Mather, Robert Arthur Richard

He was 40 in 1916

9 Slaithwaite Road, Lewisham

Robert Arthur Richard Mather was single and worked as a bank clerk at Lloyds in Lombard Street.

Conscientious Objection during the First World War:
His appearance before the Military Service Tribunal was reported in the Lewisham Borough News on March 17, 1916. He told the tribunal that he was employed in a Bankers Clearing house and asked to have his case heard in private as he “objected to being ridiculed”. When the tribunal Chairman rebuked him for daring to make such a suggestion, Robert withdrew his application for a private hearing. He claimed exemption on the grounds that he was a Buddhist. The Chairman asked "Is it not one of their tenets not to take life?" and when Robert replied "Yes, not under any circumstances", the Chairman went on to ask "Are you a Vegetarian?". He replied that he was not and the tribunal refused him exemption on the grounds they said of the "inconsistency of his answers".

His appearance before the Appeals Tribunal at the House of Commons was reported in The Kentish Mercury April 14, 1916. He said became a Buddhist in 1907 having been influenced by one of the Mahatmas who had visited the country. He did not attend any Buddhist meetings as once initiated it was for him to develop his beliefs. He was represented by Counsel and meat eating was again discussed, he said he had killed no animal or bird since becoming a Buddhist. The members of the tribunal expressed their opinion that Buddhism was "more of a philosophy than a religion" and that with many Buddhists in the Indian army it could not be against his faith to do so, Mr. Mather replied that "It is against the real Buddhist faith". Robert was told he must serve in the Army in the Non-combatant Corps, although the tribunal thought him inconsistent because he ate meat while still claiming he objected to the taking of life.

War Service:
He was conscripted into the Non-Combatant Corps at Camberwell on 19 May 1916. He served at home first in the Non-Combatant Corps 4/5 Eastern Company and then the 3 Southern Company until 8 April 1919 and was demobbed on 6 May 1919.

After the First World War:
He lived at 30 King Edward's Gardens, Acton Hill, London after he was demobbed.

Cyril Pearce, University of Leeds, Pearce Register of British Conscientious Objectors
Lewisham Borough News March 17, 1916
The Kentish Mercury April 14, 1916

Ann O'Brien, Volunteer at Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre, May 2014

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