Peace Society

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The Peace Society, International Peace Society or London Peace Society, originally known as the Society for the Promotion of Permanent and Universal Peace, was a pioneering British pacifist organisation that was active from 1816 until the 1930s.



The Society for the Promotion of Permanent and Universal Peace was founded after a meeting at the premises of William Allen, in Plough Court, Lombard Street in the City of London on 14 June 1816. Following the Battle of Waterloo the previous year and the decades of European conflict with Napoleon Bonaparte, it advocated a gradual, proportionate, and simultaneous disarmament of all nations and the principle of arbitration.[1] Many of the founders came together under the banner of Christian abolitionism, and a number were Quakers.

The society in London helped establish auxiliary societies in various cities and towns across the United Kingdom; for instance at Doncaster and Leeds,[2] Swansea and Neath, Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bath, Bristol, Coventry, Exeter, Darlington, Leicester, Hull, Plymouth and Southampton; to name but a few. It published a monthly journal, The Herald of Peace, which was first printed in 1819.[3][4]

On 25 May 1836 the society held their twentieth anniversary meeting at the Exeter Hall on London's Strand. In 1843 they hosted the first International Peace Congress.

Between 1817 and 1833 the society issued twelve tracts for its membership, which ran to multiple editions:

  • I. Anon. (Noah Worcester), A Solemn Review of the Custom of War; Showing that War is the Effect of Popular Delusion, and Proposing a Remedy (1817)
  • II. John Scott, War Inconsistent with the Doctrine and Example of Jesus Christ. In a Letter to a Friend (1817); originally published in 1796
  • III. Thomas Clarkson, An Essay on the Doctrines and Practice of the Early Christians, as they Relate to War. Addressed to Those who Profess to have Regard for the Christian Name (1817)
  • IV. Erasmus, Extracts from the Writings of Erasmus on the Subject of War (1817)
  • V. Evan Rees, Sketches of the Horrors of War, Chiefly Selected from Labaume's narrative of the Campaign in Russia in 1812 (1818)
  • VI. David Bogue, On Universal Peace; Being Extracts from a Discourse Delivered in October 1813 (1819)
  • VII. Jonathan Dymond, Observations on the Applicability of the Pacific Principles of the New Testament to the Conduct of States, and on the Limitation which Those Principles Impose on the Rights of Self-defence (1825)
  • VIII. Anon. (Mary Roberts), An Examination of the Principles which are Considered to Support the Practice of War. By a Lady (1825)
  • IX. Thomas Hancock, The Principles of Peace, Exemplified in the Conduct of the Society of Friends in Ireland, during the Rebellion of 1798. In three parts (1825)
  • X. Anon. (Mary Roberts), Historical Illustrations of the Origin and Consequences of War (by the author of Tract VIII) (1831)
  • XI. M. Necker, Reflections on the Calamities of War, and the Superior Policy of Peace. Translated from the French (1831)
  • XII. Joseph John Gurney, An Essay on War, and on its Lawfulness under the Christian Dispensation (1833)

Late 19th century[edit]

Lewis Appleton organized the International Arbitration and Peace Association (IAPA) in 1880.[5] Unlike the Peace Society the IAPA accepted defensive war, was not restricted to Christians and claimed to be international.[6] It also allowed women on the executive committee.

In the spring of 1882, E. M. Southey, the main founder of the Ladies Peace Association, persuaded her group to disaffiliate from the Peace Society and join the IAPA. The Quaker Priscilla Hannah Peckover played a central role in organizing a new ladies auxiliary of the Peace Society that was launched on 12 July 1882.[7] During the 1880s the Peace Society stagnated. Its Ladies' Peace Association was more dynamic, and claimed 9,217 members by the summer of 1885, of which 4,000 belonged to Peckover's Wisbech group.[8]

Early 20th century[edit]

The society's failure to condemn the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 resulted in internal divisions and led to the resignation of its leader, Rev. William Evans Darby. His successor, Rev. Herbert Dunnico, led the society's unsuccessful campaign for peace negotiations.[1]

In 1930 the Peace Society merged with the International Christian Peace Fellowship and was renamed the International Peace Society. At sometime thereafter, with the Second World War looming and growing public unease towards British government policies of appeasement, it became defunct.


Founder members[edit]

As listed in The Origins of War Prevention by Martin Ceadel,[9] the founding dozen in 1816 were:

Other notable members and associates[edit]




  • John Clarkson - Treasurer, 1816–1819
  • John Scott - Treasurer, 1820–1831
  • Samuel Gurney - Treasurer, 1832–?

Records of the Peace Society[edit]

There are also records at the Savings Bank Museum,[20] as the founder of the first parish savings bank Henry Duncan wrote on this subject.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldesley, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2000, p.345.
  2. ^ Researching Yorkshire Quaker History (2007) p.95, Item 1.5.6: Doncaster Auxiliary Peace Society p.97 1.5.13: Leeds Peace Association
  3. ^ a b The Herald of Peace Volumes 1-3 (1819-1821), The Herald of Peace Volumes 1-12 New Series, (1822-1837), The Herald of Peace Volumes 1-2 New Series (1838-1841) full text at Hathi trust
  4. ^ Cornell University Library has produced a facsimile of The Herald of Peace 1824 (April, May, June) issues (pages on ISBN 978-1-4297-2848-5
  5. ^ Ceadel 2000, p. 112.
  6. ^ Ceadel 2000, p. 113.
  7. ^ Ceadel 2000, p. 114.
  8. ^ Ceadel 2000, p. 127.
  9. ^ Ceadel, Martin (1996). The Origins of War Prevention : The British Peace Movement and International Relations, 1730–1854 (Reprint. ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 521. ISBN 9780198226741.
  10. ^ Ward, John (1888). "Crawford, William (1788-1847)" . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 13. p. 57.
  11. ^ Moore, Norman (1890). "Hancock, Thomas (1783-1849)" . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 24. p. 275.
  12. ^ Sutton, Charles William (1890). "Hargreaves, James (1768-1845)" . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 24. p. 381.
  13. ^ Pollard, Albert (1895). "Pease, Edward" . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 44. pp. 178–180.
  14. ^ Spartacus article on Joseph Pease Archived 2007-08-17 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ The Memoirs of Evan Rees, the first Secretary, were published in 1853. They are available online at GoogleBooks.
  16. ^ details of four published texts by Rev Nun Morgan Harry are to be found in the British Library Integrated Catalogue.
  17. ^ Harry, Jefferson and Richard are all buried at Abney Park Cemetery.
  18. ^ "International Peace Society Collected Records (CDG-B Great Britain), Swarthmore College Peace Collection".
  19. ^ Researching Yorkshire Quaker History (2007)p.95, Item 1.5.6.
  20. ^ [1] Savings Bank Museum Collection.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "Peace Society". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.

Further reading[edit]

  • Appleton, Lewis. Memoirs of Henry Richard, the Apostle of Peace (Trubner & Co., 1889)
  • Brock, Peter. Pacifism in Europe to 1914 (Princeton University Press, 1972)
  • Ceadel, Martin. Pacifism in Britain, 1914-1945: The Defining of a Faith (Oxford University Press, 1980) ISBN 978-0-19-821882-1
  • Ceadel, Martin. The Origins of War Prevention: The British Peace Movement and International Relations, 1730-1854 (Oxford University Press, 1996) ISBN 978-0-19-822674-1
  • Ceadel, Martin. Semi-Detached Idealists: The British Peace Movement and International Relations, 1854-1945 (Oxford University Press, 2000) ISBN 978-0-19-924117-0
  • Conway, Stephen. The Politicization of the Nineteenth-Century Peace Society (Historical Research, vol. 66, issue 161), October 1993
  • Laity, Paul. The British Peace Movement, 1870-1914 (Cambridge University Press, 2001) ISBN 978-0-19-924835-3, some pages available at GoogleBooks – Chapter 1 concerns the first fifty years or so of the British Peace Society from 1816
  • van der Linden, Wilhelmus Hubertus. The International Peace Movement, 1815–1874 (Tilleul Pub., 1987) ISBN 978-9-08-001341-4
  • The Times, Wednesday, 23 May 1866; p. 12; Issue 25505; col C: THE PEACE SOCIETY.-The 50th Anniversary