Lever Brothers was a British manufacturing company founded in 1885 by brothers William Hesketh Lever (1851–1925) and James Darcy Lever (1854–1916). They invested in and successfully promoted a new soap-making process invented by chemist William Hough Watson. In 1930, Lever Brothers merged with Margarine Unie to form Unilever.
Starting with a small grocery business begun by his father, William Lever and his brother James entered the soap business in 1885 by buying a small soap works in Warrington. The brothers teamed up with a Bolton chemist, William Hough Watson, who became an early business partner. Watson invented the process which resulted in a new soap, using glycerin and vegetable oils such as palm oil, rather than tallow. The resulting soap was a good, free-lathering soap, at first named Honey Soap then later named "Sunlight Soap". Production reached 450 tons per week by 1888. Larger premises were built on marshes at Bromborough Pool on the Wirral Peninsula at what became Port Sunlight. Though the company was named Lever Brothers, William Lever's brother and co-director James never took a major part in running the business. He fell ill in 1895, probably as a result of diabetes, and resigned his directorship two years later