Pellew-Harvey, Claughton

1890 - 1966

Claughton Pellew-Harvey, lived at 12, The Paragon, Blackheath. He was born in Redruth in Cornwall and spent his early years in Canada. In 1916 he was 26, single, an artist, painter and engraver, living with his parents. He trained at the Slade with other artists who became famous after the war and was a close friend of Paul and John Nash. Like many artists at the time he was a recent convert to Roman Catholicism. He had been influenced by a visit to Assisi in 1913 and his friendship with another Catholic convert Edward Ingram Watkin, who in 1916 publicly opposed conscription and in 1936 co-founded the Catholic pacifist movement “Pax”.

Conscientious Objection during the First World War:
He appeared before the Military Service Tribunal at Greenwich and was given exemption as a non-combatant only. He was conscripted into the Non-Combatant Corps 2 Southern Company and was first courts martialled at Cowley, on 6 June 1916, between then and his Appeal being heard at the Central Tribunal at Wormwood Scrubs on 15 August 1916 he was court martialled again, had one courts martial quashed and on each occasion was sentenced to one year detention commuted to 112 days hard labour. He was treated harshly by being transferred from one prison to another 4 times over a two month period, this was unusual among Lewisham COs. It may, of course, merely have been a reflection of the overcrowding of local gaols with conscientious objectors just before the Home Office Scheme was introduced and the inability of the army and the prison services to cope.

At his Central Tribunal appeal held at Wormwood Scrubs on 15. August, 1916 Clauhton was considered a genuine Conscientious Objector, class A, and was referred to the Home Office Scheme. He was released from prison to the Home Office Scheme at Dyce Camp on 26 August 1916. He was transferred to the Army Reserve Class W on 22 September 1916, thus enabling the army to recall him to the colours if he rejected or was rejected by the Home Office Scheme, and from 28 August 1917 he was at Dartmoor at the Princetown Work Camp.

After the First World War:
He dropped the 'Harvey' from his surname and was known as 'Claughton Pellew’. He married the artist Emma (Kechie) Tennent in 1919, they had no children and for the remainder of their lives lived simply in North Norfolk, also visiting Cornwall and Bavaria for inspiration. He was a landscape artist who had some real success in the 1920s he painted watercolours, but worked primarily as a wood engraver on serene pastoral scenes far removed from his period of suffering as a conscientious objector. Despite both John and Paul Nash saying that they were much influenced by him, he has been very overlooked as an artist, although there have been full exhibitions of his work in recent years. He is to be found in all major British Museums and Galleries and a book of his work is in preparation for publication in 2015 by Fleece Press.

Cyril Pearce, University of Leeds , Pearce Register of British Conscientious Objectors.

Ann O'Brien, Volunteer Lewisham Local Archives and History Center, March 2015.

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