Tribunal Reports

Derbyshire Times March 11th 1916


On “Religious and Moral Grounds”

Dronfield’s first conscientious objector under the Military Service Act appeared before the Local Tribunal on Wednesday and applied for absolute exemption from both combatant and non-combatant military duties. Harold Edees, the objector in question, is a filler and trammer in a coal pit, and said his reasons were founded on religious and moral grounds.

Dr. Barber (The Chairman): You don’t believe in fighting at all?

Edees: No

Dr. Barber: Wouldn’t you defend yourself in any way if somebody attacked you?

Edees: I don’t know. It depends what they did.

Dr. Barber: You might be roused to fight?

Edees: I should go off on the spur of the moment then, but if folks let me alone, I shall let them alone.

Dr. Barber: If anybody attacked your sisters, would you defend them?

Edees: Certainly. But I should not strike any blows.

Dr. Barber: How would you defend them?

Edees: I don’t know. They have not been molested yet.

Dr. Barber: You prefer to let your neighbours go and fight for your country.

Edees: As far as that goes, I have not got any country yet.

Dr. Barber: Haven’t you got any privileges and rights?

Edees: I dare say I have, but I have not any wrongs as far as that goes.

Dr. Barber: But you would appeal to the law for redress if you had any wrong?

Edees: That is what the law is for.

Dr. Barber: But you won’t fight for your King and country?

Edees: I do not believe in the King.

Dr. Barber: Still you take advantage of the law of the country to defend yourself?

Edees: The laws are made for that purpose but as far as the King goes I can’t see what good he is doing.

Dr.barber: I think I should be ashamed to make that acknowledgement.

Edees: I am not.

Dr. Barber: You have been brought up with all the privileges of the country, such as free education.

Edees: Well, I think I am doing my duty towards my country. I am a collier and you can’t do without coal.

Dr. Barber: Oh! But you are not claiming exemption on that ground.

Edees: I have a conscientious objection to undertake military duty of any kind.

Dr. Barber: It may be so, but it seems to me a poor return for what the country has done for you if you are not prepared to defend her now in her hour of direst need.

Edees: I think this much about the country: if this War had not been on I should not have been in the country.

Mr. H. M. Evans (The Clerk): It is a pity you were stopped.

Edees: It is.

Dr. Barber: Would you resist the Germans if they came into the country?

Edees: No

Dr. Barber proposed that the claim for exemption be absolutely refused and the other members agreed.


Long Eaton Advertiser 10th March 1916

The Long Eaton tribunal met in Zion Hall on Wednesday afternoon under the presidency of Mr. J. Crewe

A case which appeared to arouse some interest among the audience was that in which J.W. Shipstone, Lime-grove, appealed for absolute exemption, he not being able to undertake non-combatant service.

As a Christian and International Socialist he believed that war was absolutely wrong, and he was not prepared to participate directly or indirectly. He believed that they could not end war by indulging in war. War produced war (Applause). His position was unpopular, he knew, so was Christ’s.  He believed the fundamental doctrine of Christianity was the fatherhood of God, and he was prepared to adhere to that whatever the consequences might be.  He also believed in the solidarity of the human race and he could not inflict death. The only way to end the horrible war was for an increasing consciousness of international brotherhood throughout the world, a Christianised education and an international socialist doctrine. He could not undertake Red Cross work, because he would only be helping to assist wounded soldiers, in order that they might return to the firing line to indulge further in the terrible orgy of death. Neither did he agree to his occupation being made a condition of exemption.

Questioned further, Mr. Shipstone said he had the greatest sympathy with his German brothers. They were human just as Englishmen.

Councillor Locker: You are still prepared to have all the privileges which are being maintained by the army and navy.

Mr. Shipstone: I don’t ask for protection.

Col. Mosley: You live for yourself alone – No I live for my fellow men.

You are not willing to fight for yourself or relatives?–No I am not willing to take life or shed blood.

If the Germans come here you would be willing to let them kill you?– Yes

Applicant said if the tribunal did not grant his appeal he would be prepared to suffer any penalty.

Result: Non combatant service.

Long Eaton Advertiser, March 31st 1916

 Long Eaton Conscientious Objectors


Long Eaton conscientious objectors attended at the County Hall Derby, to appeal against the decisions of the Local Tribunal.  Mr. St John Raikes presided and he was accompanied by Messers C.H. Crompton, A.W. Shentall and Councillor J. Bennett. Col Godfrey Mosley was also present.

Similar arguments to those advanced at Long Eaton were again put forward, but in every case with the exception of one the ruling of Councillor J. Crewe and his colleagues were upheld.


Deep-rooted convictions were advanced by J. Wm. Shipstone, who also  registered a protest against the dogmatic statements of the military representative at the Long Eaton Tribunal. He could not accept the responsibility of inflicting death, injury or bloodshed on any human personality, neither could he accept non-combatant service.

Chairman: Do you realise that you are shielding yourself no only behind the non- combatant, but also behind the combatant men?

I don’t admit I am shielding myself behind anybody. I stand by my conscientious objection to war.

“The only thing that stands between you and whatever our enemies care to inflict upon you are our men at the front. They are protecting you, and I suggest you are shielding yourself behind them”

“I am not shielding myself. I don’t desire it”.

Which would you sooner abolish – The German or the English?

I make no distinction in the national human race.

You would be quite willing to preach to the Germans as to the English? – Yes to anybody.

If you were the only one aliveyou would go to Germany and preach to them on how to behave? – I should consider it my duty.

You seem to think your own view is the one that should prevail. – It is my individual view. I am claiming on Christian grounds. I hope you understand that.

Chairman: You have the happy blend of the two opinions. If you cannot gain exemption as a Socialist you would like to be excused as a Christian.

In reply to Col. Mosley, Shipstone said if he became a German subject he would not fight.

Chairman: The appeal is disallowed.

Applicant: May I have a form to make an appeal? – Yes

James William Shipstone

 Born 5th February 1890 at Eastwood, Notts

Father: James – sewing machine agent

Mother: Charlotte (Clara)

First of at least 8 children living at 26 Derby Rd, Long Eaton

Worked as lace manufacturers clerk

Aged 25 in 1916 when assigned to Labour corps – non-combatant corps following tribunal at Long Eaton (25.8.16)

  • refused medical examination

24.6.16 Arrested awaiting trial– sentenced to 56 days without hard labour in Derby prison

23.8.16 Return to duty  – posted recalled to military service from furlough (presumably euphemisms) Absent without leave until arrested by civil police – forfeited 7 days pay. (probably sent straight back to prison)

31.3.17 released

31.3.17 Committed to detention for refusing to obey an order. Sentenced at Leicester to one year without hard labour

(end of available record)

Died aged 84 at Basford, Notts


 William Holland, who styled himself an International Socialist, was asked by the Chairman if he would like to go to Germany and preach his doctrines.

They won’t tell it in England, never mind Germany,  he replied.

He was proceeding to make some statement with respect to the federation of nations,  when the Chairman interrupted “We cannot listen to anything about the federation of nations.”.

The application was dismissed.

Permission to appeal to the Central Tribunal was also disallowed. The applicant asked the Clerk for a form but that gentleman declined to furnish the necessary document.

“Do you seriously suggest that if a small man came and ‘scrubbed’ your nose in the gutter you would offer no objection?” asked the Chairman when J.W. Smith, a strapping fellow, stepped forward.

Do you think it would do any good?” Smith enquired.

“You would tell him to scrub th other side, I suppose” remarked Mr. Raikes.

No answer was forthcoming, and after Smith who, by the way, said he believed in arbitration, informed the military representative that he did not believe in punishing criminals, the appeal was disallowed.

Chairman: You have the happy blend of the two opinions. If you cannot gain exemption as a Socialist you would like to be excused as a Christian.

In reply to Col. Mosley, Shipstone said if he became a German subject he would not fight.

Chairman: The appeal is disallowed.

Applicant: May I have a form to make an appeal? – Yes

William A Holland

 William: born 1897 at Long Eaton

Father: George, a lace manufacturer born in Gotham

Mother: Elizabeth, born in Ireland


Wm Hexter wrote stating that the members of the Long Eaton Tribunal were prejudiced against all conscientious objectors.

Appellant did not appear and the appeal was promptly dismissed.

Claud Hopkinson, recommended for non-combatant service by the Long Eaton Tribunal, now appealed against this decision stating that no matter what the consequences might be he could not accept.

The Chairman: Have you any objection to serving in a non-combatant unit? – Yes, I have.

Will you give some reason why you should not assist your country at a time when she wants your services? – It depends what it is.

The Chairman: I said non-combatant service. – I cannot serve in that.

Appeal disallowed.

Appellant: Can I make a further appeal?

The Chairman: No we don’t give you permission to appeal. There is no question of principle.


Richard Barry, who described himself as a Socialist, protested against the unfair treatment of the Long Eaton tribunal and asked for absolute exemption.

Col Morley: You don’t belong to any religious body? – No

You are simply one of these Socialists. How long have you been one? – Five years.

Are the tenets of Socialism strong in Long Eaton? – The tenets of the ILP have always been to the fore.

You are a member of the ILP? – I stand by my principles when the testing time comes.

Chairman: I think that will do Col. Morley. You have brought out his beliefs. They are not conscientious.

Claim disallowed.

Applicant: May I have a form?– No

Long Eaton Advertiser

Letter to Editor 17th March 1916



To the Editor

Dear Sir – I attended the Tribunal last week, and never in my life have I been so ashamed as on that afternoon.

Zion Hall was “packed” for the occasion by irresponsibly citizens who to all appearances were present for the purpose of deliberately goading our young men to defy the law.

How long are we going to tolerate such behaviour? I for one hope the town will become too hot for these sanctimonious, self-appointed, peace loving citizens, who rarely if ever help a little dog over a stile. – Yours truly RATEPAYER


To the Editor

Dear Sir – As a reader of ‘the Advertiser’ may I express my appreciation of your usually fair and unbiased reports, but in  reading the accounts of last week’s sittings of the Local Tribunal I felt you were scarcely fair to the conscientious objectors re the Tribunal recommendation for non-combatant service.

You omitted to report that in most of the cases, appellants signified their unwillingness to accept the decision of the court and expressed their intention to carry their applications to the Appeals Tribunal. …The real conscientious objector is prepared to suffer any penalties that may be imposed upon him rather than violate that which he treasured most.

….. To say the least, these men have the courage of the convictions……

Yours etc. Ted Draycott


To the Editor

Sir, – ….when we find members of the Primitive Church claiming exemption because they are Quakers, I believe they are ‘miserable makeshifts’ to escape their duty……….

But the most startling claim of all is that of the individual who claimed exemption because he was an International Socialist …..If there is any truth in the saying ‘He that is not with us is against us’ then we know where these individuals stand…..

Yours etc. C LOXTON, Wellington St Long Eaton

Dear Sir,  – Conscientious  Objectors forsooth!

These men, Mr. Editor, are becoming a menace and their canting twaddle, boasting of what they will and will not do, is enough to make even a donkey turn in its grave.

Without raising a finger, these conscientious objectors, snivelling cowards openly declare that they would permit the Germans to enter Long Eaton, murder our children, and violate our wives and sisters. According to their own confession they might with their oily tongues approach their German brothers with ‘I pay thee don’t do that, dear brother’. How nice, how pretty and how consoling for the poor helpless women whose husbands and brothers are facing death day by day, for these miserable objects of humanity whose selfishness is a disgrace to the town to which they belong.

As ‘John Bull’ says: ‘It was never intended when the Military Service Bill was passed, that the coward by prating about Christianity and snivelling about the crime of killing, was to escape his duty as a citizen while brave men were snatched from real responsibilitiesto parent and wife to fight the battles for these traitors and cravens. Yours, etc. SOLDIER

Long Eaton Advertiser

Letter to Editor 24th March 1916

 Sir – Your correspondence column last week contained a letter signed by C. Loxton. As one who has worked side by side with him in the trade union movement, I fail to see where this war is taking him.

………….. Now, Mr. Editor, the strongest manifestation of this truth lies in what man calls conscience, an innate sense of right and wrong, which neither reason, nor man-made law can affect. As the tribunals have no innate sense of right and wrong it is time the Government shut them up.


To the Editor

Dear Sir, It is to be hoped that the reports of the Breaston conscientious objection cases will not lead the public to take a one-sided and unfair view of them.

In a Court of Justice a judge is appointed, whose duties are to see that the case is conducted impartially as between both parties.  Now in this instance we have a young man totally inexperienced in such matters , faced by the tribunal of seven or eight men with the military representative, who I should think had never read either the Military Service Act, or Mr. Long’s most admirable and very explicit instructions. First one, then the other plied the unfortunate applicant with questions altogether irrelevant to his claim. Mr. Bonar Law in the House, said “that it was not a case of Church or Chapel but for the man’s individual conscience.” Evidently the Chairman did not take this view, for he asked and pressed the applicant with irrelevant and meaningless questions as to the doctrines of the United Methodist Church, and on the applicant protesting he was met by the chairman who said: “Answer my question, Yes or No” Other questions were “Could you kill an animal? Are you a vegetarian? How much money do you get a week?”  On the applicant hesitating, as no wonder he should, he was met with the remark “Ah, you cannot answer that, you have not been prompted,” and nearly every last question, a fitting conclusion to the others, was “Are you short of pluck?”

Now of the sincerity of these two young men I am absolutely certain as I am of my own existence. From beginning to end of the proceedings not the slightest consideration was shown to them, and therefore the applicants had no real opportunity of proving their claim. The Chairman asks “What have you done to publish your beliefs?” Well they do not get on the housetops, but better than that, they have published them by their whole life lived in consistency with the beliefs and convictions  which they have always held.

Apparently the tribunal consisted of only the Chairman and Military Representative, the rest, who included a Labour representative, were silently acquiescent or else indifferent.

Yours truly,


Long Eaton Road



The Buxton Advertiser April 1916

 Tribunal report

Conscientious Objectors

The next applicant, aged 24, applied for absolute exemption as a conscientious objector. He had been a conscientious objector ever since he had been able to form any opinion at all. He had always held strong views against war.

The Chairman: Many of us hold strong views against war, don’t we?     –Yes

In reply to further questions by the Chairman, applicant said he did not belong to any religious denomination at present, but he held similar views to Quakers.

You absolutely object to fighting in any form?   – Yes

In self -defence or any form?    – Yes

You would not defend yourself?    – I would defend myself but I would not use any arms.

You would use your fists?   – Anything I felt right to do under the circumstances.

You would defend yourself and your family?  – Yes, to the best of my ability, but I feel there is no reason to be in the army to do it.

In reply to Dr. Buckley, applicant said he was a director of a Company of metal merchants in Manchester.

Of course, the metal trade has undoubtedly benefited through the war?  – It may be so, but it is a thing we can’t avoid.They were only supplying their ordinary customers that they had supplied for 20 or 30 years. They had refused other work in connection with the war. He did not object to save life, but he felt there was no need to be in the army at all.

I suppose you would object to go mine sweeping?  – I realise that in mine sweeping you are not only helping to save life, but you are helping to destroy other lives. If I go mine sweeping and our own mines are swept as well then I should not have any objection.

By the Chairman: He objected to any form of service under military control.

Dr. Buckley: Why?  – Because it takes away freedom of conscience.

Mr. Oram:Are you aware that if it were not for military control you would not have that freedom? Has it ever appealed to you in that way?  –  I have not looked at it like that.

Do you think you would be well off under the Germans?  – I think they have done wrong, and I abhor all their misdeed, but I take no part in it, and have not wished to take any part in it.

You think it wrong to attempt to stop the Germans coming here and ruling over us?  –  If everyone held to the same views as I do, there would not be any war at all. He was a believer in the Almighty and the Old Testament.

Mr. Master:  I think you left one church on account of their views on the war?   – Yes

You know that other people left the church having a contrary view? – Yes, I quite admit that. I could not agree with the views that were expressed in the church and therefore I felt bound to leave.

It is only a matter of one opinion against another! – Quite so.

I think you recognise that is there were not someone to fight for us we should fare very badly. Take, for instance, breakfast this morning: we should not have had sugar from America and bacon from Denmark. If it had not been for our boys fighting we should have stood a poor chance. You have no objection to those boys fighting? – They have gone out of their own free-will.

Those boys have gone out to defend our shores and you won’t go out? – I have a very strong conscientious objection to all wars.

The story of the Good Samaritan was introduced and the rendering of first aid was mentioned, and applicant said he was quite ready to do anything he could in a civilian way, but he objected to service at all, even non-combatant.

Would you go out with the R.A.M.C.?  – Oh, no.

Would you not help these fellows who are protecting our shores at all?  – It is just a question of opinion. If they have done right, I honour them for doing it, but I can’t take that view at all.

Mr. Hampson: You believe in the Good Samaritan but acting on your own judgment.  You give credit to the Good Samaritan but don’t see that you should be compelled to do what he did?  – Quite so. There is a difference.

Mr. Slater: It is a very fine definition.

Dr. Buckley: Would you join as a non-combatant?  – No.

Why?  – Because I should be directly helping in the war.

You recognise that all single men shall serve?  – No.

The Chairman: It is the law of the land!  – It is the law of the land. It also gives provision in the Act that where a man has a conscientious objection he can claim objection.

Mr. Slater: The Tribunal here has the sole power and you have to convince it.

Dr. Buckley: He objected to serve in any capacity whatever although it was the law.

Applicant added: “My whole point is under military control.”  That was his real objection.

Mr. Oram: Suppose there were a riot and you were asked to assist in quelling the riot would you assist those under the civil Government?  – I should not feel justified in taking life under any circumstances. I should give all the assistance I possibly could as a civilian.

Dr. Buckley: If it were possible for you to join the Police Force you would have an objection?   – Yes, I should feel I was representing a man, and was doing the work he was not doing himself.

Dr. Buckley: The question of our having a Navy or no Navy did not affect the question of Germany going to war with Russia? – I could not answer that question at all.

Mr. Slater: You don’t believe in rendering  unto Caesar that things that are Caesar’s?  –I believe in it as law in order for proper Government.

But you don’t give whole hearted assent to that as the law of the land! – Certainly, for the common good.

Mr Slater: I take it, it is for the common good you object.

The Chairman: You honour the men that are fighting now, but you are not prepared to fight yourself, is that it?   –  Yes, sir.

Arthur Vickery  (age 22 in 1916)

Temple Road, Buxton, Derbyshire,  East Midlands           Date of birth  15.6.1893

Single   Metal merchant’s traveller/secretary, family firm


Buxton  and Derbyshire County Appeal 15.5.16  – granted ECS conditional on his continuing to serve with the Friends Ambulance Unit in France

Friends Ambulance Unit 8.1.16, to Jan. 1919. To France, Dunkirk, 17.3.16. Left France to demobilisation  18.1.19

The Tribunal retired to consider their decision. Upon returning the Chairman said the application was not assented to.

The next applicant was the brother of the last one, and he wore the uniform of the Friends Ambulance Unit.  He applied for absolute exemption.

The Chairman: On what ground? You have listened to what your brother has had to say?   –  On the same ground.

You are in the Friends Ambulance Unit, and is it your intention to go to France?   – On Friday. They would grant us a private unit, and not under the control of the Government. He was under no obligation to obey the officers.

Under who?  –  Our own officer.

He has to obey the Government officers or he would be sent back pretty quickly. Would he not?  – There is an understanding between them. The whole point is that it is a voluntary thing. If any question comes up which our conscience won’t allow us to do, I am perfectly ready to resign. There is a definite arrangement being made with the war office. Some days we are allowed to help civilians, to help anybody.

Mr. Oram: I think the R.A.M.C. have done a great deal towards helping civilians both in Belgium and France? – It is a recognised part of our work.

Dr. Buckley: Is a uniform compulsory in your work? – I think it is.

I should personally feel that a conscientious objector would be rather slighted myself.

Applicant: I don’t think so.

Dr. Buckley: You admit you are under military law?  – Yes.

Suppose you were going along the road in France or any other land and an artillery officer and he had got his gun in a ditch and could not get it out. If he called upon you to help him you would refuse to do so?   –  Yes

Mr. Oram: Suppose you were helping him to save lives, the lives of Englishmen, would you do it?  –  No.

The Chairman: Not if they told you they would put you in the ditch?  – No.

(Unreadable section)

Applicant: I am claiming exemption under the provisions of the Act. I understand that absolute exemption can be claimed.

Mr. Slater: That depends upon your Tribunal. This Tribunal is the only Authority that has power to decide this. They have got the full power.

James Vickery  (age 25 in 1916)

Temple Road,  Buxton,  Derbyshire,   East Midlands

Date of birth  15.12.1891               Single   Director, Metal merchants, family firm


Buxton  and Derbyshire County Appeal 15.5.16 – granted ECS conditional onserving in the Friends Ambulance Service

In the Friends Ambulance Unit from 27.6.16 to Dec. 1918. King George Hospital. Indefinite leave 5.12.16.Burnham Beeches; Uffculme Hospital, Birmingham. Demobbed 31.12.18

The Tribunal retired to consider their decision. Upon returning the Chairman said the application was not assented to.

The Chairman: We will take the other case.

A young man of 19 who lives in Buxton employed in a drapery counting house in Manchester, applied for total exemption on the same grounds.

The Chairman: Do you belong to any religious body? – The Plymouth Brethren.

And that is their doctrine, that you must not fight, is it?  –  Yes

Why?  – God says “Vengeance is mine.”

You are not prepared to defend yourself, your country, your mother, or your own honour?  – I don’t consider it my honour to fight.

Mr. Slater: Did not the Master say “If you have not a sword sell a garment and buy one?” What did he want it for?

Witness: It was God’s people that were fighting.

Mr. Oram: Are we not God’s people? What you mean to say is that it is only the Plymouth Brethren the Almighty considers?

Applicant: In God’s sight we are all sinners.

Mr. Oram: I believe so.

Mr. Slater: You believe in the Bible?  – Certainly. I believe this, that it is wrong for you to fight.

The Chairman: Have you any sisters?  – No

Any cousins?  – Yes

You have heard of the atrocities?  – Yes

Awful are they not?   – Yes

Suppose the Germans or the Austrians or any of the blackguardly lot were attempting to violate your cousin what would you do? – I should do nothing in the matter at all.

You would let them violate her! You have a mother? – Yes. If I don’t wish to kill I am assisting someone else who is killing.

Dr. Buckley: Your occupation is one to make money. – Yes, I am bound to work.

To save your life?  – Yes That is the only thing I need to ask for. I object to taking part in anything in the war.

The Chairman: Do you think the men that are defending this country are doing their duty?  –  I can’t speak for their consciences.

 Tribuanl recommended him for non-combatant service.