Born: Thomas Carlton was born in 1852 in Chesterton near Cambridge. His mother was Elizabeth Carlton. His paternal grandparents were James and Dinah Carlton. His grandfather was a bricklayer.
Educated: As a teenager, Thomas worked as an agricultural labourer, so it is likely that he had no more than an elementary education. As a young adult he attended science classes at night school, possibly in New Marske Institute near Marske-by-the-Sea.
Married: Thomas Carlton was married to Sarah (Ekers?) who came from Magdalen, a few miles south of King’s Lynn.
Family: No children of Thomas and Sarah appear on the Census returns.
Home: Thomas grew up in his grandparents’ house in Milton near Chesterton in Cambridgeshire. He moved to Cleveland in 1871, possibly to New Marske, since he was President of the local Lodge when the New Marske Institute was opened in 1875. Throughout the 1880s Thomas and Sarah lived in North Ormesby. At some point in the 1890s they moved to Borough Road West in Middlesbrough.
Known for: Thomas Carlton moved on from being a labourer at a Teesside ironworks to become Secretary of the Cleveland and South Durham Branch of the National Federation of Blast-furnacemen. In 1890, he was in negotiation with the Cleveland Ironmasters on behalf of the union. He was described as a forceful but level-headed negotiator, and as such he won the respect of the Ironmasters. In February 1892 Thomas Carlton gave evidence to the Royal Commission on Labour regarding the daily working hours of blastfurnacemen. In March 1894 he was a member of a deputation which met the Home Secretary on the question of workmen’s hours. At that time, the blast-furnacemen worked a twelve hour day, but Carlton campaigned for a maximum of eight hours. In August 1894 the Ormesby Ironworks became the first Teesside works to agree to an eight-hour day for the furnacemen. Other local works followed, and Thomas Carlton became a hero to the workers.
Died: Thomas Carlton died in 1899 and was buried in Linthorpe Cemetery.
Further Information: “The Birth and Early History of a Middlesbrough Ironworks: The Ormesby Ironworks of Cochrane and Co” Frank Jewitt, Bulletin of the Cleveland and Teesside Local History Society vol. 30 (1975-6).
Alan Betteney assisted in the preparation of this short biography.