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Job Platt Barrett, F.E.S., Teacher of the Deaf & amateur entomologist -‘signs turn this dreary world of ours into a “little heaven”’

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 12 January 2018

Job Platt Barrett (1838-1916), or J.P. Barrett as he was known, was a long serving and influential Teacher of the Deaf.  Born on the 29th of June, 1838, at Marsden, he began his teaching life with Charles Baker at Doncaster, and was, according to The British Deaf-Mute ‘“articled” after a rough and ready fashion’ on the 6th of January, 1851, when he was 12 (p.170).  He is to be found on the census for April 1851 as an apprentice teacher, on probation, along with Edward Bill of Birmingham, then aged 15, and with two older full apprentice teachers, Samuel Smith and Noah Freeman, both from Leicestershire.  Colleagues of his at Doncaster included Alexander Melville, J.W. North, and Samuel Smith was called, ‘his particular friend’ (British Deaf Mute, p.170).

Leaving Doncaster in June 1857 he became a tutor to a ‘ward in chancery’ but when the child became ill Barrett lost that position.  On the 25th of January, 1858 he was engaged by Thomas James Watson and moved to the Old Kent Road Asylum – we are told as ‘the first teacher from the provinces’ (ibid).  He married Sarah Dodson in Canterbury in 1861.  In 1881 he moved to the new school in Margate, living with his wife Sarah at the nearby village of Birchington, where in his spare time he pursued antiquarian interets in local history, writing historical articles as ‘John Pharos’ (see various obituaries).  He remained at the school until retirement in 1908.  By now a widower, he then moved back closer to London and according to probate records his last address was in Forest Hill (Ephphatha p.469).

In 1896 he estimated that 3,000 pupils had ‘come under his ken’ so he was probably quite influential. He held that the pupil was ‘the important factor for consideration’ and clearly was frustrated by what he called ‘”fads” of Committees, Inspectors, Head-Masters, and of individual teachers’ (British Deaf Mute, p.170-1).  He wanted an association for teachers that was ‘sufficiently powerful to prevent such ill-advised appointments as have recently taken place’ (ibid).  I wonder to whom he was referring?

The article shows him to have been in favour of sign language, in the perhaps paternalistic way that some in favour of the ‘combined’ method had.  I leave the reader to judge:

Another point that he is not afraid to speak out strongly upon, is the use (and misuse) of signs.  Whenever he hears anyone condemn the use of signs in toto, he invariably asks: Can the speaker sign fluently?  Has he or she a thorough acquaintance with the language of signs?  Without that knowledge the importance and the power of signs are unknown and unappreciated.  He adds that only an expert signer can fully recognise the pleasure that the afflicted congenital deaf-mute derives from signs.  To him, signs turn this dreary world of ours into a “little heaven,” they are both poetry and music to him, and for those intellects are not of the brightest, and their number is large, signs are an absolute necessity.

Much has been done for the deaf and dumb during the past century, but Mr. Barrett points out that the education of a deaf and dumb child still begins as it always has done at zero, and the pupils at the beginning of this century were equally well taught with these of the present day. (ibid, p.171)

His life was touched by tragedy after he retired in 1908.  On the 28th of December, on a holiday visiting his son Arthur in Sicily, where he spent time looking for butterflies, they narrowly escaped death in the terrible earthquake, only for his daughter-in-law Jemima, and his grandson Claude (born in April 1905) to be killed (see obituaries and www.ancestry.co.uk).   His son, a merchant, returned to England, and remarried in 1913.*

Barrett was an avid entomologist all his life.  I expect he was encouraged in that interest when he was with Charles Baker, as Baker had earlier produced a book on butterflies when he was at the Birmingham Institute in 1828.  Richard Elliott says in one of his three obituaries of Barrett that,

In the course of many years he collected and arranged a collection of British insects, which, we hear, he has left to the British Museum.  We believe it one of the most complete in existence, and is worthy of his fame as one of the first entomologists of the present day. (Ephphatha, Elliott p.469)

In fact the collection went to the Horniman Museum, at least according to the obituary in The Entomologist’s record and journal of variation (p.44).  There are two obituaries of him in Entomological journals.  He was one of the key people behind the foundation of the South London Entomological Society, which eventually became The British Entomological and Natural History Society.

It was at his house in Peckham the South London Entomological and Natural History Society was founded.  1872 is the accepted date but informal meetings were held there a year or two previously.  He was elected President in 1877 but resigned membership just before his removal to Margate, and did not rejoin til 1900. (H.M[oore])

Moore also tells us that

Since his retirement from active work, in 1908, he had for some years given an evening’s entertainment to the deaf of South London, to which he frequently invited the writer, who felt himself the only deaf person present.  Those who were at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society last year will remember the “tale of a tramp,” told by the President, that Mr. Platt-Barrett told on his fingers to his deaf and dumb guests shortly afterwards, who laughed as heartily as the fellows who heard it.

His friend of fifty years, G.T. Porritt, says in his obituary (The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine) that he was one of the founders of the South London Entomological Society, “practically the founder […] The meetings were first held at his house in Peckham where he acted as the Secretary, becoming the third Presdient, in 1877” (Porritt, p.69).

He gets a mention in Michael A. Salmon et al’s The Aurelian Legacy (2000), though the authors, who gave him the wrong Christian name, thought Barrett had a hearing loss, probably assuming that as he was at the Doncaster Institution he was Deaf, whereas he was training as a teacher, and from a misunderstanding of the passage above, where Barrett was hearing a story then interpreting it to his Deaf friends.**

He died on the 27th of December, 1916.  His wife had predeceased him in 1883, and after retirement he went to live with his daughters.  He was buried in Burchington, at her side.

The top picture shows him in 1857, the second one is to be found in both his obituary in Ephphatha and Teacher of the Deaf.

He clearly had the respect of Richard Elliott, who says,

Mr. Barrett was a real friend of the deaf and dumb.  He was never tired of advocating their interests, or of trying to serve them.  He had a real knowledge of their mentality, and a full power of communicating with, and influencing them by that means.  (British Deaf Times, p.45)

https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/1198262/person/24108738661/facts [log in required]

Biography. British Deaf-Mute, 1896, 5, 170-71. (photos)

Census 1851 – Class: HO107; Piece: 2347; Folio: 193; Page: 32; GSU roll: 87606

Elliott, R., Mr J.P. Barrett, Ephphatha, 1917 p.468-9 (photo)

Elliott, R., Mr J. Platt Barrett, Teacher of the Deaf, 1917 vol. 15 p.20-22 (photo)

Elliott, R., The Late Mr J.P. Barrett, The British Deaf Times, 1917, Vol. 14 p.44-5

H.M. [H. Moore], Obituary, The late J. Platt-Barrett, F.E.S., The Entomologist’s record and journal of variation, 1917 vol. 39 (2), p.43-4

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Consulate, Palermo, Italy and predecessor: Miscellanea; Class: FO 653; Piece: 21

Porritt, H.M., J. Platt Barrett, The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, 1917, vol. 53 p. 69-70

  • There is often mention of ‘fosse comuni’ (mass grave), but my Sicilian born colleague is unsure where they are. The Cimitero Monumentale, where some of the dead were buried in Messina, has an English section.  The house was at Via Pozzo Leone, 5: https://tinyurl.com/y8cxvmo6
  • **This was then picked up on by Harry G. Lang and Jorge A. Santiago-Blay in their article ‘Contributions of deaf people to entomology: A hidden legacy,’ where they naturally assume that Barrett – Job not James – was Deaf.  That article is however well worth reading.

Hon. Venetia Marjorie Mabel Baring, 1890-1937 – “Deafness and Happiness”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 22 December 2017

Venetia Marjorie Mabel Baring was a daughter of Francis Denzil Edward Baring, 5th Baron Ashburton.  In 1930 she wrote a booklet Deafness and Happiness, our copy being the 1935 reprint.  It was published by A.R. Mowbray, who produced religious and devotional books.  It is on vey good quality paper.  According to the short introduction by “A.F. Bishop of London” who seems to be Arthur Foley Winnington-Ingram, she was “afflicted in the heyday of her youth with almost total deafness” (p.iii).  Her photographic portrait is in the National Portrai Gallery collection, and a drawing of her is in the Royal Collection.

She was born in London in 1890.  She wrote her book with the encouragement of Winnington-Ingram.  Below is a page from the book which gives a flavour of its religious polemic.  It is certainly of interest to anyone who is fascinated by attitudes to deafness and how they have or have not changed over the years.

In 1936, Arthur Story wrote a letter to the BMJ about deafness.  Venetia Baring wrote a respose, echoing his words and developing her own ideas about deafness:

The helplessness of medical science where deafness is concerned is incontestable, and, as it is not of itself a menace to life, research into causes has suffered on financial grounds in comparison with other diseases. The complete lack of official understanding of deafness was painfully illustrated in the great war, when it was necessary for a few public-spirited individuals like the late Sir Frederick Milner to fight for the rights of deafened ex-Service men.  There are certainly signs that the medical profession is becoming increasingly alive to the fact that the monster is hydra-headed and that there are few mental and physical disorders to which it does not prove an open door unless intelligently handled.

From the last line of this letter we learn that she was “not born deaf, had acute hearing up to 19, and used no “aids” to nearly 30″ (ibid).

She died aged only 47 on the 15th of July, 1937, having suffered from serious illness before then.  Indeed, she added a chapter to the second edition of her book on ‘The Power and Use of Pain.’  “Science is working for the abolition of suffering; but it will never succeed, because, while sin exists, pain is inevitable and can even be a vital factor in the development of human personality.” (p.37)   She was clearly someone who had experienced pain and tried to work her own way through it.

It would be interesting to find out more about her.

Peerage.com

Baring, Venetia, The Deaf and the Blind Br Med J 1936; 1 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.3934.1134 (Published 30 May 1936)

“in silence is his body born again” – Muted Voices – Romanian writer Eugen Relgis

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 15 December 2017

In Glasuri in surdină, translated in 1938 as Muted Voices, Romanian writer Eugen Relgis wrote a memoir that in style seems more like a novel.  Our copy is beatifully printed and bound with expressive woodcut engravings by the French artist and anarchist, Louis Moreau and translated by Rose Freeman-Ishill.  Our central character is Miron, who is we might suppose Eugen himself.  He describes the children playing leap-frog:

The child-frog falls and strikes his head against a stone.  He is not hurt but his suffering weeps and cries, naive and exaggerated.  Miron caresses him with one with the remorse of one who has caused an involuntary ill.  “Be silent, Ermil, be silent” – and his hand gently glides over the lump on the other’s forehead- “Be silent, it will pass away… I will give you my little wooden horse…”

Ermil, appeased, dries his tears.  Miron, touched, kisses him upon moist lips.

And, at the moment of the kiss, Miron’s fate is sealed.  Oh ! occult forces, inexorable laws indifferent to all the tenderness, all the beauty of the human heart!  The demons have shattered their joy!  A kiss, a simple childish kiss, an altogether natural kiss of affection…

And evil  spirits have taken possession of Miron! […] the invisible germ of Disease. (p.19)

His description of illness and ‘Disease,’ make it seem like the struggles of a writhing beast –

and the carnivorous animals lodged within the body gnaw and claw and rend. […] The body bends like a bow and the blasphemies of dearth seethe in the skull.  The waves make their weight particularly felt in the ears which are filled with whistlings and where cascades thunder and fall…  A howling like a cataclysmic eruption, the howling of life who would not be annihilated… and the eardrums burst beneath that pressure. (p.23)

It is a powerful and strange writing style. He ends the chapter with poetic prose-
And the child regards the silence, – and the child
breathes the silence – and his life palpitates in
silence, – in silence is his body born again, –
in the umbrageous refuge of silence…

Silence… silence… silence…

A complex and fascinating man, Relgis was born into a Jewish family in Romania in 1895, as Eisig D. Sigler, though he used various spellings of his surname and the name Eugen/Eugene.  He was a part of the Romanian Symbolist movement, and although he trained as an architect he became a writer and publisher.  Politically he was an anarchist, but he also had what now seem quite extreme eugenicist views, saying “Instead of natural selection, man should practice rational selection.”  (see his Wikipedia page)
He died in Uruguay in 1987

The Gallaudet website, in a review of the anthology of deaf writers Angels and outcasts : an anthology of deaf characters in literature (1985), has this interesting comment on Miron:

Relgis’ hero, while not unique, is not really representative of the deaf majority. The deaf Steppenwolf, the lone deaf outsider, is rarely encountered in real life in the United States. In Europe and elsewhere, for historical reasons there exists a sharp cleavage between deaf intellectuals and artists and the deaf man in the street, so that there such outsiders account for a much larger proportion of the deaf population.

The book, and Relgis, are both worthy of closer inspection.

Relgis, Eugen, Muted Voices, New Jersey (1938)

http://militants-anarchistes.info/spip.php?article5046&lang=fr

“No one can conceive the agony, the unutterable sorrow I was plunged into” – Charles H. Hassall, ‘herbalist’

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 8 December 2017

The herbalist ‘doctor’, Charles H. Hassall F.S.Sc. was born in Stoke in 1848, and in his youth he lived with his grandfather, who was himself a herbalist.  As a boy Charles lost both his sight to some inflammation, and his hearing in his left ear, and partly lost hearing in his right ear.  The interview in The British Deaf-Mute does not tell us if it was known exactly what caused that, but at any rate it was not permanent and he eventually regained hearing in his right ear, and his vision.

Abraham quotes a pamphlet by Hassall on ‘Care of the Eyes’ where he explains his loss of sight:

A physician was consulted who professed to know all about it and prescribed accordingly, with the result that soon the inflammation rapidly spread to the other eye, still he continued to see and proscribe until I was completely dark-blind as it is called.  He then very coolly gave up the case as hopeless, so I was to be blind through all my earthly life for all he seemed to know or care.  No one can conceive the agony, the unutterable sorrow I was plunged into – an earnest, energetic mind just beginning to enquire and expand suddenly checked and held back in chains of darkness.

[…] I then consulted another Doctor.  This gentleman had weak and sore eyes and felt for me; he soon opened the closed pupils so that I could see like the man whose eyes Jesus opened and said that he could “see men as trees walking.” (p.188-9)

Abraham tells us that some twenty-seven or twenty-eight years earlier, Hassall “had the rare and happy experience of being able to restore the speech of a young girl, with a a mixture of oils and various other ingredients.

He went to work for a Dr. Garner in Staffordshire, but to the disappointment of the doctor, Hassall was determined to follow the herbalist path rather than what he termed the allopathic (p.189).  ‘”Well Hassall,” said the Doctor after one of his argumentative conversations, “seeing that you are determined to make a name as a herbalist I would advise you to get a case or two and demonstrate your theories.’

Abraham gives him the title of ‘doctor’ and says Hassall ‘had obtained many diplomas’ including The General Council of Safe Medicine Limited (Incorporated), London; The National Association of Herbalists of Great Britain; The Society of United Medical Herbalists of Great Britain; The British School of Eclectic Medicine; The British Association of Eclectics and Medical Botanists; The Medical Herbalist Defence Union Limited; The International Association of Medical Herbalists (p.189).  One of these must be The National Institute of Medical Herbalists and it would be interesting to see if there are any archival records of him.  The proliferation of diplomas and claim to use the title ‘doctor’ smacks of a desperation for legitimacy, but today we might term him a quack.

He moved to Farnworth, Bolton, in 1881, which is probably where Earnest Abraham met him, when Abraham was a missioner there.  He expanded his premises from 78 Peel Street to include 76 and 80.  By 1911 he called himself a ‘Pharmacy Proprietor’ on the census, rather than ‘herbalist.  Hassall died in Bolton in 1923.

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3093; Folio: 88; Page: 25; GSU roll: 6098203

1911 Census -Class: RG14; Piece: 23256

E.J.D.A. [Ernest Abraham], Charles H. Hassall, The British Deaf Mute, 1895-6, Volume 5 p.188-9

[I contemplated whether or not I should write about Hassall, but as Ernest Abraham interviewed for The British Deaf-Mute I think we can cover him, and though his hearing loss was partial he is an interesting example of nin-standard 19th century medicine.]

Oralist Arthur Alfred Kinsey of the Ealing Training College, “most uncompromising champion of the system to which he was devoted”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 1 December 2017

Arthur A. Kinsey,  (1850–1888) was the Principal of the Ealing Training College, and an oralist teacher of the deaf.  He was born the son of an Arthur Kinsey, ‘gentleman’.  From his evidence to the Royal Commission we know that part of his education was in Germany. It may be that explains why I have been unable to find him in 1861 or 1871 or 1881 census returns.  He was the leading instrument for oralism in the period from 1877 to his death on Christmas Day, 1888.

When the Ealing Society was founded, he was introduced to Benjamin Ackers, presumably on account of his knowledge of German.  He was to be trained in the ‘German’ system, as oralism was also known.  From his testimony to the Royal Commission on the Blind, the Deaf and Dumb (pages 245-55) that would have been circa 1875.  He was to become the Principal of the academy when it opened in 1878, and to that end he travelled extensively in Europe, and was educated in Germany on the ‘oral’ system.  He remained for some time at Osnabrück, where he studied and then taught under  Rössler, who had been a pupil of Professor Moritz Hill of the Weissenfels school.  He also attended the school in Riehen, and visited schools in the U.S.A., where he studied under Bell (1876).  In 1877 he was one of those who led the oralists at the Conference of Head masters of Institutions and of other workers for the Education of the Deaf.

the rival systems were there brought face to face, and the great controversy between them began in England.  Mr. Kinsey entered upon the contest with all the fiery zeal of a combatant, and was, from first to last, a fearless and most uncompromising champion of the system to which he was devoted; ready to do battle in its defence at all times, in all places, and against all comers; giving no quarter, expecting none, accepting none.  Opinions will, of course, always be divided as to whether this is the best way in which to advance a new cause, but into such a question as this, beside a grave so prematurely opened and so newly closed, we do not enter here.  […] we cannot be surprised that in taking up a cause which at once came into conflict with that which so long had held the ground, opposition waxed warm in an ardent, able advocate like Mr. Kinsey.  Rightly or wrongly, this was his way: and no one will deny that he did possess in the fullest degree the courage of his convictions. (Obituary, p.60)

He was the secretary for the English-speaking section at the Milan Congress in 1880, and in Brussels in 1883, and the volume of proceedings in English was compiled from his official minutes as Secretary (ibid).

In 1882 Kinsey married Margaret Eveline Isabella Underwood, and after his death she continued at Ealing as Principal.  On his marriage certificate he described himself as ‘Professor’.  They had a son, Arthur Francis St John Kinsey (1883–1936).

His funeral was at Highgate cemetery.

Below, a page of his testimony from the Royal Commission report1889, vol.3.

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 1190; Folio: 124; Page: 18

Obituary. Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1889, 2, 59-61.

Royal Commisssion on the Blind, the Deaf and Dumb

The Morning Post (London, England), Thursday, December 27, 1888; pg. [1]; Issue 36358.

https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/6936422/person/6957008876/facts?ssrc=

Earnest Elmo Calkins, Deaf Pioneer of Modern Advertising

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 24 November 2017

Calkins signatureCHEarnest Elmo Calkins (1868-1964) was a pioneer of modern advertising.  Born in

In Design Observer, Steven Heller says of him, that he is “recognized as the founder of “styling the goods,” otherwise known as “consumer engineering” or even better known as “forced obsolescence”—he is considered in the pantheon of twentieth century Modernists.”

Calkins wrote a volume of memoirs, “Louder Please,” in 1924, & then in 1946 produced an extended version, “and hearing not-“; Annals of an Adman.  Writing in the third person, here as ‘the Boy,’ he describes here his loss of hearing in a chapter that appears in both volumes, ‘The ears begin to close’ :

nothing stands out with any sharpness, either teachers or lessons.  A sort of mist seems to veil the next three or four years.

The reason for the mist was that the Boy was growing deafer.  School seemed more futile the less he heard of it.  The world-old conflict between heredity and environment was henceforth to be influenced by a new element whose effect could not be foreseen.  Deafness introduced complications that required new adjustments, like deuces wild in a poker game.  The cause, it seems, was measles experienced at the age of six, at length bearing its evil fruit, but the predisposition was probably a part of his inheritance.  He was at least ten years old before his condition was realized, even by himself.  His fits of abstraction and oblivion were laid to inattention by the higher powers, both at home and abroad. (and hearing not, p.p.67-8)

He went on eventiually to college, and got good marks in mathematics, but otherwise, “For four years he sat in various classrooms, hearing almost nothing, content or at least resigned to make out a passable performance” (p.100).  He got into advertising aged 23, when he won a competition for an advertisement for a Bissell carpet sweeper.  Later on his advertising company was behind ‘Lucky Jim’ of the breakfast cereal Force, and he introduced modern art into American advertising in the 1920s.

CalkinsIn the chapter, ‘Social life of a deaf man,’ Calkins describes how so many famous people he met he was “unable to use, other than to satisfy my curiosity as to how they looked.”   He relied on his wife in many of these situations (p.180).  He says that “Deafness was the ever present influence.  It made or marred my attempts to earn a living, it selected my friends for me, and determined what I was to enjoy of social life, what my amusements were to be.” (p.181)

“A partially deaf man is like Aesop’s bat, neither animal nor bird, but having the disabilities of both, belonging neither to the hearing world  nor that of the totally deaf.” (p.188)

“Lip reading is like handwriting in that it is sometimes as clear as print and again as illegible as Horace Greeley‘s famous chirography.” (p.189)  He had lessons in lip reading with Edward B. Nitchie, who was deaf and whose books we have.

We have the two volumes of memoir mentioned above.  One is signed by Calkins, dedicated to Madeleine de Soyres.  They are well worth investigating, and he seems to me an engaging writer.

Calkins, Earnest Elmo, “Louder Please,” 1924

Calkins, Earnest Elmo, “and hearing not-“; Annals of an Adman.  New York, 1946

“the other children are not kind to them” – School for the Deaf, Surrey Lane, Battersea

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 November 2017

One of the London Board Schools, Surrey Lane School in Battersea was opened in 1899 according to the N.I.D.’s Handbook for 1913, the headmaster is listed as Mr. M. Campbell.  It accommodated forty pupils, who were “admitted as early as possible” and were taught with the oral method.  The Handbook tells us that,

deaf children within the area of the London County Council attend a day school to the age of 13, when they are drafted to one of the residential schools – boys to Anerley and girls to Oak Lodge.  The council defrays all necessary travelling expenses and provides guides.

The Council sends Roman Catholic children to Boston Spa, Jewish children to the Jews’ Home, and where necessary on health grounds children are sent to seaside or provincial Institutions.

All children before entering school are certified by the Medical Officer and the Superintendent of the Deaf Schools.

The Council boards out children whose homes are not suitable to the best interests of the child.

Superintendent and Organizer of the Deaf Schools: Mr. B.P. Jones, 15, Denmark Avenue, Wimbledon, S.W.

A class of hard-of-hearing children was formed in 1911 at the Ackmar Road School, Fulham.  It will be shortly held in a separate school.

However, The Royal Commission on the Blind, the Deaf and the Dumb of the U.K. (1889, p.295-99) took evidence from the Head Teacher, Mrs. Dancy, in 1886, but at that time a deaf class was integrated in the ordinary school, so perhaps the school was refounded in 1899 for Deaf only pupils.

This website has a photo showing the entrance of the school.   Mrs Dancy had been there only a year and a half in 1886, and had trained at Fitzroy Square under van Praagh, working there for five and a half to six years.  At that time, on leaving school children would then go to work – or not – but education ended.  The average attendance was 12, and her experience was with totally deaf children.  She would teach them for 5 hours a day, with the oral method.  The children were from a distance of two to three miles.  She was confident she had all the deaf children in her district.  She was paid £150 per year, and we learn that her class was the first established under the board, under the Oral Association.

When asked if the hearing pupils played with the deaf children, she said, “Not very freely; the other children are not kind to them, as a rule.” (p.200)

It seems that the school did not last long, as it was mentioned in the 1924 Handbook, but  not that of 1929I suspect that a few of the schools were closed and consolidated in that period.  The London Metropolitan Archives have admission registers from 1904-1914.  Perhaps the pupils were sent to Ackmar Road School in Fulham, which was near, if north of the river.  I will update this if I discover more.

Surrey Lane SchoolHere the Surrey pupils are having a dancing class.  Circa 1920 I would suppose.

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/c/F111566

William Moody of Manchester, “an idiot boy” (1849)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 November 2017

William Moody was a deaf boy, and the son of Joseph Moody.  Joseph was born circa 1816 in Willoughbridge, Staffordshire.  His father, William senior, was at various times a gamekeeper or a butcher.  The name sometimes appears as Moodey.  He married Phebe or Phoebe Large in 1840, and they had two sons, William born in 1841 and Thomas born in 1843.  Sadly she died in 1845.  The eldest son, William, was either born deaf or lost his hearing in childhood.  Losing his mother when he was four must have been critical in his development.  I suspect that his father did not have any idea as to how he should deal with his son’s hearing loss.  In June 1846 he married for a second time to Louise or Louisa Thorman, also the daughter of a gamekeeper (see online records at www.ancestry.co.uk).  In 1863 Joseph was in prison for three months, according to research by a descendant (ibid), and in 1871 he was in the workhouse.  He died in an asylum in Prestwich, Scotland, in 1885.

My eye was drawn to this article from 1849 about the son, William Moody.  The same article, or versions thereof, appeared in several newspapers that week.  The story is interesting for many reasons.  It shows how young Deaf people in the 19th century, even living in central Manchester, where there was a very good deaf school, fell through the gaps in the system, such as it was, and how difficult it was for a parent to know what to do with such a child.  It also illustrates the importance of education, and supporting parents and children who have physical or emotional problems, to prevent them becoming a problem and a burden to society.  The story comes from the heart of Manchester;

Extensive Destruction of Property by an Idiot Boy
On Friday morning, William Moody, an idiot boy, apparently about seven or eight years old, and who is both deaf and dumb, was brought before the magistrates at the Borough Court, in order that some arrangements might be made for his future safe keeping.

Mr Superintendent Sawley stated that on the previous day the boy had contrived to get into the premises of Mr. John Barber, engraver to calico printers, Back Water-street, and, the men being absent, he had by means of a hammer almost wholly destroyed three or four engraved copper rollers, of the value of about £40; he had also broken and damaged a number of the punches and other tools, used fin engraving the rollers.  The boy’s father was a cab proprietor, living in Atherton’s Court, Young-street.

The father, who was present, said he had four children; he had made application to the relieving officers to take some steps to confine the boy, and he was willing to pay whatever might be necessary for his support in an asylum.

Mr. Sawley said he had several times sent for the father with regard to the boy, who appeared to be allowed to run about the streets uncared for.  When he was brought to the office on the previous day, he was as black as a sweep, and had no other covering but a sort of gown made of calico.  He had kept him in the office during the night; but the father had on one or two previous occasions told him (Mr. Sawley) that he was unable to take care of the boy.

Mr Brownsworth, one of the relieving officers, was in court; and after some conversation, Mr. Maude directed the at the boy should be at once taken to the office of the guardians, and some arrangements made for his being taken care of in future. (Hull Packet and East Riding Times)

The Manchester Times version of the story, see below, adds Mr. Brownsworth had pulled the boy out of the canal on one occasion.  What became of William, for whom we can only feel sympathy, I am not sure.  I could not find him in our – incomplete – annual reports of the Old Trafford school, where pupils are listed by name.  In 1851, it would appear that he was in the workhouse in Manchester, New Bridge Street (though he is not marked as ‘deaf’ there, I am confidant it is this William Moody).  Perhaps he died young, perhaps he got some help, but I rather suspect not.  He would have been very difficult to take in hand by the time he was eight, having been allowed to become a ‘feral’ child.

If you can track William after that, please leave a comment below.

Above, the story as it appeared in The Manchester Times.Idiot Boy

Manchester Times (Manchester, England), Wednesday, June 6, 1849; Issue 62.

The Morning Post (London, England), Thursday, June 07, 1849; pg. 8; Issue 23557

The Blackburn Standard (Blackburn, England), Wednesday, June 13, 1849; Issue 752

The Hull Packet and East Riding Times (Hull, England), Friday, June 8, 1849

1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 573; Book: 7; Civil Parish: Manchester; County: Lancashire; Enumeration District: 14; Folio: 25; Page: 3; Line: 9; GSU roll: 438725

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2227; Folio: 205; Page: 4

1851 Census – William junior – Class: HO107; Piece: 2229; Folio: 834; Page: 14

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2892; Folio: 26; Page: 46; GSU roll: 543046

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3974; Folio: 130; Page: 22; GSU roll: 846087

Manchester marriages Reference Number GB127.M403/6/3/19

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Lunacy Patients Admission Registers; Class: MH 94; Piece: 27

UPDATED: Apologies for my atrocious typing – I managed 6 typos in the above blog, now corrected I hope!?

“several times the light flickered and went out” – John Thorpe and the Huddersfield Deaf Mission

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 3 November 2017

Unlike some of his comtemporaries in the Deaf community, John Thorpe (1843-99) does not appear to have led a particularly interesting or spectacular life, rather one of diligent work and cheerful friendliness, as we see in his brief obituary in the British Deaf Monthly.  Having lost his hearing aged fifteen or sixteen, young John Thorpe soon became well known in the local deaf community, helping the Leeds missioner Mr. Foulstone when he visited Huddersfield, introducing him to local Deaf people.  He lost his regular warehouseman job as a consequence of his hearing loss, but did manage to get work still with for example Schwann, Kell & Co., and later George Brook & Co. (Hudderfield Daily Chronicle).

He was also, we are told, in at the start of the local Huddersfield Mission.  “The new mission had a fluctuating existence in the early days; several times the light flickered and went out.”  Eventually a meeting in the Queen Street Assembly Rooms  got the mission going on a regular basis, with a home taken in the Wellington Buildings, with fifteen to twenty regulars (British Deaf Monthly and Hudderfield Daily Chronicle).  Thorpe was at the heart of this work, spending his own money “without thought of recompense” (British Deaf Monthly).  He helped send local children to the Doncaster School, while others he educated himself locally.  “[H]e has with the devoted help of one of the best of wives, entirely spent his time, heart and soul, night and day, to teaching and preaching and visiting” (Hudderfield Daily Chronicle).

At some point the mission separated from Leeds, I am not sure exactly when.  When Thorpe lost his job as a warehouseman through a strike, he became a paid missionary in Huddersfield, until his death after a long illness in 1899.  In his last years he was also beset by failing eyesight.  His wife took over the mission work.

At his funeral in Huddersfield cemetery, the “sorrow of the deaf, for whom there was no interpreter of the Rev. A.W. Keely’s funeral discourse, was expressed for them by one of themselves, Mr. Crowther; and each, as a last tribute, dropped a bouquet of homely flowers on the coffin of their departed friend” (British Deaf Monthly).

john thorpe

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2319; Folio: 38; Page: 27; GSU roll: 87542-87544 [Possibly him]

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 4369; Folio: 89; Page: 45; GSU roll: 848086

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 4382; Folio: 78; Page: 20; GSU roll: 1342046

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3566; Folio: 62; Page: 7; GSU roll: 6098676

The Late Mr John Thorpe. British Deaf Monthly, 1899 vol. 9, p.7

Hudderfield Daily Chronicle 30/08/1899 p.3 – this seems to be the source for the BDM article.

 

“A small token of affection for kindness” – A Deaf Family from Devon & the gift of a book

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 27 October 2017

Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction PrinterRosina Fanny Oliver Hinckley was the daughter of a pesioned navy sailor, George Hinckley of Liverpool, and his Cornish wife, Jane.  At some point after the 1871 census when she was three and her brother George was 2, it must have been discovered that they were both deaf.  They were both educated at the Exeter Institution, as we can see from the census for 1881.  after school, George became a tailor and Rosina a milliner.

John Lethbridge was born in Tavistock, Devon in 1871, son of George Lethbridge, a painter and paper hanger in 1881, and his wife Margaret (née Stevens).  He is not described as deaf in the census returns until the 1891 census when he was twenty. He became a boot finisher.

Rosina married John Lethbridge in 1893.  Presumably they were acquainted through the local Deaf community in Plymouth, although there was no formal deaf mission there until 1897.  They had nine children, two of them dying in childhood.  At least four of the surviving children were deaf, Percy and Willie, and Olive and Elsie.  What set me onto this family, was the dedication in a book which we have.  The book, by ‘C. J. L.’ (Caroline J. Ladd) is Deaf, Dumb and Blind – True stories of child life (1902).  As you see here, the inscription reads,

WoodfordTo George Woodford

With Christian love

A small token of

affection for kindness

to Percy and Willie Lethbridge

While school mates at

Margate

Isaiah 23-V-VI*

The book is rather twee for modern taste.  Chapter five, ‘What could Susie do for Jesus?’ tells us about a Deaf girl who,

‘was a first class girl, now “quite an old scholar,” as she often told those who understood her silent language.’ (p.40) […]

Susie was much interested in being told about the poor children of India by a teacher who was leaving B. to take charge of a mission school in that far-off land.  She seemed much troubled on hearing that great mumbers of Hindoo children did not know anything about the true God, but prayed to idols, saying, on her fingers, “Oh do tell about the Lord Jesus Christ, and I will pray to Him for you and for all the girls who attend your school.”  And on being told it was very likely, as the number of deaf mutes in India is very large, asked if she might send her favourite doll to some Indian girl afflicted in the same way as herself, and was quite delightedwhen told it should be packed with some books, toys, and other things friends were sending for the mission school, and given with Susie’s love to a deaf and dumb child. (ibid, p.45-6)

Note the language  the writer uses, deafness and blindness as ‘affliction.’  I think this may be a true story, or based on one, and that Susie was probably at school in Birmingham.  It might be possible to investigate further to see if we could identify that teacher.  I have not been able to narrow down Caroline Ladd, so please comment if you have come across her somewhere.

SusieIt was relatively easy to find the Lethbridge brothers in the 1911 census, then discover that they were from what we might call a culturally Deaf family.  In their recent book, People of the Eye (OUP, 2011), Harlan Lane, Richard Pillard and Ulf Hedberg describe the American ASL Deaf community as a type of ethnicity, where the primary language is signs, as distinguished from the deaf who are not .  We can, perhaps, extend that idea to B.S.L. users in the U.K.  It would be interesting to know if that were the case for the extended Lethbridge family.

In 1901, the Lethbridge family had a lodger, James John Weeble, who was also Deaf, and, as a ‘boot riveter’ was presumably a friend and colleague of John Lethbridge.

Rosina died in Plymouth in 1960, aged 92.  Her husband John ahad died in 1912 – so she was a widow for 48 years, with a large family.  Percy died in 1962, but I am not sure when Willie died.  If you use the www.ancestry.co.uk you will see relatives and descendants have produced a detailed Lethbridge and Hinckley family tree, with photos.

The person I have not mentioned is George Woodford, to whom the book was given.  He was the father of Doreen Woodford (a person whose name will be familiar to anyone in the British Deaf community) and was some years older than the Lethbridge boys, being born in 1893, so would have been fourteen at the time of the gift.

*Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

‘C. J. L.’ (Caroline J. Ladd) Deaf, Dumb and Blind – True stories of child life (1902)

Woodford, Doreen E., Who’s interpreting on Sunday morning? (2010)

1871 Census – Hinckley – Class: RG10; Piece: 2139; Folio: 115; Page: 59; GSU roll: 832034

1871 Census – Lethbridge – Class: RG10; Piece: 2147; Folio: 60; Page: 52; GSU roll: 832037

1881 Census – Lethbridge – Class: RG11; Piece: 2197; Folio: 16; Page: 25; GSU roll: 1341529

1881 Census – Hinckley – Class: RG11; Piece: 2152; Folio: 123; Page: 43; GSU roll: 1341519

1891 Census – Hinckley – Class: RG12; Piece: 1741; Folio: 46; Page: 48; GSU roll: 6096851

1891 Census – Lethbridge – Class: RG12; Piece: 1725; Folio: 24; Page: 42; GSU roll: 6096835

1901 Census – Lethbridge – Class: RG13; Piece: 2110; Folio: 36; Page: 64

1911 Census – Margate School – Class: RG14; Piece: 4501

1911 Census – John and Rosina Lethbridge – Class: RG14; Piece: 13020; Schedule Number: 127