Boyd, Thomas William (‘Tom’) (1903–91), socialist and trade unionist, was born 13 April 1903 in Woodstock Road, east Belfast, one of nine children of James Boyd, shipyard clerk, and Mary Boyd (née McCully), both originally from Co. Down. He left Ravenscroft national school, Belfast, at the age of 12 to begin work in the city sheriff's office. In January 1917 he started as a messenger in the Harland & Wolff shipyard and later became an apprentice pattern maker – an elite craftsman who made frames for casting engine parts. He was an active member of the First Ballymacarrett presbyterian church and was moved by the poverty he witnessed while travelling around the district on church business. In 1924 he joined the United Patternmaker's Association (later becoming branch president) and became a member of the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP). Unemployed on and off from 1925 to 1934, he was a member of the labour delegation that managed to wring improved relief payments for the unemployed from the Stormont government in 1932. His electoral contests were usually a struggle against the odds. Standing in Belfast's Victoria constituency for election to Stormont, he finished bottom of the poll in February 1938, though he won a respectable 2,268 votes; standing again in February 1949 for Bloomfield, Belfast, he finished more than 12,000 votes behind the unionist candidate. From 1945 to 1955 he stood unsuccessfully in Belfast East for election to Westminster. In October 1953, in elections to Stormont for the east Belfast Pottinger constituency, he was narrowly defeated by a unionist, but in March 1958 he was finally elected to Stormont for Pottinger, and assumed leadership of the parliamentary NILP. The party won four seats in this election and, with the nationalists refusing to act as official opposition, it fell to the NILP to assume the role from 1958 to 1965. Boyd was one of the party's chief policy-makers and attempted to steer it away from the question of partition and focus its attention on economic issues. Despite being treated in an offhand manner by the Unionist Party, he played a constructive and valuable role in opposition and won respect for his hard work, moderation, and non-sectarianism. The NILP held their four seats with increased majorities in 1962, and for the next six years attempted to secure reforms to conciliate nationalists. In 1968 Boyd was involved in forming a cross-border Council of Labour, which included the NILP, the Republican Labour Party, and the Irish Labour Party. By 1969 he had become disillusioned with the increasingly polarised and sectarian political scene, and decided not to seek reelection to Stormont. He lived the remainder of his life in east Belfast, devoting his time to the presbyterian church, the local housing society, and his duties as president of the East Belfast Historical Society. He was appointed JP in 1948 and deputy lieutenant of Belfast in 1975, and died in Belfast 3 December 1991. He married (1956) Janet Brice.
C. E. B. Brett, Long shadows cast before (1978); Jim Patton, ‘The member for East Belfast’, Journal of the East Belfast Historical Society, ii, no. 1 (Nov. 1985); Graham S. Walker, The politics of frustration: Harry Midgley and the failure of labour in Northern Ireland (1985); Belfast Telegraph, 4 Dec. 1991; Daily Telegraph, 7 Dec. 1991; Walker