Joseph Arch

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Arch, Joseph (1826–1919). Trade unionist and politician. Arch was the son of a Warwickshire farm labourer and began work on the farm at the age of 9 scaring birds. He gained experience in public speaking as a primitive methodist lay preacher and in 1872 launched a National Agricultural Labourers' Union. It had considerable success and wages on farms improved, though numbers dwindled in the face of strong counter-attacks by landlords and farmers. Arch entered Parliament as a Liberal in 1885 but was defeated the following year: he served again from 1892 until 1900—the first farm labourer in the House of Commons. He published an autobiography in 1898.

J. A. Cannon