Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 3.djvu/695

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and the firm was styled W. D. and H. O. Wills. The concern was afterwards converted into a limited liability company and William Henry became chairman of the board of directors.

Wills's technical knowledge and sagacity largely promoted the success of the firm, and helped to meet such difficulties as the failures of the tobacco-leaf crop and the stoppage of supplies during the American war. He became the recognised head of the tobacco trade in Great Britain. In 1878 he was unanimously elected chairman of the committee organised to resist a threatened increase of duty on tobacco. In 1900–1 Wills took a leading part in the ‘combine’ promoted by British tobacco manufacturers to combat the contemplated American ‘trust,’ serving as chairman until his death of the Imperial Tobacco Company, which acquired in 1901 at a cost of 11,957,000l. the business of thirteen tobacco manufacturing concerns in the United Kingdom.

Wills was a prominent member of the liberal party in Bristol and was president of the Anchor Society in 1866. He entered parliament in 1880 as a member for Coventry, representing that borough until 1885, when it lost one of its members. After contesting South-East Essex twice unsuccessfully, first in 1885 and then as an advocate of home rule in 1886, he also failed in South Bristol in 1892, but he was returned at a bye-election in March 1895 for East Bristol, and he represented that constituency until his retirement in 1900. He was created a baronet on 12 Aug. 1893, being the first of his family to receive a titular honour, although baronetcies were also soon bestowed on two first cousins and business colleagues.

Closely identifying himself with local interests, Wills was for some years on the council of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and in 1863 became its chairman. From 1862 to 1880 he served on the municipal council, was chosen one of the charity trustees in 1865, and was high sheriff of the city in 1877–8. To the public institutions of Bristol he was a notable benefactor. He provided organs for Colston Hall and Bristol grammar school. The Bristol Art Gallery and the St. George branch of the Bristol public libraries were built at his expense; and he erected on St. Augustine's Parade a statue of Burke, which was unveiled by Lord Rosebery on 30 Oct. 1894. Like other members of his family he was interested in the university of Bristol, which was incorporated in 1909, and his gifts to it amounted to 35,000l. He was appointed pro-chancellor. On 5 July 1904 he was made an honorary freeman of Bristol. In London, where he had a residence in Hyde Park Gardens, he was well known as a director of the Great Western railway and of the Phœnix Assurance companies and was chairman of the Provincial Companies Association.

A zealous nonconformist by personal conviction as well as by family tradition, he actively engaged in the affairs of the free churches. He joined the board of the dissenting deputies, was a trustee of the Memorial Hall in London, and took a practical interest in the refoundation of Mansfield College at Oxford in 1886. To the new chapel of Mill Hill School, opened in June 1898, he gave an organ and other substantial help; his portrait, subscribed for by the governors, is at the school.

On 1 Feb. 1906 Wills was raised to the peerage on Campbell-Bannerman's nomination as Baron Winterstoke of Blagdon, co. Somerset. His country seat Coombe Lodge was at Blagdon. There he took a deep interest in agriculture and was a well-known exhibitor of shire horses and shorthorn cattle. He was D.L. of Somerset, and high sheriff of the county in 1905–6.

Winterstoke died suddenly at his residence at Blagdon on 29 Jan. 1911, and was buried in the churchyard there. He married on 11 Jan. 1853 Elizabeth (d. 10 Feb. 1896), daughter of John Stancombe of Trowbridge, Wiltshire. Leaving no issue, the peerage became extinct at his death. He left a fortune exceeding 1,000,000l. Two adopted daughters, Miss Janet Stancombe Wilson and Mrs. Richardson, largely benefited under his will. The former presented 10,000l. to Bristol grammar school in Winterstoke's memory. Among the other property which he bequeathed to her was his collection of pictures, and he expressed a wish that she should leave twenty-four of these at her death to the Bristol Art Gallery which he had built.

A portrait by Mr. Hugh Riviere was presented to Winterstoke by his fellow-citizens of Bristol in October 1907, and was placed at his request in the Bristol Art Gallery.

[Lodge's Peerage, 1912; The Times, 30 Jan., 18 and 25 Feb. 1911; Western Daily Press, 30 Jan. 1911.]

C. W.

WILSON, CHARLES HENRY, first Baron Nunburnholme (1833–1907), shipowner, born at Hull on 22 April 1833, was eldest son of Thomas Wilson (d. 1869) o