Manchester Transvaal Committee Archive

Scope and Content

The collection comprises correspondence between C.P. Scott and L.T. Hobhouse about the activities of the Manchester Transvaal Committee, along with letters from organisers of peace meetings and other prominent anti-war figures across the country. Also included are draft letters, resolutions and memorandums issued by the Manchester Transvaal Committee, invitations to and arrangements for meetings, a signed petition in support of a meeting for women against the Boer War in London, and newspaper cuttings offering accounts of various peace meetings across the country.

Administrative / Biographical History

At a meeting held on 31 August, 1899, at 71 King Street, Manchester, a decision was taken to form a committee against war in the Transvaal. Its aims were summarised in a letter which was sent to the newspapers:

'In response to the strong and growing feeling to which the apparent imminence of war in the Transvaal has given rise, it has been determined to form a Transvaal Committee for this district, to serve as a bond of communication and a centre of action for those who desire to save the Country from the commission of a great error and a crime. All persons who desire to co-operate in any way, are requested to communicate at once with the Honorary Secretary, (pro. tem.) Mr. Hugh Fullerton, at 71, King Street., Manchester.'

The Manchester Transvaal Committee was formed as a non-partisan organisation on 5 September 1899, following a public meeting held at the Accountant's Hall, King Street, Manchester. C.P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian, was involved with the London based Transvaal Committee from its creation on 12 June 1899, and the formation of the Manchester Transvaal Committee was a continuation of this work in the north of England.

Its efforts included the publication and distribution of anti-war pamphlets and other literature, providing speakers for peace meetings and demonstrations across the north of England, and sending communications directly to prominent politicians in Great Britain and South Africa calling for mediation. Appeals were made also made to Ministers of religion to condemn the prospect of war from the pulpit.

Among the individuals involved with the committee were C.P. Scott and L.T. Hobhouse, journalist and leader-writer at the Manchester Guardian. Canon Edward Hicks, residentiary canon at Manchester Cathedral (and later, Bishop of Lincoln) and Leifchild Leif Jones, the defeated Liberal candidate in the 1900 South Manchester by election, were also prominent figures in the organisation.

The committee's finest achievement was the organisation of a great meeting in Manchester on 14 September 1899, at the St. James' Hall. Chaired by J.A. Bright, it featured speeches by John Morley and Leonard Courtney and was described by Scott as the 'Largest political meeting ever held in Manchester'.

The committee changed its name to the Manchester Transvaal Peace Committee on 7 November 1899 following the outbreak of war, with Canon Edward Hicks presiding over its inaugural meeting. Announcing its determination continue the work of the Transvaal Committee, it was keen to clarify that it was not a pro-Boer, but a pro peace Committee, whose object was to promote peace upon honourable terms in South Africa.


The collection retains the original order in which it was received at deposit.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by Jennifer Hobhouse-Balme (great niece of Emily Hobhouse) in October 1975.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Related Material

The John Rylands Library also has copies of the following publications issued by the Manchester Transvaal [Peace] Committee:

  • 'The reasons for the war: and why they are bad reasons', Manchester Transvaal Peace Committee, 1899.
  • 'The story of the Boers', Manchester Transvaal Peace Committee, 1898.
  • 'The Truth about the Transvaal', Manchester Transvaal Peace Committee, 1899.

Further pamphlets produced by the Manchester Transvaal Committee can be found at Manchester Central Library.


For additional context on the work performed by the Manchester Transvaal Committee, see Jennifer Hobhouse Balme, To love one's enemies - The work and life of Emily Hobhouse compiled from letters and writings, newspaper cuttings and official documents, (Hobhouse Trust, 1996).

Geographical Names