Show ContentsGuinness History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

While many of Irish names are quite familiar to most, their original Gaelic forms are often forgotten and mysterious. The original Gaelic form of the name Guinness is Mag Aonghusa or Mag Aonghuis, which mean "son of Angus." 1

Early Origins of the Guinness family

The surname Guinness was first found in County Down (Irish:An Dún) part of the Province of Ulster, in Northern Ireland, formerly known as county St Mirren, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

Early History of the Guinness family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Guinness research. Another 140 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1539, 1543, 1584, 1640, 1703, 1759, 1797, 1798 and 1868 are included under the topic Early Guinness History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Guinness Spelling Variations

The scribes and church officials of the Middle Ages who recorded names in official documents spelled the names as they sounded. This led to the problem of one name being recorded under several different variations and thus resembling more than one person. Among the many spelling variations of the surname Guinness that are preserved in archival documents of this era include Genis, Guinness, Magennis, Guinnessy, McGuinness and many more.

Early Notables of the Guinness family

More information is included under the topic Early Guinness Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Guinness migration to the United States +

During the middle of the 19th century, Irish families often experienced extreme poverty and racial discrimination in their own homeland under English rule. Record numbers died of disease and starvation, and many others, deciding against such a fate, boarded ships bound for North America. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Unfortunately, many of those Irish that arrived in Canada or the United States still experienced economic and racial discrimination. Although often maligned, these Irish people were essential to the rapid development of these countries because they provided the cheap labor required for the many canals, roads, railways, and other projects required for strong national infrastructures. Eventually the Irish went on to make contributions in the less backbreaking and more intellectual arenas of commerce, education, and the arts. Research early immigration and passenger lists revealed many early immigrants bearing the name Guinness:

Guinness Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Edw Guinness, who arrived in New York, NY in 1810 2

New Zealand Guinness migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Guinness Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mary Guinness, aged 22, a housemaid, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Queen of Nations" in 1874
  • Jane Guinness, aged 33, a servant, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rangitikei" in 1884

Contemporary Notables of the name Guinness (post 1700) +

  • Don Guinness, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from New Jersey 4th District, 1944 3
  • Desmond Walter Guinness (1931-2020), Irish author on Georgian art and architecture, co-founder of the Irish Georgian Society
  • Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness (1798-1868), Irish brewer and restorer of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, born in Dublin 1 Nov. 1798, third son of Arthur Guinness, brewer, Dublin, who died 9 June 1855 4
  • Sir Arthur Edward Guinness (1840-1915), Baron Ardilaun, Irish businessman, politician, and philanthropist, founder of "Guinness" brewery
  • Mary Jennifer Guinness (1937-2016), née Hollwey, an English-born Irish socialite, member of the Guinness family who was kidnapped in April 1986 but rescued eight days later
  • Walter Edward Guinness (1880-1944), made the first Baron Moyne in 1932. He held the posts of Minister of Agriculture, Colonial Secretary, Leader of the House of Lords and Minister of State and British Government representative in Cairo
  • Sir Alec Guinness (1914-2000), Academy Award and Tony Award-winning English actor who was awarded the Oscar for his role in "The Bridge on the River Kwai" in 1958
  • Edward Cecil Guinness (1847-1927), 1st Earl of Iveagh, third son of Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness who spent much of his fortune on many philanthropic projects

  1. MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  2. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  3. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 20) . Retrieved from
  4. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020 on Facebook