Pupils research war objectors
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