Member Biography

William Flinn 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1901-1902       44 Republican
1891-1892       44 Republican
1893-1894       44 Republican
1895-1896       44 Republican
1897-1898       44 Republican
1899-1900       44 Republican

COUNTIES: Allegheny  


05/26/1851 - 02/19/1924

William Flinn (R44) Allegheny (Part) County, 1891-1902

Early Life:

William Flinn, born May 26, 1851, Manchester, Metropolitan Borough of Manchester, Greater Manchester, England; son of John and Mary Hamilton Flinn; family moved, Pittsburgh’s Sixth Ward, 1851; school drop-out by age 10; apprentice, brass refinishing; apprentice, pipe and steamfitter; proprietor, Booth and Flinn, general contracting; married, Nancy Galbraith;  children, Ralph Emerson Flinn, George Hamilton Flinn, Howard G Flinn, William Arthur Flinn, Alexander Rex Flinn, Mary Flinn Lawrence, Edith Flinn Patterson; Ward Boss, Republican, Pittsburgh, 1877; member, board of fire commissioners, Pittsburgh, 1877-1878; elected, Republican, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 1877-1882; elected, delegate, Republican National Convention, 1884, 1888, 1892, 1896, 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912; appointed, Chair, Allegheny Republican Executive Committee, 1881-1899; elected, Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1891-1902; died, February 19, 1924 (age 72), Saint Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida; internment, Homewood Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Early Career:

Co-founded general contracting and construction firm Booth and Flinn, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1876.

Professional Titles:

Member, Pennsylvania Board of Fire Commissioners of the City of Pittsburgh; president, Duquesne Lumber Company; president, Pittsburgh Silver Peak Gold Mining Company; member, Arkansas Fuel Company Board of Directors; member, Arkansas Natural Gas Company Board of Directors; member, Gulf Oil Corporation Board of Directors; member, Pittsburgh Coal Company Board of Directors; member, Pittsburgh Coal Company of New Jersey Board of Directors; member, Colombia Syndicate Board of Directors; president and director, Sharon Water Works Company; president and director, Freehold Oil and Gas Company, Manufacturers Light and Heat Company, Witherow Steel Company; president and director, Pittsburgh Lumber Company, Duquesne Lumber Company, Freehold Lumber Company; member, Industrial Home for Crippled Children Advisory Board.

Member, Duquesne Club, Union Club, Oakmont Country Club, Pittsburgh Field Club, Country Club of Pittsburgh.

Pennsylvania Politics:

Ward Boss, Republican, Pittsburgh’s “Old Sixth Ward,” 1877.

Member, board of fire commissioners, Pittsburgh, 1877-1878.

Elected, Republican, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 1877-1882.

Elected, delegate, Republican National Convention, 1884, 1888, 1892, 1896, 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912.

Appointed, Chair of the Republican Executive Committee, 1890.

Elected, Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 44th District, Allegheny (Part) County, 1891-1902; committee assignments, Agriculture, Congressional Appointment, Education (Chairman), Legislative Appointment, Municipal Affairs, Public Roads and Highways, and Railroads and Street Passenger Railways. Resigned, March 7, 1902.

Became affiliated, Progressive Party, supported Theodore Roosevelt, presidential election, 1912.

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Biography:


Noted as a significant force in the modernization of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Within politics, Flinn was known for cracking down on corruption at ballot boxes and for sponsoring the Good Roads Act of 1895. However, from 1880-1901, Flinn and political ally Christopher L. Magee exerted a vast amount of political control over Pittsburgh. This control over the city was controversial, as both men often utilized their political power for personal gain.

Worth $11 million at time of death.


Smull’s Legislative Handbook, Cochran, (1900) T.B., (Editor) Miller, H.P. (Assistant Editor) Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pages 1187, 1192-1194, Biographical Sketches of Senators, page 1159.

“Senator Flinn’s Body Is Expected Here Friday.” The Gazette Times (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Wednesday, February 20, 1924, page 1.

“William Flinn, Noted Politician, Dies of Pneumonia.” Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Pennsylvania) Wednesday, February 20, 1924, page 6.

Barcousky, Len. 2018. “Where to begin with Booth and Flinn Company” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Sunday, March 25, 2018.