W. C. Steadman

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Not to be confused with Charles Steadman.
William Steadman

William Charles Steadman (12 July 1851 – 20 July 1911), usually known as W. C. Steadman, was a prominent trade unionist and Liberal or Lib-Lab politician.


Born in Poplar, London, Steadman began work at the age of eight, and in 1866 became a barge builder. In 1873, he joined the River Thames Barge Builders Trades Union, becoming its general secretary in 1879 and holding the post until 1908. In 1890, he led a successful eighteen week strike, raising his profile. In 1892, Steadman was elected as a Progressive Party member of London County Council, representing Stepney. In the 1892 general election he unsuccessfully stood as the Liberal Party candidate for Mid Kent; he lost again in the 1895 election in Hammersmith.

He joined the Fabian Society. Steadman was finally elected as a Lib–Lab Member of Parliament (MP) for Stepney at the March by-election in 1898 which took place because of the death of F. W. Isaacson in February, who had held the seat since 1896.[1]

This meant that he now represented Stepney both in Parliament and on the London County Council, having been re-elected there in elections in 1895 and 1898. In 1899, he was elected to the Parliamentary Committee (later the General Council) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), and in 1902 he was its President. Steadman lost his seat in Parliament at the 1900 general election to Major William Evans-Gordon.[2]

He continued to represent Stepney on the LCC, being re-elected there in 1901 and 1904. He went on to chair the first conference of the Labour Representation Committee, but left the organisation when asked to leave the Liberal Party. In 1904, he was elected as the Parliamentary Secretary of the TUC, the post which later became the General Secretary.

In 1906, Steadman again stood for the Liberal Party, and won Finsbury Central.

He lost the seat in the January 1910 general election.

In 1911, he announced his intention to stand down from his TUC post, but died, aged 60, before this could take effect.

Election results[edit]

1895 General Election: Hammersmith
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Walter Tuckfield Goldsworthy 5,017 60.8 6.7
Lib-Lab William Charles Steadman 3,238 39.2 -6.7
Majority 1,779
Turnout 12,378 66.7
Conservative hold Swing
Stepney in London.
Stepney by-election, 1898
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Lib-Lab William Charles Steadman 2,492 50.2
Conservative William Eden Evans-Gordon 2,472 49.8
Majority 20 0.4
Turnout 6,387 77.7
Lib-Lab gain from Conservative Swing +5.8
General Election 1900: Tower Hamlets, Stepney
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative William Eden Evans-Gordon 2,783 61.8
Lib-Lab William Charles Steadman 1,718 38.2
Majority 1,065 23.6
Turnout 5,878 76.6
Conservative gain from Lib-Lab Swing +12.0
Finsbury Central in London
General Election 1906: Finsbury, Central
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Lib-Lab William Charles Steadman 3,493 55.5
Conservative Edward Alfred Goulding 2,799 44.5
Majority 694 11.0
Turnout 8,279 76.0
Lib-Lab gain from Conservative Swing +8.7
General Election January 1910: Finsbury, Central
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Martin Archer-Shee 3,559 52.8
Lib-Lab William Charles Steadman 3,187 47.2
Majority 372 5.6
Conservative gain from Lib-Lab Swing +8.3


  1. ^ The Liberal Year Book for 1905. London: The Liberal Publication Dept. (in association with the National Liberal Federation and the Liberal Central Association). 1905. pp. 302–3.  Steadman won by just 20 votes, beating the Conservative candidate William Evans-Gordon who finally gained the seat in 1900.
  2. ^ Liberal Year Book 1905, p. 302-3.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Frederick Wootton Isaacson
Member of Parliament for Stepney
Succeeded by
William Evans-Gordon
Preceded by
William Frederick Barton Massey-Mainwaring
Member of Parliament for Finsbury Central
1906January 1910
Succeeded by
Martin Archer-Shee
Party political offices
Preceded by
New position
Chairman of the Annual Conference of the Labour Representation Committee
Succeeded by
John Hodge
Trade union offices
Preceded by
C. W. Bowerman
Treasurer of the Trades Union Congress
Succeeded by
William John Davis
Preceded by
C. W. Bowerman
President of the Trades Union Congress
Succeeded by
W. Boyd Hornidge
Preceded by
Sam Woods
Secretary of the Parliamentary Committee of the TUC
Succeeded by
C. W. Bowerman