Pupils re­search war ob­jec­tors

Macclesfield Express - - SCHOOLS NEWS -

YOUNG his­to­ri­ans from The King’s Girls’ Divi­sion have been learn­ing about Mac­cles­field men who re­fused to take part in the world wars.

The Year Nine pupils have signed up for a vol­un­tary af­ter school project to dis­cover more about con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors.

In part­ner­ship with lo­cal his­tory so­ci­ety Mac­cles­field Re­flects and lo­cal Quaker groups, King’s his­tory teacher Lianne Hughes un­earthed the names of the men who re­fused to fight and had a suc­ces­sion of white feath­ers handed out to them 100 years ago in the streets of the old town.

Lianne Hughes said: “Be­cause of Mac­cles­field’s strong Quaker con­nec­tions, the town had a rel­a­tively large num­ber of con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors, some 200 men who re­fused to serve.

“Nor­mally we might not know much about these men, but the lo­cal news­pa­pers cov­ered all court pro­ceed­ings in de­tail and named and shamed all the men, even giv­ing out their ad­dresses for public con­sump­tion.”

She added: “Mac­cles­field has an in­cred­i­bly rich so­cial, in­dus­trial and po­lit­i­cal his­tory with so many dif­fer­ent in­flu­ences shap­ing our her­itage and it has been fas­ci­nat­ing for our girls to work with Mac­cles­field Re­flects on dis­cov­er­ing more of those per­sonal de­tails.”

Dur­ing the re­search the stu­dents learned about John Moxon Nes­bitt, who ap­peared be­fore the Mac­cles­field Tri­bunal Court sev­eral times.

He was em­ployed as the Mac­cles­field re­liev­ing of­fi­cer (mak­ing ‘re­lief’ pay­ments to the poor) and was also tem­po­rary Reg­is­trar.

The re­port of his first tri­bunal ap­pear­ance, which took place in 1916, took up al­most two full col­umns of the Mac­cles­field Times the fol­low­ing day.

He was ex­empted from com­bat­ant ser­vice, re­ferred to the na­tional Pel­ham Com­mit­tee, to be given suit­able em­ploy­ment, and worked for some time in 1916 on a farm near Pott Shrigley.

King’s stu­dent Han­nah Robinson, 13, said: “John Nes­bitt had a re­spected po­si­tion in the com­mu­nity and had four brothers all of whom served in the mil­i­tary, one dy­ing on the bat­tle­field in Ypres, so I sup­pose it must have been a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion.”

Fel­low King’s stu­dent Ellen McQuil­lan, 14, said: “It’s hard to be­lieve that a man in such a vul­ner­a­ble po­si­tion had his ad­dress printed out in the paper and what that must have meant for him.

“But I sup­pose if you were one of the women hand­ing out white feath­ers, then you’d very grate­ful to the lo­cal paper.”

For more in­for­ma­tion go to mac­cles­field. re­flects.org.uk.

●» Head of His­tory Giles Barker and Lianne Hughes with King’s his­to­ri­ans in Mac­cles­field li­brary

●» King’s pupils Han­nah Robinson (stand­ing) and Ellen McQuil­lan on the ar­chive ma­chine at Mac­cles­field li­brary

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