A Liberal, A Trade Unionist and a Unitarian

The following (including the image) was created for the Autumn 2016 Hull Unitarian Magazine

Unitarianism and Politics: An Example  from Adrian Worsfold

Fred Maddison (1856 in Boston, Lincolnshire – 1937) went to Adelaide Street Wesleyan School, Hull. He indicates the connection between Unitarianism and political liberalism, within the Labour movement. As a Compositor he rose to Chairman of the Hull branch of the Typographical Association, becoming President of the Hull Trades and Labour Council, and then the height of President of the Trades Union Congress in 1886. He was also Editor (1889-1897) of the Railway Review for the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants. He was the first working class member of Hull Corporation (1887 - 1889).

Maddison was defeated at Hull Central in 1892 and 1895 and elsewhere as late as 1923, but he was Liberal MP for Sheffield, Brightside (1897 - 1900) and Burnley (1906 – 1910). Liberal Party candidates financed by trade unions were called Lib-Lab; the Independent Labour Party (ILP) and then Labour Party began (1892, 1900) as the Liberals dithered over court decisions restricting unions (up to legislation in 1906). He was a deliberate anti-socialist, opposing state intervention, and wrote Workmen as Producers and Consumers (1901). Keir Hardie, founder of the ILP, and the Labour Party, described Maddison as: "a blustering bully, ill-mannered and with the unscraped tongue of a fish-wife."

He was not a Hull Unitarian but joined Wandsworth Unitarian Church and then regularly attended as a member at Essex Church. He preached in Unitarian pulpits and was said to have ‘gloried in the name of Unitarian’.


Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful