History of the Trust

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William Hesketh Lever. Reproduced by courtesy of Unilever Archives

One of the great businessmen and entrepreneurs of the Victorian age, William Hesketh Lever brought his tremendous energy and creativity to the manufacture and marketing of his Sunlight Soap, which only a decade after its launch was available in 134 countries around the world. The title Lord Leverhulme was conferred on Lever in 1922, in recognition of his achievements.

From the earliest days, Lord Leverhulme was a committed philanthropist, using his wealth to support a variety of charitable causes. When he died in 1925, he left a share of his holdings in his company, Lever Brothers, to provide for specific trades charities, and to offer ‘scholarships for… research and education’.

The Leverhulme Trust was established. In 1930, Lever Brothers merged with the Van den Berghs margarine company to form Unilever – one of the world’s major multinational companies – and the shares held by the Leverhulme Trust became part of Unilever.