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Cremer, Sir William Randal
1828-1908

Radical Liberal politician, internationalist, pacifist and WM born into a working class family at Fareham, Hants on 18 March 1828. His father, a coachman, soon abandoned his family leaving his wife, a devout Methodist, to bring up the son and two daughters. Educated at the local WM school, he was apprenticed to a builder, becoming a skilled joiner.

Moving to London in 1852, he became a trade union organiser and in 1865 was elected Secretary of the International Workingmen’s Association, also known as the First International. Although respected by Karl Marx, Cremer did not subscribe to his worker-led revolution and resigned from the organisation in 1867. He stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in 1868 but represented Haggerston from 1885 to 1895 and again from 1900 until his death on 22 July 1908. His memorial service was held at Whitefield’s Tottenham Court Road chapel.

In 1870 he established what became the Workingmen’s Peace Association, serving as its Secretary and used his international connections to work for international arbitration. He edited the monthly peace journal The Arbitrator from its inception in 1889. He persuaded Parliament to sign the Anglo-American Arbitration Treaty in 1897, and also prepared the ground for the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1903 and knighted in 1907. Other honours bestowed on him included the French Legion d’honeur and the Norwegian Order of the Knights of St. Olaf.

Sources

  • Times, 23 July 1908
  • H. Evans, Sir Randal Cremer: his life and work (1911)

Entry written by: DCD
Category: Person

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