Cleaver, Sir (James) Frederick (1875–1936), businessman, was born 8 June 1875 in Belfast, third son of John Cleaver and Mary Anne Cleaver (née Spence). John Cleaver (1842–1926) was born in England, possibly in Sussex. He came to Belfast as a young man, and worked in a draper's shop as a lace buyer. Along with his partner (Sir) Edward Robinson (1849–1906), Cleaver founded in 1870 a drapers' shop in Castle Place, Belfast. The business flourished, and moved in 1878 to High St.; the same year, the firm was awarded a warrant to supply the royal household with linen handkerchiefs. In 1885 Robinson & Cleaver built new and impressive buildings in the most prominent site in the city, on Royal Avenue, and the firm's reputation as suppliers of fine linen products of all kinds was unrivalled. The company supplied over a quarter of a million customers worldwide; more than one-third of all parcels posted in Belfast in 1887 originated from the company's warehouses, where 400 people were employed. He married Mary Anne Spence in Richill congregational church, Co. Armagh, on 12 August 1869. They had four sons and three daughters. The eldest daughter married the son of Sir Edward Robinson. John Cleaver died 22 September 1926.
Frederick Cleaver attended Belfast Academical Institution, and later studied at Denstone College, England, and in Germany. In 1895 he joined the family firm; in 1906 he became a director. The business continued to flourish, and Cleaver made a mark also on public life in Belfast: he was a governor of Methodist College, Belfast, a founding member and chairman of the Ulster Tourist Development Association, a committee member of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society, president of the Belfast Chamber of Trade, member of the Belfast Harbour Board, and a founder member and secretary of the Ulster Association for Peace with Honour. He played a prominent role in the opposition to home rule (1910–14), and, in common with other business leaders in Belfast, actively supported the Ulster Volunteer Force from its inception. In 1914, on the outbreak of the first world war, he helped outfit the UVF as the 36th (Ulster) Division of the British army; during the war, Cleaver was director of the American Red Cross relief effort in Ireland, and led a relief expedition to the American ship Otranto, torpedoed in the North Channel; he received the American Certificate of Honor. In 1920 he was one of the first to join the B division of the Ulster Special Constabulary. He was knighted in 1926, and died suddenly on 21 March 1936. He married (1900) Sara Hammond Fulton of Belfast; they had no children.