Amelia Jane D’Esterre GUINNESS MASON (1840/42-1865)

Life story shared by Yota Dimitriadi

Amelia (Amy) was 23 when she died on 2nd August 1865 (though he gravestone records her as being 25 years old at the time of her death). She had only got married two years earlier on 10th March 1863 in St Giles Church, Reading to Commander George Nelson Pomeroy Mason H.R.N.I., 12-14 years her senior, and grand-nephew of Admiral Lord Nelson. His grandmother was sister to Lord Admiral Nelson (The Deal, Walmer and Sandwich Mercury, Saturday 12 April 1890).

Amy left behind her two baby sons: Henry Arthur Theodore (2 years) and newborn George D’Esterre. Amy may have died in childbirth or very soon after judging from the dates on her gravestone. Unfortunately both her sons died about a year after their mother: George in July 1866 and Theodore on 30th December 1866. Theodore is buried in Cheltenham, where the family lived, but George is buried with his mother in Reading Old.

Amy’s family were protestants and she is buried in a prominent position by the main path that led to the Episcopal Chapel.

After his sons’ death, Captain Mason, who was born around 1828 in Amersham, Buckinghamshire moved away from Reading to Deal. We find him at Belvedere, Clevedon, Somerset (1869), at 2 Victoria Esplanade, Kirkley, Suffolk (1871) and at 17 Wellington Terrace, Deal, Kent (1881) where he died on 2nd April 1890 and is buried in Ham. He married Marian Rouse in 1872 and had two children.

He stayed in touch with his father-in-law throughout his life and actually Arthur, Amy’s dad, shared with the Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette (Saturday 19 April 1890) the obituary written for Captain Mason by The Deal, Walmer and Sandwich Mercury (Saturday 12 April 1890). There is no mention of Amy in that article but Arthur refers himself as George’s father-in-law.

We know very little about Amy and her life. She was born in Dublin, Ireland. One of 8 children, she was the second daughter and ‘fondly cherished child’ (inscription on her grave) of Arthur Grattan Guinness, M.D. (1813-1897) and Amelia Henrietta D’Esterre. If the surname ‘Guinness’ rings any bells and makes you wonder, you are correct! Amy was a member of the Guinness dynasty, a great granddaughter of Arthur Guinness 1st, the inventor of Guinness beer and founder of the famous Guinness brewing business!

Arthur Guiness 1st-portrait circa 1759 from wikipedia

The dates of birth of her siblings do not confirm the following information but according to the late homeopath Rhoda Ui Chonaire, who had done extensive research on her father, Arthur, and his family, among the first 5 children there were two sets of twins. Maybe Amelia was one of them and maybe two of the twins died very young,

Amelia’s siblings were: Benjamin Grattan Harrison Guinness (b. 29 Oct 1836-d. 1837), Henry Cramer Guinness (b.12 Jun 1838-d. 2 Jan 1902) , Cecelia Lee (Guinness) McCarthy (b. Nov 1840-d. about 1934), Lucy Augusta (Guinness) Austin (b. 1843-d. Feb 1937), Elizabeth Smyth Guinness (b.28 Nov 1845-d. Sep 1927), Arthur Guinness (b. Jul 1849-d. 26 Dec 1892), Adeseki Guinness (b. 1853 -d?), Nellie Guinness (b. 1856-d?) and Alfred Grattan Guinness (b. Jul 1858-d.Aug 1866). Her young brother Alfred Grattan died a year after Amy’s death, at the age of 8. His funeral was on 11 Aug 1866 and he is buried with her at Reading Old.

Henry Seymour Guinness, member of the Royal Irish Academy, and Brian Guinness researched the family tree and published it in two volumes: The Guinness Family I (1953) and The Guinness Family II (1954).

The Guinness Family by Henry Seymour Guinness (1858-1945), published in 1954.

Among other famous members of her family are her brother Arthur, the youngest of the siblings, a well-known stage actor, who died on 22 March 1893 of rheumatic fever at the Northern Hospital, Holloway Road London, and was buried in Highgate cemetery at 3pm on Monday 27th March. Her sister Elizabeth Smyth Guinness, the sixth child of the family, was a figure, genre and portrait painter, who flourished and exhibited between 1873-1895. According to Census records, she never married and shared an address in Fulham and Hammersmith with Augusta Mary Reid (1842-1931) another female artist. They are both buried in the Churchyard of St. Michael’s, Bray.

No photo description available.
A Modern Young Woman, 1876, watercycolour from The Maas Gallery, London, United Kingdom by Elizabeth Smyth (or Sarah) Guinness. Possibly a self-portrait, a young woman; her open fan suggests she is unattached.

One of her cousins was Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness. 1st Baronet., M.P. of Dublin, brewer and first lord mayor of Dublin under the reformed corporation (1851). Her uncle, the Rev. Grattan Guinness, was a well-known missionary and famous preacher on both sides of the Atlantic. He moved his family from Dublin to East London to set up a missionary training college.

Dr Arthur Grattan Guinness

Amy’s father was a celebrity in his own right. Born in Dublin on 12 January 1813 to John Grattan Guinness, the youngest son of Arthur 1st and Susana Hutton (who died in 1826). Arthur 1st had twenty-one children, ten of whom survived into adulthood. Arthur’a paternal grandmother, Olivia Whitmore, was a cousin of Henry Grattan and because of Arthur’s great regard for Henry, Grattan became one of the family names associated with the Guinness family.

The following information is taken from Rhoda Ui Chonaire’s article The Luther Legacy: homeopathy in Ireland in the 19th Century from The Journal of the Irish Society of Homeopaths Anniversary Issue (October 2010, pages 17 – 24):

Arthur was a physician who practised as a Medical Officer at the Clontarf and Raheny Dispensary. In 1843 he converted to homeopathy when he met Carl Wilhelm Luther and spoke to his friend William Wilde about it. He studied homeopathy under Paul Francois Curie, and practised at the Dublin Homeopathic Dispensary alongside Carl Wilhelm Luther and Gustavus Adolphus Luther. Along with two of his Guinness cousins, Benjamin Lee Guinness and William Smyth Guinness, they were three of the original 41 founder members of the Irish Homeopathy society alongside Gustav Luther and Carl Wilhelm Luther.

When he decided to move to Exeter from his home in Castle Avenue, Clontarf in 1848, , to the dismay of his patients, a meeting of upwards of 300 people of the inhabitants took place, at which an address was prepared, expressing their regret at his departure. By 1858 he had moved to the Berkshire and Reading Dispensary, and the Caledonian Insurance Company lists him as one of the medical referees for Cheltenham in an 1866 ad. The family lived at 12 Victoria Square, Reading. He is still listed in 1868 and again in 1869 as medical attendant to the Cheltenham Homeopathic Dispensary along with a Dr Gwillim, and his pamphlet Observations on Diseases Peculiar to Women appears in the publications list. He is listed in 1873 as Medical Officer for the Oxford Homoeopathic Dispensary, and still had an address there in 1884. One of the listings mentions that he proved the remedy Diosma Crenata (abbreviated Baros – barosma crenulatum).

Arthur’s mother, Susana, died in 1826 when he was a teenager, and his father, John, remarried Jane Mary Lucretia D’Esterre, who already had two young children. She was 18 years old, when her husband, Captain John Norcott D’Esterre, died after a duel in 1815. Daniel O’Connell had insulted the members of Dublin Corporation and refused to withdraw his remark. Captain D’Esterre, a member of the Corporation, took umbrage and challenged him to a duel. D’Esterre was mortally wounded by O’Connell and died some days later. His young widow refused a pension from O’Connell but he later made arrangements for an annuity for her infant daughter, Amelia Henrietta. The young widow married John in 1829, and his son, Arthur Grattan, Amy’s father, married her daughter, Amelia, in December 1835.

In Lady of the House (Friday 15 January 1892) in an interview with Elizabeth Smyth, Amy’s sister, it is mentioned that the pistols used by O’Connell on the occasion were to be seen at Madam Tussaud’s near the wax figure of O’Connell. In the same article the interviewer says to Elizabeth:

“No doubt you are aware that O’Connell always wore a white kid glove on his right hand when he received Communion after killing your grandfather.” “No, that is news to me.” “Well, Catholics take off their gloves as a rule when receiving the Sacraments, but if a Catholic has committed homicide, he is expected to wear gloves when approaching the Holy Table.”


  • Rhoda Ui Chonaire (2010).  The Luther Legacy: homeopathy in Ireland in the 19th Century in the The Journal of the Irish Society of Homeopaths Anniversary Issue October 2010, pages 17 – 24.
  • Rhoda Ui Chonaire  (2012). The Luther Legacy 4: members of the 1845 Committee of the Irish Homeopathic Society in The Journal of the Irish Society of Homeopaths Volume 14, No: 2, Autumn 2012.

Section 47, Row B, Plot 4