Scanlan, Thomas (1872–1930), MP, journalist, lawyer, and magistrate, was born 21 May 1872 at Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo, the second son of Matthew Scanlan, farmer, and his wife Catherine. After his education at Summerhill College, Sligo, he moved to Glasgow, where he worked for a time as a clerk in a city store and then studied law at St Andrews University. He had a short journalistic career, beginning at a small catholic weekly paper before joining the Glasgow Observer, but gave up journalism when he established a lucrative law practice in Glasgow. With the death in June 1909 of the incumbent nationalist North Sligo MP, P. A. McHugh (qv), Scanlan jumped at the opportunity to enter politics and represent his home county. At a convention of the UIL in Sligo in July 1909, he was selected as nationalist candidate and returned unopposed the following month; he held the seat until 1918. A skilled orator in parliament, within a year of entering politics he became a joint secretary and whip of the Irish party, and was selected to sit on various house committees.
Called to the English bar in 1912 (and the Irish bar in 1916), Scanlan soon received his most important brief, to represent the National Sailors’ and Firemen's Union of Great Britain and Ireland in the British Titanic inquiry. It was a singularly high profile case, and questions were raised in parliament in February 1913 concerning the high legal fees to be paid by the government to barristers and solicitors at the inquiry. Commencing in May 1913, while the American inquiry was still under way, the British inquiry was conducted by the Board of Trade, prompting fears the board would attempt to protect the White Star line from accusations of negligence that might have harmed British shipping. More vigorous than many counsel, Scanlan doggedly attempted to force the most senior surviving Titanic officer, Second Officer Charles Lightoller, into admitting that it was reckless for the ship to travel at such high speed in an area known for icebergs.
In August 1924 Scanlan was appointed to the bench of metropolitan magistrates in London, where he tried minor offences, small civil cases, and preliminary hearings of more serious cases. After retiring from the bench in 1928 because of ill health, he died 9 January 1930 and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery, London. In 1905 he married Mary Helen, daughter of John Mullen of Glasgow.