Birthplace: Hollingbourn, Kent, England
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business, Philanthropist
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Toothpaste empirebuilder
William Colgate came to America with his family when he was a teenager, and settled in Baltimore, where he worked as an apprentice to a soap-boiler. Eventually relocating to New York City, he worked as a candlemaker, and in 1806 he went into business for himself, selling soap, candles, and starch. After several years of financial struggle, William Colgate & Company prospered in the 1820s selling Windsor toilet soaps and Pearl starch. Thirteen years after his death in 1857, the company began selling toothpaste, and in 1893 it introduced toothpaste in a tube.
Colgate was a Baptist deacon, and one of the founders and principle underwriters of the Baptist Education Society of the State of New York, which, after his death, was renamed Colgate University in his honor. His son, Samuel Colgate, succeeded him as President of Colgate & Company, and his grandson, Gilbert Colgate, won the Bronze Medal in the bobsled competition at the 1936 Olympics.
Father: Robert Colgate (farmer, d. 1805)
Mother: Sarah Bowles Colgate (m. 1740, d. 1840)
Brother: Bowles Colgate
Sister: Maria Colgate
Wife: Mary Gilbert Colgate (m. 1811)
Son: Samuel Colgate (President of Colgate & Company, b. 1822, d. 1898)
Son: Robert Colgate (b. 1812, d. 1885)
Son: James Boorman Colgate (banker, b. 1818, d. 1897)
Colgate-Palmolive Founder & President (1806-1857)
Naturalized US Citizen
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