- See also Harry Broadhurst
Broadhurst was born in Littlemore, Oxford, the son of Thomas Broadhurst, a journeyman stonemason. He followed his father into stonemasonry at the age of thirteen and during the late 1850s spent a considerable period travelling the south of England, attempting to find work. In 1865, he moved to London and worked on the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster.
In 1872, Broadhurst was elected as the Chair of a Masons' Committee during an industrial dispute. After achieving a major victory, Broadhurst began working full-time for the Stonemasons Union. He also became the union's delegate to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and was elected to its Parliamentary Committee. In 1873, he became the secretary of the Labour Representation League.
At the 1874 general election, two candidates sponsored by the League were elected, but Broadhurst was unsuccessful at High Wycombe. In 1875, he was elected Secretary of the Parliamentary Committee of the TUC, the post which was later to become the General Secretaryship.
At the 1880 general election, Broadhurst was elected as the Liberal–Labour Member of Parliament for Stoke-upon-Trent. Within the House of Commons, he pushed through legislation enabling working men to act as Justices of the Peace, and for all Government contracts to include a "fair wage" clause. In 1884, he was appointed to the Royal Commission on the housing of the working class.
In 1885 general election, Broadhurst moved to represent Birmingham Bordesley. He was appointed as Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department in the Liberal government, the first person from a working-class or labour movement background to hold a ministerial post. He was the first minister to be granted permission not to attend levees. Following his appointment, he resigned from his TUC post. William Ewart Gladstone attempted but failed to have his ministerial salary reduced.
For the 1886 general election, Broadhurst moved seats again, this time winning Nottingham West. Free of ministerial responsibilities, he was again elected Secretary of the Parliamentary Committee of the TUC, but became increasingly isolated as more left wing members, such as Keir Hardie, accused him of not sufficiently representing the interests of labour within Parliament. Following a defeat in a crucial vote at the 1890 TUC conference, and citing declining health, Broadhurst resigned the post.
In 1892, Broadhurst was appointed to a second Royal Commission, on the aged poor. He lost his seat at Nottingham West at the 1892 general election, and was also defeated at the Grimsby by-election, 1893. However, he returned to Parliament as MP for Leicester at the Leicester by-election, 1894, holding this seat as a Lib–Lab MP until 1906.
Broadhurst married Eliza Olley, daughter of Edward Olley a journeyman courier at Norwich in 1859.
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Broadhurst, Henry, Henry Broadhurst, M.P.: the story of his life from a stonemason's bench to the Treasury Bench (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1901); chapters on early life on-line on the Vision of Britain through Time web site.
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs [self-published source][better source needed]
- Works by or about Henry Broadhurst at Internet Archive
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Henry Broadhurst