John Potts (British politician)

John Samuel Potts (12 August 1861 – 28 April 1938) was a Labour Party politician in the United Kingdom who served a Member of Parliament (MP) for twelve years between 1922 and 1938.

John Potts

Member of Parliament for Barnsley
In office
Preceded byJoseph Walton
Succeeded byRichard John Soper
Member of Parliament for Barnsley
In office
Preceded byRichard John Soper
Succeeded byFrank Collindridge
Personal details
John Samuel Potts

(1861-08-12)12 August 1861
Died28 April 1938(1938-04-28) (aged 76)
Political partyLabour

Born in Bolton, Lancashire, Potts had started work at Durham Colliery at the age of eleven.[1] He was a checkweighman at the Hemsworth Colliery, Yorkshire, for 25 years.[2] At the Barnsley by-election of 1897, Potts supported the Liberal Party candidate Joseph Walton. While chairing a Liberal election meeting during this by-election, Potts said in the presence of Walton that he would favour a labour party at a time when state payment of MPs, and of official election expenses would enable working men to be maintained in Parliament. But until then, "the Liberal Party was the working man’s only hope".[3] In 1905, Potts switched sides, and started working with the Independent Labour Party against Walton, and the leadership of the Yorkshire Miners' Association (YMA).[3] Ten years later Potts was elected as treasurer of the YMA,[4] and became a member of the executive committee of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain.[1] He kept these positions until he was elected as the Member of Parliament for Barnsley at the 1922 general election,[5] when payment of MPs and election expenses had been enacted.[3] Potts retained the seat at three further elections in the 1920s. When Labour split at the 1931 general election over Ramsay MacDonald's formation of a National Government, he narrowly lost his seat to the National Liberal candidate Richard John Soper.[1]

Potts was comfortably re-elected at the 1935 general election, but died in office in 1938, in Barnsley, aged 76. His illness and death have been connected with the shock he received when the Wharncliffe Woodmoor Pit Disaster occurred two years earlier. His lived at the lane which led to the colliery.[2]


  1. Obituary The Colliery Guardian; 6 May 1938, Page: 842, Column: 2
  2. "DEATH OF LABOUR M.P. FOR BARNSLEY". Western Daily Press. 29 April 1938. Retrieved 3 November 2015 via British Newspaper Archive.
  3. David Rubinstein, "The Independent Labour Party and the Yorkshire Miners: The Barnsley By-Election of 1897", What Next?; earlier published in International Review of Social History, Vol.23, 1978.
  4. "YORKSHIRE MINERS' TREASURER". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 30 August 1915. Retrieved 3 November 2015 via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. "YORKSHIRE MINERS' M.P. DEAD". Hull Daily Mail. 28 April 1938. Retrieved 3 November 2015 via British Newspaper Archive.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Joseph Walton
Member of Parliament for Barnsley
Succeeded by
Richard John Soper
Preceded by
Richard John Soper
Member of Parliament for Barnsley
Succeeded by
Frank Collindridge

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