James Darcy Lever

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James Darcy Lever (10 February 1854 – 29 March 1910) was the co-founder, with his brother William Hesketh Lever, of Lever Brothers, the company that became Unilever. However, due to illness, he played little part in running the business.

He was born in Bolton, the son of James Lever and Eliza Hesketh of Wood Street.[1] The brothers established a business with the chemist William Hough Watson, inventor of a new soap-making process, in Warrington and then at Port Sunlight on the Wirral.[2]

James Lever married Annie Kershaw on 26 April 1882 and, with other family members moved to Thornton Hough,[3] 4 miles (6.4 km) from Port Sunlight, after 1884.[4] James Lever never took a major part in running the business. He fell ill in 1895, probably as a result of diabetes, and resigned his directorship two years later. A biography by Adam Macqueen suggests his symptoms, before the discovery of insulin, may have been mistaken for mental instability.[5]

He died at Thornton Hough in 1910. A memorial window designed by H.Gustave Hiller of Liverpool was installed in the north transept at All Saints Church, Thornton Hough.[6] The window was a gift from his widow and niece, Mary Ethel Dean, in 1912.[7]


  1. ^ "Lever Family Tree". Bolton Mayors. BMBC. 
  2. ^ "Unilever: A company history". BBC. 22 February 2000. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Thornton House, Thornton Common Road, Thornton Hough, CH63 4JU". Jones and Chapman. 
  4. ^ Cardinal, John. "Thornton House, Thornton Hough, Cheshire, England.". peerage.com. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  5. ^ Adam Macqueen, The King of Sunlight: How William Lever Cleaned Up The World, Corgi 2005, pp. 144–149
  6. ^ "Grade: II Date Listed: 2 December 1986 English Heritage Building ID: 215578". British Listed Buildings. http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk. 2 December 1986. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  7. ^ "History and Architecture, All Saints Church Thornton Hough". All Saints Church Thornton Hough. Retrieved July 8, 2011.