Campbell, Thomas Joseph (1871–1946), journalist, lawyer, and politician, was born 14 December 1871 in Divis St., Belfast, son of Joseph Campbell, stationer, originally of Maghery, Co. Armagh, and Sarah Campbell (née Morrow) of Dromore, Co. Down. Educated at St Mary's CBS, Divis St., and St Malachy's College, Belfast, he took a BA (1892), LLB (1894), and MA (1897) at the RUI. He achieved these while working for the nationalist Irish News from 1891, becoming its editor in 1895. Widely respected as a journalist, he was elected president of the Ulster district of the Institute of Journalists (1899). In 1906 he resigned as editor, deciding to concentrate on his legal career. He was called to the Irish bar (1900) and the English bar (1904), but lived and practised law in Dublin (1910–22), becoming a KC in 1918.
During this time he entered politics as Irish parliamentary party candidate for Monaghan South in the 1918 general election, being defeated by the Sinn Féin candidate, Seán MacEntee (qv). In 1921 he came an inauspicious sixth in the contest to represent Belfast East in the new Northern Ireland parliament. His legal career, however, was proving more fruitful. He became the first treasurer of the Northern Ireland bar and first secretary of the Northern Ireland circuit (1922), and was elected a bencher of the King's Inns, Dublin (1924), and the Inns of Court, Northern Ireland (1938). He wrote two books on legal themes, Irish land purchase (1903) and Workmen's compensation (1911). His only other published work was Fifty years of Ulster: 1890–1940 (1941), an eclectic mixture of memoir, history, and current affairs.
He retained political ambitions, becoming the first nationalist to enter the Northern Ireland senate (1929). Among his achievements were a number of wildlife protection acts, for which he was honoured with a silver medal by the RSPCA (1934). In 1931 he again unsuccessfully contested a general election, failing to win a Westminster seat for the constituency of Belfast West. He finally won a Stormont seat (1934) in the Belfast Central by-election that followed the death of Joe Devlin (qv). Returned unopposed in the general elections of 1938 and 1945, he was particularly critical while in Stormont of discrimination in education and employment. Parliament proved a lonely battle, as for a time he was one of only two nationalists taking up their seats. He was already father of the circuit when in 1945 he resigned from parliament to accept an appointment as a county court judge, a decision greeted with a barrage of criticism from some nationalist quarters. Campbell died 3 May 1946 in Belfast. He married (1918) Nora, daughter of Michael and Hannah Gilfedder of Belfast. They had one daughter and four sons, one of whom, Paul (1926–2000) was a founding partner of the Belfast solicitors firm of Campbell & O'Rawe; a trustee of the Irish School of Ecumenics; and a founder member of the Martin Trust in aid of the severely disabled. He married Sheila, daughter of the novelist Michael McLaverty (qv) (1904–92) they had two sons and two daughters.