“By education he understood the development of all the best parts and powers of the creature” – Benjamin Hill Payne & the Cambrian School

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 9 October 2015

Cambrian SchoolBenjamin Hill Payne was born on the 23rd of January 1847.  He lost his hearing after an attack of scarlet fever aged 10 (Ephphatha 1896).  Payne attended the Ranelagh School in Athlone (since closed and sadly the buildings torn down as recently as 1991), then worked as a teacher at Dublin’s Claremont Institutionfor 16 years, before moving to Swansea.  At Swansea he became the principal after the resignation of Alexander Mollison in 1875 (ibid), or 1874 according to Raper’s obituary in BDT p.129.  He remained there for 40 years.  Benjamin Payne’s wife, Miss Passant (d.1921) was also Irish born, from Slane, and she worked at his side as a matron in these schools.

The 1896 article tells us that at the Cambrian school,

Good manners and the little amenities of life are well taught indeed, and there is a refreshing spirit of bon camaraderie apparent between the Principal, his staff, and the children – an air of genial homeliness that surely is of benefit to one and all. Mr. Payne is thoroughgoing. His word is law in the school and none can command more cheerful obedience. […]
That our friend is a past master in matters educational, goes without saying.  Both methods are used at his school.  He believes in adapting the method to the pupil rather than the pupil to the method. (ibid)

The Cambrian School was formed after a public meeting held by the Mayor in Aberystwyth on 1st of February 1847, and on July 24th the first class was held with two boys at a house in Pier Street under Charls Rhind (see Jones, 1985). The school took more pupils, between the ages of nine and thirteen, and in 1848 there were eight pupils. In 1850 the school moved to Swansea, firstly at Picton Place then later in a new building at Graig Field in 1857 (ibid).
In his memoir, F.W.G. Gilby calls the Paynes ‘dear old friends’, and comments on their value as educators:

The Sleights, father and sons, Edward Townsend of Birmingham, the Paynes of Swansea, Alexander Melville, with Samuel Smith of London, and his brother W.B. Smith of Bristol were the firm stalwarts for the finger alphabet plus signs, and it is not sufficiently known and appreciated how very many splendidly equipped deaf went forth into the world after having been educated by them. (p.145)

He told William Raper of the long hours he had spent with Blomefield Sleight and others drawing up the B.D.D.A. constitution (1926).  In retirement Payne helped out running the R.A.D.D. when the Rev. G.J. Chetwynd joined the Officer Corps.  Raper tells us, “He was an attractive and elegant signer, and liked plenty of space whenever addressing an audience.”

His sermons were well thought out and interesting, but of late were inclined to be somewhat too long. He would forget the time and apologize for this afterwards. (BDT obituary)

Raper says that Payne wrote,

“The B.D.D.A. is not a mission, nor is it concerned soley with after-care. Its concern is the whole class and all that concerns them. It promotes, and has founded, missions and helped them, and is especially interested in education. It did a good deal to enlighten the public years before the Bureau was founded, and its influence on the teachers and education, though unacknowledged, is apparent today … I have lived with and taught the Deaf in Institutions for 56 years. And I say there are evils – necessary evils at present, but evils – evils out of which it is possible good may come.” (ibid)

We can see Payne’s thinking as early as 1877, when he spoke at the 1877 Conference of Headmasters of Institutions at the Strand in London.  I will just quote a few lines, in his discussion of the new oralist versus traditional manualist schools:

By education he understood the development of all the best parts and powers of the creature; instruction was simply specific information.  Compare the title of the Association for the Oral Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb with that of the noble old Institution in which he qualified – the National Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb Poor.  In that they had all the difference. (ibid, p.106)

Payne died in 1926. His son, the Rev. Arnold Hill Payne, is worthy of his own post.
Payne family 1896Our Portrait Gallery 5. Mr. B.H. Payne, Ephphatha 1896, May p.78-9 (pic)

Mr & Mrs B.H. Payne, Ephphatha 1915, p.385-6 (pic)

Raper, William, Benjamin Hill Payne, Ephphatha 1926 Autumn, p.1025

Raper, William, Benjamin Hill Payne as I knew him, BDT 1926, vol. 22 p.129-30

Mr Benjamin Hill Payne, BDT 1926, vol 22 p.108

Gilby, Memoir



JONES, H. An outline of the historical development of the school for deaf children in Wales. Association Magazine (BATOD), 1985, May, 9-10.

Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1893, 3, 193-198.

Photo. Wales Hi, 1996, 3(3), back cover.

Royal Commission on the Blind, Deaf and Dumb, 1889. Vol. 2, Appendix 28, 289.

Llandindrod Wells School. Silent World, 1959, 14, 148-51.

Llandindrod Wells Residential School for the Deaf. Wales Hi, 1996, 3(2), 6.

“Deaf and Dumb Land cannot hear its own voice, but it can speak”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 2 October 2015

Deaf and Dumb Land 1Deaf and Dumb Land is the catchy title of a short booklet by the author and journalist Joseph Hatton (1841-1907)*, formerly editor of The Sunday Times.   It describes Hatton’s visit to the Margate School, then under Richard Elliott and using the ‘oral’ method of education.  Published in 1896, the book is rather typically Victorian in its mawkish journalese –

A World of Silence. No sound, not a whisper.  Cut off from music, from the murmurings of the brook, the sighing of the sea, the song of birds, the swelling anthem, the loving tones of a mother’s voice, the pomp of martial strains, the “rustling of proud bannerfolds,” the “peal of stirring drums.”

Born into a world of stillness, and yet to learn that you are surrounded by the “harmonius discord” of busy multitudes, by the chiming of “sad church bells,” the clash of festal peals, the patter of summer rain, the roaring of the wind; the voice of God Himself, as even the savage hears it in the tempest and in the thunder.

To be born speechless too! (Hatton, 1896 p.1)

I will spare you more but I think you will get the idea of his ‘florid’ prose.
Deaf and dumb land speakingThere seems to be a definite ‘oralist’ agenda in the book.  Was his visit at the urging of an oralist, or out of his own interest?  I think it possible that a researcher might be able to uncover Hatton’s motives.  He says that “Into this universal stillness of Deaf-and-Dumb-Land has shone the light of a great hope […] Deaf-and-Dumb-Land cannot hear its own voice, but it can speak, and with no uncertain voice.” (p.6 and p.7)  All thanks to the teaching methods we see illustrated here, from the booklet.  Young girls who are probably about seven, the age of admission (p.15), are seen here with Richard Elliott, long time teacher and then head teacher at the school, and a convert to oralism.Deaf and dumb land dictation  “Five years of careful work has demonstrated the fact that a considerable percentage of the dumb can be made to speak. […] Hitherto he could only talk by signs.” (p.12)

This picture shows children ‘lip-reading for dictation’, and in true Victorian style, the teacher has a luxuriant moustache, which cannot have helped.  “There must be no slovenliness in his articulation.” (p.25)  The dictation was a poem, part of which goes as follows –

“Little drops of rain;

Where do you come from,

You little drops of rain?

Pitter, patter, pitter, patter,

On the window pane.”


The next picture by the author’s wife shows a ‘lesson in articulation’.  He says “The first efforts are directed to the teaching of articulation, the utterance of sounds, some of which have no meaning, and are only useful later on in the pronunciation words which have.” (p.18) “In the second class the words represented actions.” (p.19)  Hatton tells us that for teaching they used an illustrated volume produced by the Asylum “thirty years ago” (p.19-20).Deeaf and dumb land articulation 001

At the time of his visit, the school had still got a branch in Ramsgate, “shortly to be vacated” (p.17), in addition to the main part in Margate.  Of additional interest, Hatton mentions that the “offices of the Asylum for the support and education of Indigent Deaf and Dumb Children are at 93, Cannon Street, opposite the station of the South Eastern Railway Company.”(p.42)   Astute readers will recall that this has featured before in the blogg.

Deaf and dumb land bedHatton, Joseph, DeafandDumb Land, etc. [An account of the Ramsgate and Margate branches of the Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb in the Old Kent Road.]
Joseph Hatton, 1841-1907, London : Asylum for the Deaf & Dumb, 1896

Andrew Sanders, ‘Hatton, Joseph Paul Christopher (1841–1907)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/33758 accessed 2 Oct 2015]

*I follow the DNB dates rather than Wikipedia’s date of his birth as 1837.

“Mr. Greaterick stroked him again, rubbed his Body all over with Spittle” – An account of Mr. Greaterick and his Miraculous Cures.

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 25 September 2015

Lincolnshire born Henry Stubbe or Stubbes (1632-76) grew up in Ireland after his ‘anabaptistically inclined’ father was expelled from his living as Rector of Partney.  His mother took him to London in 1641 after the rising, and he attended Westminster School where he excelled at languages.  The OED entry says “Stubbe’s sharp tongue and conceit often caused him to be ‘kick’d and beaten’ by his fellow students and, on one occasion at least, publicly whipped in the college’s refectory ” (ODNB).  After his BA and then serving in the Parliamentary army for two years, Stubbes returned to Oxford and was was appointed deputy keeper of the Bodleian Library (ibid).  Around this time he became friends with various luminaries of the time including Thomas Hobbes and Thomas Willis, a founder member of the Royal Society.  After studying medicine and writing The Indian Nectar, or, A Discourse Concerning Chocolata (1662), he eventually settled in Warwickshire.  It was there that he came across Valentine Greaterick or  Greatrakes and wrote a book about him.  The Miraculous Conformist, or An account or severall Marvailous Cures performed by the stroaking of the Hands of Mr. Valentine Greaterick, with a Physicall Discourse thereupon, in a Letter to the Honourable Robert Boyle Esq. (1666).  Greaterick 0 001

This book, which begins with an address to Willis, has really very little to do with deafness, apart from this short gem, which probably explains why Selwyn Oxley added it to the collection –

I saw him put his Finger into the Eares of a man who was very think of Hearing; and immediately he heard me when I asked him very softly severall questions. I saw another whom he had touched three Weeks agoe for a Deadnesse in one Eare, who I had known to be so many years: I stopped the other Eare very close, and I found him to hear very well, as we spoke in a tone no way raysed beyond our ordinary conversation.(p.6)

Greaterick was a ‘stroker’, using his hands to rub the body of the patient and effect a ‘cure’ by rubbing the sickness out, perhaps through the toes.  Stubbes was at pains to say that any cures were through God and not the devil, and that Greaterick prayed – “I observed that he used no manner of Charmes, or unlawful words; sometimes he Ejaculated a short prayer before he cured any, and always after he had done he bad them give God the Praise.” (p.8).  People noticed that he smelt fragrant, and “Dean Rust observed his Urine to smell like Violets, though he had eat nothing that might give it that scent.” (p.11).

the notion I have concerning Mr. Greatericks is the most facile, for I imagine no more to be in him, than a particular Temperament, or implanted Ferment, which upon his touching and stroking shall so farre invigorate the blood, spirits, and innate temperament of the part (Nature being only oppressed) that they performe their usuall duties: This being done, it is Nature Cures the Diseases and distempers and infirmities, it is Nature makes them fly up and down the Body so as they do: they avoyd not his Hand, but his Touch and stroke so invigorateth the parts that they reject the Heterogenous Ferment, ’till it be outed the Body at some of those parts he is thought to stroke it out at.

Considering that our life is but a Fermentation of the Blood, nervous Liquor, and innate constitution of the parts of our Body, I conceive I have represented those hints and proofs which may render it imaginable that Mr. Greatericks by his stroking may introduce an oppressed Fermentation into the Blood and Nerves, and resuscitate the oppressed Nature of the parts. (p.14)

It is easy to laugh now but these were days before modern medicine when any attention for a desperate person from someone who might effect a treatment would be welcome.  However I cannot resist a few more examples.  Greaterick is supposed to have cured, in the presence of Lord Conway, a boy of fourteen of leprosy.

Mr. Greaterick stroked him again, rubbed his Body all over with Spittle.  My Lord ordered the Boy to return, if he were not Cured: but he came no more (p.28).

We are not told whose saliva, but anyway the dice are loaded – he should have had the boy return if cured.

A woman of Worcester having a paine driven into those parts which modesty would not permit her to let Mr. Greaterick stroke: she went away as if she had been cured, but is since sick of an intolerable pain there.  Such consequences are usuall, when the Disease is not stroked out (p.29).

Stubbe later fell out with the nascent Royal Society – “Not only did Stubbe believe that the protagonists’ claims regarding the utility of science were vastly exaggerated, but he was convinced that their inflammatory rhetoric seriously threatened the humanist culture of the universities, the erudite foundations upon which protestantism rested, as well as the medical profession.” (ODNB)  Stubbes, who clearly had a talent for controversy, drowned in a shallow River near Bath, as his friend Anthony Wood wrote, “‘his head being then intoxicated with bibbing, but more with talking, and snuffing of powder’” (quoted in ODNB).

Below, Greaterick stokes Lord Arlington – click for a larger image.

Greaterick 1 001Mordechai Feingold, ‘Stubbe , Henry (1632–1676)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/26734, accessed 25 Sept 2015]

Carl B. Estabrook, ‘Stubbes , Henry (1605/6–1678)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/26735, accessed 25 Sept 2015]

Oliver Sacks and “Seeing Voices”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 18 September 2015

This week’s post is by Edmund Lyonseeing voices

Oliver Sacks, who died recently, was perhaps most familiar to the public as the author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. However, among his other books was Seeing Voices: A Journey Into The World Of The Deaf, a fact which was only mentioned in one or two of the obituaries which have appeared. Seeing Voices is a fascinating triptych, its three parts combining to give insights not only into deaf history and deaf communication – including the Oralist / signing controversy – but also into deaf culture and deaf activism: the book culminates in a description and analysis of the deaf students’ uprising at Gallaudet University in March 1988 (details of this appear on the Gallaudet website).

Sacks’ exploration of deafness is sensitive and revealing, making Seeing Voices a good starting point for any exploration of the world of the deaf. Although it focuses on deaf people in the United States, the themes Sacks teases out are relevant to the United Kingdom too – and can be pursued through the books we hold in the Action on Hearing Loss Library.

Seeing Voices was published 26 years ago this month, in September 1989, and remains in print. sacks


The Central London Ear Hospital in 1909

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 28 August 2015

This year the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital is celebrating 140 years in Gray’s Inn Road on this site.  The Central London Throat Nose and Ear Hospital first opened in 1874, in Manchester Street, now Argyle Street, Kings Cross.  It was an offshoot of Golden Square’s Hospital for Diseases of the Throat, which had been founded in 1862 by Sir Morell Mackenzie but had gone into a decline (Gould, 1998 p.10).  Some of the people behind the new hospital were the otolaryngologist Lennox Browne, his friend Captain Alfred Hutton, the physician Llewellyn Thomas who was also from Golden Square, and the dentist George Wallis.  Isaac Lennox Browne (1841-1902) was the son of the gynaecologist Isaac Baker Brown, who became unfortunately notorious.  His son had a far more distinguished career however.

After only a year the number of patients necessitated a move and the hospital laid a new foundation stone at its present site on Gray’s Inn Road.  The prominence of ‘throat’ in the title is indicative of Lennox Browne’s interest in the voice, and the foundation stone was laid by the famous opera singer Madame Patti and the building formally opened in 1876 (Yellon, p.38, as is the following). Even in those early days the hospital drew patients from across the country, a fact emphasized in the article from which these photographs came.  The article was by Evan Yellon, the fighter against quacks who often signed himself ‘Surdus’, and came into contact with Dr. Crippen.  Yellon tells us that in 1907, of 9,993 new patients admitted, no fewer than 1,860 from the country (ibid p.37).  The following year there were 10,481 out-patients and 707 in-patients.  I imagine that these figures come from annual reports.  We unfortunately have none of those, as they were all sent to the London Metropolitan Archives where they, and related materials, may be consulted.

In 1893 the hospital purchased additional land adjacent, and various parts if the building were rebuilt or enlarged.  a further expansion took place in 1906, when new wards were opened by Princess Louise.  Below is the out-patients department in 1909.NTNEH Outpatients

In 1909 the Chairman was still George Wallis, the Patron was the Duke of Connaught, and the Vice-President was Captain Hutton.  One of the surgeons at that time was James Dundas-Grant.  The service was free to those with no money, which perhaps explains the very high number of patients, however those with money were expected to contribute to the cost.  Yellon tells us that since the hospital was founded, it had treated 998,631 patients (ibid, p.40)! In 1909,

3,067 out-patients were sent by medical practitioners, and 392 in-patients.  The medical staff paid a total of 2,337 visits to the Hospital, involving 4,646 hours of their time.  681 operations were undertaken and performed in the out-patient department.  419 medical practitioners from all parts of the world visited the Hospital to witness the practice of the medical staff, while 41 ladies and gentlemen enrolled themselves as post-graduate students of the Hospital.  These figures should shew clearly the wide extent of the work being done.  The Hospital is entirely supported by voluntary contributions, and it (in common with other Ear Hospitals) has no grant from King Edward’s Hospital Fund; at the moment funds are very badly needed to enable the Committee to extend the work, and for the upkeep and necessary extension of the present buildings. (ibid, p.40)

Here we see the modern facilities as they were in 1909, complete with Edwardian nurses.NTNEH ward

NTNEH operating theatreNTNEH backView East from LibraryThe last view appears to be looking east.  Compare this shot taken from the library window – it is not easy to be sure as some buildings have of course gone and others have been built.  See the Lost Hospitals website for some of the older buildings  that were or are part of this hospital.  Click on images for larger size.

Gould, Glenice, A History of the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital 1874-1982, Journal of laryngology and Otology Supplement 22, April 1998

Yellon, Evan, Special Hospitals for the Deaf, The Central London Ear and Throat Hospital, The Albion Magazine, Vol.2 no.2 p.37-40, Aug-Sep 1909



George Hartnoll Hogg, human calculator

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 21 August 2015

George Hartnoll Hogg was a pupil of the celebrated teacher of the deaf, Henry Brothers Bingham.  Born in Bideford, Devon, on the 13th of February 1819, George was the son of John Hogg, a chemist and druggist (British Deaf Monthly).calculations  His father had been offered a living by the Rector, but his mother, a non-conformist, made him turn it down.  George was sent to Exeter to be educated by Bingham when he was eight, staying there for seven years, then moving to Manchester shortly after Bingham went there. 

He seems to have had a remarkable talent for mental calculations, particularly division and multiplication.  In the book illustrated here, A Selection from a Series of Mental Calculations Made by George Hartnoll Hogg, a Deaf and Dumb Pupil of Mr. H.B. Bingham, Master of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, Manchester (1841), Bingham, a writer of prodigiously long sentences, introduces the idea of the education of the deaf in dedicatory remarks addressed to the Queen, then in the main body of text launches into his ideas of education;

Every human being, and probably every animal, educates itself, that is to say, they are provided by nature with certain instincts and faculties which being most powerful in early life stimulate and urge them to acquirements, and accordingly in the first four or five years they acquire more than they do in all the after years of their life, however long that may be; they learn to stand, to walk, to use  their hands, they acquire the faculty of speech, the application of thought, a knowledge of distances and resemblances between different objects in nature; they become acquainted with most of the passions and their expressions; in fine, the germs also of all virtues and vices, are implanted in their minds during that period; and all the rest of their lives only suffice to give precision to some of the original ideas which they have attained while the mind was fresh from the Creator’s hands.(p.i)

Bingham, who believed in what we might call whole body education, was clearly fond of a long sentence.  Further on he says,

To lead into the fields, to point out and explain the visible operations of nature, to teach them by conversation, with the natural objects before their eyes, to encourage them to work in gardens, to teach them gymnastics, and to explain the true principles of what they see and do, at the very time of seeing and doing, , reserving the teaching by books until a later age, when their own thirst for further knowledge will inevitably lead them to such study, seems to me the true mode of education.  It is nature’s mode, and it is in strict accord with the Baconian or inductive system of Philosophy, namely, to provide by observation a sufficient number of facts before reasoning to a conclusion; whereas the present system of commencing with books, besides the injury it does to the physical constitution, is the forming system a priori, to be verified by the scholar by observation afterwards.(p.iv-v)

That last sentence could have described the scientific method of his contemporary, Charles Darwin.  He continues,

if the principles of education laid down above be, as I believe, sound and true, the Deaf and Dumb are especially susceptible to being taught to good purpose.  For first, the deprivation of hearing renders their other senses peculiarly sensitive and vigorous; and imitation, nature’s great educational lever, is more powerfully exerted through the eyes than through the ears.(p.vi)

Pupils 1

In the 1851 census, George was a master’s assistant at the Old Trafford School under the then headmaster Andrew Patterson.  Sometime between the 1871 census and the 1881 census, he lost his job.  The BDM article says he taught there for 43 years, which would mean 1875.  Could he have been one of the victims of the move towards oral teaching that was coming into vogue at that time, or did he just retire?  At any rate by 1881 he was described as a ‘retired school teacher’, ‘deaf and dumb from birth’, and was living at Sale in Cheshire with William and Sarah Cordingly, a Deaf farm labourer and his Deaf wife .  William and his brother James were former pupils at the Old Trafford School as we see from the 1859 student list, so were William was taking in his old teacher as a lodger.Pupils 2  (Click twice on the pupil lists for a readable size.)

In 1891 George was living in Withington, Stretford, with another deaf couple, Ann and William Morton.  A year later on 16th of May 1892, aged 73, he married Louise Williams, a 45 year old Deaf dressmaker, born in Shropshire.  Her brother James Taylor, a printer-compositor, was also a former Old Trafford pupil.  The couple were living with him and his family (who were hearing) in Macclesfield in 1901.  I wonder if she too was a former pupil of his.  George Hogg died in Leicestershire in 1906 (see the Free BMD).Hogg

We are grateful to Norma McGilp for pointing out the article in BDM, from whence the portrait comes.

Blog updated 24/8/2015.

An Old Deaf Teacher, British Deaf Monthly, 1901, Vol. 10, p. 204

A Selection from a Series of Mental Calculations Made by George Hartnoll Hogg, a Deaf and Dumb Pupil of Mr. H.B. Bingham, Master of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, Manchester (1841)

Manchester School annual reports

1851 Census Class: HO107; Piece: 2218; Folio: 537; Page: 20; GSU roll: 87228

1871 Census Class: RG10; Piece: 3971; Folio: 125; Page: 6; GSU roll: 841958

1881 Census Class: RG11; Piece: 3507; Folio: 49; Page: 17; GSU roll: 1341840

1891 Census Class: RG12; Piece: 3162; Folio: 85; Page: 26; GSU roll: 6098272

1901 Census Class: RG13; Piece: 3313; Folio: 78; Page: 4

“Such is the calamity of Mortals in this state of misery” – Sibiscota’s Deaf and Dumb Man’s Discourse

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 7 August 2015

Such is the calamity of Mortals in this state of misery, that they are invaded on all sides not only when they are born, by a vast army of Diseases, but are also troubled with many distempers whilst the Womb is their Lodging; there we meet with the precursory messengers of Death even in the very beginning of Life; and whilst the formative faculty is framing this machin of our immortal souls, some deformity, some irregularity in the structure, or other preternatural disposition obstructing the exercise of the parts immediately intermixeth it self with our birth.  Which enormity of the the parts, or constitution repugnant to the Lawes of Nature, prejudicing the operations, and contracted at our Birth, some have been so scrupulous as to think that it ought not to be calculated by the name of a Disease, but of a Defect, reserving the name of Disease for the defects of that which was once perfect.

1670This is the opening page of The Deaf and Dumb Man’s Discourse or A Treatise concerning those that are born deaf and Dumb, containing a Discovery of their Knowledge or Understanding; as also the Method they use, to manifest the sentiments of their Mind (1670).   It was supposedly written by George Sibscota, but was a loosely translated version of Anthony Deusingen’s “Dissertatio de surdis,” an essay in Fasciculus dissertationum selectarum (Gröningen, 1660) (see here).  Sibscota is probably a pseudonym.

The writer is of course depicting deafness as a defect.  The usual problem to many in the pre-modern age, and was how these who were deaf could achieve religious salvation:

And as Faith comes by Hearing, [*] according to the Apostle, where this is wanting, it may possibly seem very agreeable to truth, that there can be no Faith, and therefor no saving knowledge; and the consequence is undeniable, since no man can be saved without faith.

Oh this is indeed a very hard saying, which shipwracks the Soul!  Truly since those that are born Deaf are no more guilty of neglecting the means of their Salvation , than Infants (concerning whom however the Sacred Pages advise us to be more charitable) what reason I wonder can there be, why we should think God less merciful to them, who are also born of faithful Parents, than to Infants!  We will leave the disquisition of their Faith, or the manner thereof to Divines.  Hath God therefor, who according to his Will hath elected some out of Mankind corrupted by the fall, to be Vessels of mercy, and others Vessels of wrath?  Yet God’s Promise and Covenant belongs to these, as much as to the children of the faithful.

[…] Yet God is not wholly tied up to this one way of operation.  He hath extraordinary ways which we are ignorant of […]

They therefore that are born Deaf may by writing inform their minds with knowledge of those things, which must be obtained by hearing in others […] (ibid p.36-7 and 39)

The author does however note that “experience teacheth us, […] that those that are originally Dumb, and Deaf do by certain gestures, and various motions of the body as readily and clearly declare their mind, to those with whom they have been often conversant, as if they could speak, and likewise by such gestures of other Persons, they do absolutely understand the intentions of their mind also.”turk

* Romans 10:17

Branson, Jan, and Miller, Don,  Damned for Their Difference: The Cultural Construction of Deaf People as Disabled, 2002

Cocayne, Emily, EXPERIENCES OF THE DEAF IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND, The Historical Journal, 46, 3 (2003), pp. 493–510

Woodward, James, How You Gonna Get to Heaven If You Can’t Talk With Jesus: On Depathologizing Deafness, 1989

Winzer, Margret A.,  The History of Special Education: From Isolation to Integration, 1993

Francis Maginn and the BDA 125th Anniversay

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 24 July 2015

The British Deaf Association is 125 years old, having had its inaugural meeting as the British Deaf and Dumb Association, in Leeds on the 24th of July, 1890.  Here is the Deaf and Dumb Times Supplement with the programme – BDDA Inaugural Conference 1890 (British Deaf and Dumb Times, Volume 2, No. 2, July 1890).  Here is the notice of the congress in the July issue:

DDT 1890 JulyMany of the founders have been mentioned in this blog over the past few years, for example Sleight and PaulMaginn photo 2but one motivating spirit we have not mentioned but who is deserving of recall, is Francis Maginn (1861-1918).  According to his obituary in Deaf Quarterly News, he was a descendant of ‘the Poet Spenser’.  Maginn, who lost his hearing due to scarlet fever aged four, became a pupil, then later teacher, at the Old Kent Road Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb Poor, London.  He was the fourth son of the Rev. C.A. Maginn of Castletowneroche, County Cork, and his uncle William Maginn was a successful journalist.  He spent some years at Gallaudet College in the U.S.A., leaving when his father was ill, then became a missioner in Cork in 1885, moving to Belfast in 1888 ‘when the mission Hall was opened in College Square North’ (ibid). He remain the missioner there for the remainder of his life.

Because of the way in which membership of the Association was allowed to include hearing people, Maginn did not get the leading position in the organisation that some consider he deserved, but became Vice-President.

He married a hearing lady, Agnes Maclean, in 1898, but they had no children.  He had a weak heart, and died on the 16th of December, 1918, aged only 57.

Certainly no man is perfect, all are human and liable to err, but it may be truly said that if Mr. Maginn erred it was on the side of humanity. Few, if any, of his colleagues would deny that his life was entirely given up to the welfare of his people, and that his own wellbeing was but a secondary consideration.

As an example of his forbearance it may be noted that in striving to settle a dispute he received a blow on the chest, from which it appears he never really rallied. Did he complain? Not a bit. Even his own wife was not aware of his having received such a blow, and it was only when he was taken seriously ill that the facts came out.

Appreciation. Deaf and Dumb Times, 1890, 1, 140. (illus)

G.E.S., Francis Maginn, An Appreciation, British Deaf Times, Vol. 16, 1919, p.27

GRANT, B. Francis Maginn (1861-1918). In Fischer, R. and Lane, H. Looking back. Signum, 1993. pp. 97-108. (portrait)

History of our Deaf and Dumb Societies: The Missions to the Adult Deaf and Dumb of Ireland, Vol.2, No.15, p.33-5 (illus)

Mr Francis Maginn,  Ephphatha, March 1896, p.44-5

Photo The Deaf and Dumb Times No.9 Vol 2, February 1891, p.115

The late Mr Francis Maginn,  Ephphatha, Spring 1919, p.542-3

The late Mr Francis Maginn, Deaf Quarterly News, no. 56, p.15-16, 1919

“he boldly invents signs for himself” – Frank Hodgkins, Deaf Amateur Actor (1859-1914)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 July 2015

Frank Hodgkins (1859-1914) was very precise when he related  the age when he had lost his hearing – 15 1/2 (see census for 1911 and BDM).  Frank was born in Westminster in the summer of 1859 so that would have been in the winter of 1864/5.

His father Walter, from Bristol originally, worked as a ‘gilder and carver’ and it seems his children were all employed in skilled trades of a similar type.

Hodgkins as Poor JoIn the 1881 census Frank is not described as deaf, but as we have noted before, that is not unusual and there could be a number of reasons for it.

Hodgkins as QuilpWe are told in the BDM article by ‘Philo’, which is based on an interview, that Frank was artistic, with a love of poetry, music and art.  He was a “delicate boy, and had much trouble with his throat when young, which interfered sadly with his schooling; but he was fond of reading, and picked up writing unassisted.”  He learned his trade as an illuminator when he lost his hearing, but we are told that his heart was not in it.  In the 1911 census Frank was living in 3 Stalbridge Buildings, Lumley St, Grosvenor Square, and described himself as an “illuminator on stationary”.

Living for much of his life in Soho (the family lived at 54 Greek street for many years), it is no surprise that he was involved with St. Anne’s Church, and later with .

In the hope that the dry climate might improve his hearing, Frank went to Australia, spending time at the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind , at Sydney, and later at the Victorian Institution.  He was back in England by 1885, and a visit to the rehearsals of Abraham’s production of Hamlet at Horn’s Assembly Rooms sparked off a role stage managing.  He became secretary of the Deaf and Dumb Cricket Club, and reorganised the St. Saviour’s Social Club, and gave elocution lessons to deaf people.

As a signer, Mr. Hodgkins is a brilliant innovator.  Rejecting all signs that do not reach his fastidious standard, he boldly invents signs for himself, which are so clear and expressive, as well as graceful, that his congregations instantly appreciate them, though they never saw them before.

Mr. Hodgkins’s grand pleasure and hobby is acting.  It is quite possible that, but for his deafness, the subject of our sketch would have been a bright ornament to the British stage.

Interviewing him on the subject, we asked him where he learned to act.
“Nowhere!” was the reply.  “Acting is as natural to me as eating and breathing.”
“Then who taught you?”
“Nobody! I have taught many, however.  Today there is travelling with his company an actor who first learned from my tuition in the lecture hall of St. Saviour’s, and played in some of my pieces.”
Many notices of Mr. Hodgkins’s performances have appeared in the London press, including The Stage, Era, Daily News, &c.  One truly says that his impersonation of “Nan” is as clever as it is amusing; another that the conception of the parts of “Quilp” and “The Marchioness” is perfect; another that his “doubling” these parts was no easy task; another that the task was one that the finest comedian would have shrank from attempting.  These are the only characters played by Mr. Hodgkins in a public hall, such as Park Hall, in Camden Town.  One paper said that were he not deaf, he would make one of the finest actors living. (BDM, 1898)

Ephphathaa for April-September 1914 says Hodgkins was gravely ill at “Friedenheim, Swiss Cottage.”  He was one of our helpers twenty-one years ago, and for many years – whether by entertaining us or by preaching – he was always forward in good works, and only failing health has caused his gradual retirement.”  The following issue has a brief notice that he died on May 9th 1914 and was buried in Highgate cemetery.

In his memoirs Gilby mentions him, rather laconically – “Mr. Frank Hodgkins would from time to time present Rough Diamond, or Good for Nothing, or some other farce, laboriously rehearsed by him with Timothy McCarthy, George Andrews, and other less distinguished performers.”

HodgkinsPhilo, A deaf Actor, Mr. Frank H. Hodgkins, British Deaf Monthly,Volume 8, No. 81, 1898, p.177-9

Ephphatha, [Our Notice Board, no.42,] no.21, 1914 p.3

Ephphatha, no.22, 1914, inside back cover

1911 Census, Class: RG14; Piece: 419

1901 Census, Class: RG13; Piece: 101; Folio: 16; Page: 24

1881 Census,  Class: RG11; Piece: 129; Folio: 15; Page: 22

Deaths Jun 1914 Hodgkins Frank 54 Hampstead 1a 673

Abdulla Iddleby/Ydlibi and the Cairo Deaf School

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 July 2015

Born in Manchester in 1871, Abdullah J. Iddleby was the son of an Irish mother and a Syrian father.  Because his surname was sometimes transliterated in different ways, it is not easy to track him in online records, and I have not with certainty worked out his parents’ names, but it is possible that they were an Ali Ydlibi and Rebecca Hinchey his wife, as they married in Salford registration district in 1870, the year before Abdulla[h] was born.  It is possible that Abdullah’s is the death recorded as Ali A. J. B. Ydlibi in Stockport in 1952, aged 81.  If his father was Ali Ydlibi (Ydilbi) senior, he was a British subject, born in Syria which was then a part of the Turkish Empire, and I imagine may have been involved in the Lancashire cloth trade in some way.

When he was two his parents went to Egypt, and later on he was educated at a or the British Syrian School in Beirut, where he learnt Arabic (Bayrout as the article in British Deaf-Mute (1895 has it).  It was while he was there that he lost his hearing, although he did retain some.  Later on the article, which is by one ‘Agnes’, it says that he was taught by Alexander Melville, “for the past two years” as a private pupil.  He must have been a student/teacher as he is described as having taught at Llandaff.  Our records of Llandaff are not complete and a quick look did not show his name, perhaps as it was for a period when we have no annual reports.  The peculiar thing is that Melville died in 1891, so someone is confused here.

IddlebyAbdullah, who would seem to have been from a Christian family, kept up a correspondence with missionaries in Egypt, who had said there were many Deaf people who were not being educated.  Arthur Upson from a previous blog entry, is not mentioned, but must have known Abdullah later on.School Cairo

The Nile Mission Press for 1906, Blessed be Egypt, says this –

The Class for Deaf and Dumb Boys, which we opened about two years ago, under Mr. Abdullah Iddleby, has been remarkably successful in the matter of general instruction, and the progress of the boys has been extraordinary. But the number of pupils has always been small ; the parents will not send their boys, as they do not believe until they see for themselves that such instruction is possible, and so we recently came to an arrangement with a leading Copt at Zagazig, Paris Effendi Yusef, who will provide a house, etc., and give the opportunity of trying it as a Boys School. Any friends who know of deaf and dumb boys will do well to communicate with Mr. Iddleby, c/o Paris Effendi Yusef, Zagazig.

I suspect that he taught with the combined method, which was used at Llandaff.

He worked with the Church Missionary Society, who proveded a room in in Sharia Muhamed Ali for a year and a half, with Iddleby having five pupils.  The work was supported by Lord Cromer, but when he left Egypt it ended.  He started up again with support of the Pasha (Idris Ragheb) and Egyptian authorities, in the same street, later having 13 pupils.  “His Excellency Idris Pasha is indeed a shelter in a weary land, as far as the deaf and dumb are concerned” says “Pharos” in The British Deaf Times (1909).  Clearly there was an underlying proselytizing element to these early schools, but perhaps the children were from coptic families.

There were other earlier attempts to start education for Deaf children in Egypt.  Miles (2005, see link below) says,

Volta Bureau records (1896; 1900, 1901) noted that “Schools are also reported to exist in Algiers and Syonfieh, Egypt”, and listed three teachers and 37 pupils at Algiers in 1900, 2 teachers and 6 pupils in Egypt in 1901. A Cairo source had a school for “Blind and Dumb” [= Deaf] opening in 1874 and reporting annual data for some years (Heyworth-Dunne, 1968, p. 390).

A footnote adds the following  –

Knowledge of this 19th century work now seems absent from the deaf education world in Egypt, where it is believed that the first school for the deaf was started in 1936. However, a news item “In Cairo” (1909) noted “the establishment of a school for the deaf in Cairo, where it has for three years had a prosperous existence.” A Volta Review article tells of Mme. Sémély Tsotsou founding “L’Ecole L’Espoir” (The Hope School) for 30 deaf children at Alexandria in 1934 (“A School for the Deaf in Egypt”, 1941), with photograph and details of one deaf pupil, nine-year-old Andrée, who had made good progress in speaking French. Another item in 1947 noted that Egypt had then a school for about twenty children at Cairo, a government school “being launched at Alexandria”, and a private school run by “a Greek lady, Madame Semely Tsotsou”, who was also responsible for training 15 Egyptian teachers (“The Deaf in Egypt”, 1947). One small deaf girl, Athanassia Boubouly, is pictured there with her teacher. Lababidi & El-Arabi (2002, pp. 9, 38-43, 101-103, 146-48, 176) collate useful evidence for current activities by and for deaf Egyptians, including interviews with two deaf mothers (the artist and actress Hanan Marzouk, and the Sign specialist Hanan Mohsen), some Deaf organisations, and a Deaf Theatre director. Early information on the school at Algiers has also not been readily available. A brief note in 1927 reported the installation of M. Ayrole in place of the retiring principal M. Rolland (Lamarque, 1927).

Cairo deaf schoolHow long Iddleby stayed in Egypt, I have no idea.  If anyone comes comes across him in any records, please update us below.

Abdulla[h] married Edith E Keay in Stockport in 1915, and she died in 1943.



Both those articles are based on British Deaf Mute and British Deaf Times articles.

Marriages Dec 1915  Keay Edith E and Iddleby Abdulla J S, Stockport 8a 82

Deaths Jun 1943, IDDLEBY Edith E 71 Hyde 8a 118 (for both see the Free BMD)

Deaf People Living and Communicating in African Histories, c. 960s – 1960s


The Deaf of Egypt, British Deaf Mute, 1895, p.39, vol 5 no.50

Pharos, The Deaf and Dumb of Egypt, The British Deaf Times, 1909, Vol. 6 no.65, p.97-99

Roe, WR., The deaf and dumb in Egypt, in Peeps into the Deaf World, 1917, p.204-6