Tom Shaw (politician)

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The Right Honourable
Tom Shaw
Secretary of State for War
In office
7 June 1929 – 24 August 1931
Monarch George V
Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald
Preceded by Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt
Succeeded by The Marquess of Crewe
Personal details
Born 9 April 1872 (1872-04-09)
Colne, Lancashire
Died 26 September 1938 (1938-09-27) (aged 66)
Nationality British
Political party Labour

Thomas Shaw CBE PC (9 April 1872 – 26 September 1938), known as Tom Shaw, was a British trade unionist and Labour Party politician.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Shaw was born in Waterside, Colne, Lancashire. He was the eldest son of a miner, Ellis Shaw, and his wife, Sarah Ann (née Wilkinson). At age 10, Shaw began working part-time in a textile factory, and two years later quit school to work full-time. Later, he took evening classes to catch up with his education and was particularly skillful in languages. His knowledge of German and French proved useful to him later in his career.[1]

Trade unions[edit]

Shaw was a strong supporter of unions. He joined the Colne Weavers' Association and became its secretary, and was a founding member of the Northern Counties Textile Trades Federation. He was Joint Secretary of Labour and Socialist International from 1923–1925. He was secretary of the International Federation of Textile Workers from 1911–1929, and again from 1931, a job that took him to nearly every country in Europe.[1]

Political career[edit]

He sat as Member of Parliament (MP) for Preston from December 1918 until he was unseated at the 1931 general election. He served as a Junior Whip, 1919; as Minister of Labour in the Labour Government 1924 and as Secretary of State for War from 1929–1931.

During the First World War, Shaw served as Director of national service for the West Midland Region. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1919 New Year Honours.[2] and appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1924.

Shaw served on several national commissions. In 1926, he headed a delegation to India investigate conditions in the textile industry there. From 1917 to 1920, he was a member of the Holman Gregory commission on workmen's compensation. He pushed for passage of a bill limiting to the 48-hour working week in 1919 and again in 1924.[1]

Shaw did not support communist ideology, but favoured friendly political and trade relations with Russia.[1]

Personal life[edit]

In 1893, Shaw married Susannah Whitaker Sterne Ryan Woodhead. They had four daughters.[1]

Shaw died in September 1938 in Middlesex, aged 66.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Middleton, J. S. "Shaw, Thomas (1872–1938)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 
  2. ^ "No. 31114". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 January 1919. p. 451. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hon. George Frederick Stanley
Urban H. Broughton
Member of Parliament for Preston
With: Hon. George Frederick Stanley 1918–1922
James Philip Hodge 1922–1924
Alfred Ravenscroft Kennedy 1924–1929
Sir William Jowitt 1929–1931
Succeeded by
Adrian Moreing
William Kirkpatrick
Political offices
Preceded by
Anderson Montague-Barlow
Minister of Labour
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland, Bt
Preceded by
Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt
Secretary of State for War
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Crewe
Trade union offices
Preceded by
New position
Secretary of the Northern Counties Textile Trades Federation
Succeeded by
Luke Bates