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“the deaf who had been taught by the manual method were more intelligent & much better educated…” Agar & Rosa Russell

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 January 2017

Rosa Brommage was born in Wolverhampton in 1862, fourth child of Alfred, a clerk for a cemetery company, originally from Kidderminster, and his wife Caroline.  Her older sisters, Caroline and Annie, were both, like Rosa, deaf ‘from birth’ according to the census return.  Her five younger siblings all had normal hearing.  On the 18th of April, 1892, she married Agar Russell, who had lost his hearing aged 12.  Agar’s father was originally Samuel Gunster, from a Jewish family in Posen, although Agar said that they did not know his nationality – whether Polish or German.  Samuel went to America as a young man, but somehow avoided conscription and ended up in London, where he met his ‘wife’, though Agar was never sure whether they were married (various pages in his Reminiscences).

Agar Russell April 1899 Ephphatha 1We have the manuscript of Agar’s memoirs, Surdus; Reminiscences, written it seems in the war years.  They are rather higgledy-piggledy, with chapters that are themed rather than being chronological, for example “Workhouses and other Institutions,” or “Holiday Adventures.”  Some things you would like to know are not mentioned in much detail.

Agar Russell had grown up in London, where he was acquainted with the Rev. Fred Gilby and various people in the St.Saviour’s Deaf church congregation.  When he was 16, it was suggested that he become a teacher to the deaf, yet, as he says, “having never met a deaf and dumb person, or seen the manual alphabet.”  He went to the Llandaff School for six years as assistant to Alexander Melville.  The children of the school “gave a smiling welcome, and then began to make remarks to one another in a gesture language which I felt I should never be able to understand.”

Agar paints an interesting picture of life in the school.  He does not seem to have particularly liked the headmaster, Alexander Melville, and was not impressed by his teaching methods.  Melville “expected the children to answer his questions on subjects of which they had not sufficient written instructions.”  “Mrs Melville was deaf and dumb, of a quiet and gentle disposition and of no unusual attainments, and evidently in awe of her husband.  We cannot but conjecture that this union was due to her being the means of his requiring funds for the purpose of establishing the school” (see his Reminiscences).  When Mr Clyne of Bristol Deaf School came to take over temporarily after the death of Melville’s first wife,  Agar says he used instructions in writing before he put questions to the pupils –

Who? – Does? – What?

Mary – sweeps – the floor

What? – Done? – By Whom?

The floor – is swept – by Mary

In his Reminiscences he also said, “From my own experience I found that the deaf who had been taught by the manual method were more intelligent and much better educated than those brought up on the manual system.”  In the Ephphatha interview in 1896, Agar’s questioner, ‘C’, asked him,

“Speaking of the need for special services, have you ever met with a deaf person who could follow an ordinary discourse, by watching the lips of the speaker?”
“No, never; only a few who could with more or less difficulty make out short sentences uttered in an exaggerated manner by the speaker.  […] To suppose that children educated on the oral system can read everybody’s lips, even if everybody is patient enough to try them, is fallacious; and to assert that they can follow an ordinary viva voce lecture or sermon, is absurd.  The training of the mind of the deaf is more perfectly accomplished by the manual method and writing.  Many of the graduates of the oral system have a very poor grasp of language, and a very inferior mental development, as a consequence of their having been forced through many weary years to learn mere articulation and lip-reading.” (Ephphatha, p.67)

Mrs Russell jubilee ticketAgar took photos when he was in the Staffordshire mission, many being stuck into the annual reports that we have for the mission.  I expect that these were Agar’s own copies and that they were donated or willed to the library when Agar died in 1956, aged 91.  Unfortunately for us, this means that his photos are still in copyright for another ten years, so without knowing who inherited the copyright and holds it at present, we cannot legally reproduce his photos taken in the 1890s.

Rosa died in 1942, after fifty years of marriage.

Mr Russell Agar, an interview.  Ephphatha, vol.4 p.66-7, 1899

Russell, Agar, Surdus – Reminiscences.  Unpublished manuscript in library.

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2229; Folio: 20; Page: 34; GSU roll: 6097339

Merry Yule & Happy New Year!

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 23 December 2016

Away until the 3rd of January 2017.Silent World 1948

The early NID Technical Department, Dennis B. Fry and Péter B. Dénes of UCL

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 23 December 2016

UCL has had an association with the RNID/Action on Hearing Loss Library since the early 1990s when the library moved into the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital alongside the then Institute of Laryngology Library.  However there is a much older association between UCL and what was then the NID.

Giant hearing Aid War time developments in electronics ushered in an era when mass hearing aids would be small enough to be convenient to carry around, and cheap enough for the state to introduce the Medresco hearing aid supplied by the new NHS from 1948.  The previous year the transistor had been unveiled by Bell labs in the US, an invention that would change the world.

For many years the NID had been concerned over the quality of hearing aids and they way they were marketed to the public.  They worked with manufacturers and suppliers to create an agreement whereby the supplier made no claims about curing deafness, as had often been the case with quack sellers, and broadly to not bully clients into buying unwanted devices.  They also created an approved list of suppliers who signed up to the agreement.  This was a slightly tortuous process, and for those interested a visit to the library to read NID minutes would be essential.  The list is attached here: NID approved list

Anechoic ChamberIn 1947 The NID set up a technical department, at the behest of the Medical Committee (Annual Report, 1947 p.9).  At the time they were in 105 Gower Street, and did not have facilities, so initially UCL helped out, and Dennis Butler Fry (1907-84) led the efforts to establish testing to show the ‘technical characteristics and qualities of the various hearing aids’ which were available, and then publish this scientific information to the public (Denes & Fry p.304).

Fry was born on the 3rd of November, 1907, in Stockbridge, Hampshire, son of Fred Cornelius Fry and Jane Ann Butler.

After five years of teaching French, first at Tewkesbury Grammar School and then at Kilburn Grammar School, in 1934 he was appointed Assistant Lecturer in Phonetics at University College London, where he also became Superintendent of the Phonetics Laboratory in 1937.  In 1938 he was promoted to Lecturer in Experimental Phonetics. In 1948, the year after the award of his Ph.D. degree, he became Reader in Experimental Phonetics.  From 1958 until his retirement in 1975, he was Professor of Experimental Phonetics, the first one to hold the title in Britain. (Obituary for Dennis Butler Fry, Arthur S. Abramson

The 1947 annual report records that with the co-operation of Sir David Pye, UCL provost and mechanical engineer who worked on jet engines during the war, they were setting up a special sound-proof room, and that technical staff would be trained at the college, all under the supervision of Fry.  Fry had served in the RAF during the war, at the Acoustics Research Laboratory, Central Medical Establishment, at Kelvin House, 24-32 Cleveland Street, London.  Together with his colleague Péter B. Dénes (1920-96), a Hungarian phonetician who became a British citizen, but spent much of his later working life in the USA.  The books of Fry and Dénes (usually written Denes) on phonetics are still in use today.  Fry founded the journal Speech and Language in 1958. He wrote two books with Edith Whetnall (they are pictured together below), The Deaf Child, and Learning to Hear.

Denes had left Hungary in the 1930s and studied first at Manchester, before moving to UCL where he worked with Fry.  In 1961 he went to the USA on the Queen Mary to work at the Bell Labs (1996 obituary, see link below).  In his obituary, Michael Noll says,

Although Hungarian by birth, Peter was very much British by citizenship and personality. His knowledge of European history and views on events in America led to many lively discussions with his many friends and colleagues. Peter chose to remain a subject of the Queen of England, but he also chose to live in the United States.

The room in the basement of 105 was eventually fitted out for technical testing, along with the anechoic chamber.  In those days the road traffic would not have been as bad as now, and I suspect it would not have been possible to use it today, because of vibrations.  The first technician seems to have been Mr W.J. Markwick, who is mentioned in the 1950 annual report (p.33).  The Technical department became one of the most important areas for the NID in the following decade.

I am sure this would be an interesting area for research.  Denes and Fry were both interesting people who made significant contributions to speech and language research.

Fry Whetnall

Denes, P. and Fry, D.B. An Introduction to the NID Technical Research Laboratory

NID Annual Reports

Abramson, Arthur S. Obituary for Dennis Butler Fry. Speech Communication Volume 3, Issue 2, August 1984, Pages 167-168

http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/fry-obit.htm

Noll, Michael, Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 100, No. 4, Pt. 1, October 1996, p.1916 http://asa.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1121/1.417840

Kenneth Walter Hodgson & “The Problems of the Deaf” (1953)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 9 December 2016

Author of the famous book, The Deaf and Their Problems (1953), Kenneth Walter Hodgson is opaque in the records, with very little seeming to be found about him as a person other than records of the book.  The little to be found I discovered from a half page typescript of old library notes presumably from the 1970s, combined with the registration of his death.  As a few people have asked about him over the years, and we have been able to say nothing about him, I thought I would share what we do have.

He was born in West London on the 10th of June 1914, son of Walter Graham Hodgson, an electrical engineer from Birkenhead, and his wife, Emily Nott.  The information I have (from our very old library enquiry folder) tells us that he was educated at Sloane School, then Selwyn College, Cambridge as an Open Exhibitor in History, and then in King’s College, London.  He then taught for a few years in Liverpool slum schools until 1941, when he was called up.  That same year he married Dora Craven, and they had a son William Graham Hodgson, in 1942.*

Kenneth Hodgson went into the R.A.F. but suffered from poor health, and from 1944 he was teaching again.  He worked mainly with “handicapped and deprived children in poor districts.”  He then worked in a school for deaf children, but we are not told which one, unless he mentions it in the body of the text of The Deaf and Their Problems.  This work revealed to him a lack of literature available in England for candidates for the Diploma in Deaf Education.

The Deaf and Their Problems was intended to go some way toward meeting this lack in the “pure oralist”  tradition, then unquestioned by teachers of the deaf in England.  But the accumulation of evidence changed the book into an argument for experiment on much broader lines, including manual language.

The Deaf and Their Problems has an introduction by Sir Richard Paget.  A review in The Teacher of the Deaf for December 1953 (p.189-90), by Thomas J. Watson (1912-84), a teacher at Henderson Row and later at Manchester University as a lecturer, writing as ‘T.J.W.’, criticized the book:

In a book with such a title, one would expect to find a full discussion of the problems – educational, social and emotional – of deaf children and adults.  The title, however, is rather misleading, and one finds that two-thirds of the book are devoted to a history of the education of the deaf, and that only the first fifty-five and last sixty-seven pages discuss deafness and its problems.[…]
Mr Hodgson does present what appears to be some new material.  He is not, however, always careful about the accuracy of some of his statements. […]
How far it is justifiable to mix fact with comment is a matter of opinion, but it would be helpful if references were given for some of the statements made. […]
One cannot in fairness end a review of this book without saying that if the reader preserves an open mind, then both the history and the discussion of problems should be read and considered carefully.  The former will help towards a broader view of the present situation, and the latter will provoke thought. (ibid)

Conclusion HodgsonSome might say today that his historical section is possibly the most interesting part of the book.

The note we have says that some pure oralists tried to prevent publication of the book, though it typically and frustratingly offers no source for that statement, something which leads me to wonder if the note is based on information supplied by Hodgson.  The typescript page continues,

professional ostracism made continuance of work with the deaf impossible, and necessitated a return to the “hearing” world of education until a severe heart attack compelled retirement in 1969.  Since then, concerned with the teaching of spiritual philosophy and, with the founding of AMICI (Friends), to assist young people with drug problems.

He died in Surrey in 1983.  I did find a letter by him from 1957 in New Scientist, in which he says “our children remain handicapped and stunted by the arbitrary limitation of their teaching to speech as the only form of language.”

*We are told he was a rowing international, but I cannot find him in any online records.

If you knew him or have anything to add, please comment.

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 277

“He did possess that indefinable quality which for want of a better word we term genius” – Leslie Edwards O.B.E., Deaf Missioner and Teacher

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 2 December 2016

Leslie Edwards was born in Wanstead, Essex, on the 27th of December, 1885, fourth of a remarkable thirteen children.  His father, Samuel, from Hackney, was a stock jobber and later a stockbroker’s clerk, while his mother Harriet, was born in Bethnal Green.  Leslie lost his hearing through meningitis when he was seven years old, according to both the 1911 and 1901 censuses, though the Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) says nine.  He was fortunate that his family learnt to finger-spell which helped his education he said (ToD, p.194).  “It was this personal experience which led him throughout his life to advocate the use of finger-spelling, not to supplant oralism, but to provide those accurate patterns of words and sentences so essential to the acquirement of fluency in the use of language” (ibid, p.194-5).  He was educated at the Manchester Institution, according to W.R. Roe in Peeps into the deaf world, and London according to the Teacher of the Deaf obituary (by W.C. Roe I believe).  Perhaps both are true, though London does seem more likely.

In 1900 he went to art school to train as an advertising artist (ToD p.195).  On leaving art school in 1903, he worked as a lithographer, according to the 1911 census, yet another of the large number of Deaf people who learnt that trade.  He became a lay reader at the Royal Association for the Deaf and Dumb mission in West Ham.

In 1912 Edwards became an assistant teacher at the East Anglian School for the Deaf in Gorleston, Suffolk.  While there he met Marion Thorp, a Yorkshire born teacher of the deaf who had previously trained under William Nelson in Stretford, at the Manchester Institution (Deaf School).  Her father Robert was a Church of England clergyman.  They were married in 1916, and had two children, a son and daughter (ToD p.195).

Edwards speechWe have a 17 page typescript speech on welfare work that he gave in June 1950 to the Torquay Conference for Teachers of the Deaf, when his obituary says he ‘possessed the art of “putting it across,”‘ in his ‘harsh’ but ‘perfectly intelligible’ speech (ToD p.195).  For those interested in the development of oralism v. manualism it is worth reading at greater length.

The Sign Language is essential.  The word language is not necessarily confined to words, my dictionary gives several definitions one of which is “any manner of expression.”  In so far then as signing conveys ideas, gives information and increases knowledge, it is not incorrect to speak of Sign Language.
No responsible person wants to sign if it can be avoided.
[….]
If signing is to be disregarded and as far as possible suppressed as has been the case for so many years what satisfactory alternative is proposed.  Is it not time to face up to the fact that efforts to suppress this natural instinct have not been successful and are bound to fail. (Edwards 1950, p.5)

He develops this line of thinking, further on saying,

Many of you learnt French at school and I think it is reasonable to suggest you acquired about as much understanding of that foreign language as the born deaf do of their Mother Tongue.  How many of you enjoy sitting down to read a French novel? (Edwards, 1950, p.6)

Leslie EdwardsFrom 1915 until his death, he was the missioner at Leicester Mission.  Related to that was his work as a founder of the Joint Examination Board for Missioners to the Deaf in 1929, which gave a diploma to missioners and welfare workers.

He was the honorary secretary-treasurer for the British Deaf and Dumb Association from 1935 to his death, and received the O.B.E. for his work with the deaf, in 1949 (ToD p.195).

Academic qualifications, to quote his own words, he had none.  He needed none.  He did possess that indefinable quality which for want of a better word we term genius.  Nature ordained that he should be an artist and in deference to her command he sought, for a time, to utilize the gifts she had bestowed on him.  But in early manhood he found his true vocation and from then throughout his life the over-ruling factor was his unwavering determination to serve his fellow deaf. (McDougal)

He died on the 3rd of October, 1951.

Ayliffe, E., Obituary. Deaf News, 1951, 188, insert.

Census 1891 – Class: RG12; Piece: 1352; Folio: 68; Page: 38; GSU roll: 6096462

Census 1901 – Class: RG13; Piece: 1621; Folio: 90; Page: 13

Census 1911 Edwards – Class: RG14; Piece: 9703; Schedule Number: 69

Census 1911 Thorp – Class: RG14; Piece: 23656; Page: 1

EDWARDS, L, Adult Deaf Welfare Work. 1950, p.2.

McDOUGAL, K.P. Leslie Edwards: an appreciation. Silent World, 1951, 6, 174.

Memorial to the late Leslie Edwards: Loughborough Church for the Deaf beautified. British Deaf News, 1955, 1, 10-12.

Opening programme, 18 July 1961. Leicester and County Mission for the Deaf, 1961. pp. 11-12.

ROE, W,R, Peeps into the deaf world, Bemrose, 1917, p. 388.

SMITH, A. Leslie Edwards, OBE: his early days. Books and Topics, 1951, 17, 6-7.

The late Leslie Edwards, OBE. Teacher of the Deaf, 1951, 49, 194-95.

 

“I know that the deaf can do everything the hearing can do” – Noel G Maddison, chemist

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 25 November 2016

Cecil Guy Noel Brunning Maddison (though he chose to use Noel as a first name) was a son of Frederick and Adela Maddison (or Brunning Maddison). He was born in 1888.  His mother was a very talented musician, composing songs and possibly having a liaison with Fauré.  He was born deaf.  His father was a well-known footballer, an Oxford educated solicitor in the City of London.  As we see from the record below, he was admitted to the Fitzroy Square School under Van Praagh when he was five and a half years old.  His attendance was irregular according to the entry, missing whole terms, and he left in July 1903 it seems (though the writing is a little indistinct) with his parents owing £42 (see the school register in our library archive).  It looks as if his childhood must have been disrupted by the unusual family circumstances.  The BDT article (from which we milk most of the following), says he was eight years at Fitzroy Square, leaving aged thirteen to be privately taught for two years, before studying under H.N. Dixon at Northampton for three more years.Noel 2  In The Arnold Way by Tony Boyce (2008), we learn that he was at the school from 1903-7, and that he was then at Northampton Technical School (p.14 and 96).  He was assisted by Mr Ince-Jones, who went over the notes of another student with him as Noel could not follow the oral lectures.  We may suppose that he did something similar in the university.

He studied chemistry there under Ince-Jones, before getting a place at the Royal College of Science, a part of Imperial College, having convinced them he was capable.  The BDT interviewed Maddison in 1909 –

“Of course, it was very difficult for me at first,” says Mr. Maddison, “but I was not discouraged, and always worked hard at home in the evenings as well as at College.”
[…]
“I think it is very foolish of the deaf to make their deafness an excuse for not succeeding,” he says.  “I know that the deaf can do everything the hearing can do – even play a piano without being able to hear it.”

Noel MaddisonNoel married Mildred Johnson in 1933, and died in Bournemouth at 47 Hill View Road, on the 16th of November, 1955, but I can find no more about him.  He may have had an inheritance from his parents that enabled him to move away from London.  In his will he left £7,319 3s 9d, quite a large sum in 1955 (see probate records).  It is possible that the Imperial College archives might have some records regarding his time there.  His wife died in 1994.

If you know anything of his later life, please leave a comment.

[Updated 29/11/2016 with reference to the book mentioned by Geoff Eagling in the comments, to whom thanks]

1901 Census Class: RG13; Piece: 116; Folio: 61; Page: 4

1911 Census Class: RG14; Piece: 115

Mr. Noel G. Maddison – Biographical Sketch of a Brilliant Deaf Student.  British Deaf Times, June 1909, Vol. 6 no.66, p.139-40

Silent Worker, 1910, vol 22 (9) p.177

Tony Boyce, The Arnold Way, British Deaf History Society, 2008.

Free BMD

See also here.

Two contrasting lives – John P. Gloyn (1830-1907) and Henry S. Lomas (1829-1905)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 18 November 2016

John Pugh Gloyn (1830-1907) was a fortunate man.  He was born in Clapham, London on the 16th of May 1830, son of C.J. Gloyn, a Launceston born solicitor (British Deaf-Mute, 1895).  He lost lost his hearing in his third year as a result of an inflammation “following the careless application of a cold knifeblade to a bruise” (BDT, 1904, p.109).

He was educated at the Old Kent Road Asylum under Dr. Buxton, when Stainer was assistant master, where he learnt sign language, the main method of teaching at that time (ibid).   On leaving school he worked as a telegraphist, then set up in business as a mathematical instrument maker (ibid).

Henry Samuel Lomas (1829-1905?) was in contrast an unfortunate man.  He was born in 1829 in St. Pancras, London, son of Samuel, a wheelwright from Sussex, and his wife Hannah, from Derbyshire.  He lived in Somers town, the notorious slum area partly destroyed by the building of St. Pancras station in 1868.  He also attended the Old Kent Road Asylum.  I noticed the following advertisement in A Magazine Intended Chiefly for the Deaf and Dumb for July 1874 inside the back cover.A Sad Case

Lomas was born deaf, and had very poor vision – sometimes he is called blind but there are degrees of blindness of course, and he must have had sufficient vision to be a ‘boot maker’ in both the 1901 census and on the records of St. Pancras Workhouse in Streatham.  I do not know when or how he lost his leg.  The Association for the Deaf and Dumb annual reports note several instances in the years around 1870 when a deaf person was knocked over and injured by a vehicle, so perhaps that happened. Cxdob7HXUAATHkf.jpg largeCases of sickness From the Trustees Committee minutes, for the meeting on 2nd May 1873, p. 205 we see that they gave Henry a small gratuity, tough clearly not enough in view of the appeal above.*

On the left is a page of cases from the Annual Report 1869-70 for the Association for the Deaf and Dumb (later R.A.D.D. now R.A.D.) which explains all too briefly that he lost his two fingers “unwisely meddling with some machinery”.  If he was in the University Hospital (UCLH), I wonder if there are any surviving records of their patients for that period in the London Metropolitan Archives.

In the 1851 and 1861 censuses Gloyn was living at 14 Brunswick Place, near Old Street, with his widowed father and various siblings.  In 1848-9 he began to  involved in ‘deaf work’ in a voluntary capacity, at first with Matthew Burns, who held services near Gloyn’s home in Shaftesbury Hall, Aldersgate, with the London Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb.  From January 1867 he conducted services in St. Paul’s Schools, Deptford, at the invitation of the Rev. Mr. Turner (Our Notice Board, 1907, BDT p.110).   In May 1872 he was appointed Missionary for the Northern District of the Association for the Deaf and Dumb, and he gave up his other work (BDM, 1895).  Gloyn’s obituary says,

Among the deaf he was a shining example of bright cheerfulness, and was never afraid to say what he thought, and had the very highest reputation as an upright man of unfailing punctuality and promptness in business matters.  His penny bank had for many years the largest amount of deposits, showing how well he drilled the deaf of north London in ways of thrift.

Lomas was a real survivor.  He started off poor, spent his life poor and disadvantaged, and ended it poor – yet despite all his misfortune he survived, we think, until early 1905 (search FREE DMB), though that would require a death certificate to confirm.  Gloyn died on the 19th of May, 1907.   Although they lived near one another, I wonder how much contact they had after they left school?  Perhaps Gloyn visited Lomas as part of his mission work, and maybe he brought his case to the attention of the Association.

GloynPhoto of Gloyn from BDM, 1895.

Many thanks to Norma McGilp of @DeafHeritageUK and John Lyon* @BristolDolt for additional information.

References

Association for the Deaf and Dumb annual reports – various issues.

A Magazine Intended Chiefly for the Deaf and Dumb

GLOYN

Census 1851 – Class: HO107; Piece: 1499; Folio: 446; Page: 14; GSU roll: 87832

Census 1861 – Class: RG 9; Piece: 129; Folio: 6; Page: 5; GSU roll: 542578

Popular deaf-mutes – J.P. Gloyn. British Deaf-Mute, 1895, 4(39), 34. (photo)

Our Missions Today; Mr John P. Gloyn & Islington, BDT 1904 p.109

John Pugh Gloyn, Our Notice Board, No.19, 1907, p.6

LOMAS

1851 Class: HO107; Piece: 1496; Folio: 854; Page: 36; GSU roll: 87828-87829

1861 Class: RG 9; Piece: 103; Folio: 95; Page: 43; GSU roll: 542574

1871 Class: RG10; Piece: 211; Folio: 85; Page: 88; GSU roll: 824596 (Drapers Place)

1901 Class: RG13; Piece: 480; Folio: 96; Page: 18

Acoustic instrument makers in the Strand, acoustic ‘throne’ myths, & Frederick Charles Rein & Son

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 11 November 2016

Forgive the long nature of this blog post – I considered dividing it into three as it is the length of an essay, but in the end have left it as one, divided into three sections.

THE REIN FAMILY BUSINESS

Frederick Charles Rein was born in Leipzig, Saxony around 1812/13, a son of Frederick Charles Rein, who was described as a merchant on his son’s marriage record. 1813 was a momentous time in Saxony, which was the scene that October of the Battle of the Nations. Wagner was born in the city the same year. At some time around 1834/5 Rein moved to England, where he set up as an instrument maker. His naturalization papers in June 1855 (to be found on the National Archive*) say that he had been resident for over twenty years (but we may suppose less than twenty-one as otherwise he would have made that clear). Whether he undertook an apprenticeship as an instrument maker in Saxony or in London would be interesting to know. He married Susanna(h) Payne of Wendover, whose father was a farmer or agricultural labourer (depending on the year of the census). By 1851 Rein was an exhibitor and medallist at the Great Exhibition. In addition to the acoustic instruments – ear trumpets and variations on that theme – Rein also made a “Continual stream enema reservoir” and “several kinds of aperitive vases and enemas”. Perhaps these items share properties with the acoustic instruments. He also made ‘lactatory’ devices – breast pumps. These were advertised in contemporary newspapers, accessible via online databases.

Acoustic chairsBerger’s The Hearing Aid: its Operation and Development (1970, p.7), says Rein began making non-electric hearing aids in London no later than 1800, a claim repeated by others in an internet meme, presumably on his authority. Max Goldstein’s book Problems of the Deaf (1933) has a picture of Rein’s ‘acoustic chair’ saying it was made in 1830. It is not called a ‘throne’. Our copy was donated to the library by Leslie V. K.-Rein in 1933 – of whom more anon. The claim is also usually repeated, without original evidence, that the ‘throne’ was made for King João VI of Portugal and Brazil (John VI in English) who was, we are told, deaf, or at least suffered from increasing hearing loss as he aged, and who died in 1826. Goldstein makes no mention of that. I cannot find any contemporary evidence in English that the king was deaf.  There are many pages on the web that repeat the story, without solid proof. All the evidence I have found seems to come back to Berger.**  It is unlikely that Rein made this ‘throne’ for João, unless Rein’s ‘merchant’ father was in fact an acoustic instrument maker who came to England. The chair was undoubtedly made by Rein, but later in the century. Goldstein has a picture of a speaking tube that he says was dated 1805 by ‘Rein & Son’, but this must be a misreading of the date which is most likely 1855 or 1865 by which time his son, Frederick Charles junior was working with him, as we can see from the name of the business in advertisements.

If Rein took over an existing business in the Strand, where the earliest record I can find of him is at 340 in 1841 on his son’s birth certificate for 22nd November, it may have been that of A.F. Hemming, an ‘elastical surgical instrument maker,’ who was at that address according to an advert in Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle (Sunday 1st November, 1840).

Rein’s 1843 advertisement in The Age (Sunday, March 5th 1843, p.1; Issue 62) says that he was an “INVENTER [sic] and MAKER of the NEW ACOUSTIC INSTRUMENTS to H.R.H. the DUKE of SUSSEX, 340, STRAND, (nearly opposite Somerset House)”.  (The Strand has been renumbered since Kinsgsway was built.)  The Duke was Queen Victoria’s uncle. Unfortunately the Duke died a few weeks after this advertisement appeared. Rein quotes in full an encomium from Justice Patteson of 33, Bedford Square, dated June 21st, 1841, which means he must have been making and selling acoustic instruments by that date. I have however failed to find him in the June 1841 census, which is notorious for its poor transcription.

If there was a Rein making hearing devices before circa 1835 when Frederick came to London, I cannot find any reference to that. Why advertise making a device for a Royal Duke, rather than a king? If anyone can find evidence for any Rein in any acoustic related business in London before this, perhaps by referring to trade directories or rate books, please point this out in the space for comments.

One witness to Rein’s marriage was a James Aloys Muhlhauser. I could not find any record in the ancestry.co.uk databases, and I wonder if he left England before 1841. There is one possible Muhlhauser, who was one of the Germans who their fellow countryman J.H. Garnier appealed to the Lord Mayor on behalf of in 1836. They had moved to Switzerland and then were expelled as being rather too liberal in their political views, even though not directly involved in politics (see The Morning Post, Wednesday, August 24, 1836; Issue 20503). That Muhlhauser was living in Goodman’s Fields. This is a speculation – if it is the same Muhlhauser, is it possible that Rein knew him before he came to England – perhaps having resided in Switzerland as well? Note that Rein’s wife Susannah was resident in Wentworth Street, Aldgate, and they were married at St. Mary’s Whitechapel, which is not far from there. It would be interesting to see if the Rein family appears in any German archives.

The Victorian church of St. John the Baptist, Enderby, has part of the Rein pulpit speaking system surviving, according to Pevsner. It sounds like the device that Rein patented in 1867 in The GazetteBy the 1880s the shop was described as a Paradise for the Deaf (The Era, Saturday, July 9, 1887; Issue 2546). Rein’s work was clearly well regarded by otologists. In The Diseases of the Ear, their Nature, Diagnosis and Treatment (1868, p.417), Joseph Toynbee says, “The most useful of this class of instruments are the small cornets made by Mr. Rein, which are connected by a spring passing over the head, that serves to hold them in the ears”, while William Wilde in Practical Observations on Aural Surgery and the Nature and Treatment of Diseases of the Ear (1853, p.435) says, “Mr. Rein, an instrument-maker in the Strand, London, has given much attention to the subject, and made many improvements therein.”

SOME OTHER ACOUSTIC DEVICE BUSINESSES IN THE STRAND IN THE 1830/40s

Aurist/surgeon John Harrison Curtis, regarded by Toynbee as a quack, was active through the early years of the century, and founder of the Royal Dispensary for the Diseases of the Ear, seems to have been influential in the design of acoustic instruments. He discusses the types available and some he designed in (A Treatise on the Physiology and Pathology of the Ear (1817). The adjacent picture illustrates some of these. Curtis designed an acoustic chair in the early years of the centuryAcoustic instruments – see in the picture above to the right of the later Rein chair. The relevant section from the 5th edition of his book is here – A Treatise on the Ear 5th edition. According to the sixth edition of that book (1836, p.181), Curtis had his devices made by J. & S. Maw, of 11 Aldersgate Street.***

It appears that this chair inspired Rein to make his, though they are different in design. Curtis tells us that a model of his chair was on display in the National Gallery of Practical Science, Adelaide Street, Lowther Arcade which was in the Strand, along with his various hearing trumpets and artificial ears, and ‘a metal cast of the Internal Ear’ (A Treatise on the Physiology and Pathology of the Ear 6th edition, 1836). It seems likely that this display was influential on Rein and the other acoustic instrument makers in the Strand area.

Other acoustic instrument makers (if that is not too specific a term for people who sold a variety of things, including ‘medical’ devices) of the late 1830s and 1840s, predating Rein, include the aurist William Wright, whose “Gong Metal Ear Trumpets” were manufactured and sold by L.H. Baugh at 199 The Strand, from at least 1832 to 1835. He wrote in On the Varieties of Deafness and Diseases of the Ear (1829, p.276), “the adaptation of an ivory ear-piece to a small bugle-horn, which I have directed to be made, appears to answer the purpose better than any other, and I believe the person to whom I gave the pattern, makes and sells a great number of them”.

To Persons Afflicted with Deafness. – L.H. Baugh, successor to S. Shepherd, 199, Strand, London, continues to manufacture the celebrated GONG METAL EAR TRUMPETS, and other ACOUSTIC INSTRUMENTS, so much approved of by the most eminent Surgeon-Aurists. These Instruments are universally admitted to be the most efficacious ever invented for the assistance of persons afflicted with deafness. The Trumpet is a handsome instrument, elegantly formed and finished, and may be carried in the pocket without the slightest inconvenience. Also the newly invented Ear Cap, which may be worn under a lady’s cap or bonnet without being perceived (The Morning Post, Monday, February 13, 1832; pg. [1]; Issue 19088).

Alfonso William Webster, who patented his otaphone in 1836 and was advertising it in the papers within weeks, available from 102 New Bond Street, then premises at 12 Chapel Street, Bedford Row, Holborn (The Standard, Thursday, April 07, 1836; pg. [1]; Issue 2781). He wrote A new and familiar treatise on the structure of the ear, and on deafness (1836) which we unfortunately do not have. He also wrote On the Principles of Sound; their application in the construction of public buildings, particularly to the New Houses of Parliament, etc (1840) , which is held in UCL Special Collections.  The last date I can see for the ‘otophone’ [sic] being advertised is The Morning Chronicle, Wednesday, January 9, 1839; Issue 21573. It is possible this Alphonsus Webster was married to a lady called Ann and had at least one daughter, Eliza, born 1815, and a son Septimus, born 1830 (see the IGI). I cannot find Webster in the 1841 census. Perhaps he died around that time, which may explain why he no longer advertised.

S. & B. Solomons of Albemarle Street, “Opticians and Aurists to their Majesties the King and Queen of Hanover” – they add, “No connexion with persons of the same name” – and, a person of the same name, Mr E. Solomons of 36 Old Bond Street, “Optician, Patentee of the Amber Spectacles,” who “respectfully informs the public that he has effected a vast improvement in VOICE CONDUCTORS, for aiding and permanently relieving all CASES of DEAFNESS. They are acknowledged to be far superior to any hitherto offered, do not require to be held, and are formed on a scale so small as to be scarcely visible.” etc… (The Age, Sunday Oct 4th, 1838 p.320). Next to this advertisement is one for Dr James Scott‘s establishment at 369 The Strand, under his ‘superintendent’ William B. Pine, offering the Soniferon, a sort of table based ear trumpet that “stands on a pillar like a lamp,” and Dr Scott’s Ear Cornets, “invaluable to those individuals whose whose deafness does not require so powerful an instrument as large as Soniferon.”  In 1836 Scott was not at that address it seems, from an advert in 1836, but that they were being manufactured under Scott’s supervision by Savory and Co., ‘chemists and medical instrument makers’ (Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, Sunday, October 30, 1836). That changed to ‘Scott and Co.’ in March 1837, or ‘Scott, Savory and Co.’ in some adverts, and not long after they must have dissolved their arrangement.  Savory had other premises in New Bond Street. In 1837 Scott was advertising ‘Voice Conductors’ (The Age, Sunday, May 28, 1837; pg. 176).  

Scott was born in 1789 in Calne, Wiltshire. He may have been from relatively humble origins but I have not traced his whole career: there is probably more to discover. He certainly married before 1819 when his daughter Emmaline or Emmeline was born. In 1822, he was a supposed inventor of a stomach pump. It seems to have caused some controversy in The Lancet (p.52, 1824). His double action bidet pump, lavement, cornets and soniferon can be seen in A companion to the medicine chest, and compendium of domestic medicine (1840) by John Savory – see the picture above. His son Montagu Scott was a solicitor and his son was Percy Montagu Scott, a naval gunnery expert, who was a student at UCL. Whether there is a connection there with his grandfather’s pumps we may never know.

William Blackmore Pine was born on the 4th of August 1812 in Tovil near Maidstone. He was the son of John Pine and his wife Rebecca, nee Carberry. His parents were non-conformists, his birth being registered as such in London in 1829. In 1844 he married an Irish girl, Louisa Hawkins, in Lambeth. He was the front for Scott’s business for many years but eventually he emigrated to Australia. Pine designed hearing instrument himself, with this rather attractive flower cornet from 1849. One page in The Times (Tuesday, Jul 02, 1850; pg. 11; Issue 20530), has adverts for Pine’s cornet, Rein’s auricles, and S. and B. Solomons’s “organic vibrator an extraordinarily powerful, small, newly invented instrument for deafness, entirely different from all others, to surpass anything of the kind that has been, or probably ever can be, produced” (ibid).

From “the Quack Doctor” pages by medical historian Caroline Rance, I discovered Scott had an embarrassing and tragic episode when a boy was fished out of the Thames at Waterloo Bridge and brought to his house. He said to them, “Be off with you – take it to Charing Cross Hospital” (Medical TimesJuly, 1844, p.308-9).  “It”.  The boy died.  Scott declined to appear at the inquest, sending a ‘medical man’ Mr. Pine. As you will see, the Medical Times questioned Scott’s medical background, asking “Who is Dr Scott? He is no member of the London College”. It can be no coincidence that not long afterwards, the letter appeared from Heidelberg, assuring British readers that they were a genuine medical school, though that some were purporting to have degrees from them when that was not true. These clippings from The Medical Times of August the 20th, 1844, p.391-2, illustrate the problem of guaranteeing that a medical degree was genuine  Scott had obtained his from Heidelberg in 1833. Obtaining a place in a British Medical School may not have been easy without the ‘right’ background, so perhaps studying abroad was a serious option for clever students with little family wealth. There were a number of James Scotts around in the 1840s in central London, but it seems that our Scott is one and the same. He seems to have known John Snow, of Cholera fame, and to have hosted at least one medical meeting of the Westminster Medical Society at his premises on least on one occasion.

A FAMILY TRAGEDY

Rein continued his business until his death in 1896, employing a brother-in-law Michael Payne, and later a nephew Cornelius Payne. Rein’s son, the third Frederick Charles, does not seem to have been terribly happy. He married Mary Aleyna Winter in 1867, but of their two children, the first girl died aged two, and the second Nelly Maud (or Nellie Maud) never married.  He seems to have used the name Charles. There are two unfortunate stories to be found about him, which point the way to his end. The first is from April 1893:

FROM THE DOCK TO THE JURY BOX
Frederick Charles Rein, living in the Strand, was charged with being drunk and disorderly. The case was last on the list, but it was heard first as the prisoner was anxious to get away, he being one of the jurymen engaged at the Law Courts. – Police-Constable 461 E stated that at 7 o’clock on Thursday evening prisoner was having an altercation with a match boy in the Strand. He was very drunk, made a great noise, and refused to go away. Prisoner denied being drunk, but said he was excited owing to a dispute with his father. – He was fined ten shillings (Daily News, Saturday, April 22, 1893; Issue 14682).

A second incident occurred in December 1894. Under what the The Dundee Courier & Argus uncharitably calls A CHRISTMASTIDE PHILANTHROPIST, but The Standard just WESTMINSTER, the following appears:

Frederick Carden, 54, describing himself as a carriage trimmer and refusing his address, was charged with robbing Mr. Frederick Rein at the Victoria Station of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway. – Prosecotor resides at Landwednock, Sutton, in the County of Surrey. His recollection of what occurred was of a rather hazy description, but said that he had some notion whilst sitting on the railway station platform that the Prisoner, professing to be a “well-disposed person who would see him home,” gave him a quantity of rum, which he (Mr. Rein) was fool enough to drink. – The story from this point was continued by Detective-sergeant Osborn, who noticed the couple on the seat together, and doubted the philanthropic intention of the Prisoner. Concealed in a railway brake the detective watched and saw the Prisoner make three attempts to get the Prosecutor’s umbrella from between his knees, which were crossed. Failing to pull it away, Prisoner undid the Prosecutor’s waistcoat and took out his gold watch, which he failed to easily detach. Mr. Rein seemed to rouse himself a bit during this operation, but the Prisoner gave him some more rum after himself pretending to drink. With the last lot of spirits Prosecutor seemed quite overcome. Prisoner lent [sic] over him and was clearing his pockets when Witness rushed out and seized him. Mr. Rein’s gloves were at the time in the Prisoner’s trouser pockets. – The Detective’s evidence was corroborated to a large extent by a telegraph clerk, and Osborn said that a remand would enable other witnesses to attend. – Prisoner said it was all a mistake through a good-natured act. He got acquainted with the Prosecutor early in the evening in the Strand and being Christmas time accepted his invitation to have a drink. Mr. Rein also treated a boot black. Prosecutor asked him (Prisoner) to see him safe home, and after various stoppages they got to Victoria. On the way the gentleman gave money to policemen for treats, and at Victoria he was very liberal with refreshment to the officials. He (Prisoner) during the whole evening carried Mr. Rein’s parcel and his gloves. After a long sleep in the lavatory, which resulted in the loss of his train, Prosecutor sat doiwn on one of the station seats, and rum was brought to him because he complained of feeling chilly. – Mr. De Rutzen remanded the Prisoner in custody (The Standard, Tuesday, December 25, 1894; pg. 6; Issue 21990).

One can only imagine the conflict between father and son. Frederick senior died on 1st March 1896 of diabetes, senile decay, and exhaustion, his nephew Cornelius being present. His wife inherited £814 9d net. She probably sold the business fairly soon, to the Optician who worked in the shop next door, Charles Kahn. Frederick junior retired, but died on 20th April, 1900 in Wendover, home of the Payne family, of “chronic Alcoholism, 2 years, influenza and bronchitis, 21 days”.  He cannot have left his wife and daughter with much, for in 1911 they were living in Newton Abbott, Devon, working as respectively a dressmaker and a daily governess.LVK Rein signature

Kahn kept the trading name of F.C. Rein and Son, and curiously, his son Leslie Victor Kahn was eventually to adopt the surname Rein himself. He was clearly technically adept, learning about electronics and wrote a letter to letter to Wireless World in 1932 (p.525-6), that is a appeal for what we would now call professional audiologists, that he had then ten years experience working with audiometers, and had invented two. He died in 1956, and in 1963 or thereabouts, the business was, we are told in various books, was taken over by Amplivox. It was only under Kahn that the claim that Rein was ‘est. 1800’ first appears in adverts, based on what evidence, if any, we cannot say. I suspect that Leslie Kahn Rein passed that on to Goldstein on one of the trips to America that the Kahn family website mentions in the link above.

I try to support claims as far as possible, but please point out any errors you find. Where people make unsupported claims, or claims with secondary evidence or non-contemporary evidence, be a little sceptical. Never take it as read – check the sources of claims, particularly if they seem implausible.  This blog grew far beyond what I had intended, and much was written and researched in my own time. It is not intended as a ‘finished’ history, rather as a stimulus to others to discover more.

REIN family

https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/2:1:MP5KY5G

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 861; Folio: 32; Page: 18; GSU roll: 542712

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 334; Folio: 87; Page: 1; GSU roll: 1341072

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 544; Folio: 108; Page: 64; GSU roll: 6095654

Other references

Berger, Kenneth W., The Hearing Aid (1970)

John Bull (London, England), Saturday, May 22, 1841; pg. 243; Issue 1,067.

Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle (London, England), Sunday, October 30, 1836.

Neil Weir, ‘Curtis, John Harrison (1778–1860)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2007 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/57673, accessed 8 Nov 2016]

Weir, Neil, and Mudry, Albert, Otorhinolaryngology: An Illustrated History, 2013.

The references were supplemented by G.R.O. certificates for Rein family members, and wills from the probate archive online, as well as searches of online newspapers and the ancestry.co.uk website. 

*Many thanks, as ever, to Norma McGilp of @DeafHeritage for pointing me towards the naturalization papers.  Rein’s naturalization papers are supported by four people.  One, Edward Henry Rudderforth was a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.  There are almost no details of him in Plarr’s Lives of the Fellows.  He was involved in the extraordinary life of Mrs Weldon.  Another was George Huntly Gordon, who worked for the Stationary Office.

**I have asked Brazilian audiologist friends if they can find anything on King John VI and will update if there is contemporary evidence forthcoming.  Even if we suppose Rein’s father made acoustic instruments, for which we have no evidence, his son, our Frederick, was born in Saxony in 1813, so his father would have to have returned there, had a family that lived apart from him, returned to London, made the throne, and his son only to have joined him in England as an adult, then not had a company name as Rein & Son until decades later.

*** See more on Maw (!) here- http://collectionsonline.nmsi.ac.uk/detail.php?type=related&kv=105380&t=people

Ralph Duncombe Jackson of the British Deaf and Dumb Association

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 31 October 2016

Ralph Duncombe Jackson was born in South Shields in 1848, eldest son of Robert Jackson and his wife Charlotte.  We are told that he was deafened at the age of four from an attack of scarlet fever (Ephphatha, from which this is broadly taken).  That would have been in 1852/3.  He was educated at the Newcastle ‘Northern Counties School for the Deaf‘, which would have meant that he was taught by William Neil.

Ralph married a deaf lady Jane Walker in 1871.  She is described in the 1891 census as deaf from childhood, and Jane’s sister Isabella, living next door in Normanby St, Monkwearmouth, is also described as deaf.  Isabella’s husband, William Morrison, a millsawyer aged 42, was like his brother-in-law Ralph, deaf from scarlet fever.

Ralph had a varied career, unfortunately interrupted by ill-health, though his obituary does not tell us what form that took.  He began as a compositor, working on the Daily Post – I have no idea about the Daily Post, as it does not appear on the British Newspaper Archive.  If you know, please leave a note.  At any rate, his health forced him from that job and he became a grocer in Normanby Street, Monkwearmouth.  He became a missioner to the local deaf community in the urban north-east, and in 1898 became a ‘Scripture Reader’ for the Northumberland and Durham Mission, eventually becoming a  full time missioner.  Unfortunately we have no local mission reports before 1920, though the Northumberland and Durham Mission dates from 1876.  He was long a member of the British Deaf and Dumb Association, ‘almost from its formation’, acting as a local secretary when he lived in Sunderland.

Ralph and Jane had three daughters, and a son Ralph who emigrated to New Zealand.  He died in 1910 after having a major operation and then developing pneumonia.Duncombe Jackson  His funeral was so well attended by friends that there was insufficient room in the chapel for all to be seated.

Death of Mr. R. Duncombe Jackson, Ephphatha, 1910, no.29 p.107 (picture)

Letter, Deaf and Dumb Times (June 1890) p10-11

Wills and Probate

1891 Census Class: RG12; Piece: 4150; Folio: 116; Page: 10; GSU roll: 6099260

jackson letter

William R. Scott, Teacher of the Deaf at the West of England Institution

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 21 October 2016

Northumbrian born William Robson Scott (1811-66), was a son of the physician and magistrate, Dr. Walter Scott (see In Memoriam for what follows).  He became a teacher of the deaf, and principal of the West of England Institution in Exeter.  His obituary does not tell us what embarked him on his career as a teacher, but tells us that he was another of those teachers who received early training at the Yorkshire Institution under Charles Baker.  He left there in 1841 to go to Exeter where he stayed until his death, thirty-six years later, though “an attack of paralysis” partially incapacitated him for the last five years of his life.  It seems he must have met his wife, Mary Maundel or Mandell Scott, when he was in Doncaster, where she was from, and they married in London, presumably when he was on his way to Exeter.

Marriages Mar 1841, London

MASON Mary Mandell  – SCOTT William Robson

Mary was the matron at the school.  Indeed, I expect it was the preference of the governing bodies of institutions to appoint a husband and wife team, so perhaps he had to get married, and it may have been a practical marriage rather than a romantic one – we will never know.  They did have several children.

1841 was also the year Mrs Hippisley Tuckfield first became involved with the school.  There is a good chance that Scott was the head when the fictional Arthur in the short story by Mrs Webb was published – in other words, perhaps he and Mr Wheatley were the models for the teachers in her story, Mr Eyre and Mr Johnson.  Her story then may give us a window into the teaching methods in that period.

No less a person than Sir William Wilde, the ENT doctor and father of Oscar, wrote in his book On the Physical, Moral, and Social Condition of the Deaf and Dumb, that “By far the best work that has appeared in this country on the Deaf and Dumb during the present century is by Dr. Scott, the Principal of the West of England Institution at Exeter – a work should be in the hands of every parent or guardian of a mute child.” (Wilde, 1854, p.21).

The school seems to have undergone little external change in its first sixty years – they were publishing this same view in the oldest annual report we have, that for 1884.  West of England School

D.B., In Memoriam, William Robson Scott. Magazine intended chiefly for the Deaf and Dumb, 1877, 5, 97-98.

Wilde, William, On the Physical, Moral, and Social Condition of the Deaf and Dumb, 1854