Scurr was born in Brisbane, Australia, the son of Louis James Rennie, an immigrant from London, but was adopted by his uncle, Captain John Scurr, and brought to London aged six months. He spent his life in Poplar in the East End, from which his family came, a lifelong supporter of left-wing and Labour causes. In 1900, he married Julia Sullivan, who became a prominent politician and campaigner for women's rights.
He was an active member of Poplar Trades Council (and was later its president) and was elected as an alderman to Poplar Borough Council in 1919. He served as mayor in 1922–1923, vice-chairman (1920–1922) and chairman (1922–1923) of the Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee, and an alderman of London County Council from 1925 to 1929. In 1921 he was imprisoned, along with 29 other Poplar councillors, as a protest against unequal rates.
In 1913, when Scurr was Chairman of the London District Committee of the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Labourers' Union, he was a last minute socialist candidate at the Chesterfield by-election.
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At the 1918 general election, he unsuccessfully contested the Liberal seat of Buckingham, splitting the anti-Tory vote and allowing the Conservatives to win. He was defeated again at the 1922 general election in the Mile End constituency in the East End.
Scurr won the Mile End seat at the 1923 general election, unseating the Conservative MP Sir Walter Preston. He was re-elected in 1924 and 1929, but lost his seat when the Labour Party split at the 1931 general election.
He married an Irishwoman, Julia Sullivan, in 1900. They had two sons and a daughter. Julia died in 1927.
- Craig, F. W. S. (1983) . British parliamentary election results 1918-1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs [self-published source][better source needed]
- Obituary, The Times, 11 July 1932
- Who Was Who
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by John Scurr
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir Walter Preston
|Member of Parliament for Mile End
|Party political offices|
Ernest E. Hunter
|London representative on the National Administrative Council of the Independent Labour Party
J. Allen Skinner