Trade unionist, born at Littlemore, Oxon, on 13 April 1840, the youngest of 12 children. He was early associated with WM and remained a committed member. His great aim in life was to work for the betterment of the common people. After serving as an apprentice stonemason he left Oxford in the depression of the 1850s in search of work. He married in Norwich in 1860 and in 1865 moved to London, where he became a member of Hugh Price Hughes' congregation and one of his strong supporters. Following a dispute in the London building trade he organized the Stonemasons' Union, becoming its General Secretary in 1875, the year in which he also became General Secretary of the TUC's parliamentary committee.
From 1873 he was also General Secretary of the Labour Representation League which sought to promote working men as Parliamentary candidates. Following its demise, in 1880 he was elected Liberal MP for Stoke-on-Trent and in 1885 successfully contested Bordesley in Birmingham and then Nottingham West in 1886. In 1886 Gladstone appointed him Under Secretary for the Home Office, the first working man ever to hold a ministerial post. After a period out of the House, he was returned for Leicester in 1894 and sat as a Lib/Lab member until his retirement in 1906. He died at Cromer on 11 October 1911.