Arthur Guinness was born in Celbridge, County Kildare in 1725. It seems that Arthur first learnt the art of brewing from his father Richard, whose job as a land steward included brewing beer for workers on the estate of Dr. Arthur Price, later Archbishop of Cashel.
In 1759, at the age of thirty four, Arthur Guinness signed a 9000-year lease for the St. James's Gate Brewery, Dublin, at an annual rent of £45. The Brewery was only four acres in size, disused, and had little brewing equipment. But in only ten years, despite competition from imported English beers, Arthur began to export his beer to England.
Arthur began by brewing ale, and in the 1770s started brewing 'porter', a new type of dark English beer. Arthur's porter was so successful that in 1799 he stopped brewing ale. By the time Arthur died in 1803, he had built a successful brewing business, with a promising export trade. Arthur married Olivia Whitmore, and had twenty one children, ten of whom survived into adulthood. When he died, his son Arthur Guinness II took over the Brewery.
In all, seven generations of the Guinness family were directly involved in the brewery management. Arthur Guinness II developed the business, expanding the export trade, and brewing a new beer 'Extra Superior Porter'. By the 1830s, St. James's Gate Brewery was the largest brewery in Ireland. In 1855 Arthur II's son, Benjamin Lee Guinness, took over.
Under Benjamin, the first trade mark label for GUINNESS® stout was introduced in 1862. When Benjamin died in 1868, his son Edward Cecil took over. Under Edward's leadership the brewery became the largest in the world. In 1886 the business was floated on the London Stock Exchange and Edward became Chairman.
By the end of the 19th century the brewery had grown to sixty acres, sales of GUINNESS® Stout were over 1.2 million barrels a year, and GUINNESS® Stout was available across the world. In the 20th century the Guinness family continued to lead the business. Edward Guinness died in 1927, and his son Rupert became Chairman. Rupert's grandson Benjamin became Chairman in 1962, and was the last member of the Guinness family to hold this position, which he resigned in 1986.
In 1929, the first advertising campaign for GUINNESS® was launched. More product innovations took place including the launch of GUINNESS® Draught in 1959. GUINNESS® Draught in Can was launched in 1988 thanks to the 'widget' – a groundbreaking invention in beer packaging technology. From the 1940s to 1980s a major overhaul of brewing machinery took place, making the brewery one of the most technologically advanced in the world. In 1936 the first overseas GUINNESS® Brewery was opened. It proved successful and was followed by four more in Nigeria (1962), Malaysia (1965), Cameroon (1970), and Ghana (1971). Licences were also issued to brewers in other countries so that GUINNESS® could be brewed locally. By the end of the 20th century, GUINNESS® was brewed in over 40 countries, and sold in over 150. In 1997 GUINNESS Plc merged with Grand Metropolitan Plc in a £24 billion merger. A new company was formed called 'Diageo' Plc. Today, 10 million glasses of GUINNESS® are enjoyed daily around the world.
Archival History ↴
The Guinness Archive was established in 1998 and at this time all historical papers relating to the Company were transferred to the Guinness Archive.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Arthur Guinness Son & Company Limited ↴
These are the surviving papers of the Company Secretary relating specifically to trade matters. The Company Secretary was one of the many different departments, which together formed the Guinness Company based at St. James’s Gate Brewery, Dublin.
The records of the Company Secretary, which were kept in file form, fall quite neatly into five distinct series of files.
The papers relating to trade matters in Ireland and Great Britain (GDB/CO05.02/01), contain correspondence with Irish and British customers particularly; complaints, transports issues, donations made by the Company in regions, districts in Ireland and Great Britain; personnel issues regarding staff at stores, travellers; supply and sales of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, Guinness Extra Stout, Porter; housekeeping, record keeping issues, restrictions of trade due to World War One; annual instructions to store managers and travellers.
The papers relating to trade matters specifically in Ireland (GDB/CO05.02/02) contain correspondence with individual trade stores in Ireland, discussing personnel issues, housekeeping and maintenance; comparisons of sale figures of other beers; effect of political situations in Ireland on trade; correspondence concerning effects of strikes on trade; correspondence and appointments of Irish agents, traveller reports; trade analysis of GUINNESS Extra Stout, Porter; sales reports of GUINNESS in Ireland.
The papers relating to trade matters in Great Britain, (GDB/CO05.02/03) contain correspondence with British customers and individual trade stores in Great Britain, recording establishment of individual stores, supply and distribution of Guinness Stout, and correspondence with St. James’s Gate Brewery; supply of Guinness Stout to customers in Britain, travellers reports to districts in the United Kingdom; trade analysis; the effect of the many strikes on trade in Great Britain and how it affected consignments to Great Britain notably, Seamen and Dockers’ Strike, Transport Workers’ Strike of 1912, Dublin Steam Packet Company Strike; objectionable and fraudulent Trade Mark Labels.
The papers relating to trade matters on the Continent (GDB/CO05.02/04) contain correspondence concerning: arrangements made for the production, supply and distribution of advertising material and showcards to customers on the Continent and correspondence files of travellers reporting on trade conditions on the Continent.
The papers relating to trade matters overseas, (GDB/CO05.02/05), detail the introduction and expansion of GUINNESS stout overseas markets; prohibition and the knock on affect on trade; supply, distribution of GUINNESS during World War One; correspondence with bottlers of GUINNESS; orders, supply, distribution to bottlers; applications by agents and bottlers overseas to bottle GUINNESS Foreign Extra Stout; discussions concerning use of fraudulent trademark labels; discussions concerning the introduction of advertising to specific markets and supply and distribution of advertising material to specific markets; correspondence between individual foreign travellers, Company Secretary, and Directors providing detailed discussions on market conditions overseas.
The Company Secretary for the majority of the papers was Gage Spotswood Green. When Green retired in 1930, the Assistant Company Secretary W.F. Molony took over as Company Secretary.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
Guide to our Descriptive Method:
Within the descriptions of each file, where possible all existing file titles and series numbers were noted. When noting the names of the authors of the files, their position within the Brewery, where possible, was also noted in brackets following their names. Once named in a description an author is then referred to thereafter in that description by their last name. The Guinness Company, in its various forms, is referred to as the ‘Company’ and the St. James’s Gate Brewery as the ‘Brewery’.
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.