Quaker logo Bolton Quakers
Religious Society of Friends

On this site

Conscience and Conviction

Bolton men who chose not to fight in World War One

The text of these panels can be read HERE

Related links

Press Release
Bolton men who chose not to fight in World War One
Exhibition at Bolton Museum 1 December 2014 – 27 February 2015

A new exhibition has opened at Bolton Museum covering the untold story of some Bolton men who displayed a different sort of courage in World War One – by taking the difficult and highly unpopular decision not to go to war.

The first part of the exhibition looks at how the Quakers, a religious body with a long history of moral opposition to armed conflict, reacted to the outbreak of war. In September 1914 they set up the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU), which offered young men the chance to volunteer for a different kind of service, helping to reduce the suffering of war by running hospital trains and hospital ships. Altogether 14 Bolton men joined the FAU, of whom 11 were Quakers.

The second part of the exhibition looks at the impact of forced military service, or conscription, introduced by the Military Service Act of 1916. Partly due to pressure from Quaker MPs, this included provision for men to claim ‘conscientious objection’ to military service, and set up local tribunals to hear appeals.

Nationally there were around 17,500 Conscientious Objectors (COs), and at least 93 came from the Bolton area. Religious motivations were cited by 57 of these men, but 20 were just on political grounds. 15 of the 93 known Bolton COs refused any involvement with the war effort and were sent to prison.

The exhibition can be viewed in Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Le Mans Crescent, Bolton BL1 1SE and is open from Monday 1st December 2014 until Friday 27th February 2015 during regular opening hours. http://www.boltonmuseums.org.uk/bolton-museum-location-and-opening-times

The text of the exhibition panels can be read at the Bolton Quakers website at - http://bolton.quaker.eu.org/ww1.html

For further information about Quakers and World War One see
Other relevant local material can be found at
And nationally at:
Two key books for understanding the period are:
  • David Boulton: Objection Overruled
  • Cyril Pearce: Comrades in Conscience

This exhibition has been put together by Barry Mills, Helen McHugh and Ian McHugh from Bolton Quaker Meeting, Silverwell Street, Bolton.

Conscientious objectors