Burt, Thomas, MP

A northern miners' leader, he was born at Murton Row, Northumberland on 12 November 1837, the son of a miner Peter Burt who, like his brother Andrew, was a PM local preacher. Largely self-educated, he later received a DCL from Durham University and became a friend of Lord Grey of Falloden through their mutual love of Wordsworth. He began work in 1847 as a trapper boy in Haswell pit and later at Choppington. In 1865 he was elected secretary and agent of the Northumberland Miners' Association, which quadrupled under his leadership. Despite his parliamentary work he remained as its secretary until 1905. In 1874 he was elected MP for Morpeth, holding the seat until his retirement in 1918. He was Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade in the Liberal Government of 1892-95, was a member of three Royal Commissions, was made a Privy Councillor in 1906, and received a DCL from Durham University in 1911. As a boy he had attended PM Sunday School and chapel services 'with the utmost regularity' . Although never a member, he later testified to the stimulus he had received from PM preachers and wrote an article on 'Methodism and the Northern Miners' for the *Primitive Methodist Quarterly Review (1882, pp.385-97). He seems in later years to have attended the Unitarians. He died at Newcastle upon Tyne on 12 April 1922.

  • Thomas Burt, Pitman and Privy Councillor:an autobiography (1924)
  • Robert F. Wearmouth, Social and Political Influence of Methodism in the Twentieth Century (1957), pp.82-3
  • M. Stenton, Who's Who of British MPs, vol. 2 (1978)
  • Lowell J. Satre, Thomas Burt, miners' MP… the great conciliator (London, 1999)
  • Winifred Stokes, 'Politics, Pitmen and Primitive Methodism in the South Northumberland Coalfield', in Journal of Regional and Local Studies, vol. 21 (2001), pp.18-28
  • Bellamy and Saville, Dictionary of Labour Biography
  • Oxford DNB