QUOTE (Dunc @ Fri, 31 Dec 2004 19:49:55 +0000)
I'm new to the forum and spotted your potentially very helpful reply. Can you tell me:
Did the Quakers keep records for all conscientious objectors who were imprisoned, or just for their own members?
Did their records include Scotland?
Any other ideas for researching a "Red Clydesider" who went to jail rather than the Western Front?
Many thanks, and Happy New Year!
Thanks for your query, and welcome to the forum.
Quakers kept records for all Conscientious Objector's, both the "Absolutists", who were imprisoned, and the "Alternativists" who were in camps doing work of national importance, building roads, growing food etc. This was the work of the "Visitation of Prisoner's Committee".
It didn't matter which religion the men belonged to. In fact, a lot of men in prison were claiming to be Quakers, even though they were not members of the Society of Friends. This was because they believed in peace, and felt let down by their own denominations support for the war, and the failure of their own religions anti-war bodies. For example, the Catholic "Guild of the Pope's Peace", IIRC this Catholic anti-war body had a membership of less than ten!
Also, more Quakers than is realised actually fought, although most of these were "birthright" members - people born into a family of Quaker origin who had never, or rarely, attended SoF services themselves. Some of these people went out of their way to join a war that they could so easily have avoided. For example, the son of one prominent Sussex Quaker family left his teaching job in Brazil and travelled home to become an officer in the British Army.
As far as I know the Quakers didn't keep records of "Starred Men" (men directed into work of national importance) or those men who actually joined the forces, chiefly in the RAMC. A lot of these "Starred Men" were actually disowned by the Conscientious Objectors. In particular the Christadelphians who were happy to make munitions.
However, in the case of men of military age who were members of the Society of Friends, records were kept, no matter what the man did. Every Quaker meeting returned details of what its men were doing - in the army, with the FAU, still at home etc etc. Details such as unit and number and where serving were recorded. Also, what had become of the men on active service "last seen entering the German line with fixed bayonet" etc. These records are also held in London, although I can't remember what they are called exactly.
As far as I am aware Scottish Pacifists would have been recorded by the Quakers. I have studied men from Sussex, and some of them actually ended up in prison in Edinburgh - Calton (sp?) Gaol. Scots and English prisoners were mixed together within the prison system. A Brighton man mentions having a friend in jail called Bob Stewart, from Dundee.
Re: Clydeside in particular, it would probably be a good idea to look into the well known names such as Willy Gallagher, John Wheatley, James Maxton, Davie Kirkwood and Emanuel Shinwell. Some would have been COs, and will be picked up in the Quaker records. Even those who were not actually COs will probably have mentioned it in their writing.
Hope this helps.