The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Jesse Boot, 1st Baron Trent (1850-1931), Retail and manufacturing chemist and philanthropist

Retail and manufacturing businessman and philanthropist, born 2 June 1850 in Nottingham, son of herbalist and Methodist preacher. Working in father’s business aged 10 and a partner by age 21; by 1914 he had built it into a nationwide pharmacy chain trading as Boots the Chemists; following marriage to Florence Rowe in 1886, the retail stores extended to fancy goods and a circulating library, while the pharmaceutical side developed manufacturing and dispensing; knighted 1909; baronet 1916; retired 1920, using his wealth to create parks in Nottingham, support the Liberal Party, assist war veterans and build what is now Nottingham University; Baron Trent of Nottingham 1928; died 13 June 1931, at Vallée, Jersey.

It is recorded that, being deeply devout, Boot ‘never paraded his religion … Display in such matter he hated’. [1] He was ‘no snob, remaining to the last a homely individual very interested in homely things’ [2] and resolutely opposed to personal publicity. Rosy faced and keen eyed, from middle life he suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis, which eventually confined him to bed. ‘Afflicted as he was he never knew the meaning of the word “impossible”,’ recalled a colleague. ‘He had a firmness of determination, a burning enthusiasm, a sincere and earnest conviction which carried him over one after another of these obstacles with as much ease almost in his progress as if they had not been there.’ [3]

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) ‘A close friend’ writing in Nottingham Journal, 15 June 1931, p.4, quoted in Chapman 1974, p.36.
2) Mrs A. Verini, letter, Nottingham Evening Post, 13 June 1931.
3) Alderman E. Huntsman, speaking on 7 Jan. 1937 at the installation of a memorial to Boot at the then University College Nottingham, reported in Nottingham Journal, 8 Jan. 1937, reprinted in Beacon, Feb. 1937, p.7.

Referencesback to top

Armstrong 1980
Armstrong, K.C., Behind a Painted Smile: A Biography of James W. Popple, Fine Art Restorer, Nottingham, 1980.

Beckett & Brand 1997
Beckett, J.V., and Brand, K., Nottingham: An Illustrated History, Manchester, 1997.

Briscoe 1901
Briscoe, J.P., Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire at the Opening of the Twentieth Century: Contemporary Biographies, ed. W.T. Pike, Pike’s New Century Series, no.5, Brighton, 1901.

Chapman, S.D., Jesse Boot of Boots the Chemists: A Study in Business History, London, 1974.

Chapman 2004
Chapman, S.D., ‘Boot, Jesse, First Baron Trent (1850–1931)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004.

Grant 2000
Grant, I.C., comp., You Have Nothing to Do but to Save Souls: The Evolution of the Nottingham Central Methodist Mission, Nottingham, 2000.

Jeremy 1984–6
Jeremy, D.J., ed., Dictionary of Business Biography: a biographical dictionary of business leaders active in Britain in the period 1860–1980, 3 vols, London, 1984–6.

Roberts 1938
Roberts, C., Achievement: A Record of Fifty Years’ Progress of Boots Pure Drug Company Ltd, Nottingham, 1938.

Weir 1994
Weir, C., Jesse Boot of Nottingham: Founder of the Boots Company, Nottingham, 1994.