Thomas Sexton (Ire.) – Nationalist politician

Thomas Sexton – family origins in Waterford

Thomas Sexton (1848–1932) was an Irish journalist, financial expert, nationalist politician and Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1880 to 1896, representing four different constituencies.[1] He was Lord Mayor of Dublin 1888–1889.[2]

Thomas Sexton, Nationalist MP

Early life

He was born at Ballygannon, County Waterford, where he attended the local CBS school. He became a leader-writer on The Nation newspaper and a member of the Parnellite Irish Parliamentary Party.[2]


He was first elected MP for County Sligo in the 1880 general election, for South Sligo in the 1885 general election, then for Belfast West in the 1886 election and for North Kerry in the 1892 election. He was a cosignator of the No Rent Manifesto issued in 1881. He was regarded as one of the finest orators of the Irish Party, but handicapped by a querulous temperament.[1] Following the party split over Parnell’s leadership, he sided with John Dillon‘s anti-Parnellite faction, then in 1896 retired from parliamentary politics, disgusted at the bitter factionalism following the failure of the second Home Rule bill.[1][3]

Sexton was a member of the Committee, chaired by Hugh Childers, to enquire into the financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland. In the report of the committee, published in 1896, he wrote a minority report showing that the tax burden on Ireland had been steadily increased throughout the nineteenth century, at the same time as its people were steadily impoverished.[4]

He was hostile to the Irish Land Acts (1903) on financial grounds, and regarded by William O’Brien as one of the principal players involved in his subsequent marginalisations from the Irish Party.[1] Sexton continued to be a leading ally of Dillon as Chairman of the board of the Freeman’s Journal from 1893 to 1911;[1]however, his policy of cutting investments to maintain dividends led to the demise of the paper through William Martin Murphy‘s Irish Independent.[1]

Later life

After retiring from the Freeman’s Journal he became Chairman of Boland’s Mill, and during World War I denounced wartime taxation and in 1918 endorsed Sinn Féin.[1] At the end of his career he supported Fianna Fáil because it promised tariff protection for flour-milling.[1]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Denis Maurice O’Conor and 
Edward King-Harman
Member of Parliament for County Sligo
1880 – 1885 
With: Denis Maurice O’Conor, to 1883
Nicholas Lynch, from 1883
Constituency divided
New constituencyMember of Parliament for South Sligo
1885 – 1886
Succeeded by
Edward Joseph Kennedy
Preceded by
James Horner Haslett
Member of Parliament for Belfast West
1886 – 1892
Succeeded by
H. O. Arnold-Forster
Preceded by
John Stack
Member of Parliament for North Kerry
1892 – 1896
Succeeded by
Michael Joseph Flavin
Civic offices
Preceded by
Timothy Daniel Sullivan
Lord Mayor of Dublin
Succeeded by
Edward Joseph Kennedy