Henry Guinness

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Henry Seymour Guinness (24 November 1858 – 4 April 1945) was an Irish engineer, banker and politician.

Engineering career

Born at Burton Hall, Stillorgan, County Dublin, the family home, Guinness was educated at Winchester College and then the Royal Indian Engineering College, and worked as an engineer in the Indian Public Works in 1880–95. He served as a lieutenant in the Burma State Railway Volunteer Rifles in the Third Anglo-Burmese War. Back in Ireland he was a director of the Great Northern Railway in 1902–24, director of the Bank of Ireland, and assistant managing director at Guinness in 1924–30.[1]

Public life

He was appointed High Sheriff of County Dublin in 1899. A supporter of the Irish Unionist Alliance until 1921, he was chosen to represent the Irish business world as a Senator in the Senate of Southern Ireland, which failed to function.[2]

During the Irish War of Independence Guinness arranged for the Sinn Féin led Dublin Corporation to be funded by the Bank of Ireland, as rates due from the Local Government Board had been withheld in 1920. W. T. Cosgrave chaired the British-run Local Government Board finance committee for Dublin, while being at the same time the Minister for Local Government of the Irish Republic. In 1951 he recalled that "I went to the Bank of Ireland and there interviewed two of the Directors, H.S. Guinness and Andrew Jameson. They eventually gave the accommodation so urgently required for the Corporation. It was for this reason that when President of the Executive Council at a later stage, I nominated these two gentlemen as Senators."[3]

Guinness was elected as an independent member of the first Irish Senate of the new Irish Free State for 12 years at the 1922 election.[4][5] He supported measures such as a regular financial system and also the proposal by W. B. Yeats for the local translation of ancient Irish manuscripts.[6] He did not seek re-election in 1934.

Personal life

He lived at Burton Hall, Stillorgan, for many years. In March 1923, during the Irish Civil War, the anti-Treaty republicans tried to burn it down, albeit without success.[7]


He married Mary Bainbridge in 1900 and they had 4 children, including Olympic medalist fencer Judy Guinness.

His father, also named Henry (1829–93), had been the Dublin manager of the Guinness Mahon bank, and a son of its founder, Robert Rundell Guinness. Henry Guinness was also the first to write a number of essays and short books on the history of the Guinness family. The originals and supporting notes are at the National Library of Ireland.

See also


  1. ^ Profile, thepeerage.com; accessed 18 January 2016.
  2. ^ Notes on the SSI
  3. ^ Liam Cosgrave, File BMH.WS0268, Bureau of Military History, published 2003; online 2012
  4. ^ "Henry Guinness". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 28 February 2009.
  5. ^ Nomination mentioned on 6 December 1922 Archived 9 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, oireachtas-debates.gov.ie.
  6. ^ Senate debate on Irish manuscripts, April 1923 Archived 2011-06-09 at the Wayback Machine, oireachtas-debates.gov.ie.
  7. ^ Freeman's Journal, 28 March 1923
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