He was born at Manningham, Bradford. He established a clothing and drapery business in Bradford which in 1880 developed into the Provident Clothing and Supply Co. Ltd. He was a pioneer of the check and credit system, which encouraged thrift and prudential saving and provided discounts for retailers. Trading checks were offered for up to £20 and paid for by weekly instalments. By the time of his death the company had 115 branches around the country employing 5,000 staff. He was sympathetic and supportive of anyone who had let himself or the company down.
A WM local preacher and a generous benefactor of Methodist and other causes, especially overseas missions, he funded the 'Hospital of Universal Love' in China for the medical missionary William C. Grosvenor, the Waddilove Institution in the present Zimbabwe and in his native Bradford the Waddilove Samaritan Home for Women. In 1914 he presented the painting of Charles Wesley and Whitefield meeting in Oxford by Edward G. Lewes to Westminster Central Hall. (The central section of this - all that has survived - is now in the Museum of Methodism at Wesley's Chapel.) In his later years he was increasingly interested in the imminent second coming of Christ. Knighted in the birthday honours in 1919, he died at Hampstead Heath on 14 February 1920. His estate was valued at £1,250,000 and the WM Missionary Society was among the beneficiaries in his will.