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William Hesketh Lever


(1st Viscount Leverhulme of the Western Isles)

1851 - 1925

Industrialist and philanthropist. Born in Bolton (England), his connection with Scotland is through the Island of Lewis and Harris, which he bought in 1918. He had built the Lever Brothers - Unilever soap and detergent conglomerate from 1886, and made a significant fortune. He wanted to promote good living conditions amongst his employees and founded Port Sunlight near Liverpool (1888) to this end. He spent a huge sum on Lewis and Harris in an experiment in social engineering, attempting to eradicate poverty and established various industries to provide employment. In Lewis he tried to create dairy farms, but these were plagued by land-raiders and, despite the support of the local people, this brought an end to his schemes there. He gifted 25,900 ha (64,000 acres) of land around Stornoway to the people in 1923. He continued to work in Harris, but these stopped with his death causing further poverty and significant emigration.

He was raised to the peerage as Lord Leverhulme of Bolton-le-Moors in 1917 and elevated to become Viscount Leverhulme of the Western Isles in 1922.

He died in Hampstead (London).


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