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Posts Tagged ‘pacifism’

During World War One, the National Council Against Conscription was established in response to the Military Service Bills of 1916, which introduced conscription for men between 18 and 40. The Council opposed conscription as an infringement on civil liberties and campaigned against the bill seeking to stop it passing through Parliament. The Council was one of many groups operating at the time, such as The No-Conscription Fellowship, and these groups monitored the work of the military tribunals and gave advice to the men who appeared before them. The Council changed its name in 1916 to The National Council for Civil Liberties (n.b. there was another organisation with the same name from the early 1930s and which became Liberty, as it is known today).

There was a branch in Aberdeen and William Davidson, a stores porter, Vice President of the Aberdeen Independent Labour Party, was secretary.

References: Conscientious Objectors Register 1914 – 1918 at Imperial War Museum website (record of William Davidson).

Sources: unknown.

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Dyce Camp was set up in August 1916 to house around 250 conscientious objectors who had been in prison for refusing to fight in World War One. The men were put to work breaking up granite rock for use in road building. The camp was tented, with basic facilities, and soon after arriving one man died of pneumonia. After a public outcry and a debate in Parliament, the camp was closed down in October 1916.

Soon after arrival at the camp, the men had quickly formed into the Dyce Quarry Camp Committee, who campaigned about their conditions in the camp, stating that the camp was not in readiness to receive, and that there was a major lack of medical attention. To publicise their campaign the Committee published their own news-sheet, The Granite Echo, edited and published by one of the Committee, Guy Aldred (1886 – 1963). Aldred, was an author and publisher (The Bakunin Press), and an anarchist communist. He lived in Glasgow, was part of the Glasgow anarchists, and wrote and edited numerous anarchist periodicals and pamphlets.

Related entries: World War Two conscientious objectors.

References: The Granite Echo: Organ of the Dyce C.O.’s (2 issues 1916, issue 1 sourced online) and Dyce Work Camp, Conscientious Objectors and Public Opinion in North-East Scotland 1916: A Documentary History (Joyce Walker, 2011).

Sources: The Granite Echo: Organ of the Dyce C.O.’s (2 issues 1916) (British Library)

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Isabella Fyvie Mayo was born in London in 1843. Her family were originally from Aberdeen, and after being widowed, in 1878, she moved to Aberdeen, staying there until her death in 1914. She was first and foremost a published novelist writing under the pen-name Edward Garrett, yet she was also an activist involved in numerous causes.

She was founder member of the Aberdeen branch of the Anti-Vivisection League (1906), starting and editing an Aberdeen (later Scottish) newsletter called ‘Our Fellow Mortals’. In 1893 she co-founded an anti-racism organisation called the (later ‘International’) Society for the Recognition of the Brotherhood of Man (1893 – 1897). This Society was inaugurated in Aberdeen with meetings addressed by African-American Ida B. Wells on the lynching of blacks in America. Mayo was President and contributed to the management of the society’s organ ‘Fraternity’. The Aberdeen branch was very active and other individuals invited to Aberdeen included West Indian proto-anti-imperialist Celestine Edwards, African American ex-Senator J. Green and future pan-Africanist J.E. Casely-Hayford. She was also temporary Secretary of the Aberdeen Ladies’ Educational Association.

She spoke at meetings of the Aberdeen EIS, Aberdeen Trades Union Council, at a Stop-the-War meeting in 1900 and at Women’s Social and Political Union Suffrage meetings in 1907. She often took to the platform recruiting members to join unions, talking on socialism and anti-imperialism, and on one occasion chaired a concert in aid of striking operative engineers. She moved in political circles, being friends with William Diack of the Social Democratic Federation and various Aberdeen trades council members. In 1894 she was the first woman elected to the Aberdeen School Board and did so supported by the male working class Aberdeen Trades Union Council.

From the 1890s she promoted Leo Tolstoy who had begun to write on religious, ethical and political themes and she considered herself a Tolstoyan anarchist – seeking to promote social revolution through the peaceful process of personal reformation. She also corresponded with Mahatma Gandhi from 1910, publicising his passive-resistance campaign against colonial racism.

References:  ‘A notable personality’: Isabella Fyvie Mayo in the public and private sphere of Aberdeen (Lindy Moore, Women’s History Review, 2013) and Recollections of What I Saw, What I Lived Through, and What I Learned, during more than Fifty Years of Social and Literary Experience (Isabella Fyvie Mayo, London, 1910).

Sources: unknown

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CND was founded nationally in 1957 with Scottish CND founded in 1958. CND has always drawn on a varied membership ranging from Christian pacifists, moderate Labour through to the Communist Party and more radical groups such as anarchists.

There was a University of Aberdeen Society, active by 1959, and in the early days travelled to demos in Aldermaston, Glasgow and Holy Loch. It would appear that the University society was also dormant for parts of the 1970s (between c.1970 and 1978).

There was also an Aberdeen Branch active at the very beginning and there was also a youth wing (YCND) which formed about 1963. There were also at certain periods a number of local branches across the north east.

Related entries: Aberdeen Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

References: University Freshers’ magazines.

Sources: unknown. A couple of items as part of Mary Esslemont’s (physician and local member of Aberdeen CND) papers (1960 – 1979) are held at University of Aberdeen Library. The national CND records are held across the British Library of Political and Economic Science and the Modern Records Centre at Warwick University. Some Scottish material is held at Glasgow Mitchell Library.

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A University of Aberdeen society which advertised in the 1952 and 1953 Freshers’ magazines.

References: University Freshers’ magazines.

Sources: unknown.

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The British Withdrawal from Northern Ireland Campaign (BWNIC) was a national campaign formed in 1973, that sprang from the peace movement, centred around Peace News and mostly being members of the Peace Pledge Union. The group circulated a leaflet ‘Some Information for Discontented Soldiers’, which led to a notable court case. There was a BWNIC Defence Group in Aberdeen, who circulated leaflets and collected money in order to fight the court case. The contact group was like for many local groups, Aberdeen People’s Press.

References: Aberdeen People’s Press.

Sources: there are copies of some printed material as part of Aberdeen Peoples Press archive at University of Aberdeen Library.

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A University of Aberdeen Society which appears in the 1987 Freshers’ magazine. The Society aimed to highlight repression in Ireland and campaigned on plastic bullets, strip searching and sectarian discrimination in housing and employment. The Society saw the main cause of the repression was the British military and political presence there.

References: University Freshers’ magazines.

Sources: unknown.

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