upload image

English Companies and Their Founders

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
This page has been accessed 563 times.

England Project | Topics Teams


English Companies and their Founders

The goal of this topic is to identify and honour the people who started English Companies, both National and International. A list of the people who have been classified as a founder of an English company can be found at Founders of English Companies category. There are no doubt many more to add, and to categorise.

Small print

Not all of the founders of English companies were/are English, but to feature on this page the companies had to be started in England.

Some of the company links are to categories for the company on Wikitree, which may include founders and employees, others are links to external websites relating to the company.

The Companies

There have been so many English companies, this is only a small selection. The subheadings on this page are a bit arbitrary, and who is included is probably not up to date with who has a category on wikitree ...

Often what a company does now, in the 2020s, is not at all what they started out doing! And many are no longer trading.


Automotive manufacturers





Department Stores


  • Littlewoods football pools, mail-order catalogue and retail stores was founded in 1923 by John Moores in Liverpool.

Foods and beverages

  • Chivers and Sons started by market gardeners then jam manufacturers John Chivers and his son Stephen in Cambridgeshire.
  • J & J Colman was founded by miller Jeremiah Colman when he bought the mustard business of Edward Ames in 1814 and moved production to a mill at Stoke Holy Cross, Norfolk. In 1903 they bought Keen Robinson & Co (Robinsons barley water, founded by Matthias Robinson 1775-1837 in 1820s London). In 1838 it merged with Reckitt & Sons (household goods), founded by Isaac Reckitt in Hull, 1840) to form Reckitt & Colman, bought by Unilever in 1995.
  • Pimm's was created by London shellfish bar owner James Pimm around 1823 to aid customers with digestion. Now owned by Diageo.
  • Rank Hovis McDougall make flour, bread and biscuits. Hovis began in 1886 in Macclesfield, produced by Samuel Fitton & Sons, millers (who existed at least 50 years earlier), based on a production process patented by their miller Richard "Stoney" Smith (1836–1900), the name "Hovis" coming from a public competition. In 1957 it merged with McDougall Brothers, another flour producer, started in 1864 by John McDougall and his 4 brothers. In 1962 Hovis-McDougall was bought by J Rank Ltd, founded by Joseph Rank in Hull in 1875. The merged company later acquired Be-Ro (founded by Thomas Bell 1848-1925 in Longhorsley, Northumberland, originally as Bell's Royal Flour). The whole company was acquired by Premier Foods in 2007.
  • The Smiths Snackfood Company better known as Smiths Crisps was founded in 1920 in Cricklewood as a family enterprise by Frank Smith. After a series of corporate ownership changes, the Smiths brand was largely dropped in favour of Walkers in the 1990s, but remains on some products in the UK and Australia.
  • Spillers Ltd Pet food (Winalot) and flour (Homepride). Began when Joel Spiller started milling in Bridgewater, Somerset in 1829. Bought by Dalgety plc in 1979 who sold the bakery side of the business to Allied Bakeries, the flour milling business to Kerry Group and the pet food business to Nestle.
  • Tate & Lyle, food processing, originally sugar refiners formed from the 1921 merger of longstanding rival companies Henry Tate & Sons founded in 1859 in Lancashire and Abram Lyle & Sons founded in 1887 in Scotland, but both operating out of huge warehouse factories in Silvertown in London. The two company founders reputedly never met each other.



  • East Riding Garage and Engineering Works, later the Armstrong Patent Company, set up by Fullerton George Gordon Armstrong (1885-1969) in Beverley, Yorkshire in 1907, making (amongst other things) shock absorbers for the automotive industry.






Feel free to add! And please add the category 'Founders of English Companies' to the profiles of the founders.

Please feel free, or get in touch, if you would like to contribute to these or others.

  • Login to edit this profile and add images.
  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Marjorie Gibbon and England Project WikiTree. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)

Comments: 7

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.
This is good work. For a while now I've been profile-building/connecting a few brand founders - people whose names everyone knows but not necessarily where they came from, so would probably fit in well with your page. I'd love to do my own page of brand names but a) it would include familiar supermarket brands like Birdseye, Knorr and Schwarz who were established outside the UK. And b) I'm very lazy.

I've started adding English companies to the list and Scots/Irish/Welsh companies to the corresponding page for British companies. I'll leave stuff "to be added" in this message.

I posted a note on Frank Smith (Smiths Crisps) on how to find information on William Alexander (Golden Wonder), Charles Kenyon (KP) and Joseph "Spud" Murphy (Tayto) but didn't actually build them yet. KP is the only English one there.

I ran across the Gilbey family (gin distillers). I'm not sure if Bernard Weatherill of Savile Row is prominent enough to include.

There are so many other brands I haven't looked into yet. Wall's ice cream and sausages, R White's lemonade, Fox's (biscuits or glacier mints). They may have been found already or may be waiting to be discovered! I may dip in and out and occasionally add to your page, but if anyone else wants to get in first, be my guest!

  • I've been looking into Walkers Crisps origin story ("In 1948 a butcher called Henry Walker...") and I find some elements difficult to believe. The repeated elements are he moved from Mansfield in 1880 and opened a butcher's shop in Leicester, then in 1912 moved premises to Cheapside. Let's set aside how old he would have to be in 1948. There was a Walkers butchers in Leicester as early as 1824 making pork pies (Walker & Sons, founder Mark Walker), and there's a Henry Walker and Sons shop in Oadby still trading today that is known for pork pies. Could the "Henry Walker" story be an attempt to claim pre-existing goodwill? I can find one Henry Walker in Leicester in the 1939 register born 1871, none of the Henry Walkers in 1911 or 1901 are described as butchers, and no-one else appears to have been able to pin down the Henry Walker who made his crisp breakthrough in 1948. I challenge Wikitree to find this man!
posted by Stephen Corkey
edited by Stephen Corkey
You might consider Boddington's Brewery, one of the founders, Henry Boddington, already has a profile on Wikitree.


Dennis Brothers -- automobiles. Next Week's EPOW is featuring automotive founders.

Herbert Raymond Dennis KBE and his brother John Henry Cawsey Dennis do not have individual Wikipedia pages, although Dennis Brothers does.

I would love to see more non-Americans featured, and would be happy for anything that might get these two profiles ready for an EPOW feature as supporting profiles. (Henry Ford is the Feature Profile.)

I have not nominated either of them, as they do not - currently - have a Notables sticker. They ARE Connected, both have pictures, and basic biographies.

Is there anyone who can help?

posted by Melanie Paul
Thanks to those who have responded thus far. I love collaboration!  :)
posted by Melanie Paul
Thanks, again, to those who helped. Herbert is to be one of the support profiles this week.

It would be great if there was an interested someone who'd like to expand on their company some day, and who would maybe do a space page for the company under this Topic header. Sadly, automobiles are not an area in which I am interested. (Authors, yes, cars, not so much -- even though I can appreciate a good-looking one. For example, the Dennis Brothers' VCC 1902 Dennis is a really pretty car. As is Genevieve - in which I was once privileged to be permitted to sit, and toot her horn. (I also had a silver pendant to commemorate the event, long since lost.))

posted by Melanie Paul
You might consider Sarson's, which was quite famous for its vinegar from the late 19th century. Sarson-117 would be a good person to look at in connection with this.

Russell Gerrard-621

posted by Russell Gerrard
"Don't say vinegar, say Sarsons"
posted by JG Weston