Claude Colleer Abbot


Claude Colleer Abbott 17 April 1889-17 September 1971

Born in Bloomfield Essex in 1889, Abbott was the son of a Pork butcher. He had three siblings, two from his father’s first marriage and one, Harold, from his father’s second marriage.

In 1911 C C Abbott was working as a School Master at the Grammar School in Streatham. In 1918 he was working at a secondary school of 330 pupils in Middlesbrough teaching English.  He or his employer had appealed against his conscription and the local and North Riding Appeal Tribunal had given him exemption, conditional in his remaining in his current post.  The Military Representative disagreed with this and appealed to the Central Tribunal, who decided that CC Abbott ‘be not exempt from military service.’

In 1918 CC Abbott joined the Artists Rifles as a private. The regiment was formed in 1859, and was organised in London by Edward Sterling, an art student.  Various professional painters, musicians, actors, architects and others involved in creative endeavours joined the ‘Artists Rifles’.  On 28 February 1860 it became the 38th Middlesex (Artists’) Rifle Volunteer Corps, with headquarters at Burlington House. By 1914 it particularly attracted recruits from public schools and universities.

After the war CC Abbott lectured at Aberdeen and Durham universities,  before becoming Professor of English at Durham, 1932-1954.  He collected 19th and 20th Century British Art as well as manuscripts and books.  He was also a minor poet.  His collection of manuscripts and papers is held at Durham University Library, Special Collections, Palace Green, Durham.  CC Abbott’s library was bequeathed to the University of East Anglia and his art collection to Carlisle Art Gallery.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Peter Brown of Snape, North Yorkshire

Peter Brown - Uniform fullChauffeur to Sir William Gray of Thorp Perrow

Peter Brown was born on 26 November 1878 at Piper Hall, Burton on Ure, Masham.  His parents were Mary and William Brown, Farmer’s Hind at Gebdykes, Masham.

Peter started out as a Horseman, but by 1911 he was the Chauffeur to Sir William Gray of Thorp Perrow, near Snape. Gray had bought Thorp Perrow in 1904.  He was a Shipbuilder in Hartlepool and as such needed his Chauffeur to take him to various meetings, especially as he was carrying out work of National Importance for the Admiralty. Gray appealed against the conscription of his Chauffeur.  The North Riding Appeal Tribunal granted an exemption until 1January 1917, after which date Peter joined the armed services.

No military records survive for Peter Brown. The Absent Voters List for 1917 states he was Private M/347233 in the 5th Auxiliary Petrol Company, Army Service Corps.

After the war Peter returned to his job as chauffeur to Sir William Gray. However, he was lame and was demoted to second chauffeur.  He was also given responsibility for the electrical plant, which served the house and offices.  The plant contained glass batteries and, according to his grandson, smelt strongly of acid.

Some years later, following an x-ray it was discovered that Peter had dislocated his hip, probably during his army service, and this had caused his lameness.

Peter died at Northfields Farm, Patrick Brompton on 20th August 1961.  He is buried at St Gregory’s Church, Bedale.

The 1914-1918 War Memorial panels in St Mary’s Chapel, Snape lists P. Brown as one of the men of Snape who served and returned.




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Clements Hall History Group, York filming at the North Yorkshire County Record Office

GfA filming Clem Hall project

Chris Maudsley filming Ruth Rising, project leader of Grounds for Appeal. On the desk are a selection of North Riding Appeal Tribunal case papers relating to the Clements Hall project.

The Clements Hall History Group are running a Heritage Lottery Funded Project:      Impact and Legacy of the First World War on our Neighbourhood.

One of the themes Clements Hall is interested in is conscription and the individual appeals against it.

On Thursday 28th June 2017, Susan Major, Anne Houson from Clements Hall History Group, and filmmaker Chris Maudsley came to the North Yorkshire County Record Office to film a selection of the appeal tribunal papers for the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe and South Bank areas of York .

Ruth Rising talked about the Grounds for Appeal project and described how the Appeal Tribunal system worked – and a lot more detail besides, but we couldn’t fit all of it into the 15 minute film!

GFA Presentation_copy

Anne Houson talked brilliantly about the research the group has carried out on some of the cases and highlighted various reasons for the appeals.  These included a doctor worried about his patients, and two conscientious objectors, one objected on religious grounds whilst the other objected on socialist grounds.

Chris has now taken the footage away and we are all eagerly awaiting the results!  Website for Chris Maudsley:



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

James Smith Black: CO Whitby

James Smith Black was born on 4 June 1878 in Brechin, Scotland. At the outbreak of the First World War, he was living at 3 Broomfield Terrace in Whitby and was married to Meggie Hebron; they had three children: William Stuart, Winifred Hebron and Florence.

J Black letter 2

19 September 1916:  Letter from James Smith Black to the North Riding Appeal Tribunal

In 1914 Black was employed as a District Superintendent for the Refuge Assurance Company Ltd in Whitby. This was a position of expertise and Black was responsible for the business from Robin Hood’s Bay to Staithes on the coast, and Goathland, Danby and Glaisdale inland. He handled all the cash premiums for the region, examined all cards and contribution books and managed the accounts overall.

The Refuge Assurance Company took their responsibility towards King and Country seriously and, with the advent of conscription in 1916, encouraged their employees to attest. Those who did had the reassurance that their employer would pay an allowance to their family while they served. Seventy-six per cent of the company’s staff had offered themselves for service and the company were supporting their families at a cost of £40,000 per year. The company were, however, prepared to claim exemption on business grounds for members of staff such as District Superintendents.  These men were vital to the running of the business and their expertise would be hard to replace.

James Smith Black had a conscientious objection to war. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church and had been an anti-militarist for over ten years.  Black was not prepared to attest and although the Refuge Assurance Company was willing to claim exemption for him based on his importance to their business, Black chose instead to stand by his principles and apply for exemption on the grounds of his conscientious objection.

After being called up for service by the military, Black appeared before the Whitby Urban District Council Tribunal on 16 June 1916 to claim exemption. The tribunal found his claim to be genuine and exempted him from military service on the condition that he continued volunteering with the St John Ambulance Brigade.  It was prepared to accept this as ‘work of national importance’.

The military representative on the tribunal, Lieutenant Graham Craig, appealed against the decision of the Whitby Tribunal arguing that volunteering for the Whitby branch of the St John Ambulance Brigade was not work of national importance. He asked for Black’s certificate of exemption to be cancelled.  The North Riding Appeal Tribunal dismissed Lieutenant Craig’s appeal.

Craig referred the case to the Central Tribunal in London for advice. The case taken forward to the Central Tribunal did not hinge on whether Black was a conscientious objector, but that he had not abided by the conditions of his exemption, i.e. he had not taken up work of national importance.

The first thing Black knew of this was on 16 September 1916 when he received a letter from the Central Tribunal advising him that the appeal of Lieutenant Craig had been upheld and his certificate of exemption had been withdrawn.

Black asked the North Riding Appeal Tribunal to intervene, claiming that the Central Tribunal had not been furnished with all the facts relating to his case, nor had they been told that his claim was one of conscientious objection to war. The Whitby Urban Tribunal and the North Riding Appeal Tribunal stated they did not have any jurisdiction to challenge a decision reached by the Central Tribunal, whose decision was final.

Black wrote to the Central Tribunal stating that their decision had been reached unfairly. The Clerk to the Central Tribunal advised him that his case should be reheard by the Whitby Tribunal. Black appeared at Whitby magistrates’ court on 6 October 1916, charged with being an absentee after refusing to respond to his call-up notice.  Having explained his position, the magistrates agreed to adjourn his case for six weeks to enable his appeal to be reheard.

The Whitby Tribunal refused to rehear his case because they were bound to abide by the decision of the Central Tribunal. In December 1916, the Refuge Assurance Society lodged an appeal with the North Riding Tribunal against the decision of the Local Tribunal to refuse to rehear the case. They appealed for exemption for Black on business grounds.

The North Riding Appeal Tribunal hearing began on 12 December 1916 but was adjourned to 31 December. During this time, the government issued a circular revising the list of ‘Certified Occupations’ to include ‘Approved Societies and Insurance Committees:– Chief Administrative and Technical Officers…’. The appeal was further adjourned to 20 January 1917 to allow the tribunal to seek clarification on how this affected Black’s position.  The National Health Insurance Commissioner advised that Black’s occupation was not ‘such as to justify them in stating it falls within the terms of … Circular R.112.’ (i.e. he was not exempt on grounds of his occupation alone.)

The North Riding Appeal Tribunal reconvened on 20 January 1917, but because the Local Tribunal would not rehear Black’s case, the North Riding Appeal Tribunal was not willing to consider any appeal made by the Refuge Assurance Company. Their argument was: no decision has been made against which he could appeal.  The case was rejected outright.

On 10 February 1917, Black appeared once again before Whitby magistrates charged with being an absentee. On this occasion, he was fined £2 and handed over to the military.  He spent the remainder of the war in the Royal Army Medical Corps.  He returned to Whitby after the war and returned to his job for Refuge Assurance.

James Smith Black appears again in the 1939 Register on . He was living in The Old Manse, Chatton, Northumberland. He is listed as a ‘Minister of religion, Presbyterian’.

17 May 1947: James Smith Black of The Manse, Chatton, Northumberland, died at The Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne. He left effects to the value of £581 19s 9d to his widow Meggie Black.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grounds for Appeal: The North Riding Appeal Tribunal Papers 1916-1918

To mark the First World War Centenary the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £8,500 to the North Yorkshire County Record Office to make the North Riding Appeal Tribunal paperss widely available through a searchable online database and social media.

The Grounds for Appeal project will regularly share information on cases from the appeal papers.

The Case of Percy Carr:  Mechanical draughtsman for Messrs Rowntree & Co, Cocoa Manufacturers of York 

Percy Carr Notice for Appeal

February 1916:  Percy Carr was granted exemption by the local tribunal in York.  They stated that as a Mechanical Draftsman he was engaged in a reserved occupation.  In March 1916 the Military Representative, Major Herbert, appealed against this decision stating: ‘The manufacture of cocoa and chocolate is not of national importance.’

Central Tribunal and the Ministry of Munitions were consulted and they agreed with the Major Herbert.  However, in 1916 the job of Engineering Draughtsman was listed as a certified occupation as they were needed in munitions work.

In tha case papers of Percy Carr is a letter from the Ministry of Munitions which states: ‘the Department would feel obliged to revoke your certificate of exemption unless either (1) your employer can satisfy the Department that the work upon which you are at present engaged is such as to justify the continuance of your exemption, or (2) you obtain employment on munitions work, in doing which you would probably find the Labour Exchanges of assistance to you.  Before giving a decision on the Recruiting Officer’s application, the Department would be glad to receive your observations on these two points at an early date.’

We are very interested to find out more about Percy Carr and what happened to him after March 1916.  Did he find employment elsewhere?  Did he join the army, and if he did, did he survive the war?


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment