T. R. Threlfall

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Thomas Robert Threlfall (6 October 1852 – fl.1932), [1] known as T. R. Threlfall, was a British trade unionist and Liberal-Labour politician.

Threlfall was elected as a member of the Southport Town Council, and as President of Southport Trades Council. [2] He was also active in the Typographical Association, and championed the idea of working men standing for election to Parliament. In 1885, he persuaded the Association to sponsor two candidates: Frederick Maddison, and Threlfall himself, [3] who stood for the Liberal Party at the 1886 general election in Sheffield Hallam. [2]

In 1885, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) was held in Southport, and Threlfall was elected to serve as its President. [4] At the following congress, he convinced the TUC to form a Labour Electoral Committee, to sponsor candidates for election to Parliament. [5] He served as the body's first Secretary, and focused his activity on forming local labour electoral organisations, affiliated to the national body. The Committee was renamed as the "Labour Electoral Association", [6] and although it championed representation through the Liberal Party, it did sponsor Keir Hardie's independent candidacy at the 1888 Mid Lanarkshire by-election. [7]

Threlfall stood for Parliament again, as a Lib-Lab candidate, in Liverpool Kirkdale at the 1892 general election, but he was again unsuccessful. [8] Given its generally disappointing results, the body declined in importance, although Threlfall remained its Secretary until it was wound up, in 1895. [9]

Threlfall was subsequently appointed as a magistrate in Southport. [10] He also took up literature. The Sword of Allah, published in 1899, was described by the Saturday Review as an "illiterate shocker", [11] and The Strange Adventures of a Magistrate was published in 1903. [12] In 1900, he wrote an article for The Nineteenth Century , in which he proclaimed that the Senussi would lead a holy war against Britain and France. [13] He applied unsuccessfully to the Royal Literary Fund in 1914 and successfully in 1929 and 1932. [14]

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  1. British Library, Royal Literary Fund Archive, Loan 96 RLF 1/2943.
  2. 1 2 W. W. Bean, The parliamentary representation of the six northern counties of England, p.1078
  3. Albert Edward Musson, The Typographical Association: origins and history up to 1949, p.349
  4. Frank Herbert Rose, The coming force: the labour movement, p.46
  5. Keith Laybourn, The rise of socialism in Britain, c. 1881-1951, p.27
  6. Matthew Worley, The Foundations of the British Labour Party, pp.97-98
  8. G. D. H. Cole, British Working Class Politics, 1832-1914, p.116
  9. G. D. H. Cole, British Working Class Politics, 1832-1914, p.113
  10. John Shepherd, "James Bryce and the Recruitment of Working-Class Magistrates in Lancashire, 1892–4", Historical Research , Vol. 52, No. 126
  11. The Saturday Review , Vol. 88, p.209
  12. The Publishers' circular and booksellers' record of British and foreign literature, Vol. 80, p.338
  13. "Things Warlike", The Evening Post , 5 May 1900
  14. British Library, Royal Literary Fund Archive, Case Files Loan 96 RLF 1/2943 and Loan 96 1/3344.
Trade union offices
Preceded by
James Thompson
President of the Trades Union Congress
Succeeded by