Trade unionist and politician, he was born on 4 July 1853 at Ballydrain, Ireland, where his mother was on a visit. He was brought up at Trimdon Grange, Tudhoe and Brandon. It is thought he began working in the pit at 8. At Browney Colliery he became an active trade unionist and in 1900 was appointed agent, and subsequently Treasurer, for the Durham Miners Association. Elected a county councillor in 1889, he was later an alderman. Sponsored by the Durham Miners Association, he was elected on a Lib-Lab ticket for Mid-Durham at a by-election in 1915 and on the abolition of the constituency represented Spennymoor from 1918 to 1922.
He did not stand again on health grounds. Converted on 25 August 1918, he joined the MNC at Brandon. He died on 10 April 1936.