William Bower Forwood

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Sir William Bower Forwood
Born (1840-01-21)21 January 1840
Edge Hill, Liverpool, England
Died 23 March 1928(1928-03-23) (aged 88)
Funchal, Madeira
Resting place Windermere Cemetery, Rayrigg Road, Windermere, Cumbria
Nationality English
Education Liverpool Collegiate, Pestalozzian school, Worksop, Derbyshire
Occupation Businessman
Spouse(s) Mary Miles Moss
Elizabeth le Fleming
Children Three sons, seven daughters
Parent(s) Thomas Brittain Forwood
Charlotte Bower
Relatives Sir Arthur Forwood, brother

Sir William Bower Forwood KBE DL (21 January 1840 – 23 March 1928) was an English merchant, shipowner and politician. He was a wealthy businessman and a local politician in Liverpool who raised money for the building of the Liverpool Overhead Railway and Liverpool Cathedral.[1]

Early life and business[edit]

Forwood was born in Edge Hill, Liverpool, the second son of Thomas Brittain Forwood, a Liverpool merchant, and Charlotte née Bower. He was educated at Liverpool Collegiate and at a Pestalozzian school in Worksop. He joined the family business in 1859 and, when his father retired from it on 22 November 1862, ran it with his elder brother, Arthur.[2] This was when the cotton trade was being disrupted by the American Civil War. The brothers made a fortune "first from wartime speculation and blockade running, and then from exploiting telegraph and cotton futures".[3]

The brothers set up offices in New York City, New Orleans and Bombay and ran a small fleet of ships that traded in the West Indies, Costa Rica and New York. William entered politics in 1868 when he was elected to Liverpool Town Council, serving on it for over 40 years, and was a JP for Lancashire from 1882. He was president of the American chamber of commerce in 1872 and of its Liverpool equivalent in 1871 and 1878–81, became president of the Liverpool Cotton Association.[3]

Civic and charitable work[edit]

William Forwood was chairman of Liverpool's Libraries Museum and Art committee from 1890 to 1909,[1] and persuaded Andrew Carnegie to give £50,000 towards building new libraries.[3] He was knighted on 19 July 1883 for his work as the city's Lord Mayor in opposing the Fenians.[3][4] In 1888 he played an important part in raising money for the building of the Liverpool Overhead Railway, and in 1893 became its first chairman.[1] He was a director of the Cunard Line from 1888 to 1923 and its deputy chairman from 1906 to 1909. From 1887 to 1928 he was a director of the Bank of Liverpool and its chairman from 1898 to 1901.[3] As part of his charitable work, he was President of the Seaman's Orphanage. Forwood was treasurer of the executive committee responsible for raising money towards the building of Liverpool Cathedral at the beginning of the 20th century. He took six weeks away from his other affairs and raised a total of £168,000 (£16.7 million as of 2018).[1][5] Forwood was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Lancashire in April 1902,[6] and on 4 June 1902 received the Freedom of the City of Liverpool ″in recognition of the eminent services he has rendered to the municipality throughout his membership of the council, extending over a period of 33 years, ... and especially for the deep interest he has taken in the establishment of libraries and reeding-rooms in the city".[7] He served as mayor of Liverpool for a second period between 10 January and 4 February 1903[8] and as High Sheriff of Lancashire for 1909.

Personal life[edit]

Forwood's first marriage was in 1862 to Mary Eleanor née Moss (1841–1896), daughter of William Miles Moss (1809–1871), a Liverpool merchant and shipowner, and Esther née Johnson (1809–1876). Forwood and Mary had three sons and seven daughters. Mary died in 1896 and in 1898 he married Elizabeth Constant née Hughes – later Hughes Le Fleming (1860–1933) the daughter of Maj-Gen George Cumberland Hughes Le Fleming and his second wife Anne Jane née Rennick of Rydal Hall, Cumbria.

Forwood was a committed Anglican Christian who, as well as raising funds for the construction of Liverpool Cathedral, also developed a lasting relationship with St Mary's Church, Windermere to which he donated window celebrating 40 "glorious summers" in Windermere, and where he also funded the construction of a War Memorial Chapel in the early 1920s.[9]

He developed an interest in yachting, was commodore of the Mersey and the Windermere yacht clubs, and was co-founder of the Yacht Racing Association. Forwood died at the Belmond Reid's Palace hotel in Funchal, Madeira. He was buried in Windermere Cemetery, Rayrigg Road in Windermere.[10] His estate amounted to a little more than £356,000 (£19.7 million as of 2018).[3][5]l


  1. ^ a b c d Box, Charles E.; Jarvis, Adrian (rev) (1984), The Liverpool Overhead Railway, London: Ian Allan, pp. 9–10, 126, ISBN 0-7110-1183-4 
  2. ^ "No. 22684". The London Gazette. 24 July 1883. p. 5904. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Killick, J. R. (2004) 'Forwood, Sir William Bower (1840–1928)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 December 2009. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  4. ^ "No. 25253". The London Gazette. 24 July 1883. p. 3699. 
  5. ^ a b UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 6 November 2017. 
  6. ^ "No. 27426". The London Gazette. 18 April 1902. p. 2506. 
  7. ^ "Court Circular". The Times (36786). London. 5 June 1902. p. 10. 
  8. ^ "Former Mayors and Lord Mayors of the City of Liverpool". Liverpool City Council. Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  9. ^ "St. Martin's Church – a tour of our building (Page 3)". stmartin.org.uk. 2015. Retrieved 2017-01-30. 
  10. ^ "In Memoriam". Windermere Parish News. May 1928: 7. 1928. 

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