The Bolton Deaf F.C Team in 1905

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 23 September 2016

The Bolton Deaf Football Club in 1905, pictures fourteen members.  I thought it might be interesting to try and trace as many of them as we can.  I immediately recognized Ernest Ayliffe in the back row, so I will leave him out as he has already featured in these web pages.  He took over as Bolton missioner after Ernest Abraham left for Australia, assisted by John Shannon.  Shannon left fot Chester in 1911, and Ayliffe for Liverpool in 1914 (Ephphatha p.630).

James Hayhurst:  He was born in France, circa 1882, a British subject, and in 1905 he would have been 23/4.   In the 1901 census he was living at 8 Latham Street, and is described as an apprentice clog maker, ‘Deaf and Dumb from childhood’.

Bolton DFC 19051901 – James Hayhurst Class: RG13; Piece: 3627; Folio: 33; Page: 24

Ernest John Yarnall was born in 1883, son of George, a mill furnace man at an ironworks, and his wife Ann, both of whom were orriginally from Staffordshire.  He was apprenticed as a carpenter in 1901, and was living in Bridgman St. with his parents and sister Edith.  The 1911 census tells us he was now a joiner, and had been deaf aged 10 or 11 months.  In 1909 he married Annie Haslam, born 1880 who was deaf when aged three.  I think Ernest died in 1954, but that needs checking.

1901 census Class: RG13; Piece: 3625; Folio: 136; Page: 7

1911 census Class: RG14; Piece: 23413

Samuel Haslam was a younger brother of Annie.  They were born in Bradshaw where their mother Mary was a farmer.  In 1901 Samuel was a wheelwright.  Curiously he is not marked as deaf on the 1911 census, but the census information is not always complete and there can be degrees of deafness of course.

1901 census Class: RG13; Piece: 3615; Folio: 11; Page: 11

Samuel Irlam: He was Bolton born in 1889, and his mother, brother James and sister-in-law Sarah Ann were all deaf.  He would have been about 16 when the photograph was taken.  On the 1911 census form his mother wrote under infirmity,  ‘Born from birth,’ ‘B from birth’, and ‘Deaf from birth,’ which is what she really meant.  For her grand daughter she wrote ‘alright’.  Samuel attended the Royal School in Manchester when William Nelson was headmaster, as did J.T. Hamer, Herbert Penn(e)y (try both spellings) and Joseph Griffin.

1911 census Class: RG14; Piece: 23321

A shortage of time restricted what I could research here – I hope to come back and add some more of the players, but if anyone has some information they can contribute, please put it in the comments space below.

Update: Our friend, historain Norma McGilp, has added this information she gleaned from the Manchester School records –

Manchester Deaf Institution records

James Hayhurst born 1880 – admitted 6 Aug 1890 – Bolton – father Warper.  His brother, Allan Hayhurst (not in school record) (born 1875) m Clara Brindle – son Allan Brindle Hayhurst (1913-1981) of the BDA (Sec/Treas).

Joseph Taylor Hamer – born 26 April 1887, adm 22 Jan 1895, Turton, father dead.

Herbert Penney born 15 Sept 1885, adm 13 Aug 1894, Bolton, father tailor.

Ernest John Yarnall [Yarnell] born 3 Jan 1883, adm 12 Feb 1890, Bolton, father Furnace-man.

Samuel Haslam born 28 Feb 1881 – admitted 7 Aug 1889, Bolton, father farmer (siblings – Robert Haslam b 6 Nov 1877 adm 2 Aug 1887, Annie Haslam born 16 Apr 1880, admitted 2 Aug 1887).

Samuel Hamer born 16 Dec 1882, adm 4 March 1890 Ramsbottom, father labourer.

James Smethhurst b June 25 1880, adm April 1889 Macclesfield, father tailor.

Joseph Smethurst b 11 July 1883, adt 4 Aug 1891 Bolton, father labourer.

Joseph Griffin born April 18 1885, adm 13 Aug 1894, Broughton, father Musical Instrument maker.

Samuel Irlam born 11 May 1887, adm 7 Aug 1894, Bolton, father ‘Beetler at a croft’ (brother David Thos Irlam born Aug 7 1878 adm 1 Apr 1891, Hallwell, father a crofter).



Historical sketch. British Deaf Monthly, 1896, 6, 31-36. (photos of missioners)

History and work. Ephphatha, 1922, 52, 630-631.

The Messenger, vol.7 1904 p. 150 (photo)


An American Periodical, The National Deaf Mute Gazette, 1867-8

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 9 September 2016

The National Deaf Mute Gazette was published in Boston, with the first volume in January, 1867.  We have two volumes in the library.  It was edited by William Martin Chamberlain, with offices in 221 Washington Street.  He was a remarkable Deaf man, who lost his hearing from measles, aged 5 or eight (Braddock, p.11 and for what follows).  Born on the 13th of July, 1832, in South Reading, Massachusetts, he spent some years as a fisherman in Marblehead, then tried various trades including that of a printer, which obviously stood him in good stead for producing newspapers.  His lipreading skills were such that he bluffed his way into the Union Army in the Civil War, but was dismissed when he failed to answer a sentry.  He was fortunate not to be shot as happened to other deaf people in the two world wars.  It shows us what a good deal of gumption he had!  He ran The Marblehead Messenger for a while, then a couple of issues of a comic magazine, before that failed (ibid).DMG 2

The National Deaf Mute Gazette is beautifully produced, on good quality paper.  It contains stories about deaf people, farming tips, foreign deaf news, and so on.  It followed on from Gallaudet Guide and Deaf-Mute’s Companion, but it folded in 1868, and  was succeeded by The Deaf-Mute’s Friend.  He was nothing if not persistent and determined.  Chamberlain was not the owner however, and as early as October, 1867, “Packard & Holmes” are described as editors and proprietors, with Philo W. Packard as editor and proprietor by February 1868 (out copy lacks issue 13, January 1868).   Guilbert Braddock says, “These three early ventures started the graveyard of silent periodicals, which has now attained a considerable acreage.”  The same could be said of newspapers on this side of the Atlantic.  DMG 1

After this venture he became an ‘instructor’ at the New York Institution for the Deaf in 1875, dying in 1895 (ibid, p.12).

It looks worth a little study, and I have found no article considering it other than in passing – though that was only after a brief search.  Articles and obituaries are always of great interest for genealogical research as well, and there are some here.


Click on images for a larger size.

Braddock, Guilbert, Notable Deaf Persons. 1975

Lane, H, Pillard, R.C., & French, Mary, Origins of the American Deaf-World: Assimilating and Differentiating Societies and Their ERelation to Genetic patterning. In, Emmorey, K, & Lane, Harlan, eds.  The signs of language revisited : an anthology to honor Ursula Bellugi and Edward Klima, 2000  


Wind turbines and sleep – a short literature search

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 7 September 2016

After tweeting a recent article on wind turbine noise and sleep (the third below) I thought it might be timely to look at some recent articles in Medline.  Some of these are freely available – follow the links to PubMed to see the abstracts or the articles where available.  It will not have escaped some of you that wind turbines can also affect wildlife.  There is one particular article just out that surveys the literature with regard the cetaceans, freely available, Consolidating the State of Knowledge: A Synoptical Review of Wind Energy’s Wildlife Effects.

As ever, when you consider how valuable an article it is, examine it critically, for example sample size, whether it is original research or a review article, and so on.  This wiki page may help if you are new to this.

Jalali L, Nezhad-Ahmadi MR, Gohari M, Bigelow P, McColl S.  The impact of psychological factors on self-reported sleep disturbance among people living in the vicinity of wind turbines. Environ Res. 2016 Jul;148:401-10. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.04.020. Epub 2016 Apr 29.

Michaud DS, Feder K, Keith SE, Voicescu SA, Marro L, Than J, Guay M, Denning A, McGuire D, Bower T, Lavigne E, Murray BJ, Weiss SK, van den Berg F.  Exposure to wind turbine noise: Perceptual responses and reported health effects. J Acoust Soc Am. 2016 Mar;139(3):1443-54. doi: 10.1121/1.4942391.

Kageyama T, Yano T, Kuwano S, Sueoka S, Tachibana H. Exposure-response relationship of wind turbine noise with self-reported symptoms of sleep and health problems: A nationwide socioacoustic survey in Japan.Noise Health. 2016 Mar-Apr;18(81):53-61. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.178478.

Michaud DS, Feder K, Keith SE, Voicescu SA, Marro L, Than J, Guay M, Denning A, Murray BJ, Weiss SK, Villeneuve PJ, van den Berg F, Bower T. Effects of Wind Turbine Noise on Self-Reported and Objective Measures of Sleep.Sleep. 2016 Jan 1;39(1):97-109. doi: 10.5665/sleep.5326.

Abbasi M, Monazzam MR, Akbarzadeh A, Zakerian SA, Ebrahimi MH. Impact of wind turbine sound on general health, sleep disturbance and annoyance of workers: a pilot- study in Manjil wind farm, Iran.  J Environ Health Sci Eng. 2015 Oct 12;13:71. doi: 10.1186/s40201-015-0225-8. eCollection 2015.

Feder K, Michaud DS, Keith SE, Voicescu SA, Marro L, Than J, Guay M, Denning A, Bower TJ, Lavigne E, Whelan C, van den Berg F.  An assessment of quality of life using the WHOQOL-BREF among participants living in the vicinity of wind turbines.Environ Res. 2015 Oct;142:227-38. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.06.043. Epub 2015 Jul 11.

Onakpoya IJ, O’Sullivan J, Thompson MJ, Heneghan CJ. The effect of wind turbine noise on sleep and quality of life: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.Environ Int. 2015 Sep;82:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2015.04.014. Epub 2015 May 16. Review.

Schmidt JH, Klokker M. Health effects related to wind turbine noise exposure: a systematic review.PLoS One. 2014 Dec 4;9(12):e114183. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114183. eCollection 2014. Review.

Magari SR, Smith CE, Schiff M, Rohr AC. Evaluation of community response to wind turbine-related noise in western New York state.Noise Health. 2014 Jul-Aug;16(71):228-39. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.137060.

Knopper LD, Ollson CA, McCallum LC, Whitfield Aslund ML, Berger RG, Souweine K, McDaniel M.  Wind turbines and human health.Front Public Health. 2014 Jun 19;2:63. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2014.00063. eCollection 2014. Review.

Pawlaczyk-Łuszczyńska M, Dudarewicz A, Zaborowski K, Zamojska-Daniszewska M, Waszkowska M.  Evaluation of annoyance from the wind turbine noise: a pilot study.Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2014 Jun;27(3):364-88. doi: 10.2478/s13382-014-0252-1. Epub 2014 May 13.

Rubin GJ, Burns M, Wessely S.  Possible psychological mechanisms for “wind turbine syndrome”. On the windmills of your mind.Noise Health. 2014 Mar-Apr;16(69):116-22. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.132099.

Roberts JD, Roberts MA.  Wind turbines: is there a human health risk?J Environ Health. 2013 Apr;75(8):8-13, 16-7.

Hume KI, Brink M, Basner M. Effects of environmental noise on sleep.Noise Health. 2012 Nov-Dec;14(61):297-302. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.104897. Review.

Nissenbaum MA, Aramini JJ, Hanning CD.  Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health.Noise Health. 2012 Sep-Oct;14(60):237-43. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.102961.

Chapman S. Editorial ignored 17 reviews on wind turbines and health.BMJ. 2012 May 15;344:e3366; author reply e3367. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e3366. No abstract available.

Bakker RH, Pedersen E, van den Berg GP, Stewart RE, Lok W, Bouma J. Impact of wind turbine sound on annoyance, self-reported sleep disturbance and psychological distress.Sci Total Environ. 2012 May 15;425:42-51. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.03.005. Epub 2012 Apr 3.

Shepherd D, McBride D, Welch D, Dirks KN, Hill EM.  Evaluating the impact of wind turbine noise on health-related quality of life.Noise Health. 2011 Sep-Oct;13(54):333-9. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.85502.

Knopper LD, Ollson CA. Health effects and wind turbines: a review of the literature.Environ Health. 2011 Sep 14;10:78. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-10-78. Review.

Pedersen E, Persson Waye K.  Wind turbine noise, annoyance and self-reported health and well-being in different living environments.Occup Environ Med. 2007 Jul;64(7):480-6. Epub 2007 Mar 1.

Picture of Selwyn Oxley

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 19 August 2016

This is Selwyn Oxley, whose historical collection is at our heart, looking out of a roof!  Compilation of statistics took my time from writing a blog today!

Oxley on roofPhotographer unknown, possibly Hallett, one of the south London deaf photographers who worked for him at one time or another… Circa 1920.


“Lamentable Death of a Medical Man” or how not to treat tinnitus – Joseph Toynbee

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 12 August 2016

Joseph Toynbee

Lincolnshire born Joseph Toynbee (1815-66) was a pioneer otologist.  He attended school in King’s Lynn, then was apprenticed to William Wade of the Westminster General Dispensary, and later on at St George’s and University College hospitals (Weir).  In 1842 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society, surely one of the youngest fellows, for “his researches demonstrating that articular cartilage, the cornea, the crystalline lens, the vitreous humour, and the epidermal appendages contained no blood-vessels” (Plarr’s Lives of the Fellows).  He was early on an opponent of the ‘aurists’ like John Harrison Curtis, writing letters to The Lancet on the matter.  Curtis claimed that some deafness came “from a want of action of the ceruminous glands” – that is a lack of wax.

Toynbee belongs to the great set of scientists, like John Scott Haldane, who tried self-experimentation.  In the case of Toynbee this did not end well. The Leeds Mercury begins its story on Toynbee’s end as follows –

Lamentable Death of a Medical Man
Yesterday afternoon a very painful investigation took place before Mr. C.St. Clare Bedford and a select jury at the New Vestry-hall, St. James’s, Piccadilly […] which was caused by the inhalation of chloroform and cyanic acid while prosecuting experiments for the advancement of science. […]
He was continually in the habit of making experiments on himself for scientific purposes and for the relief of suffering mankind. (The Leeds Mercury)

His man-servant George Power described how he saw a patient in the afternoon for a few minutes. Shortly after another patient called & Power entered the room to find Toynbee lying with a piece of cotton wool over his nose and mouth. He thought he was asleep but removing the cotton wool realised that something was wrong then ran off down Savile Row trying to get another doctor to assist, to no avail. In the meantime Dr. Orlando Markham, a colleague from St. Mary’s hospital, had heard that Toynbee was in need of help, but arrived to find him dead. With another friend, Dr. Arthur Leared, they tried artificial respiration for half an hour.  It seems from papers and a watch on his chairs, that he was trying “The effect of inhalation of the vapour of chloroform for singing in the ears so as to be forced to the tynpanum, either by being taken in by the breath through a towel or a sponge, producing a beneficial sensation or warmth”,  and “The effect of chloroform combined with hydrocyanic acid”.  He died on the 7th of July 1866, either from the chloroform, or the combination (The Morning Post, Leeds Mercury).  

Toynbee 2We have a copy of Toynbee’s A Descriptive Catalogue of Preparations illustrative of the Diseases of the Ear in the Museum of Joseph Toynbee that must have been given by Toynbee as it is signed ‘from the author’, to Henry Hancock the surgeon, like Toynbee one of the original 300 fellows of the Royal College of SurgeonsHe was not an ENT specialist, so perhaps that is why he then donated the book to the Charing Cross Hospital with which he had a long association.  The Catalogue describes items in Toynbee’s collection, which ended up in the Hunterian but was lost during the war in an air raid.  A page here shows that foreign bodies in ears are not new!Toyb

In the introduction he writes,

When, in the year 1839, I entered upon a systematic study of the diseases of the ear, the conviction was soon forced upon me, that its pathology had been almost entirely neglected. This conviction induced me to commence a series of dissections of that organ, which have continued up to the present time, and now amount to 1,659.

Toynbee 3

Above is a page from his book  The diseases of the ear: their nature, diagnosis, and treatment (1868) which demonstrates use of a eustachian catheter.

An experiment in chloroform (from the website of our friend)  Dr. Jaipreet Virdi-Dhesi, From the Hands of Quacks

Curtis J.H., Employment of creosote in deafness. Lancet 1838, 31 328-30

The Leeds Mercury (Leeds, England), Thursday, July 12, 1866; Issue 8813. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900

The Morning Post (London, England), Wednesday, July 11, 1866; pg. 3; Issue 28886. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900

Mudry A., The making of a career: Joseph Toynbee‘s first steps in otology. J Laryngol Otol. 2012 Jan;126(1):2-7. doi: 10.1017/S0022215111002465. Epub 2011 Sep 5.

Neil Weir, ‘Toynbee, Joseph (1815–1866)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/27647, accessed 12 Aug 2016] 

John Wallis – the Sermons, and his Letter to Robert Boyle “Teaching a person Dumb and Deaf to speak”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 1 August 2016

The Sermons (1791 edition) are not what I would call my literature of choice, but John Wallis was notable for us in his attempts to educate a deaf boy, Alexander Popham.  It was the cause of a huge row in the early Royal Society, as William Holder said that he had taught Popham, and this was not acknowledged by Wallis.Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Device

A memoir of Wallis, with additional notes by the Rev. C.E. de Coetlogon, says,

About the year 1653 he published his “tractatus de Loquela Grammatici-Physicus,” since reprinted many times; wherein he gives a particular account of the physical or mechanical formation of sounds used in speech, or expressed by the letters of several languages: a design which is not known to have been (before him) undertaken by any person; in pursuance of which, he hath undertaken, with success, to teach some dumb persons to speak.  To which is added, a letter of the Doctor’s to Mr. Thomas Beverly, concerning his method of instruction, which he says he had taught Mr. Alexander Popham, born deaf, to speak distinctly, and to express his mind tolerably well by writing, and to understand what was written to him by others, as he had also done to Mr. Daniel Whaley. (p.lvii)

SheridaneOur copy came from the library of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the celebrated playright.  Quite why he was interested in Wallis I cannot say – perhaps he bought his books in bulk, perhaps Sheridan was just interested in the ideas and use of language.  Selwyn Oxley also bought a collection of Wallis’s essays on The Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, ex libris one John Bedford, and Number 61 of the Philosophical Transactions from 1670, which contains the letter of Wallis to Robert Boyle “concerning the said doctors Essay of Teaching a person Dumb and Deaf to speak, and to understand a Language” etc.  Wallis does tell us that Popham may have been able to speak previously, having lost his hearing ‘by accident’ aged about five, ‘but doth scarce remember it’ (p.1093).   I attach the complete short essay here – A Letter of Doctor John Wallis to Robert Boyle Esq.

This is the first page below, sadly covered with Oxley’s spidery hand!

Wallis 2An audio file of a Royal Society talk by David Cram on Wallis and his dispute with Holder is to be found here.  Unfortunately there is still no video for some reason – see comments below – https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/2012/wallis-holder-dispute/

Also, if you read the comments you will note that David Cram and Jaap Maat are writing a book on the notebook of Popham.




James Kerr Love, Scottish Aurist, friend of Helen Keller, 1858-1942

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 22 July 2016

Kerr Love 2James Kerr Love was one of the leading British otologists of the early 20th century, but will be remembered more for his involvement with deaf children and his friendship with Helen Keller than for his surgical skills (BMJ, 1942).

It was this less spectacular work that lay nearest to his heart, and he spared himself nothing in its pursuit. […] In Dr. Kerr Love they had for many years a sympathetic and tireless champion, who wrote, lectured, and organized on their behalf with unflagging energy. (ibid)

He was born in Beith, Ayrshire, a ‘son of the manse’.  He was educated in Glasgow High School and the University of Glasgow, becoming an M.D. in 1888 writing his thesis, “The Limits of Hearing” (ibid, & BDM p.128).  He was a surgeon at Glasgow Royal Infirmary for thirty years, and worked for the Glasgow Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.  It was with his colleague, Dr. Addison, head of that Institute, and later Missioner for the deaf in Salisbury diocese, that he wrote the book Deaf Mutism (1896).  His father-in-law was the Rev. Joseph Corbet or Corbett.  He died on the 30th/31st of May, 1942, at Sunnyside, West Kilbride, Ayrshire.

It is hard to briefly summarise Kerr Love’s views on education, and he does stress that it is a matter for teachers.  Let us look at a couple of passages with his own words.  At the end of his 1906 book, Diseases of the Ear, he says,

So far as State arrangements for the education of the deaf and dumb are concerned, it seems to the author that in every large community two schools for the deaf should exist :-

1. One containing all the semi-deaf, the totally deaf with much residual speech, and the ordinary deaf mute who makes good progress on the oral method.  Nothing but the oral method should be adopted in this institution.  Signs should be used as little as possible, and finger spelling should be prohibited.  All deaf children should pass their first year in this school.
2. A school min which the finger method or a combination ogf the oral and finger methods is taught.  It is the writer’s opinion that at least half of the deaf-mute children would ultimately find their way into this second school.(p.320)

He seems to have maintained this view that sign language was only good enough for those unable to learn spoken language, writing in 1936 (in The Deaf Child, p.109),

Some of the schools describe themselves as oral schools, some as combined schools.  But if it is difficult to define a combined method, it is more difficult to define a combined method school.

I am now speaking of the institutions and not of the day-schools, and I state that, apart from theose in Manchester and London, all the residential institutions I have visited are combined schools.  Only in these two cities do arrangements exist for the separation of the defective deaf, who should be taught manually, from the ordinary deaf child, who should ber taught orally. (p.109)

It is probably unfair to give a couple of quotes out of the full context of his thought, and his views seem more nuanced than these quotations might make him appear. His work is worthy of consideration in the history of deaf education in the period from 1890 to the 1930s, as he was well known and widely read, being involved in the foundation of the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf.  They published his monograph consisting of four essays, The Causes and Prevention of Deafness (1912).

We see him here with his friend, Helen Keller.  She was such a celebrity, perhaps one of the first modern celebrities, that everyone wanted to meet her or be seen with her, poets, politicians, doctors etc.  Selwyn Oxley contacted Kerr Love when she came to the UK in 1932, as he too wanted to meet her.  I love Kerr Love’s reply – “I cannot see what she can make of your library unless it be in Braille.”  These notes were later stuck into a copy of one of his books by Oxley.Kerr Love note 1

Kerr Love note 2Kerr LoveKerr Love, J. & W.H. Addison.  Deaf-mutism.  1904

Kerr Love, J. & W.H. Addison.  The education of the deaf and (so-called) dumb: two papers, by James Kerr Love and W.H.Addison. Glasgow: Philosophical Society of Glasgow, 1893.

Kerr Love, J. & W.H. Addison.  A statement on the subject of methods of education, by James Kerr Love, with remarks thereon by W.H.Addison. Glasgow: James Cameron, 1893.

Kerr Love, James (ed).  Helen Keller in Scotland, a personal record written by herself.  1933

Kerr Love, James. Deafness and Common Sense. 1936

Obituary: James Kerr Love, M.D., LL.D. The British Medical Journal, Vol. 1, No. 4250 (Jun. 20, 1942), p. 775

Deaf-mutism, by J. Kerr Love, & W.H. Addison, (review) The British Deaf-Mute p.126-8, Vol. 5 1895-6

A tragedy from 1906 with a modern resonance

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 15 July 2016

I came across a very short item in the British Deaf Times for October, 1906, p.225, which led me to discover more about a Lincolnshire family from over a century ago, and a tragic event.

Harriet Shaw was born in Grimsby in 1826/7, and christened on the 27th of February.  According to various census returns she was born deaf.  Her parents were Elizabeth, or ‘Betsey’, and William Shaw, who was a shipbuilder, neither being described as deaf on the census.  In 1848 she married a Hull man, Robert Matthews, a ship’s carpenter who later became a shipwright like his father-in-law.  They had at least six children, William Joseph, born in 1850, who became a boilermaker, Robert, a carpenter, born c. 1853, George, also trained as a carpenter, born c. 1856, Emma born c. 1860, Hannah born in c. 1864, and Elizabeth born in c. 1868.  William, Hannah and Elizabeth, were all, like their mother, born deaf, according to the census returns.  The 1861 census says that George was also deaf, but he is not described as deaf in the 1871 census.  Clearly census returns are not infallible, relying on the information of informants who may not have been thorough in their admissions to the enumerator, and enumerators were also mistaken or careless on occasions.  It is a great pity that we have few early reports from local deaf missions, and those we have for Hull, East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire are rather patchy.  Local papers might tell us more, and there must have been an inquest.  It seems very likely (I would stress without firm evidence) that in a family like this where mother and many children were deaf, that they would have signed.

William, the oldest child, never married.  The tragedy is that, on the 6th of September 1906, his sister, probably the youngest sister Elizabeth who was still living at home with her brother, found him hanged in a workshop.  One can only imagine what desperation, despair and disillusionment, led him to this, but the truth is that Deaf people are more vulnerable to isolation and mental health issues.  A Mad Act

Sheffield 1914In 1882 Emma Matthews married a Deaf man from Sheffield, Thomas Gilley Bentley, an engraver, and they had at least one Deaf child, Victoria Maud Bentley, born in 1887.  That is the third generation from Harriet Shaw.  The 1911 census shows that the Bentleys had ten children, six surviving at that time.  Victoria married Albert B Clarke in 1918.  Albert, born c. 1889, was also Deaf from childhood.  From the above annual report for Sheffield, we can see that Thomas Bentley was involved with the Sheffield Association in Aid if the Deaf and Dumb.  Perhaps we have the sort of idea of ‘deaf ethnicity’ here in the Matthews/Shaw/Bentley/Clarke families – see Lane et. al for a discussion of this.

At that time George Stephenson was still working with the Association, which leads me to suggest that anyone interested in the history of Deaf people in the late 19th and early 20th century, may be interested to read Nick Waite’s new book, Alone in a Silent World, which covers this period and the long association of the Stephensons with the Sheffield Deaf community.


I have heard of a recent case which resonates with the story of William Matthews, although of course we know very little other than the outline of William’s story.

This open access article from 2007 is a review of the literature on Deaf people and Suicide up to that point – Suicide in deaf populations: a literature review.  That article has been widely cited.  This links to PubMed article abstracts using the search terms mental health and deaf.  The British Society for Mental Health and Deafness (BSMHD) “focuses entirely on the promotion of the positive mental health of deaf people.”  Additionally the Samaritans have an email contact jo@samaritans.org

Lane, H., Pillard, R.C. & Hedberg, U. The People of the Eye : Deaf Ethnicity and Ancestry.  2011

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2113; Folio: 202; Page: 13; GSU roll: 87742

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2389; Folio: 55; Page: 15; GSU roll: 542964

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3414; Folio: 63; Page: 22; GSU roll: 839406

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3270; Folio: 36; Page: 24; GSU roll: 1341780

Hannah and Emma in the 1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3815; Folio: 133; Page: 8; GSU roll: 6098925

William in the 1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3089; Folio: 62; Page: 36

Albert in the 1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 4375; Folio: 57; Page: 26

An ordinary (deaf) man – Thomas Henry Jones, Tailor (ca. 1837-1921)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 1 July 2016

To disappoint you, the person who features today had no exciting adventures, and was probably not significant to anyone outside his friends and family.  He was an ordinary person.  He probably led an ordinary life, but honestly, while we usually have some additional source to the online genealogical information, such as a short obituary or a story in a paper, I have nothing for Thomas except this rather nice photograph of him with his pinking shears. On the back it says “80 years old” in pencil, then in ink, but not Selwyn Oxley’s hand, “Thomas Henry Jones died Dec. 26 aged 86 at Ashford Mddx Tailor”.   Printed below in very small type – the photo is on a postcard backing as are most of our collection – is “Freeman, Photo, Ashford, Staines.”  The photo probably dates from circa 1915 (he was 84 when he died rather than 86 – see below).

Born in Deptford in 1837, Thomas Henry Jones was baptised on the 23rd of July that year, the son of John and Mary Ann Thomas.  His father was a shoemaker, and the family lived then in Grove Lane according to the baptismal records (lodged at the London Metropolitan Archives and also on line).  He attended the Old Kent Road Asylum, and was there in the 1851 census when he was 13.

In the 1861 census he was living with his married sister and her family in Deptford.  That census tells us he was deaf from birth.  Towards the end of that year he married a deaf lady called Susannah or Susan Anderson, daughter of Irish immigrants and, according to the 1861 census, deaf from birth.  She was born in Chelsea, circa 1834, and worked as a dressmaker.  In 1861 she was living in Carteret Street by St. James’s Park supporting her mother, and with a lodger nineteen year old Hannah Rowe, a deaf shirtmaker from Tiverton.  I wonder if they met through being a dressmaker and a tailor, or through the deaf community?  They had at least four children, Alfred, Walter, Caroline and Albert, born in Deptford, Rotherhithe and then Deptford, which suggests that the family did not move too far away from where Thomas grew up.  Susannah must have died a little after the 1881 census, as Thomas married again, to Eleanor Thompson (b.1851), in Bethnal Green in 1882 (see Free BMD).  She too was profoundly deaf, but I have not certainly identified her in the 1861 or 1871 censuses, although there is a Thompson family who might fit in the Hackney workhouse in 1871.

Thomas Jones died 1921In 1901 the family was living in Staines, with their three surviving children of six in total, and with a deaf boarder, William Lake (b.ca 1881 in New Brompton, Kent).  The youngest daughter, Beatrice, was born when Eleanor was 44. Beatrice Eleanor (b. 1895) married a George Matthews in 1915 and only died in 1974.

By 1911 they were living at 5 Vine Cottages, Ashford, Middlesex.  Thomas died at his home in London Road, Stanwell, on the 26th of December 1921, and was buried on the 31st, aged 84.

Thomas –

1911 Census Class: RG14; Piece: 6755; Schedule Number: 220 

1901 Census Class: RG13; Piece: 1175; Folio: 37; Page: 24

1881 Census Class: RG11; Piece: 701; Folio: 17; Page: 28; GSU roll: 1341164

1871 Census Class: RG10; Piece: 743; Folio: 84; Page: 24; GSU roll: 824719

1861 Census Class: RG 9; Piece: 397; Folio: 127; Page: 1; GSU roll: 542630

1841 Census Class: HO107; Piece: 484; Book: 9; Civil Parish: Lewisham; County: Kent; Enumeration District: 5 6; Folio: 9; Page: 11; Line: 2; GSU roll: 306876

Susannah –

1861 Census Class: RG 9; Piece: 53; Folio: 73; Page: 15; GSU roll: 542564

1851 Census Class: HO107; Piece: 1480; Folio: 353; Page: 46; GSU roll: 87804-87805

London Metropolitan Archives, Deptford St Paul, Register of Baptism, p75/pau, Item 007

London Metropolitan Archives, Death records Call Number: dro/022/a/01/020

Deaf Polish Jewish Artist, Maurycy Minkowski (1881-1930)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 24 June 2016

Maurycy Minkowski (1881-1930), sometime known as Maurice Minkowski or Minkovski, was a Polish Jewish artist, born in Warsaw.  He seems to an early 20th century artist who has been largely forgotten.

When one of his works, “After the Pogrom” appeared in a 2002 exhibition in The Jewish Museum (New York), it was bracketed with several other paintings by the critic as putting “a specifically Jewish spin on the worst excesses of 19th-century sentimentality” (Prose, 2002).  That seems a little harsh, but Richard Cohen says he was one of the Jewish artists who “remained deeply anchored to the cataclysmic events of the day”, namely the terrible pogroms that broke out in Eastern Europe and European Russia at the turn of the century (Jewish Icons, 1998).  If you search for his paintings on line you will get a flavour of the types of image – women, children, old men, the victims of dislocation and hatred.

It is hard to find solid details about his life, at least in English.  His family were it seems middle class, and according to Cohen were ‘acculturated’ (1998, p.245).  He had either an accident or an illness when he was 5, which entailed hospitalisation and left him deaf.  Aged 12 he was talented enough to be asked to paint a portrait of the Governor of Warsaw (Jewish Chronicle obituary).  From 1900 to 1904 he trained at the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied under Jozef Mehoffer, Jan Stanisławski, and Leon Wyczółkowski (ibid and his Polish Wikipedia entry).  Cohen tells us that they awarded him with a gold medal at his graduation (ibid p.245).  He is called ‘deaf and dumb’ which suggests that he had no spoken language, but as I have found no proper interviews and only one contemporary account of him, it is impossible to say whether he signed in Polish sign language or had to use lip-reading or other forms of communication.  His Polish Wikipedia entry says that he attended the Institute for the Deaf, as well as having private tuition in drawing, but it cites no sources for that.  He had a brother, Feliks, and at some point married Rachel Marshak (Baker, p.108).  His obituary in the Jewish Chronicle, despite calling him ‘well-known’, runs to a mere 16 lines.

The pivotal period of his life that influenced his art seems to have been the events of the Polish Revolution in 1905.  There were attacks on Jews, and a pogrom at Bialystock where Cohen says (p.245) the “plight of the children left the artist shaken.”

He travelled around western Europe in the following years, and the Polish Wikipedia article says he settled in Paris in 1908, though he continued to travel.  Another source says that it was in 1924 that he moved permanently to Paris, where he exhibited (Stevens, 1925).  Interviewed by Kelly Stevens, it seems that, as he knew no French they communicated with gesture and ‘signs’.  He left Paris for Argentina in August 1930, taking 200 of his works with him.  One work, that seems to me to be very fine, a portrait of Mosheh Oved, is in the Ben Uri collection in London.  When crossing a street near his house in Buenos Aires on Saturday the 22nd of November 1930, Minkowski was struck by a taxi that he failed to hear because of his deafness, and died almost instantly (Baker p.109).  His funeral was attended by thousands of people.  About ten years after his death, some of his art was sold to cover the debts of his heirs.  Much was bought by a Jewish cultural association in Buenos Aires, the IWO (Baker, p.117).  The collection narrowly escaped total destruction when there was a terrorist attack on the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building in 1994, that killed 84 people.  You can read more about that in Zachary Baker’s article.

The short obituary cited above, quotes the Jewish Chronicle’s art critic from an earlier exhibition review –

In the work of Maurice Minkowski…. We see a splendid example of the East European Type of Jewish genius…. We find the penetrating grasp of character and the absorbed interest in human emotion which is to be expected in a Polish Jew: it is the high intensity with which these are developed which is remarkable.

MinkowskiCohen says,

The reception of Minkowski’s work in the pre-World War I period remains enigmatic. Hardly any Jewish newspaper that popularized Jewish artists singled him out, and he is referred to only fleetingly until the appearance of the Hungarian Jewish journal Múlt és Jövő in 1911. This journal gave his work extensive coverage, publishing many of his paintings. After World War I, Minkowski staged several large exhibitions in the west, which were introduced by the French cultural figure, Anatole de Monzie (Cohen p.250-1).

The photograph of the artist, from our collection made by Selwyn Oxley, is the only image of him that I have seen, and is what set me off trying to find out a little about him.  It comes from The Silent Worker article.  His seems a fascinating story, and probably requires the research skills of an art lover who can read Polish, French, and Spanish.  Please add any interesting information you can contribute in the comment space below.

UPDATE 1/7/2016: I put the wrong birth date in the heading and first paragraph from an early version – it was 1881 NOT 1888 as one or two sources suggested. I have also expanded a few bits and added a couple of links & a quote from Cohen.

Baker, Zachary M.  Art Patronage and Philistinism in Argentina: Maurycy Minkowski in Buenos Aires, 1930. Shofar Vol. 19, No. 3, Special Issue: The Jewish Diaspora of Latin America (SPRING 2001), pp. 107-119

Cohen, Richard I., Jewish Icons: Art and Society in Modern Europe. University of California Press, 1998. p.245-51

Prose, Francine, The Gallery: Nostalgia and Daring in Jewish Art Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition, 2002

The Jewish Chronicle, November 28th 1930 p. 14

The Jewish Chronicle, December 5th 1930 p. 5

Stevens, Kelly, Minkowski, Polish Painter. The Silent Worker, Vol.38 (1), p.6-8

MUSEO MAURICE MINKOWSKI Calle Pasteur 633 , Buenos Aires , 1028 , Argentina

De’Via and Deaf Jewish Art