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SB Ib 







The Author wishes it to be understood 
that any profits arising from the sale of 
this record of injustice will be devoted to 
the cause of Prison reform. She invites 
your co-operation. 



" Mrs. Henry Hothouse's statement of the case of the Conscientious Objector, 
and still more of the case against his punishment by successive terms of im- 
prisonment, deserves very serious attention. It is fortified by the support of 
men of conservative opinions like Lord Selborne, Lord Parmoor, Lord Hugh 
Cecil, and Lord Henry Bentinck, who courageously testify that the continuous 
imprisonment of men whose convictions are beyond, doubt genuine is an injury 
to the cause of good government and a piece of stupidity which Lord Selborne 
bluntly calls ' idiotic.' " WESTMINSTER GAZETTE. 

' ' Under the title ' I appeal unto Ccesar ' an extremely important book is 
published to-day. . . . The book is prefaced by a most able introduction by 
Professor Gilbert Murray. . . . In some ways the most startling account in 
this indictment is the evidence of the foulest abuses in prison life. . . ." 

" This little book has stirred me deeply. I urge one and all to read it." 
Mr. John Galsworthy in THE OBSERVER. 

" We shall be glad if her little volume receives the careful attention of the 
Home Secretary. The national good name for f airplay must be preserved." 

" It is a terrible indictment of our inhuman prison system, and should lead 
to instant reform." PUBLIC OPINION. 

"An eloquent and touching statement of the case for the genuine Conscien- 
tious Objector. The reader who peruses it immoved should have some doubts as 
to the e/ective working of his own conscience. " EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS. 

Leading article in the NEW STATESMAN : " A valuable little book." 

From Lord Parmoor s letter to the DAILY NEWS: "/ think that the 
sufferings ... have not been ge?ierally brought home to the knowledge of the 
mass of Englishmen. There will be no place for any such excuse in the future. 
The veil of obscttrity has been rent from top to bottom in the book of Mrs. 

11 Deserves very serious attention. " WESTMINSTER GAZETTE. 

' ' The most powerful plea for the conscientious objectors yet put before the 







THE author of this appeal wishes to thank the people 
of all classes and conditions who have so warmly re- 
sponded to her efforts to obtain redress for the genuine 
conscientious objectors, now undergoing in prisons all 
over the land long sentences of hard labour. Many 
write to her to ask how they can help. She makes a 
few practical suggestions. Petitions can be drawn up 
and resolutions passed, copies of which can be sent to 
the War Cabinet and to the Home Office, both of which 
authorities are concerned in the matter, asking for a 
free pardon and release for these men. Such petitions 
should come from many quarters and classes from 
religious bodies, from societies interested in liberty, 
from trade unions and trade associations, and from 
those who carry on the intellectual life of the nation. 
Lastly, Members of both Houses of Parliament, who 
feel there has been some maladministration of the law, 
should take those steps both privately and in public, 
which seem to them likely to be effective to alter a 
state of things which all must deplore. It is possible 
that the Government itself may not be unwilling that 
some pressure shall be brought to bear on them to 
remedy what has become so grave a scandal. 

Whert the Germans committed the judicial murder 
of Edith Cavell, the world shuddered with horror. 
May it not be laid at our door that we also have been 
guilty of judicial tyranny and cruelty ? Let us re- 
member that " the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart " 
to the ultimate discomfiture of Pharaoh. 




WHEN compulsory military service was made part of 
the law of England in January 1916 it was well known 
that there existed in the country a certain number of 
persons who looked upon war as murder and on military 
service as a training in deliberate evil". The Society of 
Friends, an influential and universally respected body, 
had traditionally taken up this attitude with regard 
to war, and had been specially exempted from service 
in the Napoleonic wars by Mr. Pitt. Other religious 
bodies, such as the Christadelphians and the Plymouth 
Brethren, were known to hold more or less similar 
views. More important still, though perhaps not quite 
appreciated in War Office circles, the greatest of all 
modern men of letters, whose books sold by the hundred- 
thousand in almost every country of Europe, had 
devoted himself to a spiritual crusade against war and 
violence in any shape. Tolstoy's doctrines were so 
extreme that actual Tolstoyans were rare ; but almost 
every young man and woman in Europe who possessed 
any free religious life at all had been to some extent 
influenced by Tolstoy. And his influence was probably 



at its greatest in Russia and England. It was not to 
be for a moment expected that the Military Service Act 
would be accepted by the nation without raising the 
problems of a religious protest and a religious persecu- 
tion. It was certain that the Government which 
passed the Act would find itself confronted, not merely 
by political opponents, by shirkers, cowards, or dodgers, 
but by people who said frankly, " You are ordering me 
to commit a flagrant sin, and I will die rather than 

The Government of the day faced this difficulty with 
tact and prudence. They introduced compulsory 
service gradually, reluctantly, and not until the great 
majority of the nation was ready to acquiesce in its 
necessity. In the Act they introduced special clauses to 
exempt Conscientious Objectors, and, very wisely, they 
made it clear that to have a conscience a man need not 
be a member of any particular religious sect. To have 
insisted, as some people wished, that only members of 
specified sects should have a right to exemption, would 
have left out of account more than half of the most 
sincere and passionate objectors. 

The exemptions were planned by Parliament on a 
generous scale, and were to be administered by the 
Local Tribunals. There was (a) total exemption for 
those whose consciences insisted ; but, since it was 
known that almost every one in the country was eager 
to help his country as best he could, there were also the 
possibilities of (b) exemption conditional on the appli- 
cant being engaged in work of national importance of a 
non-military kind, and (c) non-combatant service in 
the army itself. Carried out with intelligence and fair- 
ness these provisions should have met all the diffi- 
culties ; but as a matter of fact they were not so 

[ vii ] 

carried out. I speak below chiefly of matters within 
my own experience. I became interested in this 
question chiefly through certain Oxford undergraduates 
who became Conscientious Objectors. I knew them, 
and after using my utmost exertions to overcome 
their scruples by private persuasion, I did what little 
I could to see that they obtained their legal rights. 

The local Tribunals probably formed as good an 
instrument for carrying out the Act as could be reason- 
ably expected, but they had grave faults. 

The first and most obvious fault about many of them 
was their lack of the necessary qualifications for dealing 
with questions of conscience, or for at all understanding 
the mind of an intellectual or religious man, not to 
speak of an eccentric or an enthusiast. Besides this, 
they were of course anxious to please the War Office, to 
satisfy the more turbulent newspapers, and to display 
their own patriotism by sending other people to the 
trenches. They were very reluctant indeed to grant 
total exemption. They were for a long time reluctant 
to grant the second form of exemption, conditional on 
the performance of other work of national importance. 
They had a strong feeling, not very enlightened perhaps, 
but quite intelligible, that before getting his exemption 
the objector ought to be made to prove his genuineness 
by suffering. Whatever was done to him he could 
hardly be made to suffer as much as the men in the 
trenches. So they often refused exemption altogether, 
and, where they admitted the genuineness of an 
objector's conscience, they had recourse freely to 
the third alternative of " Non - combatant Military 

To most conscientious objectors this alternative was 
a mere mockery. They objected to all military service 


[ viii ] 

as organised evil-doing. They had explained this, and 
their objections had been recognised by the Tribunal as 
genuinely based on conscience ; and, as a result, they 
were promptly ordered to perform military service with 
the assurance that they need not mind, because they 
would be moved out of the way if there was any danger ! 
It was both a mockery and an insult. There were 
indeed some curious sects which objected only to the 
act of killing, not to the organisation of killing. They 
and the War Office were perhaps the only people content 
with the plan of non-combatant service. 

The War Office liked it because it gave the objectors 
into the power of the military. Recruiting officers and 
higher authorities had great hopes that when they had 
once got these men into the Army they could, by hook 
or by crook, by persuasion and suggestion, by assault 
and battery, and the influence of the military atmo- 
sphere, make soldiers of them. And sometimes, no 
doubt, they actually achieved this end. 

I have notes of conversations with two military 
authorities, one in a high position, one only a recruiting 
officer, who had the definite intention of shooting the 
objectors. " A few would do, just to bring the others 
to reason." I endeavoured to explain that this view 
was too sanguine, but both men clung to it. The plan 
has, I believe, never been carried out. Disobedient 
objectors have been taken to "France, avowedly for the 
purpose of enabling their officers to shoot them at will. 
They have been threatened with shooting, and have 
been formally sentenced to death. But they have not 
been actually shot. The special grace guaranteed them 
by the law has only taken the form of cells, field punish- 
ment, penal servitude, and repeated terms of hard 

[ ix ] 

Another method, however, has been practised freely, 
as many published documents show. It is secret bully- 
ing and terrorism in the barracks. " He won't give 
way ? " said a recruiting officer to me about a certain 
rather delicate undergraduate. " Well, we'll see when 
we get him in the barracks. It's him against us, and I 
think we shall get the best of it." " Do you want to 
shoot him ? " I asked. " No, we won't shoot him. 
We'll spank him. We'll make him wish he had never 
been born." 

Many abominable cases of such bullying have come 
to light ; others will never be known. I should like, 
however, to state clearly that, as far as my own experi- 
ence goes, which was confined practically to the year 
1916, the Government and the higher authorities were 
most prompt in redressing any case of proved injustice 
that was brought to them, and sincerely anxious to 
prevent wrong being done. And secondly, as far as my 
experience goes, cruelty in barracks was the exception ; 
an embarrassed and worried good-nature was the rule. 
The ordinary cases of oppression, unfairness, and bully- 
ing in barracks were probably not due to any high 
authorities, but sprang from excesses of popular feeling, 
or from sheer ill-temper and stupidity. A young 
officer, like one known to me, who had never heard of 
Tolstoy and believed that the rule " An eye for an eye 
and a tooth for a tooth " was spoken by Christ in the 
Sermon on the Mount, was not likely to show much 
insight in dealing with a meek theological prisoner who 
roused all his instincts of antagonism, and, what was 
worse, often made him look like a fool. And it made 
matters worse that, owing to this same stupidity, the 
Tribunals sometimes let a really " slim " or fraudulent 
objector escape. I think it would be true to say that 

the dishonest objector has had generally a better 
chance than the honest one. For a simple reason : 
that the humbug made it his whole business to 
please the Tribunal and get off, while the honest man 
did not. 

The vast majority of the Conscientious Objectors 
were willing and anxious to accept alternative service. 
They were ready for any service that was not military, 
and on the whole showed a preference for ambulance 
work, or relief or reconstruction work, under the Society 
of Friends. I know two objectors who specially sought 
out employment in mine-sweepers, because it was at 
least as dangerous as ordinary fighting, and at the same 
time it aimed at saving life, not destroying it. But 
there remains one type of case which needs special 
treatment. I mean the extremists, or " absolutists," 
who refuse all alternative service whatever. They are 
about 1000 in number. They have taken up a position 
which naturally alienates public sympathy. But, as 
far as I have any individual knowledge of them, they 
are men of exceptionally high character and devoted 
lives ; and beyond all doubt they are being treated with 
the most unintelligent brutality. 

Let me try to explain why these men refuse to accept 
exemption on the condition of performing " work of 
national importance " at the order of the Tribunal. 

It is not because they are unwilling to help their 
country or their fellow-men. Most of them are men 
who before the war spent a great part of their lives in 
social service. Nor is it, in the main, that they argue, 
with more logic than common sense, that, when a 
country is using all its powers for war, any help given 
to that country is help to the war. It is chiefly that 
they will not accept freedom at the price of recognising 

t xi ] 

and obeying the orders of a Tribunal which in its very 
essence their whole conscience condemns. 

This is no doubt exasperating. All the Conscientious 
Objectors known to history have been exasperating. 
Otherwise people would not have persecuted them. 
But, however exasperating, it is a perfectly common 
phenomenon. Think of the Quakers in the time of the 
Commonwealth and of Charles II., sentenced again and 
again to imprisonment because they thought it an act 
of idolatry to take off their hats in court. Think of the 
Early Christians who were offered complete freedom on 
condition of performing a slight act of courtesy to the 
Emperor's statue, and refused it. In the eyes of these 
objectors, the Tribunal is a court set up for the purpose 
of dragging human beings against their will into acts of 
desperate cruelty and wickedness. They regard it as a 
Tribunal of blood and sin, if ever there was one. And I 
must confess that to an onlooker with any historical 
imagination the average Tribunal, when dealing with a 
pale and fanatical CO., does at times bring up vivid 
pictures of the courts in the Pilgrim's Progress. It is 
not hard to understand the position of these extremists. 

Of course I think they are wrong, tragically 
wrong. I think also that many of them have other 
minor faults of a most irritating character ; that is all 
beside the point. The main question for us, and a 
question which concerns our honour as a nation, is 
whether we wish to act like sensible men or like angry 
fanatics without any excuse for fanaticism. For my 
part, if it is a little childish of a Quaker to refuse to take 
off his hat in Court, or for a C.O. to refuse to accept an 
order from the Tribunal telling him to do just what he 
otherwise would like to do, I think it much more 
childish, and infinitely worse than childish, to send him, 

and to keep sending him again and again, to prison 
with hard labour until we achieve the sorry triumph 
of breaking his spirit or destroying his sanity. And 
two points must always be remembered. First, that 
these men have by the plain intention of the Act a 
right to total exemption, and the whole of their 
punishment is in spirit illegal : and next, that the 
repeated sentences of imprisonment with hard labour 
which are passed on them for what is in reality one 
single offence mount up to a prolonged severity of 
treatment which is otherwise unknown, or almost 
unknown, to the practice of English law. 

The question has ceased to be a military question. 
There is probably not one extra man to be added to the 
army by the further persecution of these objectors. 
1 There is no way out of the difficulty by increase of 
severity. Honest brutality, no doubt, would repeal 
the exemption clauses of the Military Service Act, and 
openly hand over the Quakers and Tolstoyans to the 
military, to be flogged and shot at will. But flogging 
and shooting will not bring more men into the Army, 
nor improve the spirit of the civil population outside. 
Dishonest brutality would proceed further on the road 
now followed, and encourage more secret cruelty in the 
barracks. I have received by this morning's post 
(June 30) the accounts of one man, an intended mission- 
ary, dead in hospital, another dead in a lunatic asylum, 
as the result of this secret bullying ; and a third being 
subjected to a well-known form of mediaeval torture. 
This man is imprisoned in a deep and narrow hole, too 
small for sitting down, not to speak of lying, with no 
roof overhead and water at the bottom, covered by 
two planks. His sentence is for twenty-eight days, 
which would mean death ; but since the prisoner has 

t xiii ] 

managed to communicate with the outside world, it 
will presumably not be carried out. 

I do not believe, even yet, that any British Govern- 
ment will deliberately continue to allow these infamies. 
If it does, I should find it hard to be surprised at any 
access of indignant fury against that Government on 
the part of the friends and relations of these tortured 

Indeed, the worst point of the whole miserable 
business at present is not the addition of a little more 
unnecessary suffering and a little more meaningless 
injustice to the oceans of suffering and injustice already 
caused by the war. It is that the great majority of 
ordinary decent people who have come into personal 
contact with the treatment of objectors by the Tribunals 
and the War Office find themselves angered and em- ) 
bittered against the Government of their country at a 
time when it needs all their support. However wrong- 
headed, conceited, self-righteous, and unpatriotic, and 
all the rest of it the objectors may originally have 
seemed to us, the long and fruitless and illegal persecu- 
tion of these men leaves on the coldest observer an, 
impression of some moral heroism on the side of the 
culprits and some moral and intellectual vileness on the 
side of their oppressors. 

This is a very undesirable state of things, and it is 
not to be mended by mere suppression of the facts. 
At present hardly any newspaper publishes any account 
of the ill-treatment of the objectors, any statement or 
explanation made by them, or any questions raised 
about them in Parliament. Even the special debate, 
lasting considerably over an hour, on this subject in the 
House of Lords has been most scantily reported, and 
the speeches by Lord Parmoor, the Archbishop of 

Canterbury, and Lord Courtney have been practically 

The result attained has been that which it was 
desired to attain. A thick veil has been drawn to hide 
the whole of these discreditable proceedings from the 
people of England. It is because we wish that veil 
rent that we have agreed to the publication of this 
little book. 





THE line I have been going on privately, and shall 
continue to urge privately, and in public if I get a 
chance, is that this cast-iron way of dealing with these 
cases is idiotic, and that each case should be dealt with 
on its merits ; e.g. a man who is quite obviously a 
Conscientious Objector according to the meaning of the 
Act of Parliament should be treated as such, however 
much technically he may have put himself in the 







IT is a fundamental principle that punishment should 
be imposed in reference to the nature of the offence. 
Judged by this standard there is no justification for 
the terms of successive imprisonment inflicted on 
Conscientious Objectors who are recognised to be 
straightforward and sincere. This punishment is, 
moreover, contrary to the express declarations of 
responsible Ministers when the Military Service Act 
was under debate in Parliament. 

The severity of the punishment, inflicted by suc- 
cessive terms of imprisonment, is in sinister contrast 
with the national appeal for a higher standard of 
right and justice, and negatives any claim we may 
make to maintain the supreme test of Civil Liberty, 
viz. the determination to give full protection to an 
unpopular minority at a time of national excitement. 
It is forgotten that obedience to conscience is a primary 
duty in Christian Ethics, and there is a curious con- 
fusion of thought in stigmatising a deep sense of 
religious duty, as though it were a mean attempt to 
evade the claims of a National obligation. 






I AM certainly of opinion that where it is quite 
clear that an objector to military service is moved by 
a sincere scruple to make his objection, he ought not 
to be punished. If there be practical difficulties in 
the way of distinguishing case from case, the Home 
Office should be allowed to discriminate according to 
its discretion, and give such relief as might seem in 
the circumstances possible. 






WHILE I have not much sympathy with the ordinary 
Conscientious Objector, I feel that our treatment of 
those who have proved their sincerity by going to prison 
is consistent neither with humanity nor the law. 
The Military Service Acts lay down that, " The 
Tribunal, if they consider the ground for the application 
established, shall grant a certificate of exemption, 
which may be either absolute, conditional, or 
temporary." It is beyond dispute that when the 
House was passing the Military Service Acts, it was 
intended to give absolute exemption to those whose 
objection to military service v/as beyond any question. 
I therefore cannot understand how the Government 
can justify the continuous imprisonment of men who 
have proved that their conscientious convictions are 
genuine. The Home Secretary, to my mind, is doing 
an injury, not so much to the Conscientious Objector 
as to the cause of good government in Great Britain. 




GENTLE reader, if indeed any may be called gentle in 
these days of blood and iron, I ask your attention to 
this document, poignant with human interest, and 
maybe the pathetic account of a lost cause. I have 
endeavoured to make our statement moderate, dis- 
passionate, and convincing. The facts cited are, to the 
best of my knowledge, true, having been carefully 
compiled and sifted from court-martial records and 
from letters written at long intervals by the hundreds 
of men doing hard labour and in detention cells. I 
ask your consideration of a difficult problem, full of 
pitfalls, and yet which jnust be solved if a barbarous 
condition of things is to be put a stop to and a grave 
scandal is to be averted. 

An Early Christian once appealed unto Caesar. I, 
too, in my weakness, appeal unto him. The Caesar I 
appeal to is : the Lords and Commons, the Govern- 
ment Offices concerned, the War Cabinet, the King in 
his capacity of granter of pardons ; to a greater power 
than these, to the enlightened opinion of our fellow 
countrymen and women in these Isles and across the 
seas, and to the great Democracy which carries on the 
traditions of our Puritan forefathers. 

It is with no desire to embarrass the success of the 

war that these pages gc forth. This war is for me, as 
President Wilson says, " a peoples' war for freedom, 
justice, and self-government, a war to make the world 
safe for the peoples who live in it." But if ever, on this 
most unchristian earth, Christ should descend from 
the Cross where we have crucified Him, an eternal 
emblem of human cruelty and ignorance, if He should 
ever perchance sit in the Council Chambers of nations 
and enter the cells of our prisons, then indeed, will 
the faith of these men suffering for conscience' sake 
appear not so crazy a delusion. It may be felt that 
they did not after all suffer wholly in vain, although 
they came too early in the history of the world. 

We, who ask for the release of the genuine Con- 
scientious Objectors who have purged their offence by 
repeated sentences of hard labour, have many specious 
arguments to contend with, one or two of which I will 
endeavour to deal with here. 

It is said that if the genuine men are let out of 
prison, some shirkers will go free. Even if this were so, 
it is not the custom of our law to punish one man for 
another's offence. A second argument is that if you 
release a sincere objector, he may cause trouble by 
mischievous propaganda. I answer again, it is not our 
custom to punish a man for one offence, when you 
really have another in view. Further, if the released 
man gave trouble and broke the law, he could be re- 
arrested under an all-powerful Defence of the Realm Act, 
tried and convicted in the law courts of his country. 

A third very cogent question is : " Why cannot 
these men do useful work for their country, if they will 
not fight ? " The reply is : " They were doing useful 
work many of them very laborious and self-sacrificing 
work, and would, if released, do it again, but that, in 


making their protest and suffering for their faith, they 
believe (though most people think wrongly) that they 
are best serving the cause of humanity. They say : 
' Man shall not live by bread alone.' ' 

Again, it is asked, " What do you think will be the 
feelings of the relatives of men who have given their 
lives for their country if these fellows are released ? " 
I answer, as the mother of sons in France, who are 
daily risking their lives, subjected to the horrors and 
discomforts of the trenches, that I feel less distress at 
their fate, fighting as they are their country's battles, 
with the approval of their fellows, than I do for that 
other son undergoing for his faith a disgraceful sentence 
in a felon's cell, truly " rejected and despised " of men. 

It is just because our cause is a good one, because 
our sons are fighting against an evil domination, that 
we as a nation should be free from tyranny and oppres- 

Here let it be added that there are plenty of men up 
and down the country, the embusques of England, who 
have secured comfortable, safe, and well-paid posts, 
such as many Conscientious Objectors could have had 
for the asking. In the War Office itself there are men 
who prefer driving the quill to wielding the sword. 
The fault of the objector is not that he refused to 
fight, but that he fought the Conscription Act. It is 
perhaps permissible to remark that in so doing he has 
helped to make industrial conscription well-nigh 

A last and most ignoble argument to the gallery is : 
the Conscientious Objector has no friends, his cause is 
unpopular, all the shouting is against him, so it is safe 
to persecute him. To this I ask you, gentlemen, to 
give the answer. 

[ xxii ] 

If the facts of the following pages make you indig- 
nant, if you feel there has been a miscarriage of justice, 
I urge you not to let the matter drop, to use your 
influence, whether great or small, to see that this 
injustice is righted, to remove a slur on the good name 
of our Government. 

In conclusion, whatever the Prison Commissioners 
may contend to the contrary, the facts here recorded 
reveal prison conditions which revolt one's sense of 
humanity and decency. Our penal system is in urgent 
need of reform, necessary even more for the betterment 
of the criminal and for the suppression of crime than 
for the sake of the earnest, though perhaps misguided, 
men now undergoing a degrading life for conscience* 
sake. Truly might we write over the portals of our 
prisons the poet's words of doom : 

" Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch' entrate." 


July 1917. 

My warm thanks are due to Professor Gilbert Murray 
for his courageous Introduction ; to the Earl of Selborne, 
Lord Parmoor, Lord Hugh Cecil, and Colonel Lord 
Henry Bentinck, M.P., for permitting me to publish 
letters written to me ; and for the assistance I have 
received in the drawing up of my statement ; also to 
those who over a long period have laboriously, and with 
every effort towards accuracy, collected the following 




IT is perhaps not generally realised that there are now 
(July 1917), apart from men who are detained pending 
appearance before the Central Tribunal, between 800 
and 1000 Conscientious Objectors in prison, who, 
unless a new policy is adopted by the authorities, will 
remain there, with occasional brief intervals, until 
the end of the war. A small proportion of these are 
men who have been returned to prison from Home 
Office camps on account of some breach of regulations, 
but by far the greater number are where they are 
because they maintain that it is against their conscience 
to purchase release from prison by undertaking work 
imposed in consequence of the Military Service Acts, 
such as Alternative Service granted by the Tribunals, 
or service in Home Office Work Centres. Most people 
find such an attitude very strange, so strange that 
they have difficulty in believing that the conscience 
by which these men claim to be actuated is genuine. 
Nevertheless, there are to be found among these men 
a large proportion of those who would in advance have 
been most readily regarded as genuine members of 
the Society of Friends, prominent social workers, and 
lifelong advocates of pacifist principles. Whoever 
studies their membership will be convinced that 

I B 

at any rate they cannot be dismissed as mere 

It was quite clearly not the intention of Parliament 
that sincere Conscientious Objectors should be sent 
to prison in spite of the Conscience Clause. Mr. 
Herbert Samuel, in the House of Commons, said, in 
advocating the Conscience Clause : 

" Are you, in the case of these conscientious objec- 
tors, to arrest them and bring them before the Court, 
and impose fines, and if the fines are not paid, proceed 
to imprison them ? Is it really contemplated that now, 
when for the first time you are making military service 
compulsory in this country, it should be accompanied 
by the arrest and imprisonment of a certain number 
of men who unquestionably, by common consent, 
are men of the highest character, and, in other matters, 
good citizens ? I am sure honourable members would 
not wish to contemplate that there should be anything 
in the nature of religious persecution, or that you 
should have this body of men locked up in the gaols of 
this country/' Hansard, Wednesday, January 19, 1916. 

Accordingly the Acts provided three kinds of 
exemption, which were to be granted by the Tribunals 
according to the nature of the conscientious objection 
felt by the applicant. Some were granted exemption 
from combatant service only, and were placed in the 
Non-Combat ant Corps. A certain section, notably 
the Plymouth Brethren and the Christadelphians, 1 were 
satisfied so long as they were not themselves obliged 

1 I much regret having stated in the former edition that the Christadelphians will join 
a non-combatant Corps, as I now learn from Mr. Frank Jannaway, the representative of 
the " London Standing 'Committee of Christadelphians " that all'members of that Com- 
munity appealed for exemption from ALL FORMS of Military Service combatant and 
non-combatant and that in the Christadelphian Test Case, No. 2. R. 77, the decision of 
the Central Tribunal was that they had bee'n satisfied that " the Basis of Faith common 
to Christadelphians forbids them to take service under military authority." He states 
they were exempted from all military service, and that any Christadelphian joining the 
Army in any capacity has his name expurged from the Christadelphian Register. M. H. 

[ 3 ] 

to take human life, and, so far as they are concerned, 
the Non-Combat ant Corps has solved the problem. 

A second form of exemption was allowed by the 
Military Service Acts, namely, exemption conditional 
upon undertaking work of national importance. The 
majority of Conscientious Objectors, while refusing 
to serve in the Non-Combatant Corps because its 
work is for the purpose of the war, have felt themselves 
free to accept work of national importance, whether 
originally awarded by the Tribunals or subsequently 
granted to men in prison by the Central Tribunal in 
its revising capacity. 

There remain between 800 and 1000 men who carry 
the logic of their objection to war a step further, and 
refuse to accept any work imposed under the Military 
Service Acts. Presumably, to meet the cases of such 
men, a third form of exemption, namely, Absolute 
Exemption, was provided by Parliament. This has 
been granted to some 400 men, but has been refused, 
for no apparent reason, to the 800 or 1000 who still 
remain in prison, and whose claim is not merely as 
strong as that of the 400, but has the added strength 
of repeated sentences endured. These men argue, 
rightly or wrongly, that when they are ordered under 
the Military Service Acts to change their occupations, 
for example to engage in agriculture instead of teaching, 
the purpose of the change is the better organisation 
of the nation's resources for purposes of war. They 
contend that the result of their engaging in agriculture 
will not be to increase the amount of the nation's 
food production, but merely to enable the authorities 
to send a larger number of agricultural labourers into 
the army. Accordingly, they maintain that what is 
called work of national importance, even when it has 

t 4 1 

no direct association with the prosecution of the war, 
is really ancillary to military service, just as much as 
is the work of the Non-Combatant Corps. They 
point out that, if this were not the case, there would 
have been no reason to ask them to abandon occupa- 
tions which had been recognised as useful in times 
of peace. 

This argument is reinforced in their minds by an- 
other of a somewhat different kind. They stand for 
the right of those who think as they do to abstain from 
war, just as the early Christians stood for their right 
to abstain from what they considered the idolatrous 
worship of the emperor. Just because they regard it 
as a right, they cannot accept it as a privilege granted 
in return for submission to the provisions of the 
Military Service Acts. 

This position may be thought fanatical ; indeed 
any position which carries one point of view to its 
logical conclusion is bound to appear fanatical to those 
who entertain the opposite opinion. But it is un- 
doubtedly a sincere opinion, held, as experience has 
shown, with such tenacity, that men are willing to 
face repeated and lengthening terms of imprisonment 
rather than abandon it. It was supposed at first that 
those who call themselves Conscientious Objectors 
were cowards and shirkers, using the pretence of 
conscience as a means of escape from the dangers of 
the trenches. But for these men the alternative to 
prison is not the trenches, but work in the Home 
Office Work Centres. The Home Office Work Centres 
are perhaps not quite the paradise that they have 
been represented to be by a section of the press, but 
they are at any rate infinitely more agreeable than 
prison, and it is hardly to be supposed that anything 

[ 5 ] 

short of a very strong and very genuine conscientious 
conviction will lead a man to remain in prison when 
this much less painful alternative is open. The hard- 
ships of prison to a sensitive educated man are enor- 
mously greater than to the ordinary members of the 
criminal classes, but for almost all except professional 
criminals they are very severe. Indeed, those who 
are responsible for army discipline know that a certain 
experience of prison is sufficient to induce unruly 
soldiers to perform their duty in the trenches. Yet 
these Conscientious Objectors, though the way of 
escape is always open to them by recantation, return 
to prison again and again ; indeed some of them are 
already performing their fourth term of imprisonment 
with hard labour. 

At earlier stages it was reasonable to argue that 
men could not be exempted from the duty of performing 
work of national importance until they had been sub- 
mitted to some further punishment as a test of the 
genuineness of their conscientious conviction on this 
matter. But now whatever further test may have 
been thought necessary has been amply provided. 
It is nearly a year since the Home Office Work Centres 
were instituted, and many of the men now in prison 
have been undergoing punishment during almost the 
whole of that period. 

Lord Derby, in the House of Lords on May 24, 
1917, showed that he had not succeeded in under- 
standing the position of these men. He said : " They 
are prepared to let men in this country fight to retain 
them their liberties, while they will not even assist 
their country by undertaking non-combatant work, 
or, indeed, any work for the nation at all." This, 
of course, is not the way in which the position appears 

[ 6 ] 

to the men themselves. They will say in all sincerity 
that they yield to none in anxiety to save their country, 
and many of them in support of this can point to a 
past record of self-sacrificing social service. But they 
maintain, paradoxical as it may appear, that victory 
in war is not so important to the nation's welfare as 
many other things. It must be confessed that in this 
contention they are supported by certain sayings of 
our Lord, such as, " What shall it profit a man if he 
gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? " Doubt- 
less such statements are to be understood figuratively, 
but the history of religion shows that founders of 
religions are always apt to be understood literally by 
some of their more slavish followers. These men 
believe that the greatest goods are spiritual goods. 
They believe, like Spinoza, that hatred can be over- 
come by love, a view which appears to derive support 
from a somewhat hasty reading of the Sermon on the 

When Lord Derby informs them that British soldiers 
are fighting "to retain them their liberties/' it is 
hardly surprising if they retort that prisoners in 
Wormwood Scrubs have fewer liberties than prisoners 
at Ruhleben. They will reply that it is for the sake 
of the principle of liberty as well as human brotherhood 
that they are enduring punishment. But the liberty 
of which they are thinking is the spiritual liberty of 
the individual, while the liberty of which Lord Derby 
speaks is national liberty. It may be difficult to re- 
concile these two ideals, but it must at least be 
admitted that the men in prison have an ideal, and 
that they are suffering for their beliefs, not out of mere 

Whatever may have been thought at an earlier 

[ 7 ] 

stage, it is clear now that there can be no administrative 
or military danger in the unconditional release of these 
men. Those at any rate who have served two or more 
terms of imprisonment have given such proof of 
endurance and genuineness as cannot but convince 
any unprejudiced person. Their number is known, 
and from the standpoint of the army is negligible ; 
but there is no doubt that the treatment of them has 
caused criticism abroad, and has tended in this country 
to rouse sympathy for the very class which, of all 
others, right-minded people would least wish to 
invest with the halo of heroic endurance. The only 
solution that would meet the case is unconditional 

If after release some among them were to indulge 
in seditious propaganda, they could always be sent 
back to prison under the Defence of the Realm Act. 
But probably the great majority would become again 
the quiet citizens they were before. 

It is useless to attempt any solution which involves 
a bargain or acceptance of conditions on the part of 
these men. Their attitude to a state at war is such 
that they would feel the same objection to acceptance 
of conditions as the ordinary > citizen would feel to 
compounding a felony. Nothing short of complete 
liberty will meet their conscientious scruples, which, 
strange as they may appear, have been proved genuine 
by the deliberate choice of prison rather than national 
service. The past record of the men shows that the 
great majority of them will perform useful service 
if they are freely released, but not otherwise. They 
claim absolute exemption, which, as they point out, 
was allowed by the Military Service Acts ; indeed the 
second Act made this quite clear, even if the first 

t 8 ] 

seemed ambiguous. 1 They emphasise the fact that the 
Acts and Regulations directed the Tribunals to grant 
such form of exemption (including absolute exemption 
when necessary) as would meet the consciences of 
applicants, and they maintain that, in their case, there 
has been a miscarriage of justice. 

There are two methods by which their case might 
be met : 

1. A man who has been repeatedly court-martialled 

and imprisoned might be discharged from the 
army. (The Army Council has power to do this.) 
This might be done, if desired, at the end of a 
man's first or second term of imprisonment. 

2. The King's pardon could be granted, and the War 

Office directed not to re-arrest on the prisoner 
obtaining his discharge from prison. 

The offence of the Conscientious Objector is virtually 
one single offence, although technically it is a new 
offence on each occasion when he is released from 
prison. It is contrary to the practice of the criminal 
law to punish a man repeatedly for the same offence. 
The present practice, if not altered, would involve 

1 MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1916 (January 27, 1916) Subsection 3 
of Section 2. (3) Any certificate of exemption may be absolute, 
conditional, or temporary, as the authority by whom it was granted 
think best suited to the case, and also in the case of an application 
on conscientious grounds, may take the form of an exemption from 
combatant service only, or may be conditional on the applicant 
being engaged in some work which in the opinion of the Tribunal 
dealing with the case is of national importance. 

MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1916 (Session 2), (May 25, 1916) Sub- 
section 3 of Section 4. (3) It is hereby declared that the power 
to grant special certificates of exemption in the case of an application 
on conscientious grounds under Subsection (3) of Section 2 of the 
principal Act, is additional to and not in derogation of the general 
power conferred by that Act to grant an absolute, conditional, or 
temporary certificate in such cases. 

[ 9 ] 

imprisonment for life (with now and then a few days' 
liberty) for those who cannot accept national service. 
Whatever may be thought of their guilt, this seems 
an excessive penalty, and it is clear that sooner or later 
some other way of dealing with them will have to be 

Many of those who agree most fully with the views 
of the men in prison hope that they will not be released 
while the war lasts, because while they remain in 
prison they afford a powerful argument to pacifists, 
who question whether we are really fighting on behalf 
of freedom. Those pacifists who desire their release 
do so on grounds of humanity, although they realise 
that continued punishment would perhaps best serve 
their ends. Is it too much to hope that the Govern- 
ment also will be led by motives of humanity to allow 
these men's release ? The danger of releasing them 
is small, whereas the evils involved in their further 
imprisonment are great and indubitable. 


House of Lords 

Thursday, May 24, 1917 
Vol. XXV. No. 42 

Lord Parmoor rose to call attention to the pro- 
visions of the Military Service Acts relating to ex- 
emptions, and to ask His Majesty's Government how 
far successive terms of imprisonment have been 
imposed for the same offence. . . . 

A question did arise as to the right to absolute 
exemption, because conditional exemption given under 
terms when it is known that the conditions cannot be 
complied with is in truth and substance no exemption 
at all. I should like to read one passage from the 
circular of Mr. Long, who dealt specially with this 
matter in the other House when he was President of 
the Local Government Board. He said : 

" Absolute exemption can be granted in all cases 
where conditional exemption will not adequately meet 
the case. It is quite clear that if the condition imposed 
is an impossible one it does not meet the case so far as 
exemption is concerned. I think that the terms of 
this circular are of great importance." 

But in order to prevent discussion upon a point of 
this kind, which I seek to avoid, I will quote a passage 
from Mr. Long and one from the late Prime Minister, 
Mr. Asquith, in order to show, according to my view, 
how the Legislature intended that this matter of 
conditional exemption should work. Mr. Long in his 
place in the House of Commons said : 

" I do not want, and nobody in the Government 
wants, the horror of men, who for conscience' sake are 
unwilling to serve, being thrown into gaol for a long 

I think that every member of your Lordships' 
House would agree with that statement. I am not 
saying that a punishment may not be awarded under 
these conditions, but I think it is a horror that men 
should be thrown into gaol for an indefinite time in 
respect of a matter of honest sincere conviction. What 
did Mr. Asquith say ? He said : 

" All men whose objections to active military service 
are founded on honest convictions ought to be able, 

[ II ] 

and will be able, to avail themselves of the exemptions 
which Parliament has provided/' 

That is quite right. They ought to be able to avail 
themselves of the exemptions which Parliament un- 
doubtedly intended. That is the purport of my 
Question to-day. . . . 

Now what did Lord Kitchener say ? He took the 
very wide and tolerant view, the view which was 
enforced on a well-known occasion by Lord Roberts, 
that matters of this kind, constituting as they really 
do civil offences, should be dealt with by civilian 
punishment. This is what Lord Kitchener said : 

r ' The genuine conscientious objectors will find 
themselves under the civil power." 

If that were true at the present time I should not be 
asking this question. . . . 

I may remind your Lordships, to show you in what 
a curious way this Act operates, that it prevents even 
the prerogative of mercy being exercised by the Home 
Secretary. If a man is put into prison under these 
conditions, and the Home Secretary thinks that the 
prerogative of mercy should operate, and the man 
is released, the moment he comes out he is again court- 
martialled and sent back to prison. . . . 

It is an extremely harsh matter that, instead of one 
long sentence, which is bad enough, a particular 
individual is subjected under successive punishments 
to shorter terms of imprisonment with the result that 
the harshest part of his sentence is reiterated over and 
over again. ... No man ought to be subjected to these 
successive terms of imprisonment because he acts up 
to what he believes is right and just. Punish a man, 
but punish him in relation to his offence ; and when 
that offence has been punished, there ought to be an 

[ 12 ] 

end of the matter. The man has not committed a 
new offence during the period he has been in prison, 
and I can find no justification for the successive im- 
prisonments to which I am referring. They were 
never intended when the Act of Parliament was passed, 
as will be seen from the quotations I have already read 
to your Lordships. . . . This is a civil offence against 
the State for which the man has received punishment, 
and according to every principle of our criminal law 
when a man has once received punishment he is free 
of the offence and can begin life again. . . . 

But having regard to the questions which I have 
given from Lord Kitchener, Mr. Walter Long, and Mr. 
Asquith, and having regard to the general principle, 
it appears to me that these successive terms of imprison- 
ment are in their essence unfair and unjust. . . . 

The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury . . . We have 
the undoubted fact that there are men in prison at this 
moment to whom the words quoted from the Act and 
from the Local Government circular by the noble and 
learned Lord and the words which were used in both 
Houses of Parliament apply as to their absolute con- 
scientiousness of conviction and purpose blind, 
foolish, if you will, but absolutely straightforward and 
conscientious a conviction held with such thorough- 
ness as to make them feel that they would rather die 
than abandon it. We have the problem before us of 
how to reconcile the exercise of the authority resting 
in such hands as I have described with the fact that 
these men are at this moment in prison, after years of 
imprisonment some of them, at any rate many months, 
men whose honesty is undoubted, men whose high 
character is unchallenged, and who are perfectly cer- 
tain not to be shakeable in their conviction, however 

[ 13 ] 

unreasonable and preposterous that conviction may 
be. ... 

But nobody can doubt that there are at this moment 
men undergoing terms of imprisonment whose character 
is high, whose motives are unimpeachable, how- 
ever extraordinary and illogical we may deem them 
to be ; and you are not going to shake them by the 
adding of month after month or year after year of 
penal infliction upon them. The more genuine and 
fundamental are the man's convictions the more 
certain you may be that he is not likely to be shaken 
by the mere continuance of what is little short of 
torture to an educated man. . . . 

Earl Russell ... I ask myself, " What is the State 
doing in this matter ? What are the Government 
doing ? " Are we not pursuing a policy which is 
making us ridiculous and which is actually doing 
harm ? Whenever any organised Government comes 
up against people of this irrational character, people 
with convictions which you must admit are profound, 
and which you cannot get over by force, you must find, 
if you can, some way, as I have said before on this 
subject, which reduces as far as possible the soreness 
and the irritation which is caused 

The Earl of Derby ... All I say is, and I adhere to 
it, that these men have to stay in prison or do national 

Lord Courtney of Penwith ... It is summed up, as 
the noble Earl behind me (Lord Russell) said, in the 
one offence that the man refuses to be a soldier at all. 
He looks upon this business as one vitally affecting his 
innermost life and soul, and he will have nothing to do 
with it. When you get hold of a man in that position, 
as I said before, you had better have as little to do with 

[ 14 ] 

him as possible. He will beat you in the end, and he 
will put you in a position which you cannot sustain, 
and you have already got into such a position. . . . The 
noble Earl (Lord Derby) says that these men in a great 
crisis are refusing to do any work of national import- 
ance. No. They are refusing to accept orders from 
you to do a work which may be of national importance. 
I speak for nine out of ten at least. Their whole lives 
before were devoted to work of national importance. 
Leave them alone, and they would resume that work 
of national importance. . . . At present the military 
authorities have nothing before them but an unending 
series of courts-martial on men for refusing to obey 
some military order. A sentence is pronounced, 
involving all that follows : the time expires, or is 
reduced ; the man comes out. Then another military 
offence, and a further court-martial. And that unend- 
ing series, with all its scandal to the good sense and 
political wisdom of this country, may go on as long as 
the war lasts. ... 

On June 27, 1917, Mr. Forster stated that the 
Army Council had changed its policy in regard to the 
commutation of court-martial sentences imposed on 
Conscientious Objectors. It had " decided to make no 
more remissions." Conscientious Objectors will now 
actually serve sentences of two years' hard labour, 
which is considered one of the severest sentences in 
the criminal code. See Hansard, June 27, 1917. 



(As recorded up to July i, 1917) 

THE following records of Conscientious Objectors 
who have refused alternative service and work under 
the Home Office Scheme have been obtained. They 
refer only to cases in which full particulars have been 
furnished. They do not represent the total number of 
such men. 

Number of men who have, when in prison, either 
refused to appear before the Central Tribunal, 
or refused the Home Office Scheme . 710 

Number of men who have returned to prison 
from Home Office Work Centres on grounds 
of principle .... . 107 

Total . .817 

Occupations. The figures given below show the 
normal occupation of some of these men : 

Bootmakers and Leather Workers . . .14 

Civil Service Clerks . . . . 13 

Railway Clerks . . . . . .10 

Engineers and Mechanics . . . .27 

Farmers and Farm Labourers . . .17 
Gardeners ....... 6 


[ 16 ] 

Labourers ....... 13 

Miners ....... 6 

Policemen ....... 2 

Post Office Employees . . . . .14 

Professional Men 

Architects 4 

Chartered Accountants^ ... 6 
Dentists . . . * . . . 3 

Solicitors 2 15 

Schoolmasters and Lecturers . . . 53 

N.B. The work in prison consists of manual labour, such 
as the making of mail-bags, or ships' fenders, or laundry work. 
Prisoners also do the institutional repairs, such as cobbling, 
painting, or plumbing, when necessary. In rare cases men 
have been given gardening work. 

Prisons. The following figures give an indication 
of the number of men now serving sentences in some of 
the larger prisons : 

Birmingham (Winson Green) . . .19 

Carnarvon ....... 24 

Dorchester ....... 49 

Dublin (Mount joy) . . . . .29 

Durham ....... 32 

Edinburgh (Calton) . . . . .13 

Exeter . . . . . . .49 

Leicester (Welford Road) . . . .16 

Liverpool (Walton) . . . . .14 

Maidstone ....... 45 

Newcastle-on-Tyne . . . . .20 

Pentonville . . . . . . .27 

Portsmouth (Kingston) . . . .19 

Shrewsbury ....... 31 

Wandsworth . . . . . . in 

Winchester ....... 88 

Wormwood Scrubs . . . . 57 

Religions. The religions of 307 of these men have 
been reported : 

Baptist ....... 12 

Church of Christ ...... 7 

[ 17 ] 

Church of England . . . . .17 

Congregational . . . . . .28 

International Bible Students' Association . 6 

Jews 13 

Plymouth Brethren 2 

Presbyterian ...... 4 

Primitive Methodist ..... 8 

Roman Catholic ...... 7 

Salvation Army ...... 2 

Society of Friends . . . . .109 

Spiritualist ....... 5 

Theosophist ...... 5 

Unitarian ....... 14 

Wesleyan ....... 19 

Agnostic or Atheist . . . . .27 

Miscellaneous . . . . . .22 

June 1917. 

A few typical examples of men who have refused 
all forms of exemption and work under the Home 
Office Scheme are given below out of many hundreds : 


Mr. Rowntree is a Quaker, aged thirty-five, the son 
of the late Joshua Rowntree, M.P. 

After taking his degree at Oxford he gave himself 
to the study of social subjects and accepted the post 
of lecturer to the Swarthmore Settlement in Leeds, a 
college for men and women who desire to continue their 
education at evening classes. The students are to a 
large extent working men who have proved them- 
selves keenly interested in a wide range of subjects. 
Latterly, in addition to lecturing, he gave some time to 
helping at a temperance cafe recently opened in a very 
poor district in Leeds. 

The Local Tribunal gave him twenty-one days in 


[ i8 ] 

which to find work of national importance, but as his 
own work was not considered to come under this 
heading he was unable to accept the conditions. His 
case was dismissed by the Appeal Tribunal in spite of 
protests from two members of the Tribunal who 
testified to the value of his work. He was arrested, 
sentenced by court-martial to two years' hard labour, 
commuted to 112 days, and taken to Wormwood Scrubs. 
He is now serving his second court-martial sentence of 
two years' hard labour. 

He was Vice-President of the Scarborough Free 
Church Council, who, on March 16, 1917, unanimously 
adopted the following resolution : 

" That this Free Church Council strongly protests 
against the severe sentence of two years' hard labour 
passed upon one of our Vice-Presidents, Maurice 
Rowntree, whose sincerity in taking the stand he has 
taken as a conscientious objector no one doubts who 
has been associated with him as we have in religious 
life and work, and that a letter be sent to the Premier 
emphatically stating our views upon this matter." 

The following extract from his statement at the 
Police Court shows his point of view : 

" He thought that he was called upon, with what 
effort and strength he had, to work with a view to a 
different order of life, and a different way of settling 
disputes altogether. In doing that he felt it became 
of international importance, affecting every nation, 
and first of all, his own. It seemed to him tremend- 
ously tragic that the great heroism, which he honoured 
with all his heart, was devoted to work for destruction. 
He felt it was the logical outcome of a system of life 
which had been prevalent in every nation. He held 
in detestation the infamous actions of Germany. He 

[ 19 ] 

wished them to be quite clear about that. But he 
thought that really war would never bring peace, 
except the peace of death." 


Mr. Brockway was born in Calcutta in 1888. His 
father, the Rev. W. G. Brockway, is on the staff of 
the London Missionary Society. His grandfather, an 
uncle, and an aunt were also missionaries. His mother 
was an active supporter of the Temperance Move- 
ment in India. She was also one of the pioneers in 
establishing schools for Indian girls. Mr. Brockway 
is a journalist ; he was sub-editor of the Christian 
Commonwealth, and when arrested was editor of the 
Labour Leader. He was educated in England. His 
interest in social problems, always profound, was 
stimulated by his experience when he worked for a year 
at a Settlement in connection with the Claremont 
Central Mission, Pentonville. 

He has travelled in Belgium, Germany, Austria, 
Switzerland, Italy, and France. In November 1914, 
Mr. Brockway wrote a letter to the Press which resulted 
in the formation of the No-Conscription Fellowship, 
of which he was the first Honorary Secretary. 

Mr. Brockway, together with other members of the 
National Committee of the No-Conscription Fellowship, 
was fined 100 and costs, or two months' imprisonment, 
for publishing a leaflet demanding the repeal of the 
Military Service Acts. This sentence he served in 
Pentonville Prison. 

The Local Tribunal exempted him from combatant 
service with the proviso that he should undertake 
work of national importance under the Pelham Com- 

[ 20 ] 

mittee. The Appeal Tribunal dismissed his case, but 
gave him leave to appeal to the Central Tribunal, who 
gave him exemption conditionally upon undertaking 
work of national importance. He was arrested in 
November 1916, and is now serving his second court- 
martial sentence of two years' hard labour, commuted 
to six months. His first sentence was 112 days' hard 


Mr. Stephen Hobhouse is the eldest son of the Right 
Hon. Henry Hobhouse. He is thirty-six years old, 
married, and has been a convinced Quaker for the last 
ten years, taking an active part in the informal ministry 
of that body. He lived at 36 Enfield Buildings, 
Hoxton, in a workman's flat, a life of considerable 
privation. He is well known and much respected as a 
preacher at the " Friends' " Meetings, and as a social 
worker among the poor of the East End. He has 
definitely resigned his position and prospects as his 
father's eldest son, and has for many years been 
opposed to war and military service from deeply 
spiritual and religious motives. There can be no 
difficulty in proving that he held, and constantly ex- 
pressed, these opinions for many years prior to the war. 

The Quakers have no ministry, but Mr. Hobhouse 
holds among them in practice a position that in another 
sect would be that of a minister of religion. 

Mr. Hobhouse was a Scholar at Eton College, was 
in the " Newcastle Select " ; while at Balliol College 
he took a First-class in Moderations and a Second in 
Greats. He is well known to a very large circle as a 
man of the highest worth both morally and intel- 
lectually. There can be no doubt as to Mr. Hobhouse 's 

[ 21 ] 

courage and as to his being willing to face any danger 
or trouble for the sake of his religion. 

He worked, greatly respected, for seven years in 
the Board of Education, resigning his post to go to 
Constantinople as a volunteer for work among the 
refugees in the mosques of that town, where he shared 
the privations of these unfortunate people during the 
first Balkan War. 

Mr. Hobhouse is undoubtedly physically unfit 
.for active service, and would be useless to the army. 
He has suffered from dilatation of the heart since the 
age of ten, and was never able to join in the games at 
school or college. For the past ten years he has suffered 
from somewhat serious distension of the stomach. 
He is also extremely short - sighted. Sir Thomas 
Barlow has given a certificate as to his unfitness, 
having known him since childhood. He was pro- 
nounced by the army doctor unfit for the hard labour 
sentence nevertheless imposed on him. 

It may be well to state that Mr. Hobhouse 's three 
brothers are in the army, one having been twice 
wounded, and his family generally are strongly in 
favour of prosecuting the war, but they feel that 
Stephen Hobhouse, the Quaker preacher, should have 
been totally exempted, and permitted to continue his 
merciful work in the service of his God and his country. 

Mr. Hobhouse is now serving a sentence of two 
years. He has already served one sentence of 112 
days' hard labour. 

Stephen Hobhouse's second Court-martial Defence, 
Newton Abbot, March 30, 1917 

"At my first court-martial at Warminster in 
November last, when I was sentenced to six months' 

[ 22 ] 

hard labour for the precisely similar offence of refusing 
to put on military uniform, I tried to make my position 
quite clear. Four months of vigorous confinement 
in a prison-cell have only confirmed my belief that 
the methods of war and violence, and, I may add, those 
of the prison system, are not the ways in which aggres- 
sion and evil are overcome/' 


Mr. Scott Duckers was brought up in the North of 
England. He had been in legal work as an articled 
clerk and solicitor for the last sixteen years. He had 
been qualified for over ten years, and for eight years 
prior to his arrest practised on his own account at 
27 Chancery Lane, London. 

He acted as political secretary to Mr. Herbert 
Samuel in 1910. 

His voluntary work as Poor Man's Lawyer at the 
churches of the Rev. F. B. Meyer and of the Rev. 
Thomas Phillips took up much of his spare time. He 
was Chairman of the Stop-the-War Committee, and 
has always been opposed to participation in warfare. 

Mr. Scott Duckers did not appeal to the Tribunals. 
He was arrested on April 24, 1916. He has been court- 
martialled three times. His first sentence was 98 days' 
detention ; the second was one year's hard labour, 
afterwards commuted to 112 days ; the third, which 
he is now serving, was two years' hard labour. 

When the Home Office scheme was in course of 
formation in June 1916, Mr. Scott Duckers was asked 
by the Commandant at Gosport what kind of civil em- 
ployment he would undertake if set free, and on reply- 
ing that he would accept " reasonable employment of 

[ 23 ] 

the sort for which he was qualified," was permitted to 
send a letter to the Committee. The following extract 
from this letter indicates Mr. Scott Duckers' attitude 
towards the scheme : 

" . . . I do not feel able to work either for a Govern- 
ment Department or for a Military Contractor, and 
this is a point of principle. ... If it is impracticable 
for me to return to private practice, the position would 
be met, I think, if it were possible for me to secure 
employment in the legal department of a railway 
company. I do not stipulate that it should be to do 
the work of a solicitor, but in default of anything 
better I would work as an ordinary clerk under whatever 
are recognised as fair conditions by Trade Unionists, 
though not as a conscript." 

He received no reply to this letter, but about a 
month later was sent to Wandsworth to appear before 
the Central Tribunal. On arrival there Mr. Duckers 
told the Committee that he had scarcely any informa- 
tion about the scheme and did not wish to go before 
the Tribunal. 

He describes his subsequent experiences in the fol- 
lowing statement before his second court-martial : 

" . . . On arrival there I saw the Commandant and 
explained that I was almost completely in the dark, 
and had no desire to go before the Tribunal at all. 
He sent for some official papers and very kindly did 
all he could to let me know the position of affairs, the 
result being that I found the so-called ' scheme ' 
outlined industrial conscription of a politically objec- 
tionable kind. When I said that I would have nothing 
to do with it and did not wish to see the Tribunal, the 
reply was that the Tribunal insisted on seeing me and 
that I must go. Being a prisoner I was taken by two 

t 24 ] 

non-commissioned officers to the Tribunal Room, and 
had to explain my position over again. Quite definitely, 
but I hope not offensively, I refused to have anything 
to do either with the Tribunal itself or the scheme in 


G. H. Stuart Beavis was born in 1880. At Latymer 
Road School, Edmonton, he. gained a scholarship. He 
has lived in Germany and France and speaks both 
languages. He became assistant manager of a pipe 
factory where he remained until the Military Service 
Act compelled him to leave. He was a teacher of 
languages at the Working Men's College, Crowndale 
Road, N.W. 

His convictions are the result of his early training 
and his intimate association with men of various 
nationalities. It was his intense belief in the brother- 
hood of men of all nations which led him to study 
languages and the literature of other lands. 

The Tribunals exempted him only from Combatant 
Service, which did not meet his case. 

On May 25, 1916, he was arrested and taken to 
Mill Hill. There he refused to obey all orders, and 
was forcibly stripped and dressed in khaki and sent 
to the guard-room. The next day he was put in the 
3rd Eastern Non-Combatant Corps attached to the loth 
Border Regiment, and sent to Seaford. 

On or about May 31 he was sent in handcuffs to 
France. (Mr. Tennant said in the House that these 
men went as free men. Beavis went at least to the 
boat in handcuffs.) 

On June 7, or a few days before, he and the other 
Conscientious Objectors with him were told that they 

were now in the war zone and liable to be shot for 
refusing to obey orders. His comment on writing to 
his mother was : " Do not be downhearted ; if the 
worst comes to the worst, many have died cheerfully 
for a worse cause." 

He was court-martialled at Boulogne. His sentence 
was " Death by shooting," commuted to ten years' 
penal servitude. He was returned to England and 
sent to Winchester Gaol. The Central Tribunal, who 
considered him to be genuine, offered him work under 
the Home Office Scheme, which he refused. He is 
now in Maidstone Gaol. 


Mr. Herbert Runham Brown is the son of Frederick 
William Brown, who has been a Congregationalist for 
twenty-seven years, and still is Superintendent of 
Hoxton Academy Sunday School ; grandson of the 
Rev. Frederick Brown, who for twenty-five years was 
a minister of Sheen Valley Congregational Church, 

The Local Tribunal agreed that Mr. Brown was 
sincere ; three members voted for absolute exemption 
and four against ; the result was exemption from 
combatant service. The Appeal Tribunal withdrew 
his exemption from combatant service and dismissed 
the case. Mr. Brown was subsequently arrested, and 
has since then been court-martialled three times. He 
has served sentences of 112 days' hard labour and six 
months' hard labour, and has entered upon his third 
term of two years' hard labour. 

Mr. Runham Brown has also been tried under the 
Defence of the Realm Act for circulating a letter from 

[ 26 ] 

a Conscientious Objector, named G. H. Stuart Beavis 
(see above), in France, in which Beavis stated he had 
been threatened with the death penalty. Beavis, who 
was brought from Winchester Gaol to serve as a 
witness for the defence, entirely corroborated Mr. 
Brown's statement ; but nevertheless Mr. Brown was 
fined 50 or two months' imprisonment. He appealed 
against this decision, and was brought from Worm- 
wood Scrubs for the hearing on October 28, 1916. The 
Appeal was dismissed. 


Mr. Sutherland is a Quaker. He was born in 
Aberdeenshire, and taken to South Africa at the age 
of seven. He was brought up there, and, except for 
three years at Cambridge and Glasgow, did not leave 
that country until May 1915, when he contracted 
blood-poisoning, and the doctor advised him to come 
to England for treatment. He is a B.A. Cantab, and 
Cape of Good Hope ; has been a University Lecturer 
(Physics and Mathematics) in South Africa, and was 
teaching at Harrow when the Military Service Act 
came into force. As a .student at Cambridge and 
Glasgow he helped with Boys' Clubs. When lecturing 
in South Africa he gave pacifist addresses to the 
Christian Union, and whilst at Harrow he went twice 
weekly to an East End Club. 

The non-combatant work which was offered him by 
the Appeal Tribunal did not meet his objection, and he 
was arrested in April 1916, court-martialled, and sent 
to prison to serve a sentence of 112 days' hard labour, 
after which he was released on indefinite furlough. He 
declined to accept work under the Home Office Com- 

mittee, and was subsequently returned to his unit, 
court-martialled again, and sentenced to one year's 
hard labour, commuted later to six months' hard 
labour, and he is now a prisoner on parole at Dublin 
barracks pending the reply of the Army Council to 
his request that his case might be re-heard by the 


Mr. Clifford Allen was born at Newport in 1889. He 
was awarded a scholarship at Berkhampstead School 
in 1904. From there he went to University College, 
Bristol, and thence to Peterhouse, Cambridge, which 
he entered in 1908 as an Exhibitioner. 

Since he left Cambridge his energies have been 
devoted to the Labour Movement ; he helped to found 
the Daily Citizen, for which he acted as general manager. 
He was also one of the founders of the No-Conscrip- 
tion Fellowship in November 1914, and was its first 

The Local Tribunal dismissed Mr. Clifford Allen's 
case. The Appeal Tribunal granted him exemption 
conditional upon undertaking work of national im- 
portance. He did not comply with this condition as 
it did not meet his objection, and he was subsequently 
given a non-combatant certificate. 

He was arrested on July 31, 1916. He has served 
court-martial sentences of 112 days' hard labour and 
six months' hard labour, and has lately been sentenced 
to two years' hard labour, and returned to prison. 

The following extract from Mr. Clifford Allen's 
defence before his third court-martial indicates his 
point of view : 

[ 28 ] 

" I am not a Christian in the accepted sense of 
any denomination. I am a Socialist. I have before 
previous courts-martial stated my belief that the 
method of warfare is socially and morally wrong, 
whatever the pretext for which it may be adopted. 

All Wars and this War 

" But in addition to this belief I wish to make it 
clear that I cannot take any share in military work in 
this war, because I believe there is no substantial reason 
to prevent peace negotiations being entered upon at 
once. I believe that you sitting here and the peoples 
of all nations on both sides are yearning for peace. I 
believe that the Governments of all nations are too afraid 
of releasing their peoples to make peace. 

The Question 

" A Cabinet Minister has stated officially that so 
far in this war seven million human beings have been 
killed in all the nations and forty-five millions wounded. 
The question every citizen has to consider is : 

" ' Will there be such a supreme difference between 
peace now and peace in, say, two years' time as to justify 
the supreme sacrifice of say another seven million lives ? ' 

" I submit that the difference will prove so trivial 
in comparison with the sacrifice involved that the 
peoples of all the nations will look back with amaze- 
ment when they come to realise how the Governments 
permitted and instigated this sacrifice to achieve so 
small a result. 

" The issue of territorial adjustment could be settled 
round a table to-morrow. The only other problem 
is the crushing of German military tyranny. On this 

point I am, as a Socialist, united with my own nation 
and Government in desiring to overthrow German 
autocracy, but I differ from my Government in con- 
tending that the only way of securing this object is 
through the medium of peace. Whilst the war con- 
tinues and the German nation thinks itself in danger, 
the German Government will be successful in persuad- 
ing the people to support it. Remove this menace 
by the establishment of peace, and the German demo- 
-cracy will at once assert itself, and, remembering the 
example of Russia, overthrow Kaiserism and all that 
it stands for. 

' Thus it seems to me that the postponement of 
peace, with the consequent certainty of enormous 
sacrifice of life, will not make any appreciable difference 
in territorial and similar peace terms, but will, in fact, 
delay the achievement of the really important object 
of the Allied Powers, namely, the overthrow of German 
militarism and Prussian autocracy. 

" I will not take any part in a war which I believe 
could be brought to so immediate and satisfactory a 

Because I love Liberty 

" Such being my attitude to all war, and to this 
war, I can, of course, in no way acquiesce in con- 
scription, which is designed to equip the nation for 
war. I have an additional reason for this. I shall 
continue in prison to refuse every offer of release which 
demands from me any sort of acceptance of conditions 
which originate in conscription, even though they 
may be of a civil character. I resist war because I 
love liberty. Conscription is the denial of liberty. 

" If I hold that war and militarism are evils which 

[ 30 ] 

will only cease when men have the courage to stand 
apart from them, I should be false to my own belief 
if I avoided the dangers of military service only to 
accept some safe civil work as a condition of exemption 
from such service. 

" This country is faced with the most insidious 
danger that can confront a free people in the claim 
of the State to dispose of a man's life against his will, 
and what is worse, against his moral convictions, 
and of his service without his consent. A war which 
you can only win by the compulsion of unwilling men 
and the persecution of those who are genuine will 
ultimately achieve the ruin of the very ideals for which 
you are fighting. 

" You can shut me up in prison over and over 
again, but you cannot imprison my free spirit. The 
duty of every citizen is to serve his fellow-men. In 
all humility I believe I am being faithful to this obliga- 
tion of citizenship by pursuing my present policy. 

The Duties of Citizenship 

" The Government in the House of Lords yesterday 
resisted the demand of Lord Parmoor and the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury that repeated punishment for 
what is actually the same offence should cease. The 
Government argued that a conscience which declined 
every form of service was an immoral conscience. 
My reply as I have already stated is that we fully 
recognise the duties of citizenship, and that it is not 
the act of service we refuse, but service imposed in 
such a way as to make us condone conscription. If 
granted absolute exemption to-morrow, we should 
feel the obligation of citizenship more insistently than 

ever. The longer you persecute us men the stronger 
and more sincere you render us. The more you 
attempt to break our spirits, the more you assure our 
opportunity of infusing inspirations amongst other 
groups of men and women, and other organisations 
which are far more powerful than we can hope to be 
for many a day, and the more certainly you establish 
our hope that the spirit of Russian freedom shall not 
be confined within Russian national boundaries. 

The Impotence of Tyranny 

" You can isolate us for a time from the joys of an 
active free life of service, but in so doing you will only 
bring us into truer harmony with all that is most 
fearless and enduring and vital in the life of the world. 
Instead of rendering us bitter, you are giving us the 
chance of discovering the strength of love." 


Mr. Corder Catchpool is a Quaker, aged thirty- 
three. A few weeks after the war broke out he went 
to Flanders with the Friends' Ambulance Unit, but 
after a year and a half felt impelled to give up this 
work and return to England to take his stand with 
other Conscientious Objectors. He was arrested, and 
has served a sentence of 112 days' hard labour. His 
second court-martial sentenced him to two years' 
hard labour, with recommendation to mercy in view 
of his ambulance work at the front. He is now in 

He made the following statement on his position 
before his second court-martial : 

" . . . On the outbreak of war there was great 

[ 32 ] 

need for ambulance workers. I could not join the 
army, even for this service, but I immediately left 
my profession and qualified for Red Cross work. 
After a few weeks' training I offered myself for volun- 
tary service on the battlefield, with a little ambulance 
unit organised by a few young Quakers, the religious 
body to which I have belonged since childhood. 

" We went out to Ypres when the fate of Flanders 
still hung in the balance. I little expected ever to 
return, and asked only the privilege of serving, for 
a few weeks at least, in saving life. . . . For nineteen 
months I was spared to continue this work at the 
front. . . . Meanwhile, however, the medical services 
had become completely organised. Voluntary units 
were either dispensed with or practically absorbed 
into the regular armies. The wounded no longer 
lacked help, the R.A.M.C. being often closed to appli- 
cants. Men displaced from the services taken over 
by the unit, of which I had become Adjutant, were 
often drafted to the firing-line, and complained bitterly 
that I and my colleagues had sent them there. I was 
baffled more and more by the consciousness that, under 
military control, the primary object of our work was 
the refitting of men to take their place again in the 

" Conscription followed, and it seemed to me that 
for one called to serve in the cause of peace, the position 
was becoming impossible. 

" At home, men who stood for the same ideals as 
myself were being reviled as cowards and shirkers, 
and forced into the army against their principles. 
When some of them were sent to France, and became 
liable to death penalty, I hesitated no longer. It 
seemed to me more honest and more manly to take 

[ 33 ] 

my stand with them, make public profession of my 
faith, and accept the consequences. 

" I could have obtained exemption by continuing 
ambulance work, had I felt it right to do so. I was 
begged to secure it by undertaking some ' alternative 
service ' recognised as important in organisation for 
war. But I am enlisted in the highest service I know, 
the formation of a world-fellowship of men prepared 
to die rather than take part in war, and the foundations 
of such fellowship, which is already spreading from 
country to country, cannot rest upon compromise. 

" I went before the Tribunals, and was refused the 
absolute exemption provided by the Act for genuine 
cases. I was committed to prison, and have just 
finished a sentence of 112 days' hard labour in the 
third division. 

" I have many friends in the army. I admire their 
courage. I understand and honour their obedience 
to duty. I believe that the hardest course a strong 
young man, eager for service, could be called upon 
to follow at a time like the present is to stand aside 
and withhold from sharing their sublime self-sacrifice. 
I ask the officers before whom I stand to believe me 
that it is so in my own experience, and that only a 
supreme sense of duty enables me to take this course. 
The spectacle before the world to-day of two great 
nations slaughtering each other's manhood, starving 
each other's women and children, strengthens my 
faith in the better way of life which I have outlined, 
and lays upon me afresh the duty of proclaiming it." 

Mr. Adams, who was a coach at Cambridge Univer- 


[ 34 ] 

sity, appealed for absolute exemption as a Conscientious 
Objector on moral and political grounds. He was 
given a week in which to obtain work of national 
importance not education. This he refused. The 
Tribunal then exempted him from combatant service, 
and this decision was confirmed by the Appeal Tribunal. 
He is now serving a sentence of one year's hard labour 
in Wormwood Scrubs. He has refused the Home 
Office Scheme. 


Oswald Clark has been for six years a tanner, 
currier, and leather merchant. He was in partnership 
with some cousins. Up to the time of his arrest they 
had taken no Government contracts, but as they knew 
that some of the leather was going to firms that did, 
he told his partners that during the war he could 
take no profits, and is only receiving interest on his 
capital, which is fixed at the same rate as it was before 
the war. 

He is a birthright member of the Society of Friends, 
and has held his present views on war all his life. He 
is a member of a well-known Doncaster Quaker family. 
In 1912 he accompanied Mr. Foster Brady on a " Peace 
Tramp," and was assisted at meetings held in various 
towns in Yorkshire. 

The Local Tribunal granted him exemption from 
combatant service only. The Appeal Tribunal re- 
commended him for the Friends' Ambulance Unit. 
He was refused leave to appeal to the Central Tribunal. 

He has been court-martialled three times. His 
first sentence was 112 days' imprisonment ; the second, 
two years' hard labour, commuted to six months ; 

[ 35 3 

and the third, which he is now serving, eighteen 
months' hard labour. 


Mr. Hudson is a schoolmaster, who has been em- 
ployed by the Salford Education Committee for some 
time before the outbreak of war. He has been a 
Member of the I.L.P. for the last ten years. 

Mr. Hudson was ordered to find work of national 
importance by the Swinton and Pendlebury Local 
Tribunal ; his case was dismissed by the Appeal 
Tribunal, but he was given leave to appeal to the 
Central Tribunal, which gave him twenty-one days 
in which to find work of national importance. 

Mr. Hudson felt himself unable, for reasons given 
below, to comply with this condition, and was subse- 
quently arrested, court-martialled, and sentenced to 
two years' hard labour, commuted to 112 days' hard 
labour. He is now serving his second sentence of two 
years' hard labour. 

Among his replies in writing to questions put by 
the Local Tribunal were the following : 

3. " Very emphatically, both in public and in 
private, have I urged in the Labour Movement that no 
cause can justify the taking up of arms ; not even in 
the justest of causes, that of the workers in the great 
class war." 

50. "I held my present convictions against war 
quite definitely during the Boer War, and for some 
years prior to that. For how long I cannot definitely 

8. " My father's attitude and my own in the Boer 
War unrelenting opposition to war on Christian 

[ 36 ] 

grounds reduced my father's income as a country 
schoolmaster 50 per cent and his family to penury. 
I was in college at the time, and paid my share of 
sacrifice in the stunting of all my opportunities/' 

loa. " I am not prepared to take on or continue 
what is called work of national importance merely as a 
condition of being exempted. When a man holds such 
beliefs as mine, he must be prepared to suffer for 
them, until he can get the law of the land and the 
majority of his fellows to accept the validity of his 
beliefs. . . ." 

The Chairman of the Local Tribunal in giving his 
decision stated that the Tribunal believed him to be 
quite sincere. 

In his Appeal sent to the Central Tribunal on August 
16, 1916, Mr. Hudson stated : 

r< The Appeal Tribunal would have been willing to 
grant me an exemption as a teacher in a Secondary 
School, and as one member of the Tribunal put it, 
greatly deplored my unwillingness to accept this easy 
way out of a difficulty. It is just because I feel the offer 
so easy, at a time when people at the front and at home 
are suffering so terribly, that I feel it would be very 
wrong of me to accept it." 


Mr. Ayles has for many years taken an active interest 
in the Labour Movement. He has been a Poor Law 
Guardian and a Borough Councillor. He is the pro- 
spective Labour Candidate for East Bristol. 

The Central Tribunal offered him exemption con- 
ditional on taking work of national importance, but 
he could not accept the offer and was arrested. He has 

f 37 ] 

been court-martialled twice ; the first sentence was 
112 days' hard labour, and the second, which he is now 
serving, one year's hard labour. 

He made the following statements in his defence 
before court-martial : 

... I am profoundly opposed to war because I 
believe it to be wrong, and to all forms of service which 
will either directly or indirectly assist in the prosecution 
of war, or which are given as alternatives to military 
service. There is to me no difference in principle 
between being in a line regiment, the N.C.C., or in 
Class W of the Army Reserve, doing so-called work of 
national importance. If I believed in war my place 
would be in a line regiment, and in no other, serving in 
the trenches. 

" I cannot consent, however, to be involved in the 
administration of the military system in any way. 
For many years my life and work have been governed 
by certain definite principles, based on the sanctity of 
human life. They have governed my political work 
as a Guardian of the Poor in Birmingham, as a City 
Councillor of Bristol, and as a member of the Socialist 
Movement. They have governed my attitude with 
regard to war, both social and international." 


Mr. Douglas Ralph Bishop, fruit-grower and pre- 
server, of Tunbridge Wells, is a member of the Society 
of Friends, and has been an Assistant to Friends' 
Home Mission. 

He claimed absolute exemption from military ser- 
vice on religious grounds, and appeared before three 
Tribunals, all of which recognised the sincerity of his 

1 See Appendix IV. 

[ 38 ] 

convictions, but only excused him from combatant 

On April 19, 1916, the Central Tribunal made 
Mr. Bishop's their first absolute exemption test case. 
After admitting that his objection was a genuine one, 
they maintained that his claim to absolute exemption 
was not recognised by the Military Service Act or by 
the laws of any organised state. 

He was arrested on May 2, 1916. While serving 
his first court-martial sentence of 112 days' hard 
labour he was offered and refused work under the 
Home Office Committee. His subsequent court- 
martial sentences have been six months' hard labour 
and two years' hard labour. He is now in prison. The 
day before his last court-martial, Mr. Bishop was ex- 
amined by three army doctors, two of whom declared 
that prisoner's health would not stand a third term of 
hard labour. Upon promulgation of sentence he was 
again taken before doctor, who confirmed his previous 
decision. Notwithstanding this, Mr. Bishop was re- 
moved to Winchester with no mitigation of his 


Eric Southall is a birthright member of the Society 
of Friends, has always held strong peace views, and 
has done work among Friends on peace lines. 

The Local Tribunal exempted him from combatant 
service, and his case was dismissed by the Appeal 

At the Tribunals he claimed absolute exemption, 
definitely stating that though his own work (apprentice 
to chartered accountant) was of national importance 
he would not appeal on that ground. The Appeal 

[ 39 ] 

Tribunal complimented him on the way he put his 
case, and stated that they refused his claim with regret 
and reluctance. 

Arrested on June 2, 1915, court-martialled, sentenced 
to 112 days' hard labour. He appeared before the 
Central Tribunal, who considered him genuine and 
even went so far as to remark that they could not under- 
stand why he had not been given absolute exemption at 
first. They offered him work under the Home Office 
Scheme, which he refused. He has since then been 
twice court-martialled ; his sentences were six months' 
hard labour, and eighteen months' hard labour. This 
last sentence he is now serving. 

The following extract from his court-martial state- 
ment indicates his views : 

' . . . I believe war is entirely contrary to the spirit 
and teaching of Christianity and the other great 
religions of the world, nor have I any right to rob a 
fellow-man of life a divine gift I cannot restore. 
This objection extends to aiding and abetting killing, 
and so making an unworthy bargain with those prose- 
cuting the war. My claim has been, and is now, that 
there is a higher claim than that of a country. Where 
these two laws conflict I must follow the way shown 
me by my conscience, not counting the consequences. 
Hitherto the consequences have been hard labour in a 
civil prison. This is no pleasant life, but rather than 
betray my religious and moral convictions I am pre- 
pared to return again until I am given absolute 


This account is quoted from Mr. Cotterell's letter 
in the Middlesex Advertiser : 

[ 40 ] 

" Mr. Sparkes is a member of the Society of Friends, 
to which his ancestors have belonged for generations. 
For years before war broke out he was an enthusiastic 
worker for the cause of peace, and was deeply 
interested in promoting the celebrations to com- 
memorate the hundred years of peace between Britain 
and the United States. 

" Mr. Sparkes went to the Tribunal claiming total 
exemption from military service on conscientious 
grounds allowed by the Act. The Tribunal gave him 
time to take up work of national importance approved 
by the Pelham Committee. Sparkes having obtained 
this work, the Tribunal changed their minds without 
troubling to hear him, and gave him non-combatant 
service. To a Quaker of Mr. Sparkes' calibre, to be a 
non-combatant is the same thing as to be a com- 
batant, so what was the use of ordering him to 
enter the Army as a non-combatant ? 

" Mr. Sparkes was a director in a large joinery concern. 
When this company became * controlled ' Mr. Sparkes 
decided he must relinquish his appointment. But it 
appears he had not done so quickly enough. The 
Military Representative appealed against his non- 
combative certificate, on the ground that he was recently 
managing a firm engaged in Munitions of War. The 
Appeal Tribunal took away his exemption. 

" The work that Mr. Sparkes had found of national 
importance was his scheme of ' National Industrial 
Parliaments.' The Pelham Committee recommended 
that the most useful piece of national non-Military 
Service he could perform would be to develop that 
scheme under the supervision of the Garton Founda- 
tion. His scheme was taken up by the Councils of 
the Building Trades' Unions, the National Builders' 

Federation, and the Society of Carpenters and Joiners. 
Mr. Sparkes was invited to attend a special con- 
ference in London organised by the National Executive. 
Finally his scheme attracted the attention of the 
Government ' National Reconstruction Committee/ 
and the Chairman, the Right Hon. J. H. Whitley, 
invited Mr. Sparkes to advise him thereon. Not- 
withstanding this outstanding and useful work, Mr. 
Sparkes has been awarded two years' hard labour." 

'The following resolution appeared in the Press some 
weeks ago : 

"That the National Associated Building Trades' 
Council learns with regret that Mr. Malcolm Sparkes, 
a member of the Society of Friends, has been sentenced 
to imprisonment for conscientious objection whilst 
engaged on valuable national reconstruction work, 
and requests that his case be inquired into by the 
Government with a view to his release, and that in 
the meantime facilities be afforded to him so that he 
can continue his work in connection with the Industrial 
Parliament scheme." 

Malcolm Sparkes' case is typical, but does not 
stand alone. Without exaggeration hundreds of men 
equally sincere, equally useful, are rotting in prison 
while our country is in need of their services. 


Mr. Hubert Peet is a Quaker, aged thirty. He is a 
journalist, and before his arrest was acting as Organis- 
ing Secretary of Friends' Service Committee and Joint 
Editor of The Ploughshare, a publication of the 
Society of Friends. The Tribunals gave him Non- 

[ 42 ] 

Combatant Service. This did not meet his objection, 
and he was arrested, served a court-martial sentence 
of 112 days' hard labour, was then returned to Military 
Authorities, court-martialled again, sentenced to two 
years' hard labour, and returned to prison. 


Mr. Wellock is a journalist, and has also had con- 
siderable experience in the cotton trade. He spent 
four years in Edinburgh University, and was one of 
the Presidents of the University Historical Society. 
He has been a Sunday School teacher, and a local 
preacher, and was well known before the war to hold 
strong pacifist views which he had publicly declared 
in preaching and speaking. He has also contributed 
pacifist articles and poems to various papers. 

But in spite of all these facts, and the fact that he 
based his appeal to the Tribunals upon Christian 
grounds, his belief in Christian brotherhood and in the 
pacifist principles of the Sermon on the Mount, he 
failed to secure absolute exemption. As the religious 
denomination to which Mr. Wellock belongs does not 
possess a paid ministry, being closely allied to the 
Quakers organically as well as spiritually, an arrange- 
ment was made between the denomination and the 
War Office whereby all the preachers on their plan 
who applied for exemption should receive it. But 
Mr. Wellock refused to take advantage of this way of 
escape, as he regarded the exemption of ministers 
as a class privilege unjust and unwarrantable. 

The Local Tribunal gave him three months in which 
to find work of national importance. Preston Appeal 
Tribunal gave him a further twenty-one days in which 

[ 43 ] 

to find such work. Mr. Wellock was granted a re- 
hearing by the Local Tribunal, when he received exemp- 
tion from combatant service only. He appealed 
against this decision to the Appeal Tribunal, and 
received a sympathetic hearing. The Chairman ad- 
mitted that he had a very strong case, but said in view 
of the statement made in the House of Commons but 
a day or two before he did not think they could grant 
absolute exemption. He pleaded with the appellant 
-to try and take work of national importance, and said 
they would give him a further twenty-one days in 
which to think the matter over, at the same time 
expressing his sorrow at not being able to give a better 
decision. He hoped the appellant would realise the 
difficulty of the Tribunal's position. Mr. Wellock, 
however, felt himself unable to accept this offer, and 
on January 29 he was arrested. He has served a 
sentence of three months' hard labour, been again 
court-martialled, and is now back in prison serving a 
second sentence of two years' hard labour. 


Roderick K. Clark was Chairman of the London 
and Middlesex Quarterly Meeting Peace Committee 
of the Society of Friends, ex-President of the Cambridge 
University Nonconformists' Union, and Member of the 
Executive of the Friends' War Victims Relief Com- 
mittee. He is now serving his second sentence of 
six months' hard labour. His first sentence was 112 
days' hard labour. 




CONSCIENTIOUS Objectors condemned to imprisonment 
have, with few exceptions, all been in the third division 
with hard labour. 

For the first twenty-eight days the prisoner is kept 
in solitude, in " separate confinement," in his cell, 
seeing no one except the warder and (occasionally) 
the chaplain. 

For the first fourteen days of the sentence he has 
to sleep without a mattress, unless the medical officer 
orders otherwise. 

After this time, if his conduct is good, he is employed 
on work in association with others during part of the 
day, if practicable. In practice, the whole time spent 
with others, including exercise and chapel as well 
as work in association, often does not exceed two 
hours daily. 

1 It is probable that few of our judges, magistrates, or legis- 
lators remember, if they have ever known, exactly what the hard 
labour sentence means. Yet they sentence their fellows and legislate 
for our criminals. It strikes us that it would be an excellent thing 
if these high functionaries would take a short course of hard labour, 
thereby qualifying themselves for their posts and incidentally 
expiating to some degree those sins which we all have committed. 


[ 45 ] 

All conversation with other prisoners is forbidden 
throughout the whole time of sentence. (Long-sent- 
ence prisoners of good conduct may earn the privilege 
of talking for a limited time on certain days.) This is 
a, cruel deprivation to any human being, and tends to 
result in apathy and brain degeneration. 

A prisoner undergoing a hard-labour sentence in 
the third division is not allowed to write or receive 
any letters, or to receive a visit, until two months of 
his sentence have expired. After two months he is 
allowed to write one letter and receive one visit from 
three relatives or friends. If a visit is impossible, he 
is allowed to receive and write an additional letter. 
After this the interval between letters and visits may 
be gradually reduced to one month if the prisoner's 
conduct is good. Conscientious Objectors derive little 
benefit from this regulation, as they suffer repeated 
short sentences. A prisoner is allowed to write a 
special letter on the death of a relative, or for urgent 
business reasons. Visits last not more than thirty 
minutes (in most cases only twenty minutes), and 
take place in the presence of a warder. The prisoner 
and his visitors are separated by a thick grille. 

A prisoner is not allowed pencil and paper. 1 To an 
intellectual man this is one of the most serious hard- 
ships of prison life. 

1 It is curious to reflect that most of the Epistles of St. Paul were 
written when a prisoner under the more benign conditions of Roman 
detention ; that tradition would have us believe Cervantes com- 
posed parts of the immortal Don Quixote in prison ; Sir Walter 
Raleigh wrote much when in the Tower, and the world would have 
been without the Pilgrim's Progress had the twentieth-century penal 
restrictions been in force in the seventeenth century ; while Silvio 
Pellico from his Austrian dungeon, and Kropotkin from his French 
gaol, have enriched the world's literature with their writings as 

[ 46 ] 

No news of public events must be given to prisoners 
either verbally or in writing. For news of the world 
they depend upon a summary given by the chaplain 
in chapel on Sundays. 

Prisoners other than Anglicans are allowed visits 
from ministers of their denomination, but there is 
no corresponding privilege for those who do not belong 
to any recognised denomination. 

When a prisoner's relatives are seriously ill, there 
is no way by which he can see them. Even if his wife 
is dying, he is not allowed to visit her death-bed, or 
to be present at the funeral. 

An increasing number of Conscientious Objectors, 
among others Mr. Clifford Allen, feel obliged to refuse 
to do work in prison on conscientious grounds, practi- 
cally identical with those which lead them to refuse 
the Home Office Scheme. The punishments for this 
offence are such that most of those who have adopted 
this policy for any considerable length of time have 
become mentally deranged. 

Punishment may be ordered by the Governor or 
the Visiting Committee. Among other punishments 
the Governor can order three days' close confinement, 
" C.C.," No. i diet for three days, or No. 2 diet for 
twenty-one days, with specified intervals, or depriva- 
tion of mattress for three days. No. i diet is simply 
bread and water. No. 2 diet includes bread, porridge, 
peas, and gruel. 

The maximum punishments the Visiting Commit- 
tees can impose are close confinement for fourteen 
days, No. i diet for fifteen days, or No. 2 diet for 
forty-two days, in each case with specified intervals. 
A prisoner can be given close confinement, coupled 
with No. i diet and deprivation of his mattress, and 

[ 47 ] 

these punishments can be repeated at frequent 

The usual procedure when close confinement is 
ordered is to strip the cell of all articles, including the 
printed regulations and the prisoner's stool. The only 
books allowed are a Bible, Hymn-book, and Instruction 
Book. The prisoner spends all his time in this cell, 
except for the rare occasions on which he is taken out 
for exercise by himself. 

The parliamentary candidate for Rossendale, Mr. 
Albert Taylor, who was arrested during the by-election 
last January, refused to work while serving his sentence 
of 112 days' hard labour. In consequence he was 
without a mattress for fifty or sixty nights. Bread 
and water was his only fare on forty-five out of the 112 
days, and he had not more than eighteen periods, of 
forty minutes each, of exercise during the four months. 
He is now awaiting another court-martial, and will 
shortly be returned to prison. 


In Scotland the regulations are more severe than in 
England. Among other differences, the prisoner has 
to sleep without a mattress for the first month as 
compared with fourteen days in England. 

The rules about letters and visits have been brought 
into line with the English Prison Regulations within 
the last two months. Up till then visits and letters 
were only permitted every three months. But it 
appears that the Scotch Regulations allow of more 
latitude than those in force in England. Scotch 
prisoners are often treated, when seriously ill, in out- 
side hospitals, and can be allowed out under escort 
in civilian garb to visit dying relations. 

[ 48 ] 

, The Regulations for Irish Prisons are similar 
to those in force in English Prisons. 


Silence and Isolation 1 

Extract from letter from Clifford Allen during his second 
period of imprisonment : 

" One hundred and ninety-five days of stitching, 
each of twenty-three hours and fifty minutes' silence. 
I think the greatest torture of enforced and perpetual 
silence is the never-ceasing consciousness of thinking 
in which it results. You cannot stop thinking for an 
instant. And if you seem to, it is only to listen intently 
to the beating of your heart drumming in your ears. 
You cannot escape thinking about the most trivial 
matters of routine. I think of the very knots in the 
boards each time I scrub them, until I could scratch 
them out of the floor to rid myself of their arrogant 
insistence upon themselves. One inevitable result is 
a consequent and hopeless inability to think of those 
very things that are your interest, and would stimulate 
and hearten you. . . . And then I seem to have no 
way of escape from dwelling upon the horror of the 
war, and just because I cannot be active, my imagina- 
tion is the more vivid, until I am driven almost to the 
breaking point of despair by thinking of all the agony 
of the world. . . ." 

Stephen Hobhouse writes : 

" Sometimes when I feel tired and ill, I long for 

1 See Appendix IV. 

[ 49 ] 

some little homely comfort, such as a glass of hot 
water or some tea and dry toast. I felt cruelly the 
restrictions of what seemed the most elementary needs. 
I did not think that my body with its weak points 
would stand it for long. The struggle is often intense. 
Prison life has its own special temptations to selfish 
introspection and the like. ... I think the worst pitch 
of depression was one foggy and dark Sunday, when it 
was impossible to see either to sew or read in one's 
cell, and on remonstrating in the evening with one of 
the warders for not giving us the gas light, he answered : 
' You are not worth it it is not a work day/ The 
answer sank in." 

Extract from letter from A . Fenner Brockway : 

11 Personally I do not think I have suffered much, 
but I know how others have suffered. I know how 
their health is broken, how they cannot sleep at nights. 
I have studied their faces on ' exercise/ and have seen 
how white and worn they are. And worse than the 
physical effects is the mental and spiritual degeneration 
which confinement often causes. Is there a single 
man who has undergone a term of imprisonment who 
has not experienced as a result a lessening of mental 
grasp and a lack of the power of concentration ? In 
a few cases the effects are more serious ; absolute 
mental derangement has occurred/' 

Hubert Peet writes : 

" The attempted imposition of silence is unmoral, 
even if not immoral ; the isolation drives the man into 
himself, and tempts him at every turn to fulfil the 
human instinct of communication with his fellows, a 


[ 50 ] 

course only possible by the exercise of some petty 
deceit or the breaking of a rule. The prison regime 
provides every temptation to atrophy, and to let 
oneself vegetate. Several times I felt acutely the 
danger that my pacifism might merely become 
passivism, and that if not watchful I might let my life 
develop into meals and mail-bags. . . ." 

Letter from Stephen Hobhouse on the same subject : 

" I told the Governor that it was impossible to keep 
the silence rule, in fact I came to the conclusion it was 
morally wrong to keep it, though it is not good for one 
to have to regulate one's talking according to one's 
distance from the warder and his character. There is 
no doubt that the prison system encourages artfulness 
and deceit. Deadening of intellect is one of the great 
dangers for educated prisoners, while others, owing to 
harrying, spying, etc., lose self-respect and all confidence 
in their power to lead a strong moral life." 

Another letter on the same subject : 

" H. was due out of prison ( -) on January 6, 

but three days previously he accepted the H.O. 
Scheme and was sent immediately to Ballachulish. 
His reason was that he saw insanity looming, for 
he had ' nerves ' and had not slept for five nights, 
and could only pace up and down the cell, thinking 
of suicide. He attributes the breakdown to continuous 
separate confinement, in place of the usual month of it. 
He brought the lack of ' association labour ' to the 
notice of the Governor, who said it could not be helped 
as they were understaffed, the warders having been 
taken for the war. All the men in ' B ' Block were so 
treated, and even the doors were not left open for the 

allotted time on that landing, owing to absence of 
warders. ..." 

Extract from letter from a young teacher : 

" Let it suffice for the present that in spite of thirteen 
weeks spent in what has practically amounted to 
solitary confinement, my health has no serious set-back. 
I find, of course, that my brain seems to have become 
rather deadened, and my memory of names and places 
is apt to fail me occasionally, but such I believe are 
the usual and inevitable effects of being cut off from 
society for such a long period. . . ." 

Extract from a letter from another prisoner : 

" . . . As a result of the general instructive (restric- 
tive?) exercise of the power of speech, prisoners are 
forced into all sorts of sly underhand tricks or an open 
defiance of the rule (which latter is extremely rare). . . ." 

Exercise on Sunday : 

" Prisoners ( ) in the first stage, viz. serving 

the first twenty-eight days of their sentence, are not 
allowed to go out for exercise. My own experi- 
ence is that constipation and headache are the 
result. Further, as there is no work performed on 
Sunday this lengthens the period of solitary confine- 
ment which occurs each week-end from 3.30 P.M. on 
Saturday until 6 A.M. on Monday. Except for attending 
Divine Service one is confined the whole time. ..." 

Extracts describing forms of "Association " work : 

" . . . Re cellular confinement ( ) all C.O.'s 

(with the exception of the two or three prison cleaners 

[ 52 ] 

and one or two who assist the prison mechanics) 
were continually confined to their cells, and the only 
' association/ if this can be called association, was that 
the cell doors on one side of the prison were left open 
in the morning, and the cell doors on the other side 
were left open in the afternoon. Then the following 
week the order would be reversed, and those that were 
open in the morning of the previous week would be 
closed in the morning and opened in the afternoon, 
and vice versa. ... I complained several times about 
having to sit down too much, as the pressure of the 
body on the hard prison stools interfered with the 
natural functions of my body. The doctor said it was 
through lack of exercise and want of fresh air, and 
said that we would probably be given more exercise 
later, but there was no change up to the time I left. ..." 

" . . . There is no association work ( ) 

excepting that about three hours per month the 
prisoners are brought on to the main floor of the prison, 
the remainder of the time being spent entirely in the 
cells, with the doors open occasionally for a short 

Writing 1 and Drawing- Materials 

Extract from "112 Days' Hard Labour," by Hubert Peet: 

" There is in prison no method of recording perman- 
ently thoughts that occur to one during reading or 
meditation, of noting for future reference passages that 
may be found helpful or striking, or of making notes 
for plans on return to ordinary life . . . and personally 
the one single alteration which would go to make gaol 
life more tolerable than anything else would be the 

[ 53 ] 

provision of pencil and paper, and the permission to 
retain the latter on release." 

Note from another Conscientious Objector in Prison : 

" One of my chief faults in the past has been rather 
to dream than to do, and the danger of prison to me is 
that it accentuates this tendency. I am, however, 
full of plans for hard work when I shall regain my 
freedom. The deprivation I feel most keenly is that 
of music paper. I do not think a more refined form of 
punishment could have been devised for me than to 
prevent me from working. . . . The distinction between 
slate and paper is a subtle one, but all important to 

Mr. writes : 

" Writing materials. . . . Because of the absence of 
these we cannot make a proper use of the educational 
facilities which are afforded by the prison system. I 
have been studying a language and have felt the lack 
of writing material keenly. Several other prisoners 
have also experienced the same deficiency. The slate 
and pencil provided is a very inadequate substitute 
for paper and pencil or pen and ink/' 


Mr. writes : 

" As matters stand at the present the Governor 

of Prison will not allow books to be sent in to 

prisoners, saying that there are too many books in the 
library now, a statement my brother heartily endorses, 
and he adds that most are rubbish and not worth 
reading. His ' educational ' book record is as follows : 

[ 54 ] 

First month .... To-morrow in the Far East 

(a short book). 

Feb. 2 to 9 . . . . Mirage of Life (R. T. S.) 

(very short book). 

Feb. 9 to Mar. 13 . . Nil. 

Mar. 13 to Apr. 13 . . . Southey's Life of Nelson, 

which, he says, ' is not 
much to take one away 
from the cares of the 
world into those higher 
and loftier realms of 

Apr. 13 to May 25 . . Nil. 

May 25 . . . . . Sartor Resartus. 

He adds he had several good fiction works inter- 
spersed with much rubbish." 

Extract from "112 Days' Hard Labour," by Hubert 
Peet : 

" During the second month besides the educational 
book if the library has one left you may have a 
work of fiction. In the third month and onwards there 
may be two novels, though on request a volume of 
poetry or essays may be substituted for one of the 
latter ; while, on the other hand, instead of two books 
a bound magazine volume may be had and is, I 
believe, the choice. The last allowance may sound 
quite generous, but it must be remembered that 
reading at meal tunes alone would occupy three hours 
a day, or at least eighteen hours a week, not counting 
the work-free hours of Sunday. On the other hand, it 
must be remembered that reading or meditation is the 
sole manner of recreation, and one can absorb a great 
deal. My library list varied considerably in quantity 
and quality. For instance, for a week in the second 
month I had a volume of seventeen short stories of a 

[ 55 ] 

Tit-Bits variety, by G. R. Sims, and no educational 
book ; once in the third month I had A. E. W. Mason's 
Broken Road, our grandmother's favourite The Wide 
Wide World, with a text and a tear in every line, and 
volume four of Gibbon's Rome ; whilst once in the 
fourth stage I had Captains Courageous, Taine's Notes 
sur I'Angleterre, Prothero's Psalms in Human Life, and 
George Fox's Journal. ..." 

Mr. writes : 

" Libraries ( ). The library was very small 

and contained few of the standard works. There 
were only one or two books of Dickens', because all the 
others by this author had become worn out and very 
many pages missing ; so they were condemned, but not 
replaced. The Chaplain admitted to me that the supply 
of books was very poor. He said he had written to 
the Home Office quite four months previously (that 
would be six months or more now) without success. . . . 
Then Sir George Cave's statement does not apply to 

, as there is no catalogue ; and when young chaps 
have not the temerity to speak up, they have to put 
up with the haphazard selection of the warders. ....** 

Lack of Educational Facilities 

Extract from letter from a Conscientious Objector await- 
ing court-martial after release from prison : 

" The man ... is now serving his second sentence 
of one year. Unfortunately he is not able to avail 
himself to any great extent of the diversion which most 
of us obtain from books. He is a farmer by trade, 
and except for knowledge of that branch of work is not 

[ 56 ] 

very well educated. Further, he has allowed himself to 
mope and worry, and this added to prison conditions 
has almost driven him insane . . . ; he has gradually 
gone from bad to worse until at last he has had to 
be removed to the hospital, and we fear that unless 
his release can be obtained he will entirely lose his 
senses. . . ." 

Extract from letter from another Conscientious Objector : 

"At - - prison. ... In a cell near my own there 
was a prisoner who used to spend a great deal of his 
time looking out of the window far more than most of 
the prisoners. I understood that he had seven or ten 
years to do for burglary. I asked him what books he 
had to read, and he stated he could not read. I asked 
him if he attended school to learn. He stated he did 
not. I suggest that all men and women who are 
illiterate should attend (school) in prison. . . ." 

Looking- out of the Window 

Extracts from letters from Conscientious Objectors who 
have been in prison : 

Mr. writes : 

" This (looking out of the window) is a punishable 

offence; the Governor of the Prison ( ) informs 

each batch of C.O.'s of this regulation. To my own 
knowledge on AS landing the ordinary glass (clear) 
has been removed from the window panes and rolled 
ribbed glass substituted. On this landing in the cells the 
ventilators, which were sliding panels in the windows, 
have been removed, and the panes through which the 

[ 57 ] 

air could be freely admitted to the cell have been 
stopped with a pane of glass. . . ." 

" Next I should like to say there is a considerable 
number of cell windows of fluted glass here ; this 
is surely out of date and should be at once replaced 
by plain glass, and especially in cells that under the 
best circumstances would be dark, as they are situated 
at the angles of the building, and the light is thereby 
considerably cut off. Many of the ventilators under 
the windows are defective and much rubbish has 
accumulated ; they should be cleaned and repaired. ..." 

Work on Sundays 

Extracts from letters from prisoners : 

"... Again I must let you know that the Governor 

( ) says prisoners are now to work right up to 

bedtime (8 o'clock), although the prison card states 
ten hours' labour. Of course if one has to work all the 
time, books are not necessary except on Sunday, and 
you may be surprised to learn there is a considerable 
amount of work done on Sunday in prison. ..." 

" . . Work is carried on as usual on Sundays 
-) even in the case of long-sentence men (one 

named now serving a sentence of two years), 

with the exception of one and a half hours for the 
attendance at Chapel. . . ." 

Visiting* Conditions 

Mrs. writes : 

" I saw him through a double thickness of closely 
woven and very dirty wire, which was very difficult 

[ 58 3 

to see through at all. . . . This was the greatest shock 
to me to realise that he had not spoken ten words to 
any one for eight weeks. As the outsider is not sup- 
posed to suffer prison torture, why should he have to 
go through the shock of seeing his friends behind 
inhuman paraphernalia? I shall never forget the 
image I had after one of these visits, nor the feeling of 
fatigue after standing for thirty minutes in a darkened 
cell " 

Another relative writes : 

" The method there ( ) of interviewing prisoners 

was that the prisoner sat at one end of a long table, the 
visitor at the other end, and a warder halfway down 
the table between them. The distance was such that 
it necessitated almost shouting to each other during 
the conversation. , , ." 

Religious Ministration 

Extracts from letters from C.O.'s who have been in 
prison : 

"... I told them at I should like to see a 

Quaker, but all the time I was there (ten weeks) I 
saw nobody but the Chaplain and the curates. I was 
told there was no Quaker in the district. ..." 

Prisoners who belong to no denomination and object to 
attending the Church of England services : 

" I should think that the Ethical Society or some 
other similar body should be allowed to visit such 
prisoners and to hold a monthly meeting. My own 
experience is that on the two week-days when the 
others go to Church I had to work on the landing. ..." 

[ 59 ] 


The following extracts refer to Mr. B. who died 

of consumption at Work Centre on May 17, 

1917 : 

" He was working standing all day at fitting the 
mattresses of ship fenders (always one of the hardest 
jobs in prison). He was in " A " Association Hall 

at along with the writer, and it was evident 

that he was going into a consumption. During the 
last two weeks in January in "A" hall we all suffered 
terribly from cold, and the weather was Arctic. 
Furthermore the heating apparatus became out of 
order. It took me all my time to keep well. It 

finished B . On March i he was suffering from 

ague when he was liberated. He travelled to 

and broke down with haemorrhage. ..." 

" My son has suffered from post-nasal catarrh for 
some years and has not had good health in consequence. 
As far as I know there was no lung trouble or con- 
sumption before his imprisonment. . . . One thing 
my son thinks helped to make him ill in prison was 
coming out into the grounds after a warm bath each 
week and having to wait in the snow or rain, as the case 
might be, for the men to be got together ; also the cold 
cell ; he tells me there was no warmth at all. . . ." 

N.B. He had no near relatives suffering from 

Mrs. writes : 

" When I met my husband coming out of prison on 
the loth February last, I was horrified to see how very 

[ 60 ] 

badly he was suffering from the cold. His face showed 
this very much, and in addition to this his hands were 
literally covered with chilblains and the prison doctor 
had painted them with iodine. I was still more dis- 
turbed when he said that ' that was nothing to what 
they had been/ He also told me that for the last 
few weeks it had been so cold that he had been quite 
unable to read at all he could only pace up and down 
his cell. I might say that normally he does not feel 
the cold at all, and I have never known him to have a 
chilblain on his hands before. . . ." 

Mr. writes : 

" If the C.O.'s have another winter to face in prison, 
steps should be taken to see that an average healthy 
temperature is maintained in cells. Highest tempera- 
ture at he reports to be 40 degrees, but he 

understands the ' heating ' apparatus is to be over- 

Extract from "112 Days' Hard Labour " : 

" At the floor is of boards, but in the older 

prison my cold feet were a perpetual reminder that 
I was living on tiles. In such a winter as we have 
been having this fact was perhaps the greatest physical 
hardship of imprisonment, bearing in mind that often 
I was only absent from the cell for half an hour out 
of the twenty-four. Those who wish to reproduce 
the test are advised to try working, sleeping, and 
eating in their scullery. ..." 

N.B. Wooden floors in prison cells are exceptional, 
and are only found in the newer prisons. 

[ 6i ] 

Sanitary Conditions 

Mr. writes : 

" I plucked up courage twice to go before the 
Governor about elementary needs. On one occasion 
we were 16 days without a change of underclothing, 
handkerchief, or towel, and it appeared we should have 
to go on for the full three weeks like this. A more 
trying task still was to have to go and complain to 
him that our weekly supply of sanitary paper was 
altogether inadequate, so that cleanliness was very 
difficult. I fear that almost the worst features of the 
system is that many men are frequently forced to use 
their cells to relieve themselves, in lieu of the daily 
visit to the water-closet this being chiefly due to the 
fact that it is in practice impossible to go there until 
from one or two hours after breakfast. ..." 

Extract from letter from C.O. written while awaiting 
third Court-martial : 

" There are several times when one is shut up and 
denied proper access to W.C.'s. From 5 P.M. at night 
to 5.30 A.M. it is practically impossible to get out to 
them. One would be told to make shift in one's cell. 

On Saturdays one is in the cell from after dinner 
until Monday 5.30 A.M. Although I shall be allowed 
to work in association I, even on my third sentence, 
shall not get any exercise on Sundays until I have 
earned my first stripe, viz. gone through the first stage 
and have earned 224 marks (4 weeks at 56 per week), 
and since I do not go out to services I shall do one and 
a half days per week close confinement with restricted 
facilities referred to as above. I might be allowed out 

[ 62 ] 

of my cell or I might not during the day for the purpose 
mentioned, but after tea-time on any day it would be 
impossible to be allowed out of my cell/' 

Dirt in the Food. 

Extract from a letter from a Conscientious Objector 

recently released from prison : 
"... One thing I want to draw your attention 

to, and that is the necessity of keeping a cat at 

as the rice invariably disclosed the fact that there must 
be a swarm of mice in the prison kitchen or store. 
This tended to sicken one, although low feeding made 
me proof even against this I had a black-beetle in 
my mouth one day. This I readily admit was an 
exception, yet I mentioned it to a warder, and he told 
me not to say anything about it because the other 
prisoners may ask for them too ! Yet the mice's dirt 
was the rule, and never a day passed when we had rice 
but that I picked out half a dozen or more lumps of 
evidence. ..." 


Efforts to soften prison regime have not been 
wholly unavailing ; prisoners are now allowed to have 


Extract from "112 Days' Hard Labour" : 

" Clean shirts, socks, towel, and handkerchief once 
a week, underclothing once a fortnight including a 
pillow-slip and often bed sheet every three weeks." 

N.B. Prisoners (male) are not provided with any 
nightwear so they are obliged to sleep in their day- 

Medical Treatment in Prisons 

C. D., a young clerk who was privately studying 

for the Baptist Ministry, entered Gaol on June 30, 

1916, to serve a court-martial sentence of 112 days' 
hard labour. His mother states that up to June 5, 
i"9i6, when he left home, he had never had a day's 

He accepted work under the H.O. Scheme, and in 
September was passed as fit for " navvy ing " by the 

prison doctor, and sent to Road Board Camp. 

A fellow prisoner now at thus describes his con- 
dition at that time : 

" During the association period which lasted from 
August to September I had on many occasions 
noticed our comrade looked ill and gave me the im- 
pression on closer observation that he was in a weary 
and weak state of health ; he continually coughed 
very badly as if he was suffering from tightness of the 
chest. . . . 

" I can bring evidence to prove that the doctor (at 
- Prison) did nothing but abuse our men who were 
called up before him to be examined for outdoor 
manual labour at Road Board Camp." 

Another friend states that " his health first became 
affected by the prison diet which he could not assimi- 

At - he became worse, partly owing to the 
inadequate heating arrangements. After some months 

r't 64 ] 

he was transferred to , and from there sent 

home, where he died of consumption, on May 27, 1917. 

Extract from letter from a man after serving a sentence at 
Prison : 

" Prison officials treat any complaint with scorn. 
Governor says, ' You are not at the Carlton.' Dr. says, 
' You are not in a blooming incubator.' On putting 
down to see him continually for medicine he threatened 
to report me to the Governor which would mean 
punishment so I ignored him and his medicine too." 

Extract from letter from - , dated March 19, 1917, 
at Dartmoor : 

"... The insomnia continued sometimes com- 
plete all through my time in prison, and continues 
still. I have not slept for more than about two hours 
any night (with three exceptions) since February i, 
and on two occasions at least I was light-headed in 
the night, and telling endless nonsense out loud, and 
became hysterical in the day-time on the least occasion. 
The prison doctor could or would do nothing for me, 
saying that only fresh air and exercise could cure me, 
and warning me that any indefinite prolongation of 
my condition would lead to a serious breakdown. 
He was rather kind to me, and I felt what he said 
was true. ... I had passed six nights without sleep 
when I appeared before the Tribunal on March 10. . . ." 

E. R 

Sentenced to two years' hard labour, taken 

to , thence to Prison (Civil). In a 

letter to his wife, dated March 10, 1917, he 
writes that he was sent to work in the woodyard, 

and twice the officer in charge kept the men out till 
they became wet through, and then took them back 
to the cells to sit in their wet clothes. As a consequence, 

Mr. had a severe attack of inflammation of the 



(Case of Scabies] 

G. H. 

Arrested May 1916 ; medically examined on entry 

to , October 31, 1916. Skin clear. Skin irritation 

reported later. Given boracic and sulphur ointment. 
(N.B. Sulphur ointment seldom prescribed for any- 
thing but scabies.) Removed Prison. Given 

zinc ointment small tabloids two doses medicine. 

States Prison dirty. Cold bath each week, but 

once when water tepid. Not isolated or given clean 
sheets, though medically examined twice. No medical 

examination prior to discharge. Sent . At once 

removed to Workhouse, isolated, and properly treated 
for scabies. G. H. was medically examined eight times 

between arrest and entry to . Always passed as 

free from skin trouble. 

Dr. - - confirms statement dirty. Has twice 

found men in verminous cells, which were instantly 
fumigated when he complained, and warders fined. 



Wood -sawyer. Arrested 23.11.16. Court -mar- 

tialled on 9.12.16. Taken to 23.12.16. Re- 


[ 66 ] 

ported at - - Work Centre suffering from mental 
trouble, 30.3.17. Removed to - - Lunatic Asylum. 

Extract from letter from Mr. I. J. (brother), dated 


"... My brother has always been a hard-working 
man and always enjoyed good health, and has never 
had any nervous breakdown, and has always been a 
good son and husband, and never smoked or drank. 
My idea why he had this breakdown is because of close 
confinement and the worry, and not being able to 
write and receive any letters from his wife and child 
and parents. It seems terrible to think my brother 
is in the state he is, as there has never been any insanity 
in the family of any kind. ..." 

K. L. 

Cycle Agent. Arrested, 17.1.17. Taken to 

27.1.17. Taken to Asylum, , on 21.3.17. 

Had suicidal tendencies. No insanity in family. Wife 
saw him on April 2, quite himself, but extremely weak, 
and head very painful. Said had suffered with head 
ever since it had been knocked at Barracks. 

M. N. 

Pianoforte tuner, aged 22. Presbyterian and 
Sunday School teacher. Very religious. Arrested 
September 13, 1916. Highly strung, no sign of mental 

or nervous disorder. Taken to October 24. 

Apparently still normal. Within six weeks removed 

to Lunatic Asylum where he died early in June 


Mr. - - entered Prison on April 19, 1917, to 

[ 67 ] 

serve a sentence of 112 days' hard labour. When his 
wife visited him on June 16 he implored her to obtain 
an offer of work of national importance for him, as 
he felt his mind was going. He had refused work of 
national importance when offered to him by the 
Tribunal prior to his arrest. A doctor sends the 
following account of his condition : 

" He has completely broken down mentally, and 
he is described to me as looking ' wild in the eyes, and 
quite mad/ During the greater part of the twenty 
minutes' interview he was sobbing and resting his 
head on his hands. He stated himself that he felt 
he was going mad, and that unless he is released his 
whole mind will be completely gone." 


A prisoner writes : 

" It will be good one day in the future again to 
live in a room in which there is not a peephole in the 
door. The prisoner never knows when he is being 
watched, and, however innocent his action, it is 
unpleasant to feel that complete privacy can never 
be relied on. During the evening hours officers wear 
silent felt slippers, and their visits are only known by 
the slight click of the shield over the hole as he moves 
it to look through. It was disconcerting, for instance, 
when engaged one morning in saying my prayers, 
suddenly to be accused by a voice on the other side 
of the door of being the author of tapping signals 
which were going on through the wall somewhere in 
the neighbourhood, and on my denying the charge, to 
be told that at any rate you had just been using 
1 foul langwidge ' ! " 

[ 68 ] 

" In a similar manner the C.O. prisoner feels the 
utter lack of trust reposed in the individual. Prisoners 
are accompanied everywhere by a warder, and are 
always under supervision. Surprise searches of cells 
take place at intervals to detect the presence of contra- 
band of any sort, while the individual is searched. 
Each time I came in from the laundry while working 
there, I and my fellows had to line up on returning to 
the hall, hold out our handkerchiefs and caps above 
our heads, while a warder searched one's single pocket 
on the outside jacket and ran his hands over one's 
person on the chance of finding I don't know what, 
unless we might be tempted to secrete clothing or soap 
about us. ... 

" One of my most conscious lacks in prison was the 
entire outward absence of beauty. All that ministered 
outwardly to this vital human need was an occasional 
glimpse of a sunset, the lines, curves, and distant 

frescoes of the fine Renaissance Chapel at 

Prison, and even the warm brown and green of the 
worsted bedding. A thrill came over me when at 
exercise under leaden sky and between lowering walls 
at Wandsworth I one day saw flying overhead some 
seagulls, stragglers from the winter visitors to the 
Thames a mile or two away. . . . 

" In the short talks I have been able to get with 
warders, or before arrest, with policemen, I have never 
discovered one who could admit that any man was 
ever the better for being in prison. Personally, I can 
imagine nothing more calculated to put a man per- 
manently on the road to ruin. God forbid that I 
should ever be responsible for sending a man, woman, 
or child to prison for any injury to me or mine." 

[ 69 ] 

Another man writes : 

" Then we have the observation cells. They are 
ordinary cells, but, when the door is open, an iron 
grating covers the doorway, so that an officer continu- 
ally marching up and down can keep them under 
observation all day. ..." 

Extract from letter from a Conscientious Objector now 
awaiting the second Court-martial : 

"... I have seen a man go raving mad in the prison 
after being shut up in a warm cell from 4 o'clock in 
the afternoon until 6 o'clock next morning. The cells 
are very badly ventilated, the one I was in had all the 
windows fastened down so that they were a fixture. 
Some cells have got two little windows out but some 
have not, and it gets very hot in there, especially when 
the sun is beating in, it gets unbearable. I have seen 
cell doors opened in the morning and the men stretched 
out on the floor in fits or fainting, and the warders do 
not take any notice of them but simply pass on and 
leave the door open. It really is very brutal. Men 
in the first stage are kept in the cell and not let out, 
only for three quarter hours early in the morning from 
8.15 to 9 o'clock, and it is more than you dare ask 
to go out of your cell for anything for the first month, 
so you can just tell what it is like to be so closely con- 
fined this hot weather. ..." 

For obvious reasons the names of the writers of 
these letters are withheld, as it would be unfair to 
publish them without permission. The names of the 
prisons are also omitted. Should, however, the Home 
Secretary see fit to order an inquiry, this and further 
information can be put at his disposal it being under- 

[ 70 ] 

stood, of course, that no harm should come to the 
unfortunate men in consequence. Eight different 
prisons are mentioned in these letters. 

Letters have lately been coming through showing 
that Conscientious Objectors are again being sent to 
France, where it is stated that they are threatened 
with death, bullied, and given Field Punishment No. I. 1 
The relatives and friends of a man believe that he has 
actually been shot in France. Cruel treatment in 
barracks is said to have happened, ducking in filthy 
ponds, with other incredible acts of brutality. If a 
tithe of these reports is true, it behoves the authorities 
to look into the matter, and punish the offenders. 
Members of Parliament have asked questions on these 
points. I confess the answers given do not reassure 
me. It is to be hoped members will continue to press 
for the truth and for redress. 

It is also stated that prisoners are not sufficiently 
fed. Here let me urge that the Devonport rations, 
when applied to prisoners without the power that free 
men have of supplementing them with various sub- 
stitutes, mean starvation. Serious complaints are now 
being made of very insufficient food for the long hours 
of exhausting work required from the men. 

1 Field Punishment No. i is thus described in the Manual of 
Military Law : 

" (a) He (the soldier) may be kept in irons, i.e. in fetters or hand- 

tc (b) When in irons he may be attached for a period or periods 
not exceeding any two hours in any one day to a fixed object, but he 
must not be so attached during more than three days out of any four 
consecutive days, nor during more than twenty-one days in all." 
This punishment, if cruelly carried out, may be torture ; and it is 
popularly known as " crucifixion." 


IT is understood, though prison walls are thick and the 
cells of solitary confinement are silent, that a consider- 
able number of Conscientious Objectors are now 
striking against work in prison, in order to show that 
they cannot fall in with the Government scheme of 
suppression. I deeply deplore the decision these men 
have come to, goaded by the taunt, " You are making 
mail-bags in prison, why can you not do work of national 
importance outside ? " The pitiable condition to which 
those who defy prison rules are reduced can be read 
on page 46 of this book, a punishment which, if 
continued long enough, must end in death or madness. 
It is only fair to them to publish their reasons for 
this desperate action. I quote extracts from an open 
letter from one of them to the Prime Minister. It is a 
grave state of affairs. I will leave the public to 
apportion the blame. He writes from the cells, 
Salisbury Plain : 

"May 31, 1917. 

" Before I am removed to prison I think it right to 
make known to you that, like other men similarly 
situated, I have recently felt it my duty to consider 
carefully whether I ought not for the future to refuse 
all orders to work during imprisonment. I have 


[ 72 ] 

decided that it is my duty to take this course. This 
will mean that I shall be subjected to severe additional 
punishments behind prison doors. Provided I have 
the courage and health to fulfil this intention, I shall 
have to spend the whole of my sentence in strict 
solitary confinement in a cell containing no article of 
any kind not even a printed regulation. I shall have 
to rest content with the floor, the ceiling and the bare 
walls. I shall have nothing to read, and shall not be 
allowed to write or receive letters or visits, even at the 
rare intervals usually permitted, and shall live for long 
periods on bread and water. 

' You, like so many people, have always looked upon 
us men as either cowards or stupid enough to have a 
mania for martyrdom. You consider us cowards in 
that we are at any rate safer and better off in prison 
than in the trenches. And yet you are perfectly well 
aware that our choice has not been, and is not, between 
prison and the trenches. That is not why we are in 
prison. Before the Tribunals many of us were offered, 
as a condition of exemption, an opportunity of finding 
ordinary civil work in which we should have been free 
to live our everyday lives, exempted from every kind 
of military service. We refused the offer, claiming 
absolute exemption. 

" Then the Government punished us for this by 
arresting us and sending us to be soldiers, although 
we had already proved to the entire satisfaction of the 
Tribunals that we had a genuine conscientious objec- 
tion to every kind of military service. Naturally we 
refused to be soldiers, and were then (following in some 
cases upon a spasm of brutal treatment) packed off to 
prison for disobedience to military orders. 

" Next you offered to release us from prison not on 

t 73 ] 

condition that we would go to the trenches, but pro- 
vided we would sign an agreement to engage in safe civil 
work with other men similarly minded to ourselves. We 
were to be nominally transferred to Army Reserve W, 
and if we misbehaved, we should be sent back to our 
regiments. A recent stipulation has been that those 
who accept this work should not engage in the public 
propaganda of their opinions. Again we refused this 
ostensibly attractive offer and chose to remain in 
prison at hard labour. 

. " Then you sent us back to the Army, and we were 
again court-martialled and again imprisoned, and now, 
like many others, after being returned to the Army, 
and sentenced again, I am to be sent back to prison 
with hard labour for the third time and so, I suppose, 
ad infinitum. 

" I think this shows that mad or sane we are at 
least not cowards. It is not the fear of physical death 
in the trenches that had led to our remaining in prison ; 
but rather a fear of spiritual death which we believe 
must follow our assent to any Conscription scheme, 
military or civil. 

" Our repeated refusal of all these offers does not, 
however, signify unwillingness to render life service 
to our fellow-countrymen, and if we were released 
to-morrow with absolute exemption we should feel 
the obligations of citizenship more insistently than ever 
before. Incidentally many of us have hitherto been 
engaged in occupations deemed by the Government 
to be of the greatest national importance. 

" We have persisted and shall persist in this refusal, 
although we are fully alive to the horror of repeated 
imprisonment. No man or woman who has not 
experienced this test of sincerity can be expected to 

[ 74 ] 

form an estimate of the torment of its silence and loneli- 
ness. The only men who seem able to develop a true 
understanding of its terror are the soldiers who have 
faced the dangers of the trenches and who shrink from 
the very thought of the alternative of prison. 

" Hitherto you have had quite a plausible argument 
which ran as follows : 

" ' We (the Government) must make the test of a 
genuine Conscientious Objector exceedingly hard or 
every one will become a Conscientious Objector and 
Conscription will fail.' 

" Very well. You have made your test, and on your 
own rinding have rejected as frauds less than 100 out 
of nearly 5000 of us. And you have had your time, 
during which we have accepted one, two, three, and 
four sentences of hard labour. 

" Your present course is nothing less than the most 
deliberate persecution of genuine opinion, which one 
would have thought quite impossible in this country. 

" Meanwhile you are satisfied that you have suc- 
ceeded in discovering a way of solving the knotty 
problem of the Conscientious Objector. That method 
takes the shape of exacting forced Conscription service 
under different guises from every section of Con- 
scientious Objectors. Some you put to do work in the 
Non-Combatant Corps, some in the Home Office 
Centres, and the rest, who have rejected these schemes, 
you are pleased to find will, in fact, do similar or almost 
the same work in prison. These, I submit, are your 
real reasons for continuing the policy of persecution ; 
you have, in fact, abandoned your old intention to test 
genuineness with a view to doing justice in the end. 

" I have come to believe that it is my duty to refuse 
to be involved in any one of these schemes, at whatever 

[ 75 ] 

cost and without regard to the further postponement 
of my release which might result. Three times you 
have punished me for the same offence, and I believe 
it to be my duty now to refuse to do anything in prison 
which would result in my acquiescing in such injustice. 

" Every man you have shut away in prison for 
remaining true to his sense of right and wrong has 
gathered a courage and quiet determination far more 
enduring than any inspiration which guided him when 
engaging as a free man outside in the struggle against 
-social injustice. He has thrilled with joy in his prison 
cell at the triumph of Russian democracy. 

" Any man in whom personal ambition played any 
part when you first sent him to prison is out for some- 
thing far different now. You have given him his 
chance of realising in his own life the unity of all that 
makes a man strong and free and sincere, you have 
made him feel equally the unity of all that is most 
eternal in the life of the world. You have made him 
an irresistible force in the gathering struggle to defeat 
everything that leads away from freedom, whether it 
be amongst individuals, amongst classes, or amongst 

Passive resistance or the refusal to obey authority 
is not quite so simple a problem as some shallow people 
seem to think. When it has been undertaken in a just 
cause it has frequently resulted in the sacrifice of the 
individual, but often in the eventual triumph of the 
cause except perhaps in the case of Spain, where, to the 
eternal misfortune of that country, the priests pre- 
vailed, and the Inquisition burnt and tortured freedom 
of opinion out of the land. It is probable that the 
wisest course to pursue with the fanatical resister (of 

t 76 ] 

course, I am not speaking of criminal resistance to law) 
is to leave him alone, when the public opinion of his 
time will show up the absurdity of his action. The 
very worst course to take is to persecute him, thereby 
intensifying his resistance and raising sympathy for 

What has seen the light in these papers reminds one 
somewhat of the accounts of the proceedings of the 
Star Chamber during Stuart times. William Hudson, 
in his Treatise of the Court of Star Chamber, printed in 
1792, says " All offences may be here examined and 
punished if the King will." And we are told " the 
procedure was not according to the common law ; 
there was no jury, it could proceed on rumour alone, 
could apply torture, 1 and could inflict any penalty but 
death. Hateful and excessive punishments were in- 
flicted on those brought before it, and the feeling which 
gathered around it was one of the causes which led to 
the popular discontent against Charles I." 

It was against such tyranny that Hampden fought 
and died and Milton wrote. The Government has now 
decreed that there are to be no more remissions of 
sentences, that the thousand or more Conscientious 
Objectors are to remain immured without appeal for the 
remainder of their long sentences of two and three 
years of hard labour. Nothing more will be heard of 
them. Some of them suffering the horrors of the 
punishment cells, broken in mind and body, mad, or 
dying, forgotten in the stress of war. These unfortun- 
ates may deserve our blame for their resistance to 
what they deem unjust sentences, but God forgive the 

1 This our modern Tribunals and Court-martials certainly cannot 
do ; but great cruelties amounting to torture have been inflicted 
on Conscientious Objectors in barracks. 

[ 77 ] 

souls of those other men, who, from behind their desks, 
settle the fate of their fellows, helpless within their iron 

If you think that what is going on is barbarous and 
should be put a stop to, if you think that these men 
should not remain in prison year after year, suffering 
an ignominious sentence, shut away from our ken, if you 
feel with me that what is happening will act like an 
ulcer on the public conscience and do our beloved 
country harm, then for the sake of the good fame of 
Great Britain and all she stands for in the world's 
history, for the credit of our brave army, for the sake of 
an even greater cause, the cause of our common 
humanity, do not hide your opinions, do not rest until 
redress is given, the prison doors are opened, and the 
men suffering for their faith are set free. I ask your 
help, as the mother of one of them, to make this appeal 
known, which will not then have been made in vain. 



THE governing clauses of the Military Service Act, 1916, on 
the subject of Conscientious Objectors are the following : 
Section 2, Subsection (i). " An application may be 
made at any time before the appointed date to the Local 
Tribunal established under this Act by, or in respect of, 
any man for the issue to him of a certificate of exemption 
from the provisions of this Act : 

" (a), (b), (c) irrelevant, 

" (d) on the ground of a conscientious objection to the 
undertaking of combatant service ; 

and the Local Tribunal, if they consider the grounds of 
the application established, shall grant such a certificate." 

Section 2, Subsection (3). " Any certificate of exemption 
may be absolute, conditional, or temporary, as the authority 
by whom it was granted think best suited to the case, 
and also, in the case of an application on conscientious 
grounds, may take the form of an exemption from com- 
batant service only, or may be conditional on the applicant 
being engaged in some work which in the opinion of the 
Tribunal dealing with the case is of national importance." 

It seems further quite clear that the Tribunals them- 
selves interpreted the Act in different ways, some Tribunals 
stating that they had no power under the Act to grant 


[ 79 1 

absolute non-conditional exemption, although this seems 
to be the clear reading of the clauses in question. To 
meet this confusion the Local Government Board issued 
instructions to the Tribunals on June I, 1916, in which 
the following sentence appears : 

" To dispel some misapprehension which has lately 
again arisen as to the powers of Tribunals to grant exemp- 
tion from all military service, the new Act contains a 
declaratory section that the special powers given to 
Tribunals as to the kinds of exemption which may be 
granted in cases of conscientious objection do not take 
away their power to give absolute or conditional exemption 
in these as in other cases." 

Further, in the second Military Service Act of 1916 
(second session) a clause was inserted to clear up the 
misapprehension which apparently existed, and read as 
follows . 

" It is hereby declared that the power to grant special 
certificates of exemption in the case of an application on 
conscientious grounds under Subsection (3) of Section 2 
of the principal Act is additional to, and not in derogation 
of the general power conferred by that Act to grant an 
absolute, conditional, or temporary certificate in such 

The Director-General of recruiting had issued in 
February 1916 a Guide to. Tribunals, in which he states : 

" There may be exceptional cases in which the genuine 
convictions and the circumstances of the man are such 
that neither exemption from combatant service nor a 
conditional exemption will adequately meet the case. 
Absolute exemption can be granted in these cases if the 
Tribunal are fully satisfied of the facts." 



Glasgow Appeal Tribunal, May 22, 1916 

Patrick Hughes, 15 Low Waters, Hamilton, appealed 
against the decision of the Local Tribunal held March 20, 
1916. Local Tribunal agreed that applicant had proved 
his case, but was given non-combatant service, as they 
held they could not grant total exemption. The Appeal 
Tribunal dismissed the case, holding it to be outside their 
power to grant total exemption. Right to appeal to Central 
Tribunal refused. 

Bishop Stortford Local Tribunal 

Leonard Henry Caton, 45 Hadham Road, Bishop Stort- 
ford, claimed total exemption as a conscientious objector, 
and was exempted from combatant service only, the Clerk 
stating that the Tribunal had no power to do more than 
exempt the man from combatant service. Case dismissed 
by Appeal Tribunal on March 18, 1916. 

Wellingborough Local Tribunal, June 27, 1916 

Extract from letter from Arthur Bruce Gravely, who was 
given non-combatant service by this Tribunal : 

" The Tribunal, whilst recognising my conscientious 
objection as being genuine, insisted that they could not give 
me anything better than non-combatant on conscientious 
grounds, and temporary exemption until September i 
on ' D ' ! I claimed that the Tribunal could and should 
grant total exemption." 

Somerset Appeal Tribunal, March 24, 1916 

Reported by T. W. Waller, 94 Bove Town, Glastonbury. 

" On March 24 the Appeal Tribunal sitting at Bath 
refused the appeal of Mr. T. C. Bowles of Wells against 
the decision of the Wells City Tribunal, who had given him 
non-combatant service. 

" Mr. Bowles is a conscientious objector, and was of 
course appealing for absolute exemption. 

" The Chairman of the Appeal Tribunal, Mr. Somerville, 
of Binder House, Wells, ruled that the Tribunal was unable 
to grant anything but non-combatant service to a Con- 
scientious Objector, and therefore the appeal ' did not lie." 

Wem Rural Tribunal, Wem, Salop, March 1916 

Ernest S. Sands claimed absolute exemption as a 
Conscientious Objector. Extract from letter from applicant, 
dated 30.3.16 : 

" I have appealed to the Local Tribunal, who stated 
they were satisfied my case was genuine, but at the advice 
of the Clerk (who, by the way, is a solicitor), held that 
they could not give me absolute exemption, as the Act did not 
provide for absolute exemption for Conscientious Objectors." 

West Sussex Appeal Tribunal, March 21, 1916 

Extract from " West Sussex Daily News," March 22, 1916 : 
" A Chichester furniture salesman, aged 28, appealed 
against the decision of the Chichester Tribunal granting 
him exemption from combatant service, and asked for 
absolute exemption on conscientious grounds. . . . 

" The Chairman : . . . Have you looked at the Military 
Service Act, under which we all come, everybody here ? 
... It empowers you to make an objection on the ground 
of conscience, but the objection must be to combatant service ; 
it allows you to object to combatant service only. . . ." 
The appeal was dismissed. 


[ 82 1 

Preston Appeal Tribunal and Local Tribunals 

When Mr. Welcock, journalist and Sunday School 
teacher, graduate of Edinburgh University, was granted 
a rehearing of his case by the Local Tribunal, the Chairman 
admitted he had a very strong case, but said that, in view 
of a statement made in the House of Commons, he did not 
think he could grant absolute exemption, and he expressed 
his sorrow at not being able to give a better decision. 
Mr. Welcock is now serving a second sentence of two years' 
hard labour. 

Stokesley Local Tribunal 

Basil Taylor (whose ancestors were Quakers from the 
days of George Fox, and for three generations ministers in 
the Society of Friends), a young man engaged on important 
business and well known for his good work for social 
welfare, claimed absolute exemption. This the Chairman, 
also a Quaker, denied him. His father writes that after- 
wards the Chairman told him they had not the power to 
give absolute exemption. Taylor has now been in prison 
nearly twelve months. 



IN the American Act the following clause appears : 

" And nothing in this Act contained shall be construed 
to require or compel any person to serve in any of the 
forces herein provided for if found to be a member of any 
well-organised religious sect or organisation, at present 
organised and existing, whose creed forbids its members 
to participate in war in any form, and whose religious 
convictions are against war or participation therein in 
accordance with the creed of the said religious organisation." 

It is well said by a writer to the Nation that : 

" Under this clause many sects, which have been 
ruthlessly persecuted in England, will be granted full right 
of exemption the Quakers, for instance. English prisons 
are filled at the moment with the flower of the young 
members of the Society of Friends who have adhered to 
the ancient principles of the Society." 




Army Council's " Grave View " 

IN the House of Commons on July 19, 

Mr. E. HARVEY (L., Leeds) and Mr. J. H. WHITEHOUSE 
(L., Mid-Lanark) asked the Under Secretary for War 
whether he could now state the result of his enquiries into 
the case of James Brightmore, Manchester Regiment, 
who was confined in a pit 12 feet below the level of the 
ground for eleven days and nights in Cleethorpes Camp, 
and for four days of that time obliged to stand ankle-deep 
in mud and water ; and whether, if this form of punish- 
ment is considered excessive and unjust, any redress will 
be given to the man who has suffered it. 

Mr. MACPHERSON : The allegations made are sub- 
stantially correct, I regret to say. ... I would add that 
the Army Council take a grave view of the action of 
the authorities responsible for these irregularities, and are 
considering what further action in the matter will be 

Nofe. Notwithstanding the ill-usage to which Brightmore has 
been subjected, he has been since court-martialled and sentenced to 
two years' hard labour. 



MR. BISHOP; the father of Douglas Bishop (arrested May 2, 
1916) writes : 

" My son, before his last D.C.M. at Tidworth Camp, was 
seen by the R.A.M.C. doctor, who certified him physically 
unfit for a third term of hard labour. He was then sent to 
Tidworth Barracks to be examined by the A.M.B. of three 
doctors there. Two of these agreed with the camp doctor, 
the other dissenting. Despite this, he was court-martialled 
and given two years' hard labour. Unfortunately, the 
notice we get of the exact day and hour of court-martials is 
extremely short, so that the prisoners' friends have no time 
to obtain legal assistance. My unhappy son, weakened in 
mind and body by prison diet, utter loneliness, seclusion, and 
brooding over the thought that he is the victim of an un- 
justly administered law, has broken down both physically 
and mentally. I enclose a copy of his last letter, omitting 
portions purely personal, some of which indicate mental 
aberration : 


" DEAR FATHER, I am writing this letter from the 
hospital, where I came on the 28th of last month, was sent 
to bed, and have not been allowed up since. I have the old 
nerve trouble again, but worse than I had it before. My 
hand is still shaky. I am sending a visiting order, and do 
so hope that some one will be able to come and see me very 
soon. I am given sleeping draughts three times a day. 
Twice, when very restless, I had it four times. ... I have 
in front of me nearly all day long W.'s photo. . . . As to the 
factory, I won't oppose any really good offer, even if the 
plant has to be sold for two-thirds of its value. I still 
believe I have invented the very article that would have 
saved the business. . . . My memory is very bad for some 
things. I have just read one of Victor Hugo's books, and 
can only remember the name of one of the characters. . . . 

When I get released, I want to go out as a free man, because 
I am a genuine Conscientious Objector, and have been 
recognised as such by all the tribunals. ... I will consider 
any scheme for work of really national importance only 
after I am outside the scope of the Military Service Act." 

Mr. Bishop, after his visit to his son, writes thus : 

" He has aged years in the last few months, especially 
since his third D.C.M. His eyes are sunken and have such 
a wild look, and his one despairing cry is, ' When are they 
going to release us ? ' 

With regard to the utter loneliness mentioned above, and 
the prison rule of silence which it would be impossible and 
very undesirable to enforce rigorously, and must be broken 
in practically all prisons in a deceitful and underhand way 
by the convicts, sometimes with the connivance of the 
warders, a Quaker prisoner whose (perhaps over-scrupulous) 
belief in truthfulness is outraged, writes thus to his wife : 

" The very night of thy last visit I was smitten with a 
sense of shame for the habits of concealment, verging on 
deception, which this life seems to force on all of us. For a 
fortnight I wrestled day and night with this feeling of my 
own guilt in respect of untruthfulness, my own in common 
with that of almost all others in every prison in the land. 
It seemed so hard to give up the only outward ways of 
expressing love. And then ten days ago I went and con- 
fessed to the Governor my past sins. I was forgiven, and, 
by the really kind consideration shown to my scruples by 
those in authority, was led to abandon my purpose of taking 
a more extreme course (which would have, e.g., stopped 
this letter) and to bow my head silently beneath this yoke. 
But it has meant my giving up the garden work and K ving 
and working in absolute solitude. That is the only way I 
can be loyal to Truth as things are ; and it is well that 
some one should be doing penance for the moral damage, 
slight though it may be, which I fear nearly all in prison are 
incurring more or less. Now I want thee to beg Mother not 

[86 ] 

to spoil her next visit by combatting (they are too deep- 
seated) my decisions. It is not ' rebellion ' at any rate ! " 

At his first court-martial he had said : 

" My faith in Jesus Christ, my Divine Master, compels 
me to refuse, so far as I reasonably can, to be involved in 
any system of organisation for purposes of human blood- 

" The only weapons of warfare which I feel it right to use 
are moral and spiritual weapons, the protest of outraged 
justice, and the solvent of forgiving love. I recognise how 
far I fall short of this high ideal ; but it is because I am 
trying to approach it, that I cannot recognise a law which 
deems me to be a soldier, or in other words an agent for the 
killing of my brother man." 

When she visited her son, his mother found him emaci- 
ated and pale. He complains of sleeplessness and great 
fatigue, having to get permission to lie down after meals 
and having developed some kidney trouble. If this man, 
a Quaker, a scholar, and a philanthropist, has a fault, it is a 
hypersensitive belief in human goodness. The reader may 
judge who is most to blame for what is happening to this 
innocent victim. 

Printed by R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh. 

The wrong that's unrighted 
Lies down on thy doorstep. 

This book is DUE on thejast date stamped below. 

One dollar <^seVentfi day overdue. 

17 '93