Sir William Randal Cremer

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Sir William Randal Cremer

Birthplace: Fareham, Hampshire, UK
Death: Died
Cause of death: Pneumonia
Immediate Family:

Son of Mr. Cremer and Mrs, Cremer
Husband of 2nd Mrs. Cremer and 1st Mrs. Cremer

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Sir William Randal Cremer

Sir William Randal Cremer (18 March 1828 – 22 July 1908) usually known by his middle name "Randal", was an English Liberal Member of Parliament and pacifist.

Cremer was elected as the Secretary of the International Workingmen's Association in 1865, but resigned two years later in 1867.

He was Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for Haggerston in the Shoreditch district of Hackney from 1885 to 1895, and from 1900 until his death, from pneumonia in 1908.

Cremer won the Nobel Peace Prize, the first to do so solo, in 1903, mainly for his work in international arbitration, and particularly the 1897 Anglo-American arbitration treaty. He co-founded the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the International Arbitration League.

He also was named a Chevalier of the French Légion d'honneur, won the Norwegian Knighthood of Saint Olaf and was knighted in 1907.

Randal Cremer Primary School, in Haggerston, is named in his honor.


William Randal Cremer (March 18, 18281-July 22, 1908) was born in the small town of Fareham, England, not far from Portsmouth, into a working class family at a time when intense misery was the workingman's lot. His father, a coach painter, deserted the family while the boy was still an infant. His mother, an indomitable woman, raised her son and two daughters despite stringent poverty and even sent her son to school - a church school, for she was a strong Methodist. At fifteen he was apprenticed to an uncle in the building trades, eventually becoming a full-fledged carpenter. During this time he supplemented his meager formal education by attending lectures. On one occasion he heard a lecture on peace in which the speaker suggested that international disputes be settled by arbitration, an idea that Cremer never forgot.

Cremer moved to London in 1852. There his capacity for administration was recognized in 1858 when, at the age of thirty, he was elected to a council of those running a campaign for the nine-hour day; later in that year he was one of seven who directed labor during a lockout of 70,000 men. He was instrumental in forming a single union for his trade: the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners; he participated in the formation of the International Working Men's Association but withdrew his support when the Association was taken over by more revolutionary thinkers.

Inevitably, it occurred to Cremer that labor should be actively represented in Parliament. He stood for Warwick in 1868 on a liberal platform calling for the vote by ballot, compulsory education, Irish disestablishment, direct taxation, land reform, amendment of the laws governing labor unions, creation of courts of conciliation to handle labor-management disputes and of international boards of arbitration to adjudicate disputes among nations. He was defeated then and again in 1874. But after the third Reform Bill of 1885 created the new constituency of Haggerston in suburban London, which consisted almost entirely of workingmen, he was elected to Parliament in 1885, 1886, and 1892. Defeated in 1895, he was reelected in 1900, retaining his seat until his death.

Cremer used his power as a member of Parliament and his prestige as a labor leader to advance his passionate belief that peace was the only acceptable state for mankind and arbitration the method by which it could be achieved. A committee of workingmen which he formed in 1870 to promote England's neutrality during the Franco-Prussian conflict became the Workmen's Peace Association in 1871 and it, in turn, provided the keystone for the International Arbitration League, an association to which he thereafter contributed both his time and his money.

In 1887, two years after entering Parliament, Cremer secured 234 signatures of members of Commons to a resolution addressed to the President and the Congress of the United States urging them to conclude with the government of Great Britain a treaty stipulating that disputes arising between the two governments which defied settlement by diplomacy should be referred to arbitration. In that same year Cremer, heading a delegation of British statesmen, presented the resolution to President Cleveland.

The resolution excited the interest of Frédéric Passy and other French deputies who invited Cremer and his colleagues to an exploratory meeting in Paris in 1888. As a result of this meeting the Interparliamentary Union2 was formed and its first meeting held in Paris in 1889, with representatives from eight nations in attendance. Cremer was elected vice-president of the Union and secretary of the British section.

Cremer was a lonely man: his first wife died in 1876, his second in 1884; there were no children. He lived simply, enjoyed nature, worked long hours. He was also a generous man. The cash value of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1903 was about £8,000. He immediately gave £7,000 to the League of which he was secretary and later an additional £1,000.

Stricken by pneumonia, he died on July 22, 1908.

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1903; "Randal Cremer - Biographical". Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 11 Oct 2013. <>

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Sir William Randal Cremer's Timeline

March 18, 1828
Fareham, Hampshire, UK
July 22, 1908
Age 80