For some brief years, the United Kingdom and the Argentine Republic shared top-ten of the richest nations status. Just before losing most of Ireland, one of Albion’s subjects, a Guinness, member of the second-richest family of Britain, married the daughter of the French-Basque owner of the renowned Tortoni Café of Buenos Aires. Almost simultaneously, the owner, sons and daughters, and son-in-law, died; and the Tortoni fell on hard times. The greater part of Argentina’s wealth would disappear, the British Lion would lose its cubs, and the Guinnesses would be a little less rich. This is logical in a share-the-wealth mentality world. Nevertheless, where family, in whatever form, was maintained, status remained, and where civilization was disdained, decline was severe. This essay examines the relationship between two families, and is, broadly speaking, an allegory for the success of their respective nations.
This article follows that of a version in Spanish, El Café Tortoni y el Imperio Británico, but generally excludes the gentle rebuke of anti-imperial sentiment.
In manifold ways, the name Guinness is known world-wide, whether for a beverage, a book of records, or through the fame of the contributions of other individual members to religion, politics, the Arts, philanthropy, to name a few. It may not be so obvious that the above-mentioned three ways of knowing the name are all related.In manifold ways, the name Guinness is known world-wide, whether for a beverage, a book of records, or through the fame of the contributions of other individual members to religion, politics, the Arts, and philanthropy, to name a few. It may not be so obvious that the above-mentioned three ways of knowing the name are all related.
On the other side of the Atlantic, almost at the antipodes of Japan, in a megapolis surrounded by a province of the same name, Buenos Aires, one finds a café of fame sufficient to make it an obligatory stop for even presidents of the United States who dare to visit the southern republic. As this is being written, it seems that no Irish beer is served in that establishment, the Tortoni, but it, and the name Guinness, have something in common.
Notice on Questions of Copyright and Style
The present author is committed to relating pure history, and except for errors in the sources cited, or mistakes in copying, are usually verifiable. However, because of restrictions caused by copyright law, some facts are only alluded to indirectly. As an anecdotal example, a search engine result showed selected words in such a way as to say that the Irish family name cannot be mentioned, which would be ridiculous. It is understood, and even then with less severity than that strange text showed, that no mentioned could be made of a certain beverage. What then, is to be done? The only restriction on the utterance, or printing, of a name that this author is aware of, is related to the practice of not writing the name of the Deity in the Torah.
The 100-year copyright protection given in many countries just about excludes any image that would be of interest to this article. It is hoped that any images that have been inserted comply, at the minimum, with fair-use provisions. These are items such as found on philatelic web-sites, and provided in the same spirit. No claim to ownership of any potential trademark or other name is to be inferred by the reader. The practice is documented at the end of this article.
This article does not take side politically, except insofar as such partiality relates to the conclusion. Anti-imperialism is a modern fashion, but it was certainly supported as recently as, at most, a century ago. More controversial would be to state which nation practised the best colonial policy. The BBC, granted, not an impartial source for non-British subjects, has even reported on people in an African country missing its former rulers, in spite of the mistakes the latter made.
Canadian spelling is used, a blend of British and American. The first versions of this article are to be augmented with footnotes, a bibliography, and images, and further checks for errors, some provoked by including different text styles. New material was seen in April, how to integrate it needs to be considered.
French-Basques in Buenos Aires
In the melting-pot tradition which is often the metaphor applied to the United States, and which might now be considered a limited form of diversity, in the middle of the nineteenth century, a French-Basque by the name of Touan, arrived in Buenos Aires. He would found an establishment, to which he gave the name of a similar one located in the Boulevard des Italiennes in Paris. That name was Tortoni. This coffee-shop would be passed on to a relative, Celestino, or Celestin Curutchet, the father of 6 children. One of these was a daughter, Severine Marcelle. She would be the spouse of Geoffrey Gwynne Guinness. The genealogy, as seen from the Curutchet perspective, is seen in the chart below. Rather than using an “=” to show marriage, interlaced rings are used, because marriages of that time were hardly considered as being between equals.
Germane to our thesis is the fact that Maria Larrive married Jean (John) Touan as a widow. He was the owner of the café where his son-in-law worked, one Juan Pedro, brother-in-law of Celestino Curutchet. In other words, Curutchet ended up as the owner of the Tortoni through family connections. On a greater scale, that is how the Guinnesses acquired their eventual fame.
It is unknown to the present author how Geoffrey met Severina, but, as previously mentioned, Argentina was among the 10 most prosperous nations at the time, and travel, by various shipping lines,was fluid between the two countries. Perhaps Geoffrey would visit the shop of the Scotsman James Smart, seller of men’s wear, a brand which still exists in Buenos Aires, along with similar Anglo names, such as Glenmore, Hamilton-Row, or Burlington. Perhaps Celestino Curutchet did not mention the aforementioned tailor’s, but he may very well have bought his china at Wright’s, just 20 yards from his own place of business. Perhaps there are references to these places in the Buenos Aires Herald, a newspaper founded in 1876.
Buenos Aires was truly progressing in those days; let us say, between 1900 and 1930, with, for example, the construction of the first subway line – that, conveniently passing in front of the Tortoni, with even an almost unnecessary stop there. Its station signs were made in Offenburg, Germany, its wagons were from Belgium. The shipping to the city was interrupted by the Great War, an example being that of a Croatian businessman, Nicolas Mihanovich, who had interests in Argentina. As Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he was forced to sell, and that was to a British shipping magnate and lord, who would be forced to renounce his title, thus giving examples of how “nothing” lasts forever.
Furthermore, according to the chronicles of the time, in the second month of the war, ‘”the finest vessel in the South American trade”’, a new superliner, the Cap Trafalgar, with salons appointed with the same luxury as those of the Imperial Palace at Potsdam, was in the port of Buenos Aires. At only the third of the tonnage of the Titanic, admittedly it was in a different league. At any rate, it found itself unable to take passengers on a return trip to Europe, because its captain, Julius Wirth, received orders to prepare to fight. In September, the Cap Trafalgar, with Wirth aboard, was sunk by Captain Grant of the Carmania near Trinidad. Not explained in the version of the narrative that was consulted, is how the surviving soldiers ended up taking a long rest in Buenos Aires. At least they were not jailed, like those of World War II’s Graf Spee.
Ten years later, another vessel, the Vestris, which traded between Liverpool, New York, and Buenos Aires, and carrying passengers such as the Japanese military attaché to Buenos Aires, Major Yoshio Inouye, and his wife; William W. Davies, the North American correspondent of La Nación of the aforementioned city, not to mention people that are of less interest to the media, except in their moment of suffering, such as the lady who sold everything in the States to be with her daughter in South America. [A. A. Hoehling, They Sailed into Oblivion, Nueva York: Ace Books, 1959, 184 – 194.] This ship also foundered, but the examples given show the historical importance of a city and its country, to paraphrase the title of a book about the same place.
Returning to the genealogical chart, it may be seen that the matrimonial connection between Severina Curutchet and Geoffrey Gwynne Guinness dates from 1886. Contrary to the usage of most Latin American countries, she adopted the surname of her husband, according to Northern European practice of the time.
Before expounding on the individual lives of the Guinness side of this marriage, this is a summary of what has been presented up to now as the kernel of this essay: a building, approximately half-way between two symbols of the Argentine Republic, its equivalent of the U.S. White House, the Casa Rosada, on the one end of the avenue, and the Congress building at its other extreme. In that building lived a woman of French-Basque ancestry, which to a minor degree, through marriage, became aligned with the royalty of Europe. One sees the degree of penetration of European immigration in Buenos Aires by the fact that a Briton owned, just 20 metres away, a shop, which probably sold tableware at the time. Between the two establishments, is a conveniently located subway station, opened just in time for the prosperity of the Tortoni, both of which represent part of the Golden Age of a nation and its capital city.
Severine Marcelle Guinness
Severine, or Severina, for the purposes of this essay, bears importance principally for the sons she bore her husband. Apparently, during the first years of marriage, she would travel around the British Isles and France with her husband, though she often was alone in a Paris apartment in the posh 16th arrondissement, and later, back again in Buenos Aires. She reportedly collected post-cards, the “p.c.’s” of the early 20th Century, and later took piano lessons.
Geoffrey Gwynne Guinness
For lack of information about Geoffrey G. Guinness, one may take two positions. Negatively, it may be asked if he did not become a persona non grata for marrying someone below his level. Furthermore, this was a marriage between a Protestant, and a Catholic, at a time when even an ecclesiastical permission on the Catholic side would leave a whiff of scandal. At any rate, Severina, although confessing herself as Catholic in a census, along with the household cook and servant, she did not comply with her religious obligations, in that data shows that her sons were raised in the Protestant faith.
Since on the whole, the Guinnesses are reserved, [http://www.herald.ie/lifestyle/the-guinnesses-1895330.html] another tack could be taken. It may be asked if Geoffrey did not silently watch over family affairs, without word of it ever coming out. This is the positive view of his role. Perhaps someone could elucidate, or expand on what is found here.
The wedding probably took place in Ireland, where Mister Guinness would feel more at ease, more masculine, in showing his fiancée the family properties and mansions. Señor Curutchet, as a skillful businessman, would probably have approved of his daughter’s match.
His profession, if any beyond just being a member of the gentry, may not always have been that which is listed in the 1901 census. There he is found as an exporter of stock, a rather imprecise term, but considering the natural resources of the Emerald Isle, it may be safely assumed that some form of livestock is what was meant. However, with its multiple meanings, such as railway rolling stock, that which is found in a warehouse, or items on the bourse, “stock” exporter might just have been the minimum necessary to satisfy the demands of the census. If livestock is the correct answer, one may imagine the offspring of his business pasturing in the Pampas even today, or suffering the less exciting life of a feedlot.
Victor Edward Gwynne Guinness
Victor was born July 26, 1890, which would agree the 1901 census, taken March 31, where he is shown as being 10 years old. [peerage.com: <http://www.thepeerage.com/p30174.htm#i301740>, <http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1901/Dublin/Blackrock/Glenart_Avenue/1314344/>%5D The second source listed gives his birthplace as Buenos Aires. This is reasonable, considering that Geoffrey and Severina were not present for a photograph of the Guinness clan in Stillorgan in 1890. [http://www.royalsocietyofbritishartists.org.uk/files/RBA%20Newsletter%20Spring%202009.pdf]
Victor attended Wellington College in Berkshire, and then the Royal Military Academy. December 23, 1910, the gentleman cadet attained the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers. [http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/28455/pages/216/page.pdf] Somehow, in the 1911 census, he is shown as a resident of Medway. March 21, 1913, he was promoted to Lieutenant. [http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/28704/pages/2236] He fought in the World Wars I and II. The rather cryptic result of our source suggests that he may have been Chief Engineer.
The illustration below is from a letter sent by a soldier of King George’s Own Sappers and Miners, around the time that Victor was reportedly in Mesopotamia.
Royal Engineers at the Time of the Tortoni
The following relation, for lack of sources available to the public, suggests where Victor may have been up to the time of the death of his parents. He may have followed in the footsteps of relatives who were also in the military, or that of other Royal Engineers. The following reflects material found on the Internet.
Lieutenant Henry Seymour Guinness was in India between at least 1880 and 1885, and for reasons difficult to understand, he was a civil, not military engineer there. In 1884, he fought in the Burmese War. Two other Guinnesses were also found on the Indian subcontinent, Charles Wofran Nugent, and Henry William Newton, both mentioned for the year 1880.
There is a famous college for military engineers in the Indian city of Roorkee, founded by the British. Good data is hard to find, as the city itself has its record in the Guinness book devoted to such items. At other times, the search is complicated by mention of soldiers drinking a stout of the famed name.
It is not often referred to, but soldiers from India fought for Britain, both in France, and in Mesopotamia in the First World War. Of interest may be the contribution of the Gurkhas fighting the Turks. [http://gillww1.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/26th-gurkha-rifles-in-mesopotamia-1916/] A record has been found for a soldier who served both in India and Iraq, travelling aboard a troop ship, the Coconada. [http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/INDIA/2007-11/1195586725 and details]. That sounds like Spanish, but is in truth a word of Dravidian roots.
The British Government had interest in what is now Iraq, even 100 years ago. It wanted to defeat the German plan to build the Berlin to Baghdad railway. It also wanted petroleum, even back then. A Guinness was involved in the debates. [http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1922/jul/11/middle-eastern-services, and other documents to be in Bibliography from my addtoroni re 1923 to 1925.]
We are not certain as to how a voyage to India may have been effected. There are reasons to believe that this may have been around the Cape of Good Hope, territory not unfamiliar to the extended family named herein, as a Guinness was involved in the Boer War. [www.dublin-fusiliers.com/battaliions/2-batt/…/2-batt-officers.html1914] Looking at the globe though, it seems more likely that, unless military reasons dictated otherwise, the trip would have been made through the Suez Canal, as that way, the distance between London and Bombay was cut by 44% (Diccionario Larousse, “Suez”).
Closer to home, as the Sinn Fein and their allies were fighting the Crown for an independent Ireland, it is not impossible to believe that such a posting would have been convenient for Victor. An item, with uncertainty about dates, does indeed put V.E.G. Guinness in Northern Ireland as of October 27, 1940. Another official took command in 1941. [http://www.unithistories.com/officers/Army_officers_G02.html]
Due to failure to document all web pages seen, lost hard copies, and reduplicated and badly organized electronic files, and time and money considerations in using search engines to sniff out every last bit of available information, it is hoped that confirmation of the following can be made. Supplementary data would also be appreciated.
The present author has strong reasons to believe that Victor was in Iraq in 1914 and 1921, possibly in 1922, and in India in 1921 and 1922. He must have been in Ireland in 1923, he has already been placed there in 1940.
Victor retired, or was retired, in 1945. [www.thepeerage.com ….]
Robert Celestin Guinness
While the first-born kept an element of the paternal name, in the inclusion of “Gwynne”, the second son seems to have been given a name in favour of the maternal line, his grandfather, Celestino, anglicized, of course.
He was born in 1893, and in that he was 8 at the time of the 1901 census, the data of two independent sources match. [thepeerage,com, #301751] He, like his brother, studied at Wellington College. In 1915, he was of member of the Royal Fusiliers of the City of London. [http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/29070/pages/1560/page.pdf] On February 17, 1915, he became Second Lieutenant. Apparently, he was promoted to Lieutenant of the Royal Fusiliers. [www.thepeerage.com/p30176.htm] No mention of him is found as fighting in the First World War. At some moment, he became partner in the firm of Laing and Cruickshank, which deserves a special mention. This firm, stockbrokers, would be associated with the French bank, Crédit Lyonnais. The two institutions were to be bought out in the future.
Robert married in 1929, and the next that was found about him, is that he left the partnership November 21, 1941. [www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/35127/pages/1985/page.pdf] He died in Merton, Surrey, in 1970, without descendents. [www.genesreunited.co.uk/search/results/bmdindexeddeaths/guinness/robert]
Decline, Without Fall
“Vanity, vanity, all is vanity”, and the pessimistic narration of that Scriptural passage would certainly seem to be proven correct in what happened, to a greater or lesser degree, the Tortoni, the Curutchets, the Guinnesses, Argentina, and the United Kingdom.
The Tortoni would be closed for a few years, due to bad economic times. It would acquire fame, more as a living museum, than as the place with the stars of its beginning, famous Argentine literati.
In world affairs, after acquiring more territory during the Great War, the United Kingdom lost a great chunk of Ireland. It would also lose Burma, present day Myanmar, much before its jewel, India – which in turn was to be split apart. Of course, colonial borders were artificial constructs which did not necessarily match what was convenient for the populace.
In Argentina, Jose Felix Uriburu would stage a coup d’état against Hipólito Yrigoyen. Some place the decline of Argentina as of that moment, instead of with the years of Juan Domingo Perón. The Golden Years were over.
The Height of Guinness
While information aggrandizing the life of Geoffrey Gwynne Guinness is lacking here, there is no doubt about the greatness of the clan, if that word may be used, to which he belonged. Edward Guinness, the First Earl of Iveagh, was the second richest man in Britain at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. [http://www.herald.ie/lifestyle/the-guinnesses-1895330.html] At present, the family is worth £850,000, a decline in fortunes, but still the fifth richest family in Ireland – the other four are probably unknown in most of the world. [www.therichest.org/nation/sunday-times-richest-people-in-ireland/] Words worthy of a conspiracy theorist are used by an author in what is meant to be a glowing tribute, “the Guinness family, a dynasty that spans the world with ever-growing confidence”. [http://www.turtlebunbury.com/published/published_books/pub_books_kildare.html (The referenced book was presented by the Honourable Desmond Guinness, president of a Historical Society.] Some members of the family that fought in the colonies have been mentioned, but not that there were missionaries. Beyond the Earl of Iveagh, here are some other connections with nobility, reaching even to sons of former emperors.
Philip Alexius Laszlo de Lombos married Lucy Madeleine Guinness, sister of Geoffrey G. Guinness;and was a painter of the aristrocracy, presidents, industrial magnates, and leading politicians – mostly in Europe, but even in the United States and Argentina. The current page of the English Wikipedia fails to mention Mussolini among his subjects. He had obtained the title of count in the country of his birth, Hungary.
Lady Brigid Rachel Guinness, daughter of the Second Earl of Eveagh, Rupert Guinness, was married by the Crown Prince of Prussia, son of the Kaiser, in 1945, thus obtaining the title of Princess of Prussia. Twins were born, the female of the two, Antonia Elizabeth Brigid Louise, obtained the courtesy title of Marchess of Douro, as a result of marrying the son of the eighth Duke and Duchess of Wellington. Their offspring are at least lords and ladies, with grandchildren, in turn, married to the children of barons, viscounts, counts, and countesses. Rachel Ursula Isolde Guinness gave her hand in matrimony to Prince John Bryant Digby de Mahé. A Guinness has been at a party with the son or grandson of Bismarck. The noble connections of the family are thus solidly documented, at least for the name, even if their are questions about the actual family relationships, which should be shown here in a future version.
Laing & Cruickshank: Guinness?
This article would like to state again that the wealth of the family, due to their secretive nature, may be understated. The argument is as follows: Frank Laing MacRaie was a lieutenant in the City of London Regiment, chairman of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railroad, and member of the Stock Exchange since 1904. He was a partner in Laing & Cruickshank as of 1910. [http://www.roll-of-honour.com/London/StockExchange.html]
Next, one finds Alexander John Cruickshank being promoted at the same time in 1910 as Victor Guinness. [p. 216 THE LONDON GAZETTE, 10 JANtJAKY, 1911 [sic]] Up to this point, all that can be stated is that Alexander knew Robert Celestin’s brother.
Years later, one finds Laing & Cruickshank refered to as a “wealth manager” owned by Credit Lyonnais. It was then acquired by UBS in 2004. [http://www.moneymarketing.co.uk/news/ubs-to-take-over-laing-and-cruickshank/94732.article] Re: UBS, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/2873819/Lyonnais-lines-up-sale-of-Laing-and-Cruickshank.html>%5D This establishes a link between Crédit Lyonnais and Laing & Cruickshank. The year that this started has not been determined.
Finally, a conclusive link has been found between Crédit Lyonnais and the Guinness interests. The name “Guinness” is found within the holding company of Arnault y Associés, together with Crédit Lyonnais, some layers of holdings above the brand name Dior, which then again received investment from the Crédit Lyonnais and Guinness. It is a complicated structure, difficult to describe briefly, and the reader is encouraged to examine the diagram in the source for this information, which may also be out of date. [http://books.google.com/books?id=OOQypY1XlKMC&pg=PA98&lpg=PA98] What is new here, is that it places Guinness investments outside of Great Britain. Not mentioned is that Guinness Mahon, now disappeared, connected with a firm “down-under”, but this is of less import. (On the day this article was launched, a BBC article mentioned Forbes putting Arnault as the 10th richest person in the world.)
Not to be taken dogmatically, as economics is the dismal science, it would seem that the economic climate of the 25 years after 1880 were especially conducive to building greatness. Blaming colonialism and militarism for the success of Great Britain could easily be considered false, unless one immediately turns around and considers that Argentina’s greatest years were a miniature version of the same, in its “Conquest of the Desert”, which was the version of the taming of the United States’ Old West. As long as War Departments, their name at the time, instead of today’s euphemistic Departments of Defence, need to buy weapons, war could not be without heavy cost to a nation, more so, when troop transport is factored in. Once the recruits were also to be clothed, housed, and fed, the cost rose even more.
It would seem that good relations and relationship were the success in the case; on a small scale, for the Curutchets; on a much larger scale, for the Guinnesses; and on an immense scale, for the United Kingdom, which, while letting the colonies free, still kept ties through the Commonwealth. The cases of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, in economic terms, certainly do not bear out that there was any intense suffering on the part of the erstwhile colonists. A sense of fair play really existed in England, it would seem, enshrined, on the popular level, by the “it isn’t cricket” line, but also in the abrupt formation of Crown Commissions to investigate problems that in some Third World countries, are a daily, ignored occurrence. (Note *** William Lyon Mackenzie)
On the other hand, even without policies of so-called blockades, and sanctions, some nations really prefer, intentionally, to isolate themselves from the rest of the world. Cuba has cut itself off, more than it has been isolated by the behemoth to its north. Many of the South American nations, while maintaining ties with one another, and with low-weight nations elsewhere, intentionally snub those nations with which connections would be mutually beneficial. Past abuses by the mighty could certainly be resolved in a more mature manner.
Looking at Eastern Europe, one sees that Russia is among the top dozen economies of the world. While the country may not have liked it, the independent-mindedness of some its former satellite nations may well have contributed to its success. It has even paid off the Tsar’s bonds, though a little less successfully, Soviet-era debt. Russian products and achievements are known, but what can be said about the newly-created republics?
China is another example. Leaving behind its Maoist-era isolationism, it has gone ahead in “great leaps and bounds” once it changed its economy and dealt with the world. The extreme opposite case is North Korea. No doubt its leaders, as those of other isolated and semi-isolated countries, believe in the justness of their position, just as some individuals live the lives of cloistered nuns and monks, or just secular hermits, for reasons which may be noble. But society was built on the family, on agglomerations of families, and the safety of the world, on the family of nations.
Here is a link to a genealogical table prepared for this article, but to return here, the browser return button will have to be used. <The Table>.
© 2013 Paul Karl Moeller20130304-EHNORVляоинз-PKM-20130305
Representative items are given, this section requires editing.
the peerage.com, for various members of the Guinness clan and for their services in various wars
Argentina: A City and a Nation : Details