A tobacco firm established in Bristol which, by the end of the 19th cent., was the largest in Britain. In contrast with many other tobacco importers, by the mid‐19th cent. the directing members of the Wills family understood the nature of retailing and in particular the significance of brand names. Their successes with distinctive pipe tobaccos and a diverse array of cigarettes built a strong market (Passing Clouds 1871, Three Castles 1877, Woodbine 1888). In 1883 they bought the rights to the Bonsack cigarette‐making machine enabling them to dominate cigarette‐manufacturing in Britain until the 20th cent. when they led mergers to form British and American Tobacco in 1902.
Subjects: British History.