Burn, Thomas Henry (1875–1949), trade unionist and politician, was born in Belfast, son of Thomas Henry Burn. Little is known of his family life but he was educated at Belfast National School and subsequently trained as a lithographic printer.
The Ulster Unionist Labour Association was set up by the Ulster Unionist Council in mid-1918 to facilitate working-class participation in loyalist politics. Burn was one of three representatives from this organisation elected to Westminster in December 1918. Although he continuously affirmed his loyalty to Edward Carson (qv) during this election campaign, Burn also insisted that he retained the freedom to support and vote for any measures that he considered to be in the best interests of labour. He expressed pride in belonging to the working class and noted that, since he had served for five years as the secretary of the Belfast branch of the lithographic printing society, he was familiar with the various labour questions of the day. Although unanimously selected as the official unionist candidate for St Anne's division in 1918, Burn was opposed by an independent unionist, William Alexander, who feared that the interests of the business community in St Anne's would be jeopardised with a labour unionist MP. Defending Burn's reputation as a staunch unionist, however, leading unionists in St Anne's frequently noted that Burn was both a sound trade unionist and a sound unionist. His support for the UVF and his involvement in the South Belfast Discharged Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Association were presented as evidence of his unionist credentials. Burn himself also noted that he was one of thousands of unionists who had marched to Craigavon to welcome Carson as their leader in September 1911. He was also a lifelong teetotaler.
On election in 1918 to Westminster (where he remained an MP until 1922), Burn frequently boasted that he was the first MP ever to come from the Sandy Row area of Belfast. In parliament he supported improvements in housing, better primary education for children, temperance reform, and support for dependants of deceased sailors and soldiers. In March 1920 he supported and moved the second reading of the Liquor Traffic Local Veto (Ireland) Bill, which gave local electors the right to decide whether or not the sale of alcohol would be tolerated in their area.
Burn was unanimously selected as one of three official unionist candidates for Belfast West in the first election to the Northern Ireland parliament in May 1921. During this election campaign, Burn was more inclined to focus on the threat posed by Sinn Féin than on labour issues. He suggested, for example, that Sinn Féin and the constitutional nationalists were essentially the same, and that the real issue in this election was the struggle between protestantism and catholicism. Referring to his parliamentary career at Westminster, the chairman of St Anne's Unionist Association stated that Burn was one of Edward Carson's chief lieutenants. At an election meeting in May 1921, Sir James Craig (qv) suggested that it would be wasting time to talk about Burn and simply noted that all members of the British house of commons referred to him as ‘Harry’ and that this indicated the personal affection and esteem with which he was regarded. Burn topped the poll in Belfast West and was subsequently appointed assistant parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Finance (junior whip). He held this position until his defeat in April 1925, and appears to have fallen into obscurity after the end of his political career.
Burn was a member of the Orange order. He died 7 June 1949 at 6 St John's Avenue, Belfast, and was interred at Knock presbyterian cemetery in Belfast.