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Abraham, William [pseud. Mabon] (1842–1922), trade unionist and politician, was born at Cwmafan, near Port Talbot, Glamorgan, on 14 June 1842, the fourth son of Thomas and Mary Abraham. His father, a coalminer and copper smelter, soon died, leaving his mother to raise a large family. ...

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Adamson [née Johnston], Janet Laurel [Jennie] (1882–1962), labour movement activist and politician, was born at Kilmarnock on 9 May 1882, one of the six children of Thomas Johnston, a railway porter, and Elizabeth, née Denton. Her father died young and her mother had to become a dressmaker to support the family. As ...

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Adamson, William [Willie] (1863–1936), politician and trade unionist, was born at Halbeath, near Dunfermline in Fife, on 2 April 1863, the son of James Armstrong Adamson, a coalminer, and Flora Cunningham. He attended a dame-school run by the wife of a mining engineer, and left at the age of eleven to work in the mining industry, where he was employed for the next twenty-seven years. He married, on 25 February 1887, ...

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Alexander, Dame Helen Anne (1957–2017), businesswoman, was born in Geneva, Switzerland, on 10 February 1957, the youngest of three children of Bernard Gustav Alexander (1913–1990), a British barrister, and his wife Tatiana (Tania), née von Benckendorff (1915–2004), a translator and theatrical adviser born in ...

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Applegarth, Robert (1834–1924), trade unionist, was born in Kingston upon Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire on 26 January 1834, the son of Robert Applegarth (1797–1858), a master mariner who was engaged in the whaling trade, and his wife Diana...

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Arch, Joseph (1826–1919), trade unionist and politician, was born at Barford, Warwickshire, on 10 November 1826, the son of John Arch (bap. 1795, d. 1862), a shepherd, and his wife, Hannah, née Pace (1783–1845). Before her marriage his mother worked as a domestic servant in ...

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Askwith, George Ranken, Baron Askwith (1861–1942), industrial arbitrator and civil servant, was born at Waltham Abbey, Essex, on 17 February 1861, the second but eldest surviving son of William Harrison Askwith (1811–1897), colonel (later general) in the Royal Artillery, and formerly superintendent of the royal gunpowder factories at ...

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Basnett, David, Baron Basnett (1924–1989), trade unionist, was born on 9 February 1924 at 1 Ivy Leigh, Liverpool, the son of Andrew Basnett, a collector with a gas company and regional secretary of the National Union of General and Municipal Workers (NUGMW), and his wife, ...

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Bell, Richard (1859–1930), trade union leader and politician, was born at Penderyn, Brecknockshire, on 29 November 1859, the son of Charles Bell, a quarryman, and his wife, Ann (née Thomas). As a young boy Bell was shocked by the death of his uncle, killed in a quarry accident while working alongside his father, who narrowly escaped injury in an attempt to rescue him. ...

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Bevin, Ernest (1881–1951), trade unionist and politician, was born at Winsford, Somerset, on 7 March 1881, the seventh child of Diana (known as Mercy) Bevin (1841–1889). His mother, the daughter of Thomas and Mary Tidbould, married William Bevin, an agricultural labourer, in 1864. By the mid-1870s ...

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Birch [formerly Catlin-Birch], Reginald (1914–1994), trade unionist and political activist, was born Reginald Catlin-Birch on 7 June 1914 at 4 Chichester Terrace, Kilburn, London, one of the five children of Charles Catlin-Birch (d. 1928), house painter and builder, and his wife, ...

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Bondfield, Margaret Grace (1873–1953), trade unionist, campaigner for women's interests, and politician, was born on 17 March 1873 at Chard, Somerset, the tenth of eleven children and third of four daughters of William Bondfield (1814–1901), foreman laceworker, and his wife, Anne Taylor (1827?–1911)...

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Braddock [née Bamber], Elizabeth Margaret [Bessie] (1899–1970), trade union activist and politician, was born at Zante Street, Liverpool, on 24 September 1899, the elder daughter of Hugh Bamber, bookbinder, and his wife, Mary, daughter of Andrew Little, an Edinburgh lawyer. Mary Bamber...

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Briginshaw, Richard William, Baron Briginshaw (1908–1992), trade union leader, was born on 15 May 1908 at 183 Mayall Road, Brixton, London, the first son of Richard Briginshaw, newspaper worker, and his wife, Alice Jubilee, née Coates. He was educated at Stuart School, Brixton...

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J. R. MacDonald

revised by Marc Brodie

Broadhurst, Henry (1840–1911), trade unionist and politician, was born at Littlemore, Oxfordshire, on 13 April 1840, according to his autobiography and gravestone, though his birth was registered as 23 April 1840 on his birth certificate. He was the fourth son and youngest of the twelve children of ...

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Bromley, John (1876–1945), trade unionist, was born on 16 July 1876 at Haston Grove, Hadnall, Shropshire, the son of Charles Alfred Bromley, a dyer, and his wife, Martha Helen, née Wellings. He attended the local board school, followed by an upper grade church school until he was twelve. Straitened home circumstances then compelled him to work part-time, first as a country postboy at ...

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Brown, William John (1894–1960), trade unionist and politician, was born on 13 September 1894 in Battersea, London, the second son of Joseph Morris Brown, a plumber, and his wife, Rosina (Rose) Spicer. He attended the Salmestone elementary school, Margate, until the age of eleven, whereupon he won a scholarship to ...

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Buckton, Raymond William [Ray] (1922–1995), trade unionist, was born on 20 October 1922 in Rillington, near Malton, Yorkshire, the eldest of seven children of William Ernest Buckton, farm labourer, and his wife, Hannah Young. Although his father was a farm worker, Buckton was born into a railway family, and after attending ...

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Burns, John Elliott (1858–1943), labour leader and politician, was born in South Lambeth, London, on 20 October 1858, the sixteenth child of Alexander Burns, a Scottish fitter, and Barbara Smith. He left St Mary's national school when he was about ten and after a series of short-term jobs was apprenticed as an engineer....

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Carron, William John, Baron Carron (1902–1969), trade unionist, was born on 19 November 1902 at 63 Williamson Street, Hull, the younger of two sons of John Carron and his wife, Frances Ann Richardson. His father, a corporation clerk who later became a carting contractor, was Irish and his mother came from ...