1610s, of persons, "controlled by conscience, governed by the known rules of right and wrong;" of conduct, etc., "regulated by conscience," 1630s, from French conscientieux (16c.; Modern French consciencieux), from Medieval Latin conscientiosus, from Latin conscientia "sense of right, moral sense" (see conscience). Related: Conscientiously; conscientiousness.
Conscientious objector is from 1896, in reference to those with religious scruples about mandatory vaccination. Military sense predominated from World War I.
After a chequered career full of startling episodes and reversals, the Vaccination Bill becomes virtually the Vaccination Act. In Parliament the hottest of the contest centred round the conscientious objector. [The Lancet, Aug. 13, 1898]
Slang shortening conchy is attested from 1917.
early 15c., "assertion that something is true," from Old French afermacion "confirmation" (14c.), from Latin affirmationem (nominative affirmatio) "an affirmation, solid assurance," noun of action from past-participle stem of affirmare "to make steady; strengthen; confirm," from ad "to" (see ad-) + firmare "strengthen, make firm," from firmus "strong" (see firm (adj.)). In law, as the word for the conscientious objector alternative to oath-taking (Quakers, Moravians, etc.), it is attested from 1690s; if false, it incurs the same penalty as perjury.