William Thomas Cleobury

Research and text by Brian Bouchard


William Thomas Cleobury, 15 St. Phillips Avenue, Worcester Park

William was the brother of Frank Harold Cleobury, a son of William Cleobury and Laura Amanda Thompson, born 3 May 1889 (reg. Greenwich 6/1889).

He entered Childeric Road School, Deptford on 3 April 1894. On 4 February 1908 he was reported to have been appointed a 2nd Division Clerk in the Civil Service following an Open Competition and by July 1910 was being employed in the Accountant General’s Office in the GPO.

He appears to have taken up residence at 42 Vesta Road, Brockley, before The Kentish Mercury of 24 March, 1916 reported his arrest and appearance before the Police Court in Greenwich. On 29 September, 1916 a later edition of the newspaper contained an explanation that he had not reported for duty because although he had been offered a Non-Combattant Certificate he had refused it on the principle that ‘the man who makes the shot is as bad as the man who fires it’.

He was taken from the City of London Regiment at Hurdcott Camp (five miles to the east of Fovant, Wiltshire, established on land requisitioned from the Hurdcott farms) to the Royal Fusiliers’ Hounslow depot in order to be court-martialled on 18 October 1916, and sentenced to 1 year hard labour, commuted to 8 months in Wormwood Scrubs.

William was a declared ‘follower of Jesus Christ’, with membership of the No-Conscription Fellowship, and anti-war, ‘absolutist’, Independent Labour Party.

Under the Home Office Scheme, administered by the Brace Committee, conscientious objectors moved from the Army to the HOS by being transferred to Army Reserve Class W. There were HOS work centres in various places and William was employed at Wakefield and Dartmoor during 1917.

Post war he studied at the University of London to be awarded a Bsc (Econ.) degree in1921. He continued to be employed in the Civil Service and by 1927 was resident at 39 Vesta Road, Brockley, London S E 14, probably with his brother Rev. F H Cleobury, PhD. His wedding to Miss Ivy Alice May Hallett was registered at Greenwich, for the March Quarter of 1930 and subsequently the married couple appear to have moved to 33 Troutbeck Road, S E 14. William became a Councillor in Deptford before serving as Mayor, 1933/4. When he was announced as Mayor Elect the local British Legion threatened to boycott the Remembrance Day Service, on account of his Conscientious Objection, should he propose to attend the ceremony.

Mr Cleobury had been made a member of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries during 1933

William died on 21 September 1959 at 89 Copes Avenue, West Wickham (reg. Bromley 9/1959).

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