Primitive Methodist politician, born at Witton Park, near Bishop Auckland and educated at Elmfield College, was a local preacher before entering politics. Trained as an engineer, he went into business as a builder's merchant. Elected in 1918 as the Labour member for Bishop Auckland, he retained the seat until his death. In 1924 he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury.
Before entering Parliament he had campaigned against the First World War, being by conviction a pacifist but not to the extent of not serving his fellows. In Salonika he ran a YMCA facility for the troops for which in 1918 he was awarded the OBE. This was not without controversy, as he supported the Union of Democratic Control, which was critical of British war policy and advocated a negotiated peace settlement and was thus seen as being unpatriotic. He nominated the Union for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1920. After 1918 he supported the establishment of the League of Nations, denounced the Versailles Treaty and in the 1920s supported the National Peace Convention, serving as its part-time secretary.
Having contracted malaria in Salonika he became a heavy drinker and was found guilty of drink driving. He was found dead from chronic alcoholism at the Regent Palace Hotel, London in December 1928 .