conchie noun earlier than Oct. 1917

Bryn provided an example from one day earlier.

The term conscientious objector, referring to a person who refuses to do something on the grounds of conscience, has been used since the 19th century, but it was not until 1916, with the introduction of conscription in the U.K., that it was used specifically to refer to such a person who refuses to serve in the armed forces. During the war, conscientious objectors were often colloquially—and usually depreciatively—referred to as conchies, but the first written evidence we have for this abbreviated form is not until 1917:

The assembly of eleven hundred ‘conscientious’ objectors at one spot, Princetown, on Dartmoor, where they are known as ‘conchies’.

1917 Daily Mail 9 Oct., p. 2/3

Was conchie (or conchy or conshy) used earlier than this?

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To commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War (1914–18), the OED is revising a set of vocabulary related to or coined during the war. Part of the revision process involves searching for earlier or additional evidence, and for this we need your help. Our first quotations are often from newspapers and magazines, and we know that there may well be earlier evidence in less-easily-accessible sources such as letters, diaries, and government records, many of which are now being made available in digital form for the first time.

Posted by OED_Editor on 29 January 2014 15.39
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  • Bryn_Wordhunt

    Just a day earlier …

    W. Exon, in a letter to The Times, 8th October 1917, p.10 [via Times Digital Archive] wrote:

    The religious “Conchy” should be sought out wherever he is, whether in prison or in the settlement. and treated as a good citizen with fantastic views … But the political “Conchys” surely deserve quite a different treatment.”