Charles Duncan (politician)

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Charles Duncan
Charles Duncan.JPG
Duncan in the mid 1900s
Member of the United Kingdom Parliament
for Barrow-in-Furness
In office
Preceded by Sir Charles Cayzer, 1st Baronet
Succeeded by Robert Burton-Chadwick
Member of the United Kingdom Parliament
for Clay Cross
In office
Preceded by Thomas Broad
Succeeded by Arthur Henderson
Personal details
Born (1865-06-08)8 June 1865
Middlesbrough, England
Died 6 July 1933(1933-07-06) (aged 68)
Hampstead, London, England
Political party Labour
Profession Engineer
Known for Trade Unionism

Charles Duncan (8 June 1865 – 6 July 1933) was a British Labour Party politician. He was General Secretary of the Workers' Union from 1900 to 1929. He was Member of Parliament for Barrow-in-Furness from 1906 to 1918, and Member of Parliament for Clay Cross from 1922 to 1933 (his death).

Early life[edit]

Duncan was born on 8 June 1865 in Middlesbrough, England.[1][2] He was the son of a ship's pilot. He was apprenticed to the engineering industry, and Elswick Ordnance Factory, Newcastle upon Tyne.[3]


Trade unionism[edit]

Duncan joined Amalgamated Society of Engineers, and was active in the trade union movement for the rest of his life.[3]

When the Workers Union was founded in 1898 by Tom Mann, Duncan was its first president. In 1900 he was elected secretary of the union, an office he held until 1929. In that year the Workers Uinion was merged into the Transport and General Workers' Union.[3]

He was honorary president of the National Union of Police and Prison Officers which existed between 1913 and 1918. The police strikes in 1918 and 1919 resulted in the Police Act 1919 which banned police from joining a trade union and from striking.[4]

Political career[edit]

Duncan began his political career as a local councillor. He was a member of Middlesbrough's town council from 1896 to 1900.[2]

He was elected at the 1906 general election as Member of Parliament (MP) for Barrow-in-Furness.[5] During this period, he served as a whip.[3] He earned the nickname 'Angel of Death' in World War I, because of he toured the UK encouraging men to join the military; many of those would have died in the trenches.[6] He held the seat until his narrow defeat at the 1918 general election by the Coalition Conservative candidate.[3][7]

Duncan attempted unsuccessfully to re-enter the Commons when two by-elections were held in The Wrekin, Shropshire, in quick succession in February and November 1920.[3]

At the 1922 election, he stood in the Derbyshire mining constituency of Clay Cross, winning the seat by a large majority from a divided Liberal Party.[7] He was re-elected at the next four general elections, holding the seat until his death.[3]


Duncan had been ill for a number of months, suffering from an illness of the stomach.[2] He died at the Manor House Hospital, Hampstead, London in July 1933. He was aged 68.[3]


  1. ^ "House of Commons constituencies beginning with "C" (part 4)". Leigh Rayment's House of Commons pages. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  2. ^ a b c "Death of Mr Charles Duncan". The Glasgow Herald. 7 July 1933. p. 13. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Obituary: Mr. Charles Duncan, M.P. A Founder Of The Workers' Union". The Times. 7 July 1933. p. 19. 
  4. ^ Hattersley, Roy (2012). David Lloyd George: the great outsider. London: Abacus. ISBN 9780349121109. 
  5. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1974]. British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 65. ISBN 0-900178-27-2. 
  6. ^ Blackhurst, Chris (4 June 2014). "A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The munitions workers who made the British government tremble". The Independent. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. pp. 73, 320. ISBN 0-900178-06-X. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Charles Cayzer, Bt.
Member of Parliament for Barrow-in-Furness
Succeeded by
Robert Chadwick
Preceded by
Thomas Broad
Member of Parliament for Clay Cross
Succeeded by
Arthur Henderson
Trade union offices
Preceded by
New position
President of the Workers' Union
Succeeded by
Robert Morley
Preceded by
Tom Chambers
General Secretary of the Workers' Union
Succeeded by
Office abolished