Conscientious Objectors in Liverpool

information researched and submitted by Jeremy Hawthorn

Merseyside Peace Network has a list of WWI Conscientious Objectors from the Liverpool area on their website.



Fenner Brockway

?                      Raid on Labour Leader. Prosecution in private (Echo 24.8.15)

3.4.16              Fenner Brockway convicted in Mansion House Police Court, apparently for an offence under regulation 58 of DORA. Appeals to Quarter Session.

28.6.16            FB loses appeal and is fined £100 by City of London Quarter Sessions. Doesn’t pay and serves 61 day

(Hansard of 3.7.16 – 83 cc 1181)

10.8.16            Philip Snowden MP says in Commons (Hansard 85 cc 1218) that FB’s case has been dismissed by the Stockport Appeal Tribunal although he is in Pentonville prison at the time. Long says he is corresponding with tribunal.

14.9.16            Appears Central Tribunal, is referred to Pelham Central tribunal (WCML database)

26.9.16            Appears Chester (WCML database)

Nov 1916        Arrested, taken to Stockport (WCML database)

2.12.16            CM at Chester for, on 30.11.16, disobeying order by refusing to undress for medical examination. He points out he was assigned to a combatant regiment even though he had been exempted (on appeal from tribunal) from combatant duties (Echo 2.12.16)

5.12.16            Given 112 days imprisonment with hard labour. 5 others receive same sentence, which is announced in a general parade. One of the others says ‘I will be proud to do it, sir’. (Echo 5.12.16). Taken to Wormwood Scrubs(WCML database)

16.1.17            Appears Pelham Central  Tribunal at Wormwood Scrubs. Refuses to accept HOS (WCML database)

24.1.17            Transferred to Wandsworth (WCML database)

9.3.17              Released and immediately detained again (WCML database)

19.3.17            FB and five others sentenced following Court Martial on 14.3.17 at Chester Castle. FB given 2 years hard labour for failing to attend church parade on 11.3.17. Four others given the same, one given 112 days hard labour. (Echo 19.3.17)

The Tribunal of 6.9.17 reports that his release was delayed as he broke prison regulations by circulating material (the Walton Leader): issue no.39 was found by prison staff (two or three issues came out each week)

31.8.17            Disobeys order by not turning out on church parade. (Has therefore been released from prison a day or two before then)

5.9.17              Court Martial at Chester for disobeying order to turn out on parade on 31.8.17. He declines to plead. He reads a statement saying this was the third time he is Court Martialled. Sentence to be passed in due course. (Echo 5.9.17, Tribunal 13.9.17)  

?                      Sentenced to two years imprisonment (Echo 11.9.17)

12.8.18            Transferred to Lincoln (WCML database)


Other CO’s

NCF members list includes Liverpool members J Percy Dawson, R F Roberts, John Henry Comaish, JW Thomas, H McKenzie – the list bears no date but has a list of subs received as at 2.2.15. (WCML NCF boxes)

Delegate list for NCF National Convention of 29/30.11.1919 includes Liverpool members A Mann, SW Jones, S Silverman, AM Laing, T Lowes, W H Eden, KB Tinkler, N R Tinkler, A Tinkler  (WCML NCF boxes)


23.1.18            Mr King to ask Home Secretary if he knows Joseph Elliott, CO in Walton prison, has lost 4 stone in weight and the governor has not allowed him the recreation recently ordered for CO’s.(This question appears in Hansard of 24 January – 101 cc 1135-6 - where he is told that inquiries are being made)

20.2.18            Mr Snowden asks in Commons about the condition of a CO in Lord Derby’s centre in Warrington who has been force-fed for 12 months (Hansard has this too – 103 cc 715))

Hansard 5.3.18 (103 cc 1857) – Philip Snowden asks about a CO in Liverpool prison said to be in serious physical condition. Home Secretary Cave says the prisoner is fit.

Hansard 5.11.18 (110 cc 1901) – Snowden raises question about two CO’s in Liverpool prison

Hansard 11.3.19 (113 cc 1119W) Wedgwood raises question about one CO in Liverpool prison


Quaker sources refer to a Henry W Eden, a CO in WW1, a founder member of PPU in Liverpool and member of FOR


8.5.16              Eight CO’s appear at Wigan police court (Liverpool Courier 9.5.16)

31.3.16            Ernest Everett appears at Liverpool MC for failing to answer call-up on 30.3.16. He is fined and handed over to the military (Echo 31.3.16)

3.5.16              Andrew White and Allan Laing arrested for distributing NCF leaflets door-to-door in Liverpool, leaflets that referred to the two-year sentence imposed on Ernest Everett.

10.5.16            They are convicted by Liverpool magistrates of a) distributing leaflets likely to prejudice recruiting or discipline of the armed forces; b) possessing statements contravening DORA. Sentenced to one month in prison for the first offence, discharged with a caution on the second. (Liverpool Courier 11.5.16, Echo 10.5.16)

28.8.17            Albert Mann, Hon Sec of Liverpool Peace Society, is released from a three-month sentence as a CO and is immediately detained again by the military (Echo 29.8.17)

13.10.16          Charles Dukes, George Benson and George Beardsworth tell Birkenhead court-martial of systematic army brutality.

21.10.16          These three and four others (Jackson, Hopkins, Bodle? Slade) are sentenced to two years hard labour. A War Office inquiry is to be held ‘in the next few days’.

13.12.16          Four soldiers are court-martialled but the injured CO’s decline to give evidence.

14.12.16          The case against the soldiers is found ‘not proved’. (Liverpool Echo of these dates, Liverpool Daily Post 23.10.16)

13.1.17            Beardsworth and Dukes Court Martialled for refusing to give evidence. Acquitted. (Tribunal 18.1.17)

27.3.16            First CO case before Bootle tribunal. On this day the Liverpool Lord Mayor says he will not receive letters concerning CO tribunal cases (Liverpool Echo of this date)

28.2.16            First Southport CO tribunal cases. Cases also at Wallasey. (Liverpool Echo of this date)


February 1918 Recent releases of COs include Charles Black of Liverpool (Tribunal 14.2.18)

11.9.42            Ralph Gordon, 19 and Thomas Steen, 20, refuse medical examination and given 6 months hard labour (Echo 11.9.42)

12.7.56            Bernard Leake, 23, is fined £25 (or three months) for failing to comply with a condition of his registration as a CO. He registered as CO in 1950; on 20.8.55 a Manchester tribunal decided he should take a job in a hospital or in forestry. Decision upheld on appeal. In March 1956 he was directed to join the Forestry Commission in Scotland. Refused as is a Quaker. Geologist, has PhD and is researching at Liverpool University. Begins three month sentence on 18.8.56 (Echo 12.7.56, material in WCML ‘Conscription’ box)

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