Women’s Peace Petition – Annie’s Diary

Born Annie Jane Davies in 1873 in Llangeitho, Carmarthenshire, she was active in Welsh cultural and political life from an early age. In 1898 she married Thomas Edward Ellis (1859-99) from Bala, Liberal MP for Merionethshire (1886-99) and one of the first proponents of a legislative devolved Welsh Assembly, and Chief Whip for the Liberal Party (1894-95) during the transition from Prime Ministers Gladstone to Rosebery (see T.E.Ellis papers, NLW). She was known as Annie Jane Ellis (or Mrs Thomas Edward Ellis) from 1898 until 1916.

Tom Ellis’ health however was fragile, having developed typhoid on a trip to Egypt in 1890, and tragically he died in 1899 just a year after they had married – aged just 40 – in Cannes, France. 8 months after his death, Annie gave birth to their son, who was named Tom, after his father. Annie brought up Tom as a widowed mother, until on 24 October 1916 she remarried the Rev Peter Hughes Griffiths (1871-1937) from Ferryside, Carmarthenshire, a Methodist Minister in Charing Cross, London.

Following WW1, Annie Hughes-Griffiths became hugely involved in international peace building efforts through the Welsh League of Nations Union (founded in 1922), becoming its Chair in 1923 and President of the WLNU Women’s Committee. From May 1923, she took on leadership of the Welsh Women’s Peace Petition and Memorial; and in March 1924, she led a ‘peace delegation’ of women from Wales to America: Mrs Annie-Jane Hughes Griffiths, Miss Mary Ellis and Miss Elined Prys.

The Welsh Women’s Peace Delegation to America, 1924, L-R: Mrs Gladys Thomas, Miss Mary Elis, Mrs Annie-Jane Hughes Griffiths, Miss Elined Prys

Much of the story of the Welsh Women’s Peace Petition has been discovered through the eyes of Annie Hughes-Griffiths, primarily from discovering (in May 2019) her incredible diary – a unique and personal perspective on the 1924 ‘Welsh Women’s Peace Tour’ of America. The diary and its transcription contains sections on:

  • 2 Feb 1924: the ‘Sendoff’ from London Euston and train to Liverpool
  • 2-11 Feb: Transatlantic voyage on Whiute Star Line’s ‘RMS Cedric’ from Liverpool to New York
  • 11-12 Feb: Arrival and reception in New York
  • Tue 19 Feb: Women’s Peace Memorial Luncheon at Biltmore Hotel, New York
  • 20 Feb: Journey to Washington
  • 21 Feb: Visiting the White House, presentation of Women’s Memorial to US President Coolidge, and visit to tomb of Woodrow Wilson’s (US President who created League of Nations, and had died just weeks earlier)
  • 24 Feb: Journey to Chicago
  • 29 Feb: Journey across Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Utah with visit to Ogden Canyon, Morgan.
  • 2 March: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • 3-7 March: San Francisco, California
  • 8-12 March: Los Angeles, California
  • 13-14 March: Grand Canyon, Arizona
  • 15-16 March: Chicago
  • 17 March: Niagara Falls
  • 18-19 March: Utica, NY State
  • 19-22 March: Final days in New York, including wedding of Welsh opera signer Leila Megane to composer Osborne Roberts.
  • 22-28 March 1924: Transatlantic voyage on White Star Line’s RMS Olympic (sister ship to Titanic) from New York to Liverpool.

Initially digitised and transcribed by a team of volunteers in June 2019, Annie’s Diary continues to be an invaluable source for historians and individuals exploring the story of the Welsh Women’s Peace Petition – as well as an inspiring educational resource. Alaw Primary School in Rhondda Cynon Taff have used Annie’s Diary as the basis of a cross-curricular learning project, for which they received the Young Peacemakers Award at the 2023 Llangollen International Eisteddfod.