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ISAAC GOSS 1881 - 1943  


Isaac Goss was born in 1881. In 1916 he was living in Finsbury Park and owned a tailoring business in Newgate Street in the City of London. He was the older of two brothers, married and had four young children. His younger brother, Joseph, worked with him in the business and was also a conscientious objector.

Isaac Goss was a Quaker and joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation in 1915. He also did voluntary work with young boys, including taking them on camps. On receiving the date for his initial hearing by the Hornsey Tribunal Isaac was in charge of a group of boys camping at the Peel Pioneer Camp in New Milton, Hampshire and wrote to request a change of date. This was granted.

He had supplied clothing and equipment for the Friends War Victims Relief Committee and in a letter to the Middlesex Tribunal the Secretary of the FWVRC wrote ‘Mr Goss has given constant and most useful help to the Committee ….. in a way that brought no profit to him he has made almost all of uniforms worn by the workers … his help is greatly needed in the continuance of this work.’ Prior to being called up Isaac had written to Mr Nield MP drawing his attention to the mistreatment of COs in the Mill Hill barracks and challenging him on his unwillingness to ‘give the only possible exemption that meets the case (on the conscientious objector), despite clear intention of the Military Service Act and Local Government Board circular.

At his appeal Isaac claimed his first application for exemption had not been properly heard. The Chairman wrote that ‘the decision that he be given the opportunity of engaging in work of national importance' was the best the Tribunal could do under the circumstances. It also states that ‘the man attended the Tribunal accompanied by a bevy of females, and was annoyed that the Tribunal would not have their time wasted by allowing him to air his views on conscience'.

In October on receiving the letter from the County of Middlesex Appeal Tribunal giving the initial time for his hearing as 2.30, Isaac wrote to ask that he be given a later time ‘as I am here alone in the business and have no-one who can attend to customers …… Friends of mine have been called for 2.20 and waited till 6.30 or 7. Thanking you in anticipation.’ The Tribunal wrote on his letter ‘will be here a little before 5’.

After the hearing the case referred the case back to the clerk of the Hornsey Tribunal to ask whether or not the man’s application was heard within the meaning of the Regulations upon both grounds and if not whether the Tribunal was prepared to re-hear the application or whether they propose to leave the applicant to his remedy at law. The response stated that legal requirements had been met. The letter from the Clerk to the Local Tribunal states ‘the applicant could then have said – “I am a Quaker” –and demanded relief.’ And further on states ’ ‘that if his primary reason for requesting exemption was business, then the appeal should have been made where the business is situated.’.

While awaiting this appeal hearing he wrote to the Clerk of the Middlesex Tribunal asking for a variation of the Certificate of Exemption to give him 3 months to make arrangements to enable his business to be carried on but this was refused. In December 1916 the Appeal Tribunal withdrew the exemption certificate and on the grounds that he was not willing to accept work of national importance as an alternative to Military Service and not having found work within 21 days of his exemption, they declared him liable for combatant service and sent him to the Mill Hill barracks.

There is no further information about the outcome of his time at Mill Hill but it is known that he survived the war and returned to his tailoring business. It is possible that the authorities did not pursue him any further - though this would be a rarity for conscientious objectors who were often hounded to the full extent of the law, and beyond!

After the war, Isaac continued in his work, and also continued his involvement in the peace movement. In the 1930s Isaac was very much involved in helping Jewish refugees escape from Hitler’s Germany. Isaac’s son, Arthur, was a founding member of CND and his granddaughter, Philippa, was on the first Aldermaston March in 1958.




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About the men who said NO


Born: 1881
Died: 1943
Address: 16 Connaught Road, Stroud Green, London
HO Scheme: [1]
CO Work:
Occupation: Owner of Tailoring Business




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