University in 1903.[citation needed]

Iveagh helped finance the British Antarctic Expedition (1907–09) and Mount Iveagh, a mountain in the Supporters Range in Antarctica, is named for him.[4]

Art collector[edit]

Interested in fine art all his life, Edward Cecil amassed a distinguished collection of Old Master paintings, antique furniture and historic textiles. While he was furnishing his London home at Hyde Park Corner, after he had retired, he began building his art collection in earnest. As a result, 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.[citation needed] Iveagh was also a patron of, then current artists such as the English school portrait painter Henry Keyworth Raine[5]

Political life[edit]

Iveagh's father had sat as a Conservative MP for Dublin in the 1860s, as did his brother Arthur in the 1870s. Iveagh limited his involvement to acting as High Sheriff of County Dublin in 1885, mindful of the growing movement towards Irish Home Rule in the 1880s and the growth of the electorate under the 1884 Act. Given his wealth he preferred to effect social improvements himself, and preferred a seat in the House of Lords, which he achieved in 1891. He supported the Irish Unionist Alliance. In 1913 he refused to lock out his workforce during the Dublin Lockout. In 1917–18 he took part in the ill-fated Irish Convention that attempted find a moderate solution to the Irish nationalists' demands. Though opposed to Sinn Féin, he was fortunate to have a personal friendship with WT Cosgrave who emerged as the first leader of the Irish Free State in 1922.[citation needed]

Record estate[edit]

After his death in 1927 at Grosvenor Place, London, Iveagh was buried at Elveden, Suffolk. His estate was assessed for probate at £13.5 million, which remained a British record until the death of Sir John Ellerman in 1933. Although probate was sought in Britain, a part of the death duties was paid to the new Irish Free State. His will granted his London house, Kenwood House, to the nation as a museum.[citation needed]

In 1939, Iveagh's sons gave his townhouse No. 80 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin to the Irish State, which renamed it Iveagh House.[citation needed]


Main article: Guinness family

In 1873, Iveagh married his third cousin Adelaide Guinness, nicknamed "Dodo" (1844–1916). She was descended from the banking line of Guinnesses, and was the daughter of Richard S. Guinness (1797–1857), barrister and MP, and his wife Katherine (1808–81), a daughter of Sir Charles Jenkinson.[6]

They had 3 sons:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Measuring Worth web site; UK GDP page". Measuringworth.org. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  2. ^ Casey, Christine (2005). Dublin: The City Within the Grand and Royal Canals and the Circular Road with the Phoenix Park. Yale: Yale University Press. p. 655. ISBN 0-300-10923-7. 
  3. ^ "Medical research details published in 1927". Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  4. ^ "Iveagh, Mount". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  5. ^ http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045366/1906-05-13/ed-1/seq-20/
  6. ^ "Iveagh's family tree online". Genealogics.org. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 


  • G. Martelli, Man of his time (London 1957).
  • D. Wilson, Dark and Light (Weidenfeld, London 1998).
  • J. Guinness, Requiem for a family business (Macmillan, London 1997).
  • S. Dennison and O.MacDonagh, Guinness 1886-1939 From incorporation to the Second World War (Cork University Press 1998).
  • F. Aalen, The Iveagh Trust The first hundred years 1890-1990 (Dublin 1990).
  • J. Bryant, Kenwood: The Iveagh Bequest (English Heritage publication 2004)
  • Joyce, J. The Guinnesses (Poolbeg Press, Dublin 2009)
  • Bourke, Edward J. The Guinness Story: The Family, the Business and the Black Stuff (O'Brien Press, 2009). ISBN 978-1-84717-145-0

External links[edit]

Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Castle Knock)
Succeeded by
Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Iveagh
Succeeded by
Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness
Viscount Iveagh
Baron Iveagh