Leverhulme, Lewis and Trump

Every year we acknowledge the birthday of William Hesketh Lever with a special assembly looking at events in his life. Lever, later Lord Leverhulme, would have been 165 on 19th September 2016.

Today I want to look at what might be regarded as one of his failures. In 1918 Lever became the major landowner on the Isle of Lewis. He had plans to improve the fishing industry, open a fish cannery and add value to the local economy and improve the quality of life for those living on the Island.

But this time the tides of history were running against Lever. The islanders still remembered the highland clearances and looked upon incoming landlords with hatred and a lack of trust. They simply could not believe he meant good. Further, since he had his own plans, Lever opposed the Government plan to settle land of returning servicemen, coming back from the Great War. He felt his grand design better than the piecemeal approach, but the villagers saw him as removing something that they had a right to have.

Eventually things became so bad on the Island Lever sold up – having to do so after the islanders even refused his idea of giving them the land!

These were terrible times for the Island of Lewis. On New Year’s day 1919 the ship Iolaire had sunk with great loss of life bringing servicemen back from the war. Those young island men who had not perished in Europe perished that night in the seas around their own Island.

This left many young women on the Island were without reasonable hopes of marriage and settled family life. One such was Mary Macleod, who emigrated to the United States in 1930. There she married a Mr Trump and eventually had  a son, calling him Donald. And the rest, as they say, is history.