Wednesday, 27 March 2019

From Leyton to Stornoway to Dartmoor... A CO's journey.

The Middlesex Appeal Tribunal records, as noted previously, are a valuable resource for historians interested in the Conscientious Objectors (COs) of the First World War, often providing appellants' accounts of motivation, beliefs and political affinity in their own words. For the most part, however,  such material is not available for other parts of the country, including areas of London which were located in the county of  Essex.

Exceptionally, one CO from what is now the London Borough of Waltham Forest does have an appeal file, because by 1916 he  had moved to the Isle of Lewis. In Scotland, not only were the records for Lothain and Peebles pteserved as the example set (like Middlesex for England), those for Lewis also happened fortuitously to survive.

58 Borthwick Road
In 1911, according to the Census, Charles Record at 19 was a 'Servant In Training For Teacher', living with his parents and 18-year-old sister Gladys, an 'Elementary [Primary School] Student Teacher' at 58 Borthwick Road, Stratford. His parents were east-enders, father a 'Decorative Japanner' from Bethnal Green, mother from Stepney. Charles and Gladys were born in Wanstead Slip. 

Leyton was a local government district in southwest Essex, England, from 1873 to 1965. It included the neighbourhoods of LeytonLeytonstone and Cann Hall. It now forms the southernmost part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest [...] To the south, the parish of Wanstead formed a long protrusion known as the Wanstead Slip, which extended to the marshes of the River Lea and divided Leyton from West Ham.  


Five years later he was a science teacher in the Nicolson Institute, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland, living at 28 Point Street in the town. By then the school was well established and prestigious, producing high-achievers who went on to successful careers in the wider world. In 1914 the school magazine, according to a recent historian, reported that since 1898 nearly 100 (99) former pupils had graduated from Scottish universities. Science, though, was a comparatively recent addition to the curriculum, which may explain why at least one of its teachers came from so far away. 


In January 1893, the then headmaster, Mr Forbes, was placed in charge of the new Secondary department which introduced the teaching of Latin, Greek, Mathematics, Geography, History, English, French, German, Music, Domestic Economy, Drawing and Needlework. 
In 1907, with a school roll of more than 800, a decision was made to erect a new building. The new building was opened in 1910 - built with the aid of a £7,000 grant from the Scottish Education department - and incorporated five classrooms, a science laboratory, technical workshop and art room. 
Point Street is towards the south-west, near 'Stornoway Port Authority'
What Charles did and had done to him in the war has already been looked at in some detail, along with a very few other COs from the island. One of those, Murdo Macleod, had his appeal hearing heard on the same day as Charles, and was later sent to the same regiment (the Seaforth Highlanders) and court-martialled in the same place (Ripon). It would be interesting to know how those two young men, united in their determination but widely divergent in their beliefs and background, got along together in their shared adversity.

  Charles Record, Stornoway, originally from Essex, is on the Pearce CO Register 


  • Became an Absentee (i.e. left his place of residence, probably when the appeal was refused). 
  • Was arrested 30.6.16
  • Drafted into the Seaforth Highlanders (having refused non-combatant service) 
  • Court Martial at Ripon,14.7.16 - sentenced to 1 year imprisonment
  • Served time in Northallerton (Civil Prison) and Durham (Civil Prison).
  • Came before the Central Tribunal at Wormwood Scrubs, 1.9.16 - found to be CO class A, genuine
  • Referred to Brace Committee for work under the  Home Office Scheme
  • In work centres at Wakefield, 12-10-16, and Dartmoor, 28.8.17 and 21.2.1918.


  • His motivation is said to be 'religious', but his own words in the Appeal Tribunal file make it clear that he also saw himself as an Iinternationalist. 

    Appeal against Conscription, 1916 by Charles Record, Conscientious Objector
    The file is prefaced by a handwritten 2-page dated 20th May 1916 protesting against the decision of the Appeal tribunal.

    Notice of Appeal. (Stamped, Stornoway, 20-3-16


    (2) Grounds on which appeal madeMy application was for total exemption on grounds of conscientious objection. By granting me exemption from combatant service the Local Tribunal apparently admitted my sincerity.
      I appeal for total exemption; so that I may not be compelled to assist in the taking of life.
      In particular I appeal for exemption from work involving the taking of the Military Oath. At present I can disobey laws which conflict with my conscience, if willing to suffer the penalties. By taking the oath I surrender that right, by solemnly promising to obey all commands of the military authorities; thereby handing over my conscience to them. This is quite impossible for me; especially since I object to the purpose for which the military organisation exists, & therefore to most of its requirements. Even though I might never receive a command which conflicted with my conscience, I cannot make the offer to discard my convictions.
    Charles Record         
    March 4th 1916
    Reasons for the decision of the Local (Stornoway) Tribunal

    The Tribunal having heard the Applicant refused the Application, but recommended him for non-combatant service.    [2-3-16]

    For Appeal Tribunal (Ross & Cromarty and Sutherland, Lewis Section)
                The Tribunal having heard the appellant refused the Appeal.
    Leave to appeal [further, to Central Tribunal] was also refused, the appellant not having stated any grounds to justify persuasion.
    Stornoway 31st March 1916. 

    Reasons in support of the [original] Application 
      As a Christian I cannot undertake the responsibility of inflicting death.
       My international ideals convince me that I ought not to take part in international disputes which involve the killing of my fellows.
       I believe all occupations designed to assist the military authorities to partake of the same nature as actual combatant service. 
    [A written statement (in duplicate) [on file] accompanies the forms].
    Charles Record         

    Decision of the Tribunal: [against which the appeal was lodged]
    Stornoway 2nd March 1916
    The Tribunal refused the Application and recommend that applicant be relieved from combatant service and enrolled at once in the R.A.M.C. [Royal Army Medical Corps].
    John Mackenzie Chairman.     

    The penalties Charles duly underwent in accordance with his conscience included some of the most rigorous prisons and Work Centres but unlike some.COs he survived and was evidently able to resume a normal life and exercise his profession. In early 1919 he married Ethel Betts near his old home and birthplace in Lonodn (West Ham registration district).  
    1939
    318 Almondbury Bank Huddersfield C.B., Yorkshire (West Riding), England
    Record Household of 6 people
    Charles Physics Teacher, Tech.College  b.30-10-1891

    Ethel b.1890 unpaid domestic duties

    Another (record withheld)

    Kathleen (Whiteley) Record b.1922 At schoool
    (Kathleen Record m.Kenneth Whiteley, Huddersfield 1944)

    Annie [m.s.Wood] Record  b.1865 Widowed unpaid domestic duties

    Emily S. Record Waistcoat maker retired b.1860 

    The 1939 Register of Electors finds him living in Huddersfield and employed as a Physics Teacher in the Technical College. Others in the household are his wife Ethel, their daughter Kathleen, born in 1922, his widowed mother Annie and (probably) an unmarried paternal aunt, and someone else whose details are not (yet) available. According to the most likely death record, Crewe 1967, he lived to the age of 75.

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