Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Claude Brown

Do any blog readers have any information about Claude Brown, outside what can be found in the Society's Watchtower library? He was a Jamaican, a conscientious objector during WW1 who served time in a British prison (Wandsworth) and went to Africa to support W R Brown (Bible Brown) in missionary work in Nigeria, Gold Coast (Ghana), Liberia, Sierra Leone, etc.


Andrew Martin said...

Jerome - do you have a photo?

jerome said...

Sorry, no I don't. I only checked the Yearbook references to him on the text-only CD-ROM not the originals, so there may just be one there.

Andrew Martin said...

"If I remember correctly" there was once a photo of him in a group display of early Canadian pioneers in the Archive Room at Toronto Bethel. I will need to check my notes, and then my snapshots, to be sure. If I am correct, I'd be happy to send you a copy of the photo.

I think his photo may also be included in a composite picture that appeared in the WT some years back - one that you and I discussed back channel last year.

I will let you know the results of my research.

jerome said...

Thanks Andrew.

Gary said...

This sounds like my ball park. I think I have something, somewhere, and will do some digging for you Jerome.

Gary said...

Amy J. Shaw's book 'Crisis of Conscience - Conscientious Objections in Canada during the First World War' lists the following details based largely on records found in the Canadian Expeditionary Force files:

Name: Brown, Claudius
Number: 2381450
Religious affiliation: International Bible Student
Residence: Winnipeg MB
Age : 27
Born: Grenada
Occupation: porter
Prison: n/a
Other: Did not sign attestation paper, "Negro", overseas

I have an extremely poor quality newspaper photograph of the Canadian IBSA men involved in the famous account included in the yearbook which includes our brother who has been misnamed Charles Brown. I believe the picture came from Stan Milosevic's newspaper collection. If anyone has a quality picture of this I would be much interested to see this please.

Gary said...

The following, from, might also help:

Claudius Brown (1894-?) was from the Caribbean island of Grenada and was living in Winnipeg in 1918. He worked as a sleeping car porter for the railway and was studying to be a minister. He was conscripted in Winnipeg on March 26, 1918, but refused to sign the papers on the grounds of being a conscientious objector. He was sent to England in April 1918 on the SS Melita, as part of a group of conscientious objectors, in accordance with a decision the Canadian government made in March 1918. The group was sent to Seaford Camp where Brown continued to refuse military service on religious grounds. In June, he was court martialed and convicted of “Disobeying in such a manner as to show a wilful defiance of Authority a lawful command given personally by his superior officer in the execution of his office…” and sentenced to one year in prison. He had not served his full sentence before being returned to Winnipeg and discharged on December 14, 1918.

Service Record Details

Conscription Paper

Date of Birth: August 19, 1890 (Grenada, British West Indies)

Date of Conscription: March 26, 1918 (Winnipeg, Manitoba)

Age at Conscription: 27 years, 8 months old

Military Service Act Letter and Number: 544178 J.C.

Height: 5 feet, 6 1/2 inches

Weight:162 pounds

Description: Dark complexion, brown eyes, black hair. International Bible Student.

Home Address: 109 Hallett Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba (After discharge, 156 Austine Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba)

Trade: Sleeping Car Porter

Married: No

Next of Kin: Mother, Mrs. Christanna Brown, living in Carriacou, P.O. Grenada, British West Indies

Theatre of War: Canada and England

Gary said...

Also ... some interesting details from the Service Record

June 13, 1918 – “Disobeying in such a manner as to show a wilful defiance of Authority a lawful command given personally by his superior officer in the execution of his office. Sentenced by District Court Martial to undergo detention for a period of one year. Sentence dated 11-6-18. Confirmed 12-6-18. In arrest 6-5-18.”

June 17, 1918 – Brown is sent to Wandsworth Detention Barracks at Seaford Camp, Sussex, England.

October 24, 1918 – He is “SOS” (struck off strength) and sent “to C.E.F. in Canada” Canadian Expeditionary Force) as a “Conscientious Objector.”

December 14, 1918 – He is discharged in Winnipeg as “Incorrigible” by reason of “Misconduct.”

I would say that these words suggest that Brother Claudius Brown resisted the call to conscription pretty well and ultimately the authorities realised he was irreformable! No doubt, in view of being black, he was also subjected to abuse over and above that of ordinary COs.

Andrew Martin said...

Enlarging on Gary's comment above:

"No doubt, in view of being black, he was also subjected to abuse over and above that of ordinary COs."

No doubt. In fact, the 1979 Yearbook states the following on page 105:

"Claude Brown was the only black man in this group of Christians, and he 'came in for particularly rough treatment from guards and soldiers,', reports Brother [Frank C.] Wainwright" Frank Wainwright, another of the Wandsworth conscientious objectors from Canada, later served at Canada Bethel from 1920 until 1936 or 37, by which time he and his wife Isobel had three young daughters to raise!

I had the inestimable privilege while growing up of knowing both Frank and Isobel (the daughter of James Kelly, mentioned on pages 102 to 103 of the 1979 Yearbook), and they both were very attuned to the scriptural teaching on the equality of the races, Isobel at a very young age even standing up publicly against her teacher in elementary school in defense of a fellow student, a boy of African extraction. But that's another story for another time.


I FOUND THE PHOTO OF CLAUDE BROWN! It was - where else? - tucked away between pages 104 and 105 in my copy of the 1979 Yearbook.

I will go to the library, scan it, and email you a copy this every afternoon.


Andrew Martin

jerome said...

Many thanks to Andrew for sending the photograph. Not sure if you can contact Gary direct, but if not I will see he gets a copy when I resurface tomorrow.

The extra information supplied on Claude Brown in the above comment trail has been very interesting

Andrew Martin said...

Yes, Jerome, please do forward the photos to Gary, as I don't have his contact information. Thanks, as always.

jerome said...

'Tis done.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. Jerome posted this at my request. B is working on another history journal article where Claudius Brown is a factor. This is stellar help. We both appreciate your response.

Andrew Martin said...

Believe me, I am SO happy to be able finally to contribute some information of value! I hope that Bruce may be able to incorporate one or both of the photos in his article. Thanks for extending to us the opportunity to participate in this research.

Gary said...

Like Andrew, I am also pleased to contribute something to this blog for a change. I have got so used to taking that I had almost forgot that there is more joy in giving!