William Lever, 2nd Viscount Leverhulme

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William Hulme Lever, 2nd Viscount Leverhulme, DL (25 March 1888 – 27 May 1949) was the son of William Hesketh Lever and Elizabeth Ellen, daughter of Crompton Hulme of Bolton.

He was educated at Eton College and graduated from Cambridge University (Trinity College) in 1913 with a master's degree in the Arts.[1][2] William Hulme Lever spent his early years at Thornton Manor which he inherited after his father's death in 1925.


He married twice. His first wife was Marion Beatrice Smith (6 July 1886 – 30 August 1987),[3] daughter of Bryce Smith and whom he married 13 April 1912 and divorced in 1936. They had three children. Elizabeth Ruth Lever was born 9 April 1913. She died 16 April 1972. His son Philip William Bryce Lever, 3rd Viscount Leverhulme was born 1 July 1915 and died 4 July 2000. His daughter Rosemary Gertrude Alexandra Lever (23 April 1919 – 16 October 1994).[3] He married Winifred Agnes Lloyd, daughter of Lt. Col. J. E. Lloyd, on 20 January 1937.


William Hulme Lever was a co-founder of Unilever in 1930. His company Lever Brothers merged with Margarine Unie that year.

Masonic Movement[edit]

Due to the merger of the two firms, many staff employed at the Warrington factory were moved to London, including senior managers. This had the effect of disturbing attendance at the Masonic lodges in the Lever Brothers factory town, and as a result a new lodge was formed named the Mersey Lodge, no. 5434. The Petition to form Mersey Lodge was signed by the Master and Wardens of the Royal Alfred Lodge on 8 September 1933. As a result, Mersey Lodge was consecrated on 19 January 1934.[4]

Belgium Congo[edit]

Lever Brothers operated from the Belgian Congo beginning in 1911. In response to civil unrest by the Congolese, the company "demanded more troops, more police and more brutality. When the railway lines around the Congo River rapids were rebuilt between 1923 and 1932 the regime mobilised 68,000 forced labourers of which 7,700 died".[5] Due to their involvement with the Belgian Congo, there was a stark contrast to how the Leverhulmes are remembered at home in England.[6]


United Reformed Church of St Andrew and St George, Bolton[edit]

William Hulme Lever's parents married at the United Reformed Church of St Andrew and St George in Bolton, on 17 April 1874. In 1936 William Hulme Lever paid for many improvements to the church, including widening the chancel and providing choir stalls, a communion table and a pulpit. He arranged for a new marble floor and the communion dais was finished with polished Hopton Wood stone. The chancel walls and the organ gallery were lined with carved Austrian oak panelling. He paid for two stained glass windows, one illustrating the ‘Parable of the Talents’ in memory of his father, and another, ‘The Resurrection Morning’, in memory his mother.[7]

Titles, Styles & Honours[edit]

  • Captain in the service of the 4th/5th Cheshire Regiment (Territorial Army)
  • High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1923
  • Governor of Lever Brothers and Unilever
  • 2nd Viscount Leverhulme, of the Western Isles, cos Inverness and Ross and Cromarty, 7 May 1925
  • 2nd Baron Leverhulme, of Bolton-le-Moors, co. Lancaster, 7 May 1925
  • 2nd Baronet Lever, 7 May 1925
  • Knight of Justice, Order of St. John of Jerusalem (K.St.J.)
  • Justice of the Peace (J.P.) for Cheshire
  • Office of Deputy Lieutenant (D.L.) of Cheshire
  • Rank of Honorary Air Commodore in the service of the No. 919/923 (West Lancashire) Balloon Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force
  • Pro-Chancellor of Liverpool University between 1932 and 1936
  • Awarded of Osborne Reynolds Medal in 1937
  • Office of Mayor of Bebington in 1937
  • Honorary degree of Doctor of Law (LL.D.) by Liverpool University, Liverpool, Lancashire, England, in 1937.
  • Rank of Honorary Colonel in 1941 in the service of the 4th AA Division, Royal Army Service Corps


William Hesketh Lever is interred with his parents at Christ Church, Port Sunlight. A valuable bust of William Hulme Lever was stolen in 2009 from the plinth near his parent's tombs in Christ Church, Port Sunlight. It is feared it may be melted down for scrap.[8]

External links[edit]

Viscounts Leverhulme (1925)[edit]


  1. ^ LEVERHULME, 2nd Viscount, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2015; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014
  2. ^ History of Thornton Manor
  3. ^ a b http://www.boltonsmayors.org.uk/tree-lever-w-h.pdf
  4. ^ "Mersey Lodge 5434". Mersey Lodge 5434. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Leverhulmes Ghosts, Book Review by Charlie Kimber, September 2008
  6. ^ Wilson, An (25 January 2010). "A.N. WILSON: How the Cadbury family of the Victorian age would put today's fat cats to shame". Daily Mail. London. 
  7. ^ [1] The United Reformed Church of St Andrew and St George, Its Origin and History.
  8. ^ [2] Priceless bust of Lever stolen from memorial; Bronze sculpture may be melted down for scrap. 2009
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Hesketh Lever
Viscount Leverhulme
Succeeded by
Philip William Bryce Lever