Founded way back in 1745 near Sheffield England by George Wostenholm. The company was carried on by grandson, George, and renamed Wostenholm.
The business was continued in their Rockingham Works facility in Sheffield.
The next Wostenholm generation (also George) was the creator of the I*XL (pronounced I excel) in 1826. And in four years George had his popular knife exported to the United States by Naylor & Sanderson. The I*XL proved to be a massive seller in the US and George began to focus on his US business.
The venture was named Washington Works and George spent a significant amount of time personally marketing his knives to the US consumer.
In a short amount of time the I*XL was the best selling knife in the United States.
For more knife maker history check out these articles