Sir William Henry Varney or Vino, born Castle Douglas.

The IGI records the birth of William Reynard Varney, on 22nd December 1866, at Kelton parish. His parents were William and Grace (Paterson) Varney. In the 1881 census the family had moved to the parish of Sorbie, Wigtownshire, where his father was employed as a gamekeeper. William jr, was working as a Telegram Learner.

At the age of 17 William went to sea as a cabin boy on the Guion Line and moved to America where he stayed for three years. Whilst in America he acquired a formula for Veno Cough Cure. When he was 22 he returned to London and developed an interest in politics and public affairs and was in demand as a public speaker.

In 1891 at the age of 25 he went back to America to work in advertising. On August 24th 1894 he patented Veno’s Drug Co Ltd in Pittsburg Pennsylvania, under his name William Reynard Varney, but then changed his surname to Veno in order to market it. William was inspired by President McKinley’s inauguration speech whilst in America. He also met his future wife, Mary Pearson who had moved to America with her parents in 1881. After the McKinley election he came back to England and located himself at 418 Chester Road, Manchester in the factory depicted on the Veno’s Cough Cure bottles. They also manufactured Germolene, Veno’s Seaweed liniment and Dr Cassels tablets under the Veno banner. His business became more and more successful and he was knighted at Buckingham Palace on Friday 25th June 1920 on the occasion of the King’s birthday, in recognition of his recruiting work during the war.

Sir William carried out further fundraising work and speeches, opening the Leigh branch of British Legion on 5th March 1921 and a theatre in Manchester amongst other engagements. He also became Mayor of Altrincham for 1923-24. He was a staunch Conservative and had been officially connected to the party for more than 20 years. For some time was the chairman of the Altrincham Polling District and Chairman of the Divisional Association. An accomplished speaker, he was called upon to carry out many after dinner speeches. He was also a Freeman and a Liveryman of the City of London and was connected with the Freemasons in London. After an unconfirmed cancer scare, when he had a growth from his lip removed, he offered £20,000 for a cure for cancer. He also gave a donation to Middlesex hospital for the work they had done.

In November 1924 the Veno Drug Company was sold as a going concern and became part of Beechams Drug Co in 1925. After the sale of Venos Sir William started up several companies including the Cellulose Acetate Silk Company (photographic films) and Transmutograph Ltd. These companies were much less successful. In May 1932 he set up a company selling products invented by the late Dr Knox of the USA.

On 6th March 1933 Sir William was found dead in the grounds of his home, Woodlands in Bonville Road, Dunham Massey. He had gone out shooting rabbits in his grounds. His wife Mary found him lying face down in the wooded area with a gunshot wound to the chest. The inquest declared a verdict of “Suicide during impulsive insanity”. The inquest also shown that there was no evidence that Sir William was troubled or of unsound mind in any way, although he had lost a substantial amount money over the years with further business adventures. However, Sir William at his time of his death was still a wealthy man.

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