PM layman, he was born in Grimsby of poor parents. Starting at 11 as an errand boy, by 19 he was a shop manager. He soon started his own business as a boot manufacturer and in 1924 formed the company, of which he was managing director, with shops throughout Lincolnshire.
He founded the Grimsby Flottergate Benevolent Homes, a Methodist enterprise which he personally supervised. After serving as councillor and alderman, in 1929 he entered Parliament as Liberal MP for Holland with Boston, Lincs. In 1931 he was one of the Liberals who broke with the Party. He was re-elected as a National Liberal and was knighted in 1936, but died on 10 May 1937.