Dr Thomas Macnamara, Minister of Labour

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Find out more about the Canadian born British politician who became Minister of Labour to Lloyd George, Dr Thomas James MacNamara.

Key Facts about Dr Thomas MacNamara

Born: 23 August 1861, Montreal, Canada

Died: 3 December 1931, UK

Married: Rachel

Children: three sons and a daughter called Elsie

Known for: Minister of Labour 1920-1922

Thomas James MacNamara was born into an immigrant family in Montreal, Canada, on 23 August 1861.  His family moved to Britain when he was about 8 years old. He attended schools in Pembroke Dock and Exeter, before qualifying as a teacher at Southwark’s Borough Road Training College for Teachers in 1876.

He worked as a teacher in Exeter, Huddersfield and Bristol. His career then took him through various roles including editor of The Schoolmaster, chairman of the London School Board, and president of the National Union of Teachers.

From 1900 to 1918 he was MP for Camberwell North, followed by transfer to Camberwell North West until 1924. He held a number of political posts, culminating in the appointment as Minister of Labour by Lloyd George in 1920. 

Dr Thomas MacNamara meets students in Loughborough in 1920

In October 1922 Dr MacNamara lost his cabinet post when the government fell.

Nine years later, on 3 December 1931, Dr Thomas MacNamara died of prostate cancer. He was 70 years old.

He was survived by his wife Rachel, their three sons and his daughter Elsie. Elsie too had political ambitions, supporting her husband Thomas Elias as Liberal candidate for Neath in 1923 and standing herself as Liberal candidate for Southwark South East in 1924, when she came third.