Monday, 24 June 2013

Montague Smyth & Lawrence Deller, a conscientious objector

In researching artists in order to add their pictures onto our public domain DVDs, I often get involved in the human side of things which takes me off somewhere else sometimes.......

I'm always happy to find that an artist has met an early demise which may well put their work into the public domain when it otherwise wouldn't have been.  That's awful, isn't it!  And I'm generally slightly annoyed when I find they lived a full and long life, as in the case of an artist I was researching Saturday, Walter Montague Smyth,  who had produced some lovely work for a book about Japan.  I was rather hoping to find that dates I initially found for him on the internet of 1863-1965 would prove to be wrong.  After a fairly long and perhaps slightly obsessive search of one of the family history sites (as his name was mis-spelled in the book and I didn't have his first name initially), it turned out that these dates were, in fact, correct.

Mr. Montague-Smyth died at the ripe old ages of 101 in 1965 and, sadly, I wouldn't be able to use his pictures.

I embarked on another, much quicker, search last night for someone called Lawrence Deller.  I came across a couple of his pictures in a book about London that I was fortunate enough to purchase a couple of weeks ago when my local (ish) antiquarian bookshop was having a half-price sale (me - like a child in a sweet-shop!).  Both of his pictures are lovely views of St. Paul's Cathedral.



Lawrence Deller was born in 1889 in Lichfield, Staffordshire and was the son of a law clark.  

He was called up to fight in WWI but objected on the grounds of religious principals.  The Kensington tribunal upheld his objection, being satisfied as to his claim as a conscientious objector and granted him exemption from combatant service only, which they considered to be adequate.  He appealed in order to get a fuller exemption but this appeal was rejected completely.

A number of witnesses were called to give evidence at his appeal including his wife and his head-teacher from his days at Lichfield Grammar School, but all to no avail.

You can read the appeal and ensuing discussion here:-
http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1916/oct/25/conscientious-objectors

In fact, the appeal went one better - not only was it rejected but it over-ruled the previous decision that Mr. Deller be exempted from combatant service.

On this occasion it gave me very little pleasure to find that Lawrence Deller's death was recorded in December 1918, a month after the official end of World War I.

RIP Lawrence Deller, artist 1889-1918, age 29. 




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