William Lever, 2nd Viscount Leverhulme

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Viscount Leverhulme in 1938 Viscount Leverhulme, President of the International Committee of Scientific Management, 1938-09-19 LCCN2016874019 (cropped).jpg
Viscount Leverhulme in 1938

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 and died 16 April 1972; his son Philip William Bryce Lever, 3rd Viscount Leverhulme, was born 1 July 1915 and died 4 July 2000; his second daughter Rosemary Gertrude Alexandra Lever was born 23 April 1919 and died 16 October 1994. [3] He married Winifred Agnes Lloyd, daughter of Lt. Col. J. E. Lloyd, on 20 January 1937.


The 2nd Viscount Leverhulme was a co-founder of Unilever in 1930. His company, Lever Brothers, merged with Margarine Unie that year.

Masonic movement

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]

Belgian Congo

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.[ citation needed ]


United Reformed Church of St Andrew and St George, Bolton

The 2nd Viscount Leverhulme's parents married at the United Reformed Church of St Andrew and St George in Bolton, on 17 April 1874. In 1936, William, 2nd Lord Leverhulme, 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. [6]

Appointments and honours

Coat of arms of William Lever, 2nd Viscount Leverhulme
Leverhulme Achievement.png
A trumpet fesswise thereon a cock Proper charged on the breast with a rose as in the arms.
Per pale Argent and barry of eight Or and Azure two bendlets Sable the upper one engrailed in sinister chief a chaplet Gules and in the dexter base a rose of the last leaved and seeded Proper.
On either side an elephant Or charged on the shoulder with a rose Gules.
Mutare Vel Timere Sperno (I Scorn To Change Or Fear) [7]


Lord Leverhulme died on 27 May 1949 and is interred with his parents at Christ Church in Port Sunlight. A valuable bust, by Sir Charles Wheeler, of William, 2nd Viscount Leverhulme, was stolen in 2009 from the plinth near his parents' tombs in Christ Church, Port Sunlight. It is feared it may have been melted down for scrap. [8]

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Thornton Hough Village in England

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The Manor of Rivington at Rivington in Lancashire, England was the past feudal means of control over land with manorial rights above and below ground. The manor history commences 1212 when the Pilkington family owned six oxgangs of land. Records are within a book Leverhulme sponsored, authored by William Fergusson Irvine using the same sources as an earlier work by Harland, the antiquarian who had inspected the Rivington Deeds and Documents, at Rivingon Hall in 1864. The manor was divided in moieties and in the 16th century the Pilkingtons of Rivington Hall owned a 5/8 share, the Cromptons who later occupied the Hall are reputed to have sold their share to William Hesketh Lever in 1900. Lever in turn agreed compensation for the majority of his freehold at Rivington from the Liverpool water company through the Liverpool Corporation Act 1902, the act makes no mention of the manor and there is no record of any later sale of manorial rights by Leverhulme or his heirs. Other owners of shares included a quarter owned in the past by the Lathoms of Irlam and an eighth owned by the Shaw family. The manor was not voluntarily registered under the Land Registration Act 2002 and resultingly no reference is made to it in modern title deeds. There are no manorial records at the National Archive.

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Huileries du Congo Belge (HCB) was a subsidiary of the soap manufacturing company Lever Brothers, created by William Hesketh Lever, which ran plantations in the Congo for the production of palm oil, using forced labour. It was established in 1911, when the soap manufacturer received a concession from the Belgian government for 750,000 hectares of forest in the Belgian Congo, mostly south of Bandundu. By 1923, a Lever soap factory was built there, and by 1924 SAVCO was established. It was the nucleus of the United Africa Company, a principal supplier to the United Kingdom of several key commodities. From 1951 it was producing Lux soap.


  1. LEVERHULME, 2nd Viscount, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2015; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014
  2. History of Thornton Manor
  3. 1 2 "Lord Leverhulme (William Hesketh Lever)". Links in a Chain: The Mayors of Bolton. Bolton Town Hall. n.d. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  4. "Mersey Lodge 5434". Mersey Lodge 5434. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  5. Kimber, Charlie (September 2008). "Lord Leverhulme's Ghosts". Socialist Review. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  6. The United Reformed Church of St Andrew and St George, Its Origin and History (PDF)
  7. Debrett's Peerage. 1921. p. 557.
  8. Murphy, Liam (3 July 2009). "Priceless bust of Lever stolen from memorial; Bronze sculpture may be melted down for scrap". Daily Post. Liverpool. Retrieved 15 June 2018 via Free Online Library.
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Viscount Leverhulme
Succeeded by