Born in Brighton, he was educated in Bury St Edmunds and Kennington House School. He entered public life in south London, initially in Southwark as a member of the St. Saviour's Board of Works and Vestry and later of the Camberwell Vestry. From 1866 he was Camberwell's representative on the Metropolitan Board of Works. He was chairman of the Finance Committee of the Metropolitan Board from 1872-73.
In 1864 he was elected to the Common Council of the City of London. In 1885 he was Chief Commoner of the City, and in 1888 became deputy for the ward of Aldgate. He was a member of the Spectacle Makers' Company and a member of the Commission of Lieutenancy for the City.
He held a commission in the First Surrey Rifles, and took over the management of The Metropolitan, a Camberwell local newspaper.