Born in Boston, Lincolnshire, Maddison studied in Kingston upon Hull before becoming a compositor. He joined the Typographical Association and soon rose in prominence, becoming President of the Trades Union Congress in 1886. In 1887, he became the first working class member of Hull Corporation. He took a post in the Labour Department of the Board of Trade, and became a labour journalist.
Maddison stood as a Lib–Lab candidate for Parliament on several occasions, first in Kingston upon Hull Central at the 1892 and 1895 general elections. He was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Sheffield Brightside at a by-election in 1897, becoming Sheffield's first working class Member of Parliament, but narrowly lost the seat at the 1900 election. A major factor in his defeat was his support for the Boers during the Boer War.
In 1906, Maddison was elected for Burnley, but he lost this seat in January 1910. He never returned to Parliament, despite standing at Darlington in December 1910, Holderness in 1918, South Dorset in 1922 and finally Reading in 1923.
- Michael Stenton and Stephen Lees, Who's Who of British MPs: Volume II, 1886–1918
- Eugenio F. Biagini and Alastair J. Reid, Currents of Radicalism: Popular Radicalism, Organised Labour, and Party Politics in Britain
- Ed. Clyde Binfield et al, The History of the City of Sheffield: Volume I: Politics
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Fred Maddison
|Trade union offices|
T. R. Threlfall
| President of the Trades Union Congress
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
A. J. Mundella
| Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside
| Member of Parliament for Burnley