Edith Maud Ellis (1878 – 1963) was a Quaker much concerned for peace and justice in South Africa, in Ireland and worldwide. During World War 1 she worked in the Friends’ Service Committee set up by London Yearly Meeting to support those Quakers who refused conscription, becoming its Treasurer and Acting Secretary at the time of the London Guildhall trial (1918) when she was prosecuted as one of the Committee’s officers for publishing the pamphlet ‘A Challenge to Militarism’ without submitting it to censorship.
Her immutable convictions took her to Holloway for three months’ imprisonment, and the impassioned letter she wrote calling her fellow Quakers to a new discipleship made such a deep impression that it was circulated to all the Quaker Meetings in Britain by order of the 4 October 1918 Meeting for Sufferings in which it had been read aloud.
She spent the rest of her life trying to bring Christians to realise their responsibilities as peacemakers. In this cause she travelled widely and wrote innumerable letters to those who might influence world opinion, especially seeking interviews with Church leaders.
An Elder of Scarborough Meeting, she also served at different times on ten of the national committees of Quakers in Britain – ranging from penal reform and international service to ecumenism through the Committee on Christian Relationships – and on their standing representative body, Meeting for Sufferings.
She turned her home, Wrea Head in Scalby, into a convalescent centre for conscientious objectors who had barely survived the harsh conditions of their confinement and did much to help train them for new employment after their release in 1919.
Much later, in 1950, she made a gift of Wrea Head to her local authority in the North Riding of Yorkshire as a residential college for short courses. This rewarding venture brought her much satisfaction in her last years.
The Edith Ellis Charitable Trust was established by her for general charitable purposes. The Trust aims to give small seed grants to support change-making projects through Quaker and other UK registered charities and non-governmental organisations, public bodies and social enterprises. The Trustees are looking for innovative ideas to help bring about a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.