|Will Thorne (1857-1946)|
|One of the first trade union activists|
|Will Thorne. © NMM|
His success encouraged railwaymen, textile workers, building workers, shipbuilding and metal workers, miners and boot and shoe operatives. They rallied to their own unions and demanded improvements in their working conditions and pay.
Will Thorne could not sign his wedding certificate because he was illiterate. He moved to London and met Eleanor Marx, the youngest daughter of Karl Marx, who taught him to read and write.
He named one of his sons after Karl Marx.
Will Thorne was one of the MPs chosen to visit Russia during the revolution of 1917. When he returned he had meetings with the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, and George V.
|1857||Born in Birmingham on 8 October.|
|1863||Worked as a rope and twine spinner.|
|1864||His father died.|
|1875||His mother married a local carpenter and he left home.|
|1879||Married Harriet Hallam, daughter of one of his fellow workers at the Saltley Gas Works.|
|1882||Moved to London with his wife and two children where he worked at the Beckton Gas Works and joined the Social Democratic Federation (SDF).|
|1880s||Became one of the SDF’s best public speakers.|
|1889||Helped to establish the National Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers and defeated Ben Tillett in an election for the post of General Secretary of the Union.|
|1891-1910||Member of West Ham Borough Council.|
|1894-1933||Member of the Trade Union Congress Parliamentary Committee.|
|1906-1918||Member of Parliament for West Ham (South).|
|1910||Made Alderman of West Ham Borough.|
|1917||Mayor of West Ham.|
|1918-1945||Member of Parliament for Plaistow.|
|1946||Died on 2 January.|