Sir William Henry Wills  
The Times
Monday, January 30, 1911


Lord Winterstoke

   We regret to announce that Lord Winterstoke (Sir William Henry Wills) died suddenly at his residence, Blagdon Lodge, near Bristol, early yesterday morning in his 81st year. He appeared to have been in his usual health lately, and only on Saturday he was out on his estate and had a parade of horses entered for forthcoming shows. When he retired there was nothing unusual in his appearance, but at about 3 o'clock yesterday morning he summoned his niece, Miss Stancombe Wills, whom he informed that his breathing, which had troubled him of late, was very difficult. A doctor was sent for and arrived at 5 o'clock. Although everything was done to relieve the patient he died shortly afterwards from heart failure.

   Lord Winterstoke was the only son of Mr. William Day Wills, one of the founders of the tobacco firm of Messrs. W. D. and H. O. Wills, and was born in September, 1830. After being educated at Mill Hill School and the London University he gave up his intention of going to the Bar and joined his father in the great tobacco business at Bristol. He took an active part in local affairs and was made a Justice of the Peace so long ago as 1866, and was therefore one of the senior members of the Bench. He became a prominent member of the local Liberal Party and was president of the Anchor Society in 1864. In 1880 he was elected to Parliament for Coventry, which he represented until 1885, when that borough lost one of it's members. From 1894 to 1900 he sat for South Bristol. He served as Sheriff of Bristol and was appointed Deputy-Lieutenant of
Somerset. He was created a baronet in 1892 and raised to the peerage in 1905.

   Sir William Henry Wills, as he was then, was chief mover in the formation of the Imperial Tobacco Company, the head offices of which are at Bristol, and he retained the position of chairman to the time of his death. The company was formed in 1901 to acquire the business of 13 tobacco manufacturing concerns in the United Kingdom, and the magnitude of the operation is shown by the fact that the total consideration for the purchase was £11,957,000. In the following year other businesses were acquired, and the "combine," as it was known in the trade, acquired a large interest in two important companies. For many years, too, Lord Winterstoke had been a director of the Great Western Railway Company and also of the Bristol Waterworks Company and the Phoenix Assurance Company. He was one of the founders of the London Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society. He spent most of his time at Blagdon, where he bred Shire horses and Shorthorn stock, which have taken many prizes at the leading shows. Lord Winterstoke has made munificent gifts to Bristol, including it's art gallery, and contributed £35,000 to the Formation Fund of the local university, of which he was pro-Chancellor. He gave liberally to religious, educational, and charitable institutions, not only at Bristol, but also in London and elsewhere. His last gift, announced a few days ago, was £5,000 to the scheme for enlarging Bristol General Hospital. He presented the city with a statue of Edmund Burke, which was unveiled by Lord Rosebery. He presented valuable organs to the Colston Hall and to Bristol Grammer School, Mansfield College, Oxford, and Mill Hill School, to the centenary fund of which he gave £10,000. He married in 1853 Elizabeth, daughter of John Stancombe, of Trowbridge, who died in 1896, and leaves no heir.