Edward Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh

Edward Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh

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

Public life

Born in Clontarf, Dublin, he 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 on the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales to Ireland.

In 1891 Guinness was created Baron Iveagh, of Iveagh in the County of Down; 'Iveagh' derives from the old Gaelic "Uíbh Eachach". 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 1908-1927, and in 1910 was appointed GCVO. He was finally in 1919 created Earl of Iveagh and Viscount Elveden, of Elveden in the County of Suffolk.


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. 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 the company on the stock market, before retiring a multi-millionaire at the age of 40. He remained chairman of the public company and chief shareholder.

Public housing

Like his father and brother he 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 created the public gardens known as "St. Patrick's Park".

Art collector

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.

Record estate

After his death in 1927 at Grosvenor Place, London, he 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. Though 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.

By his wife, Adelaide Maria Guinness, a cousin, he had three children: Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness, who succeeded him as Earl; Arthur Ernest Guinness; and Walter Edward Guinness, 1st Baron Moyne. In 1939 his sons gave Iveagh House, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin to the Irish state.

ee also

* Farmleigh


* 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).

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title=Earl of Iveagh | before=New Creation | after=Rupert Guinness | years=1919–1927

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