First a little potted history. Founded before 1431, bought by Calvert & Co in 1730, under which name it traded until 1860, when it became a limited company called the City of London Brewery Co.* In 1926 it was bought and closed by Hoare & Co.**
Despite having been converted into a public company, the Calvert family were still involved with the brewery:
"The late Mr. Nicholson Calvert—At the funeral of Mr. Nicholson Calvert (late secretary of the City of London Brewery Company, Limited, and formerly a partner in the firm of Calvert and Co.). which recently took place, we are informed that a touching and characteristic tribute was paid to the memory of the deceased gentleman. The whole of the staff of the counting-house, and all the men who could possibly be spared from their duties. spontaneously followed the hearse, and as the procession moved through a dense crowd of spectators in Thames-street, much feeling was displayed. The funeral took place at Furneaux Pelham, in Hertfordshire, the remains of the lamented deceased being buried in the old family vault."The death of Nicholson Calvert was a rare chance to get hold of shares in City of London Brewery. As you can see, there was plenty of interest in buying them. Not surprising given the size of the dividends that had been paid in the preceding decade:
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 3, 1873, page 45.
"Sale of Shares and Stock in the City of London Brewery Company — The shares and stock in this brewery, advertised in The Brewers’ Guardian of the 15th inst., were offered for sale at public auction at the London Tavern, on Tuesday last by Mr. Malcolm Searle, under the Chancery suit, Philips v. Calvert and others. The sale was very well attended, and on mounting the rostrum, Mr. Searle stated that he had the honour of offering for sale £4,042 worth of valuable shares and brewery stock in possession and reversion, the property of the late Nicholson Calvert, Esq., some time secretary of the City of London Brewery Company, Limited. The first sum he had to offer consisted of 1,542 ordinary stock fully paid up, with the accruing dividend thereon, an in referring to the particulars of the sale they would find that the dividends hitherto paid had been as follows:— For the year ending December 31st, 1860, 6 per cent.; 1861, 6.25 per cent.; 1862, 7.5 per cent.; 1863, 9 per cent. ; 1864, 9.5 per cent.; 1865, 10 per cent.; 1866, 8.5 per cent.; 1867, 8 per cent. ; 1868, 10 per cent. ; 1869, 10 per cent. ; 1870, 11.5 per cent. ; 1871, 12.5 per cent. ; and for last year, 10.5 per cent.; giving an average of £9 3s. 5d. per cent., but if they based their calculations on the last three years, which was the usual custom, they would find they were paying a dividend of something like 11.5 per cent. He need not add that the high estimation in which this brewery was held was so well known, that it was most difficult to procure shares in the concern save under such circumstances as those which had called them together that day. The solicitors under the estate were in attendance ready to offer any explanation, and he would now at once proceed to the sale. Lot 1 consisted of £250 worth of ordinary stock fully paid up, and the biddings started at £310, and it was finally knocked down to Messrs. Lound & Stransom, of Chancery Lane, at £355. Lots 2, 3, 4. and 5, were precisely similar ; lot 2 sold also at £355 to Col. Western, but bidding became more spirited after that, and the following sums were realised :—Lot 3, £360, Jas. Bunce, Church-street, Camberwell ; lot 4, same price, Henry Savage, Loughboro-road; lot 5 started at £355, and ran up to £375. at which price it was knocked down to Mr. Lound, the purchaser of the first lot 3; lot 6, a similar lot of £142 stock, fetched £215, being bought by Mr. G. Bolton ; lot 7, £150 stock (similar), went to the same purchaser at £235 ; and lot 8, a preference share of £25 (£20 paid up), went to Mr. Jas. Bunce at £40 ; lots 9 to 13 embraced £2,500 ordinary stock, fully paid up in reversion, subject to the life interest of a lady in the 67th year of her age, and to an equal fifth part of an annuity of £50 during the life of a gentleman, now 70 years of age. The whole of these failed to reach the reserve price fixed by the Court of Chancery, and therefore were not sold ; but we understand the auctioneer will be ready to enter into private negotiations for their sale.1860 was very early for a brewery to have become a limited company. Even the very large London brewers mostly only took that step in the 1880's and 1890's, usually being run as partnerships. The motivation for taking that step was mostly to raise capital to buy pubs. Something that was very important when new licences became almost impossible to acquire and breweries were keen to retain outlets for their beer.
"The Brewers' Guardian, vol. 3", 1873, page 234.
Here are those dividends in handy table form:
They do indeed look very healthy and generally on the increase. No wonder they were snapped up.
* "A Century of British Brewers Plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, page 81.
** "The Red Lion" by Victoria Hutchings, 2013, page 112.