League of Nations Union Headquarters were concerned that local branches would invite ‘inexperienced or poorly informed local volunteers.’ (1) Lancaster and its surroundings, however, had a pool of highly educated people on the Lancaster LNU Executive, promoting the League of Nations by well-researched talks, debates etc. There were in particular a number of well-educated clergymen who promoted their message in branch meetings, their churches and in the wider Lancaster community. Among them were three Oxford graduates with MA degrees. Rev. C. E. Golland’s lecture, ‘The Founders of Cockersands Abbey and the Idea of the League of Nations’ in 1924 suggests an understanding of League principles. (2) For reference, Lancaster had, inter al., a good resource in its public library.
Among the laymen on the executive, J. H. Dalton of Thurnham Hall, who was said to have been educated at Princeton University under Woodrow Wilson and had been to a League Geneva conference, gave lectures. Other activists had received their education in elementary schools but had developed their public speaking skills as e.g. local councillors or as local politicians. Among the local teachers, Rev. Dr. J. H. S. Bailey M.A. staged ‘an interesting debate on ‘Is disarmament desirable?’ with the Regional Secretary, Mr H. W. Starkey. There were fewer women speakers, but Mrs Muriel Dowbiggin demonstrated her competence over many years. A number of good women speakers from outside the town addressed Lancaster LNU audiences, including Miss C. Ledley-Brown, a Liverpool barrister, the Quaker activist Helen Byles Ford from Bentham and the Regional Secretary’s wife, Mrs H. W. Starkey MA.
(1) D. S. Birn, 1981. The League of Nations Union 1918-1945. Oxford: Clarendon Press, p.131.
(2) Lancaster Observer, 28 Sep 1924.
Lancaster Guardian, 28 Mar 1929, 13 Nov 1926 & 21 Mar 1930.