Henry, Mitchell (1826–1910), politician and businessman, was born at Ardwick Green, Manchester, younger son of Alexander Henry, liberal MP for South Lancashire (1847–52) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Oliver Brush of Willow Bank, Co. Down. He was educated privately and at University College, London, after which he joined the Pine St. medical school in Manchester. Graduating MRCS in 1847, he established himself as a Harley St. practitioner and then as a surgeon in the North London Infirmary of Diseases of the Eye, before being appointed in 1857 surgeon to the Middlesex Hospital. Five years later he abandoned the medical profession to become a partner in the family firm of A. & S. Henry, merchants and general warehousemen of Manchester and Huddersfield. Desiring to enter politics, he stood as liberal candidate for Woodstock (1865) and twice for Manchester (1867, 1868) but at each count was unsuccessful. During his second Manchester candidature he founded the Evening News as an electioneering paper, and after his defeat sold it to the printer, William Evans.
His wife Margaret Vaughan (m. 1849) of Quilly House, Co. Down, and both his parents were born in Ulster, and Henry was a regular visitor to Ireland, where he was an enthusiastic angler. An extremely wealthy man, he bought from the Blake family a large estate by Kylemore Lough, Co. Galway, and had built there in the 1860s Kylemore Castle, a romantic grouping of towers and turrets designed and constructed by Sameul Ussher Roberts (1821–1900); James Franklin Fuller (qv) carried out alterations in the 1880s, and also claimed credit for the work. He also spent lavishly on land reclamation and building schools, and as ‘the economic benefactor of the whole Connemara area’ (Thornley, 117) was elected unopposed as liberal candidate for Galway county in 1871, and held the seat until 1885.
In parliament Henry allied himself firmly with Isaac Butt (qv) and became a leading home ruler, organising the home rule conference in the Rotunda (18–21 November 1873); three months later he was among the five organisers of the meeting in City Hall, Dublin, on 3 March, at which forty-six MPs resolved to establish an independent home rule party. Henry dealt effectively with the financial side of the question in the commons, arguing strongly that Ireland had for years been overtaxed. He also acted as financial adviser to Butt and was chief trustee of the Butt testimonial fund set up in 1875; unfortunately this fund had no clerical backing, so donations were few and Henry had to mortgage receipts from the fund against his personal cheques. A firm federalist who believed in limited self-government for all countries of the UK, he was on the moderate wing of the party and was wary of the obstructionist tactics of Biggar (qv) and Parnell (qv), though by 1878 he was growing impatient with Butt's approach, which he saw as excessively conciliatory. However, Parnell's ‘new departure’ alliance of nationalists and agrarian activists alarmed him as a direct threat to the union, and he wrote to the Freeman's Journal repudiating it (6 January 1879). After Butt's death in May 1879 he was mooted as a possible leader for the party but lost to William Shaw (qv). T. M. Healy (qv) records that Biggar voted for Henry as the better man, while Parnell voted for Shaw because he knew he could oust him.
Parnell's aggressive tactics of the 1880s alienated Henry, who fully supported the 1881 land act and opposed his party's encouragement to tenants to try their specific cases before tribunals. Deploring land league agitation, he warmly endorsed the efforts of W. E. Forster (qv) to suppress it, and this led to his final rupture with the Parnellites. Unseated at the November 1885 general election, he was immediately elected for the Blackfriars and Hutchesontown division of Glasgow and sat until defeated in the general election of June 1886. His last parliamentary stint was spent attacking his former colleagues and voting against the home rule bill on 7 June 1886. Thereafter he devoted himself to business: his mercantile firm was turned into a limited liability company in 1889 and he remained as chairman until 1893. Facing financial difficulties, he sold his Kylemore estate in 1903 and retired to Leamington, where he died 22 November 1910. His wife died in 1874; they had had six children.