Lever, William Hesketh, 1st Viscount Leverhulme

BORN 19 Sep 1851, Bolton, Lancashire - DIED 7 May 1925, London: Hampstead
GRAVE LOCATION Port Sunlight, Merseyside: Christ Church

William Hesketh Lever was the son of a grocer. After working in an office he became a commercial traveler. He married Elizabeth Hulme, whom he knew from school.

In Warrington he leased a small soapworks and founded Lever Brothers, together with his younger brother James Darcy Lever. They produced soap under the name Sunlight. They moved their expanding business to a location in Cheshire near Liverpool that became Port Sunlight.

He always promoted good conditions for workers and apart from a factory he built houses for the working people, churches and a pub at Port Sunlight. The company grew into a multinational and had 250 associated companies. In 1929 it merged with Margarine Unie from the Netherlands to become Unilever.

In 1906 Lever entered Parliament, in 1917 he was made a baronet and in 1922 a viscount. Lever collected art and afther the death of his wife in 1913 he built Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight to exhibit his huge collection in her memory. He started a lot of projects to fight against poverty, but after his death in 1925 these activitities stopped.


Grave monuments for William Lever and his wife in front of Christ Church in Port Sunlight, Birkenhead (near Liverpool).
Picture by Androom (16 May 2005)


Encyclopaedia Britannica
William Hesketh Lever, 1st Lord Leverhulme

Levetzow, Magnus von

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 01 Jun 2020