MNC industrialist, born on 25 April 1819, the son of Thomas Firth, a Sheffield steel smelter. In 1842, with his father and brother, he founded a steel works, Thomas Firth & Sons, which grew into a large and profitable concern. From 1850 he was head of the firm, which for many years forged all the 80-ton guns for the Royal Navy and other armaments. Active in Sheffield life and mayor in 1874, his benefactions included almshouses (1869), a public park (1875) and Firth College (opened May 1879), which became Sheffield University. He was Master Cutler three times, 1867-1869. Though prominent in the MNC as Mission Treasurer and then Treasurer of Ranmoor College, towards the end he came to prefer Anglican worship. He died at Oakbrook, his home at Ranmoor, Sheffield on 28 November 1880.
His brother Thomas Firth junr (1821-60) was a member of the MNC and had a long-standing concern for ministerial education, by enabling students to lodge with leading ministers for theological and practical training. His bequest of £5,000 made possible the opening of Ranmoor College in 1864.