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Archive for the 'Deaf History' Category

Heraldic Artist, Robert Ockleston (1845-1937) and his wife, Sarah Ann Brentnall (1849-1922) ‘she was related to the authoress “George Elliott”‘

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 23 June 2017

Ockleston robertRobert Ockleston (1846-1938) was born in Tabley Brook, Cheshire, in 1846.  His family could, we are told in his obituary (from which much of what follows is taken),  be traced back to the reign of John.  He had an uncle of the same name who was a successful doctor in Cheadle, giving out little white pills, which he even took himself when he had a nasty fall from his horse.  Robert was one of fourteen children, which seems a large family even for that age.  He lost his hearing after an attack of ‘brain fever’ when he was four years old, circa 1850.  He was admitted to the Manchester School for the Deaf and Dumb at Old Trafford, on August the 1st, 1853, as a paying pupil.  He left aged 16, in 1862 – as we see here below, he was one of the oldest pupils by that time.Manchester pupils 1862

He moved to London and became an apprentice heraldic artist in London, eventually setting up at Hatton Gardens with a Mr. Rogers.  Rogers predeceased him, and he carried on the business until he retired at 65, and he continued to work at home drawing up pedigrees and documents until his eyesight failed him aged seventy-eight.

He was Regular at St. Saviour’s church.  He had previously attended the services that were held by the Rev. Samuel Smith at the Regent Street Polytechnic.  At St. Saviour’s he met Sarah Ann Brentnall (1849-1922), a Deaf teacher of the deaf at a Stainer L.C.C. school, at Winchester Street, Pentonville, according to the Ephphtha articles (Ephphatha 1923, and Ephphatha 1938).  They were married by Sam Smith at St. Matthew’s, Oakley Square, on the 29th of July, 1776.  In 1882 they moved to Hornsey, then in 1905 went to Stroud Green.

Ockleston SarahSarah was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, on the 25th of March, 1849, and as the 1881 census says she was ‘deaf only’ as opposed to Robert being ‘deaf and dumb,’ we might suppose that she lost her hearing after she had acquired spoken language.  Indeed, this is confirmed by her obituary which tells us that she lost her hearing aged six after scarlet fever (Ephphatha, 1923 p. 701).  The 1871 census does not mention deafness after her name, but the 1881 does.  Her obituary tells us about her education;

She was not sent to school, but was taught at home, and the love of reading was particularly cultivated, reading aloud being especially encouraged so that she might not forget how to speak.
Her parents and sisters communicated with her by means of the finger alphabet, but she did not associate with other deaf people till she was about 17.  She was then living in Liverpool and heard for the first time of the Mission for the Deaf there.  This opened up to her a new world of friends. (ibid)

Sarah moved to London, becoming a teacher, and began attending St. Saviour’s.  It seems she also wrote poems that were published in A Magazine for the Deaf  the Sam Smith St. Saviour’s church publication (ibid).  As with other teachers of the deaf who were themselves deaf, Sarah lost her job in 1881 when the school became ‘Oral’ in its main form of education (Ephphatha 1923, p. 702).  ‘At language, whether spoken or written, she was extremely gifted, partly due, perhaps, to the fact that she was related to the authoress “George Elliott”‘ (ibid).  It would be interesting to know what her actual relationship with George Elliott was.

Sarah remained involved in the various mothers’ meetings as well as being Vice-President of the Ladies section of the National Deaf Club (ibid).

Robert worked closely with the church, becoming a ‘lay reader’ in 1911 after he had retired.  He was a churchwarden at the church of St. John of Beverley in North London until 1937, when he stood down at the advanced age of 91.  He died  in December 1937 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery.

UPDATED 26/6/2017: Thanks, as ever, to Norma McGilp of @DeafHeritageUK for the additional references to Sarah Ann, and for telling me where to find pictures of them.

If you are aware of any of his work surviving somewhere, please comment.

The Passing of Mr. Robert Ockleston, Ephphatha, No.116, p. 1991, Jan-Mar 1938

Sarah Ann Ockleston (née Brentnall), Ephphatha, No. 56, p. 701, Winter, 1923

Picture of Robert in Ephphatha, Christmas 1915, p. 411

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 7210; Schedule Number: 230

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 275; Folio: 67; Page: 11; GSU roll: 1341059

 

NOMA: ‘Invented by a deaf man … please use it and tell your friends to do same’

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 16 June 2017

We recently found a poster for Noma, a substance for polishing aluminium. On it Selwyn Oxley had written ‘Invented by a deaf man, W Maddison please use it and tell your friends to do same’. This sent us off on a quest to find out more about this mysterious substance.

NOMA1

To our surprise there is no W Maddison. Instead Noma was invented – and patented by – Noel G. Maddison, who regular readers will recall we wrote about last November. It seems most likely that Noma was derived from Maddison’s own name – NOel MAddison.  Using Espacenet, the worldwide patent search, we were able to get a copy of Maddison’s patent, titled ‘Improvements in or relating to the Manufacture of Powder for Cleansing, Polishing and like purposes’, which revealed the composition of the substance – silica 84%, curd soap 3.25%, Castile soap 3.25%, French chalk 7% and borax 2.5%. Curd soap is, sadly, just plain soap, while Castile soap is soap made with olive oil and soda.

You may notice that ‘Aluminium Archie’ appears to be female.

Further investigation showed that for some years Maddison and his aunt, Marion Chappell, were business partners operating out of Hartley Wintney in Hampshire. Chappell had lived there since at least 1911, when the census records her occupation as ‘private means’, but we don’t at present know exactly where the Noma was made. The partnership came to an end in 1931. The London Gazette reported simply –

noma2

Our assumption is that Chappell, at this point aged about 80, and a grand daughter of the music publisher Samuel Chappell, provided Maddison with capital to start the company; she died, aged 91, in 1942. Madisson lived until 1955, when he died at the age of 66.

We would be interested in finding out more about Noma – please let us know if you have any information.

“That he was a strong advocate of the oral method goes without saying” – Thomas Arnold 1816-97

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 9 June 2017

Arnold picThomas Arnold,  (1816-1897) was a  Teacher of the deaf and Nonconformist minister.  He was a pioneer in Britain of the oral education of deaf pupils.  His family originated in Cheshire but were granted land in West Cavan, Ireland, for supporting King William III.  Arnold’s Great Grandmother became a Moravian Protestant, joining one of their settlements.  His mother was also part of a Moravian community at Gracehill, Ballymena.  You can read details of his family in Arnold’s Reminiscences.  I do not propose to give a detailed account of Arnold’s career here.  There is plenty of amaterial about and by Arnold, and it deserves fuller attention than I can give it here.

He was a studious boy and was taken into the class of the local rector, Rev. George Kirkpatrick, who was prepared to pay for his university education.  Arnold’s father however wanted him to stay working with him as a carpenter and cabinet maker, which he did, until his brother took over that role.  Thomas became master of the Moravian school at Gracehill.  In his memoir he tells how Kirkpatrick was a subscriber to the Claremont Institution, and had sent boys to that school.  A boy who was leaving , James Beatty, who had been manually taught (that is with sign language), was taken on as an apprentice by Thomas’s brother, and Thomas says his interest in deaf education was then roused (Reminiscences, p.22).

I speedily learned the finger alphabet and his mimic gestures.  He resorted to few arbitrary or artificial signs in conversation, and his vocabulary was very limited, so that he often found himself at a loss to express his thoughts.

I wonder whether James Beatty had come to learning sign language when he was older, so was perhaps less adept at it?  It seems to me that this first contact’ with a Deaf person may have shaped Arnold’s attitude to deaf education – it would make an interesting article to examine Arnold’s educational writing and to follow his intellectual journey.

Arnold eventually moved to Manchester joining the Manchester City Mission that worked among the factory workers, but he felt that he was better fitted to other work and he obtained a position as an assistant teacher inder Charles Baker at Doncaster (ibid p.30).  Unfortunately for Arnold, his turning towards nonconformism meant that he was then turned down for several positions as headmaster.  He left Doncaster, trained at a Congregational college in Rotherham, and around that time married a Quaker lady, Miss Simpson, in Chorlton in 1848 (Farrar, 1897, p.299).   They moved to New South Wales for fifteen months, but he returned due to a “spinal affection, developed by a too stimulating climate” (ibid).  Arriving in England via the Holy Land, they settled at Doddridge Chapel, Northamptonshire.  It was there that he began teaching with an oral method, his most famous pupil being Abraham Farrar.

Below is a letter of his, stuck into the front of the Reminiscences with stamp gutters, in the copy owned by Richard Elliott of the Margate School, to whom it is dedicated.  It reads,

The Remeniscences [sic] can be added to the History but I had a number of copies for private circulation printed separately.
27 Park Rd Northampton
Sep 20th 1895

Dear Friend and brother in the service of God, let me add a more personal and less formal word or two in addition to what is intended for the whole c[ure? or cause?].
Looknig [sic] closely through the whole of this affair I see with great pleasure that you have been the chief actor from first to last and it confirms my admiration my affection for you as a devout servant of God in our special work.  Now we can travel on in peace till the end of the day and the rest of heaven are in prospect.  I am already
p.2
at work on some problems which I know will shed fresh light on the physiology of speech.  So I hope to conclude my service with words that will not do till they have reached the last of the deaf.  For this otium cum dignitate I am deeply indebted to you.
May God bless you Mr. Elliott and every member of your family!
Please send the proofs of what I said at the conference, I want to put my meaning clearly.  I should also like to have a proof of my paper, if printed to go through carefully.
Yours affectionately
T. Arnold

In his obituary, Farrar says of Arnold,

That he was a strong advocate of the oral method goes without saying, but he did not go so far as some, for he recognised that the natural signs used by the deaf cannot be wholly dispensed with at the initial stage.  The manual method he did not condemn as such, but held it to be inferior to the oral in educational efficiency.  On the other hand, the combined method had no more uncompromising opponent.  That many of the views embodied in his works should not command universal assent is only to be expected, but it is unquestionable that both by his example and writings and his freedom from sordid motives, Mr. arnold has done much to raise the standard of teaching, and in consequence to elevate the deaf as a class. (Farrar, 1897, p.303)

He died on the 21st of January, 1897.
Arnold letter 1Arnold letter 2Brief biography. British Deaf-Mute and Deaf Chronicle, 1895, 4, 107. (photo)

Obituary. American Annals of the Deaf, 1897, 42, 124-25; 42(2), frontispiece. (photo)

Obituary. British Deaf Monthly, 1897, 6, 84-87. (photo)

FARRAR, A.  Obituary. Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1897, 4, 294-304, 342-46.

FARRAR, A. Thomas Arnold: a biographical sketch. Teacher of the Deaf, 1939, 195-200. (portrait)

Biography. Teacher of the Deaf, 1941, 39, 79-80.

DEACON, M. The church on Castle Hill: the history of the Castle Hill United Reformed Church, Northampton. Park Lane Publishing, 1995. pp. 40-44. (photo)

STEWART, I. The centenary of the death of Thomas Arnold. Deaf History Journal, 1997, 1(1), 30-35.

INCE JONES, F., Thomas Arnold, The Teacher of the Deaf 1941 p.79-80

“he used to interpret in court cases” – Edward Bates James (1863-1936)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 2 June 2017

Edward Bates James was born in the Commercial Road, East London, on March the 5th, 1863.  His mother, Isabella Dorothea Bartlet, born in 1839, was a pupil at the Old Kent Rd School –  you can see her named there in the 1851 census as Bartlett. His father Edward Francis James (b.1826) was in business, having once been a servant, but although not mentioned by Gilby in his memoir, the 1881 census says he was sexton at St. Saviour’s Church when he and Edward were living at 272 Oxford Street.  His parents had married in 1862.  His mother was an upholstress in 1861, when she was living with her widowed mother at 150 Tottenham Court Rd – approximately where the Cafe Nero is opposite Sainsbury’s.

He did mission work in his spare time, from the age of 13 helping the Rev. Samuel Smith.  His obituary says that,

Owing to the fact that his mother was deaf and dumb, he used to accompany her to all meetings at the old Polytechnic in Regent Street, the last Mission Centre in London before St. Saviuor’s was built.  There he used to meet those, early in London history of deaf work, who were active in the religious and social welfare of the Deaf, especially Samuuel North and the Rev. Samuel Smith, and the latter was a frequent visitor at his parent’s’ home.  When quite young he used to interpret in court cases, and assist in the missions (Ephphatha, 1936, p.1849).

Later on he became a teacher of the deaf, training with William Neill at the Northern Counties School for the Deaf in Newcastle.  The Ephphatha article tells us he regarded Neill with a mixture of “awe and admiration,” and he would never forget the “good caning of half a dozen big fellows late at night for some wrongdoing,” administered by Mr Neill (p.297).  The article does not tell us when he left, but at some point he returned to London on the death of his mother.  He worked, we are told, “in the City in the day, spent a good deal of his time in deaf work, and saw St. Peter’s School, Islington, first opened for them” (ibid).  I have never heard of that school – was it a proper school or only a Sunday school?  He also carried on services at Morley Hall in the absence of Jane Groom.  His ‘City’ work would have been as an accountant or accountant’s clerk, according to census returns.

Marrying in 1889, his wife Ellen bore two children but died after only three years of marriage, on their wedding anniversary, which meant he had to withdraw from some of his mission work to look after his sons.  One of his sons was Walter Melville James – perhaps named after Alexander Melville?  His other son was Alfred.  His wife, Ellen James, who was ten years older than him, was like his father was born in Kettering, which suggests she was perhaps a cousin – I have not had time to conform this.

After meeting old friends at the 1905 Bazaar that Gilby organized at the Grand Central Hotel*, his desire to work with the Deaf community was re-kindled, and he joined the R.A.D.D. on the 1st of February, 1906, becoming ‘Parochial Reader’ of St. Mark’s, North Audley Street, near where he had been a pupil at a school (ibid p.298).  He helped fill in when R.A.D.D. missioner John P. Gloyn‘s health was failing –

in the matter of success in finding work for the deaf he has probably had no equal; and the friendliness and suffering, perhaps in many cases not well skilled, have had great cause to bless him for opportunities afforded them of getting their living. His heart has always disposed him to help again and again those who truly do not deserve it – and who, under his superintendence, have become self-supporting and something like industrious people. His has truly been a work of rescuing the perishing, and though often disheartened by the downright wickedness and perversity of some of his cases, he has never turned back or entirely despaired. On leaving North London recently to become the right-hand man of the Chaplain at St. Saviour’s, he was presented with a gold chain and illuminated address containing signatures by old friends who valued his earnest and helpful ministrations and admired his faithful devotion to duty.

He seems to have taken on a lot of Gilby’s work when he was ill during the Great War.  He died on Sunday, the 9th of February, 1936.  Gilby only mentions him in passing, saying of him, ‘more anon,’ but only then mentions seeing him before going to South Africa in 1934.  They may well have been acquainted since childhood.  He was buried in Brookwood cemetery, Woking.

EB James

*The obituary says 1905, but Gilby’s memoir says 1904.  there were however several bazaars around that time.

Edward Bates James, Ephphatha, 1914, No.22 p.297-8

Edward Bates James, the Great Missionary and Friend of the Deaf, Ephphatha, 1936, April June, No. 109 p.1849-50

The Late Mr. Edward Bates James, British Deaf Times, 1936, Vol.33 p.34

Census 1861 – Class: RG 9; Piece: 102; Folio: 131; Page: 24; GSU roll: 542574

Census 1881 – Class: RG11; Piece: 92; Folio: 57; Page: 31; GSU roll: 1341021

Census 1901 – Class: RG13; Piece: 1257; Folio: 30; Page: 6

Census 1911 – Class: RG14; Piece: 7385; Schedule Number: 245

“I took to going off for long tramps by myself over the fields and the beech-clad hills” – Frieda Le Pla, deaf-blind author

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 5 May 2017

le plaFrieda Le Pla, (or more correctly Winifred Jessie Le Pla) was born on November the 14th, 1892 in London (see Cripps, 1987, for most of what follows).  Her Dublin born father, Matthew, was of Huguenot descent.  He was a congregationalist minister.  Her mother, who was his second wife, was born in Exeter of Scottish descent.  When she was nearly nine the family moved from Amhurst Rd, Dalston, to Eynsford in Kent, and not long after they went to live in Ealing.  In spring 1904 the family moved to Theale in Berkshire.  There was, Cripps tells us, no suitable local school, so Winifred – Frieda – and her sisters Lillie and Rose were taught by her father in the mornings then were free to wander the local countryside for the remainder of the day.  Her father was it seems rather forward thinking in his theology, and his support for controversial preachers meant that he lost his position, so the family moved again to Beckenham near Gainsborough for six months, then after only six months, they moved on to Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

In her book about her experiences, Glimpses into a hidden world,  which is not fully autobiographical but also discusses deaf-blindness more generally and also has contributions by others, Frieda said,

My first period of blindness came when I was about four years old, due to inflammation of the eyes; but it lasted only a few months, and I have no recollection of it myself.  Neither did its effects – a greatly reduced amount of sight in the left eye, and short-sightedness in the right – obtrude themselves on my notice during my childhood, which in the main was a happy one […].  It was not until I was almost twenty-one that inflammation attacked the eyes for the second time, and that the first signs of deafness appeared.
By this time I already had several pupils both for school subjects and music – I had started teaching music when I was sixteen: I was also a teacher in the Sunday-school, and was in the choir of the Beaconsfield Congregational Church, of which my father was Minister, and my mother the organist.  I had also started to learn the organ, with my mother as teacher: and I was in the thick of enthusiastic activities for such movements as the Women’s Suffrage, the campaign against vivisection and other forms of cruelty to animals, and so on.  This was in the autumn of 1913. (Glimpses into a hidden world, p.3)

By 1916 Frieda had to give up teaching, and by 1922 her blindness became ‘total’, although she was able to

see good print and also, of course, go about alone; so I took to going off for long tramps by myself over the fields and the beech-clad hills, with a note-book and a pencil in my pocket in order to jot down ideas for stories, and any notes about the wild folk and plants observed during these expeditions.  The fluctuating character of my hearing made me nervous about meeting humans  lest I should not be able to hear what they said if they spoke to me – another reason for preferring the more unfrequented woods and fields rather than the regions inhabited by humans.

Frieda set about learning Braille, and so was able to work as a writer.  Her big problem was correcting manuscripts, and she tells us that even having had manuscripts checked, some errors still crept in.

After her mother died in 1933, she was fortunate that a friend of hers, Dorothy Wells, a young teacher, became her companion in 1934.  Dorothy had entered an Anglican convent but was not happy there, and seems to have welcomed the chance to help Frieda.  She was to be her support and friend for the next forty-five years (Cripps, p.6).

La PlaFrieda died in March, 1978, after a short illness.  Dorothy survived her, dying on the 15th of June, 1980.  If you read through old copies on the British Deaf Times you will come across a number of her articles, particularly in the 1940s.

Cripps, Vera E., Frieda and Dorothy, a Story of Courage and Devotion (1987)

Abrahams, Pat, Light out of Darkness, Hearing 1971, 26 137-9

Deaf-blind authoress. British Deaf Times, 1932, Nov-Dec, p.127

Le Pla, Frieda, Glimpses into a hidden world, 1949.

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 216; Folio: 53; Page: 33

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 7811; Schedule Number: 152

“The difficulty with which she then spoke on her fingers … added to her power of expression” Jessie E. Beatrice Ruddock

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 7 April 2017

It is not always easy to find women with a connection to Deaf history until the late 19th and early 20th century.  Before that, it seems to me, men predominated in both deaf education and in Deaf society and institutions.  Jessie Eva Beatrice Ruddock was one of the young women who changed that in the early decades of the 20th century.

Born in St. Margaret’s on Thames (Isleworth) on the 19th of June, 1889, Jessie was the daughter of a civil servant, Montague Grevile Ruddock (already retired in 1891 aged only 52), and his wife Amy.  Jessie was educated at a private school, South Croydon College, and then when her family moved into London, she attended a school in Kensington (Fry, 1913, from which most of the following comes).  She then had an attack of influenza aged thirteen,

which left inflammation of both ears, necessitating mastoid operations, and causing a total loss of her hearing.  For three weary years Miss Ruddock lay very ill, cared for by a noble mother and sister. Few can imagine the agony of mind experienced by her and her relatives when, after being unconscious for twelve days, it began to dawn on her that the song of the nightingale across the road in Kew Gardens would know her not.  The trilling of these beautiful songstresses had previously been her delight.* (ibid)

Her education seemed over, but aged seventeen a friend suggested a career in dispensing.  I wonder if her father had retired early through ill-health as  the children all seem to have gone into some form of employment, and after her father’s death in 1909 her mother ran a boarding house in Kew.

miss ruddockJessie contacted a Dr. Farrar, who offered to coach her, saying her deafness should be no handicap to the work of a dispenser.  Fry tell us that she attended the college, which is now the UCL School of Pharmacy, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. then studied at home until 10 p.m.  “It was jolly at the College; between fifteen and twenty ladies were there, and we attended lectures twice a day.  My chief difficulty was in pronouncing Latin and botanical names.” (ibid)  Of 150 candidates, only 23 passed, including Jessie.  She held three appointments, with a private doctor, at the Royal Maternity Charity of London Outpatients’ Department, and All Saints’ Hospital.  Fry continues, “She yearned for other fields to conquer, however, and ultimately began a course of training as a nurse at Her Majesty’s Hospital, Stepney.”  That ended unfortunately when her father became ill and she gave up work.

In 1913, Maxwell S. Fry wrote an article on Miss J. E. Beatrice Ruddock, for The British Deaf Times.  In 1910 she had written to the secretary of the National Deaf Club, having read about it in the newspapers.  She wished to know if ladies were admitted.  This caused the creation of a ladies section to the club.

Fry was obviously so taken with Miss Ruddock that he really laid it on in his article, recording his impressions when they first met in 1910/11:

Miss Ruddock is lithe of figure, quiet, pleasant and refined.  The difficulty with which she then spoke on her fingers – having scarcely mastered our language – added to her power of expression.

[…]

This brilliant and gifted young lady possesses a delicate sensibility, and a quick perception.  She is one who grasps the significance that lies beneath the surface of things apparently insignificant, and realises the splendour often hidden in simple lives.  Very intelligent, she is possessed of keen instinct.  Rich in so many natural gifts, she might have become a scholar.  withal, it is the unconscious in her that counts.

It must have worked as, dear reader, he married her in 1915, and they had two daughters, Mary Eileen (b.1920), and Kathleen (b.1917).

We also learn from the article that she enjoyed cycling, had played the piano, and went with her brother to watch Fulham play football.  Jessie (or Beatrice as she now seems to have preferred) and her husband later lived in Coventry.  Maxwell Stewart Fry, who deserves a blog post of his own, died in 1943.  I am sure there is much more that could be added about her.  She died aged 90, on the 7th of January, 1980.**

[Note that the 1911 census does not describe here as ‘deaf’.  Also, in the 1891 and 1901 censuses she was named as Jessie Ruddock, but after her father’s death she has become Beatrice in the 1911 census.]

*Fry got the the nightingale sex wrong – as with many songbirds, males sing to impress females as well as establishing territory, e.g. Multiple song features are related to paternal effort in common nightingales

** Thanks, yet again, to Norma McGilp!

Obituary. Late Mr Maxwell Fry, Coventry.  The British Deaf Times, vol 41, 1944, p.9

Fry, M.S., Prominent in the Deaf World.  Miss J.E. Beatrice Ruddock. The British Deaf Times, 1913 p.160-1

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1026; Folio: 131; Page: 41; GSU roll: 6096136

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 50; Folio: 17; Page: 25

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 3594; Schedule Number: 109

On the unreliability of printed sources – Hannah Pouncey, Deaf and Blind (ca 1832-1913)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 31 March 2017

A while ago I came across a photograph in Ephphatha, the magazine for the missioners to the deaf, edited by W.W. Adamson, A. Macdonald Cuttell and Fred Gilby.  The photograph illustrated here, is of one ‘Hannah Pountney’.  I searched for Hannah high and low, thinking maybe someone had incorrectly transcribed her name in the online family history and census records.  Hannah was proving impossible to track down – until I had the assistance of our top historian friend, @DeafHeritageUK, Norma McGilp.  Unfortunately an error occurred when someone wrote the item that included Hannah’s name, and the fact that she was to get a pension of £10 from the British Deaf and Dumb Association.  Her real name was  Hannah Pouncey (ca. 1832-1913).  I suppose that someone not at the B.D.D.A. meeting when the pension was approved, misread the handwriting of someone who had attended.  The B.D.D.A. minutes say she was, “a deaf and dumb woman, and almost blind, aged 62, named Hannah Pouncey, and residing at Bedale for whom £8.8.0 had already been collected by her relations.”*

Hannah was born in Ripon, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, and died in Crakehall, Bedale which is not too far north of there.  Her parents were George (b. ca. 1802) and Mary (b. ca. 1802), both born in Ripon.  George was a tailor and one of his sons, Thomas (b. ca 1835 in Leeds), was apprenticed to him.  In 1851 they were living in ‘Middle Street’ which seems to have disappeared or changed name, but must be adjacent to Queen Street.  By the 1871 census they had moved to ‘Fairfield Villa’ and George was described as a woollen draper.  Does that mean he was going up in the world?  On that census there is no mention of deafness next to Hannah’s name.  That information relied on both assiduous enumerators and the co-operation of the head of the household, or whoever took their place if they were out.  Hannah was, according to the 1901 census, ‘deaf and dumb from childhood.’  The 1881 census did not note any deafness – but some people would think it a stigma, so reporting of deafness in census returns is not consistent.

As far as I am aware Hannah lived an anonymous and ordinary life, dying in 1913.

As with others previously covered in this blog, I think it is important to commemorate the lives of ordinary people, as well as the clever, successful and influential.  They are all part of the same picture.

Hannah Pouncey

*for which we are indebted again to Norma McGilp.

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2281; Folio: 207; Page: 17; GSU roll: 87466-87467

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 3196; Folio: 50; Page: 14; GSU roll: 543094

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 4276; Page: 12; GSU roll: 846969

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 4318; Folio: 24; Page: 3; GSU roll: 1342030

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 4598; Folio: 33; Page: 7

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 29386

 

 

Alphabet, Manuel-Figure des Sourds-Muets de Naissance, An VIII (1799-1800)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 March 2017

Alphabet 1A year or so ago we came across, in our French language collection, this extremely rare manual alphabet – Alphabet, Manuel-Figure des Sourds-Muets de Naissance.  It was printed in Paris, in an VIII, revolutionary year 8, which dates from the 23rd of September, 1799, to the 22nd of September, 1800.  That was the period when Bonaparte returned from Egypt and used his popularity to instigate the coup of  18 Brumaire, becoming ‘consul’ and virtual dictator.  It was possibly printed by the pupils (boys) of the Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets à Paris, then under the principal, the Abbé Sicard.  Sicard had an extraordinary life, narrowly avoiding execution during the French Revolution in 1792, when he was arrested by the Revolutionary Commune for failing to take the oath of civil allegiance.  You can read about that in Harlan Lane’s book, When the Mind Hears (1984, see chapter 2 in particular), and in the more recent Abbé Sicard’s deaf education : empowering the mute, 1785-1820 (2015) by Emmet Kennedy.  The coup of 18 Fructidor sent Sicard into hiding, and he only emerged when Bonaparte came to power.  We have a copy of Sicard’s first book published in an VIII (year 8), Cours d’instruction d’un sourd-muet de naissance, pour servir a l’éducation des sourds-muets, but it appears that the sign alphabet that is supposed to be in it, is missing from the first edition we have.  Here it is from the back of the 1803 second edition.  Click for a larger size.Cours 1803

Was Alphabet, Manuel-Figure printed for the use of the pupils, or to sell in order to raise money?  Was it printed by the pupils, as an exercise, or a way of learning a trade?  I think we may well attribute Sicard as the man behind the publication, but perhaps it was just publicity material for the school with another teacher responsible.  It is beyond my expertise to say anything more about the Alphabet, so I present the printed pages.  It is not printed on every page, and I suspect it was printed on one sheet, then folded and cut, but if you have a more informed view about how it may have been laid out, please contribute below.

I think that this item is, as I said above, extremely rare, but it may well be unique.  The small plaque under each picture is probably aesthetic, but seems to me to make the pictures seem more ‘monumental’ and, if I dare use the term, (it may be legitimate here!), ‘iconic.’  Now compare the hand shapes in the 1803 alphabet above, with those in our 1799 one below.  See the interesting differences.  Is one drawn by a ‘reader’ of the signs, and one by the ‘speaker’, or is one drawn by the artist from his (or her) own hand shapes?  Is the 1799 Cours d’instruction alphabet different?  If both were by Sicard, would they not be identical, or could that just be a matter of the artist executing the engravings?

It measures approximately 14cm by 23cm.  We are in the process of getting many of these books, previously on card index only, onto the UCL catalogue, to make them more ‘visible’ to researchers.

The pages between those below, are blank.

Alphabet 2 Alphabet 3 Alphabet 4 Alphabet 5

Cours d’instruction d’un sourd-muet de naissance, pour servir a l’éducation des sourds-muets – on Google Books, unfortunately lacks the sign alphabet at the back.

The Rev. John Kinghan of Belfast Deaf Institution and Mission

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 March 2017

Kinghan mission churchThe Rev. John KINGHAN,  (1823-1895) was Principal of the Belfast Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.  Born in Ballymacarn, son of William Kinghan, John was educated at Dr. Blain’s Academy in Arthur Street, Belfast (see Obituary for what follows).  He went on to Belfast College, which was Presbyterian, obtaining his licence in 1852.  As early as 1845 we are told that he was giving instruction to Deaf and Dumb pupils in the Institution in Lisburn Road.  He may have met Charles Rhind at that time as he was Principal there for a while.  This was, of course, the period of the great famine in Ireland.  In May 1853 Kinghan took over from Rhind’s successor and predecessor, the Rev. John Martin, who then emigrated to America, being unanimously chosen from a list of nine candidates.  He remained at the school for the rest of his life, though after two bouts of illness he had to withdraw from much of the management work at the school in 1879 and 1884. He does not appear to have done anything particularly extraordinary or remarkable.

No one familiar with this Institution can overlook the lengthened and valuable services of the Rev. John Kinghan.  This gentleman has for so many years been identified with its working that he has come to be regarded as the Society itself.  His devotion to the cause of the deaf and dumb and the blind is widely known, and he has the satisfaction of seeing now a marvellous development of a work in the Institution, of which he was the leading figure.  His efforts have been ably seconded by Mr. James Bryden, the Head Master, a zealous and accomplished teacher, and Mr. John Beattie, the first assistant who graduated in the concern and is acquainted with all the details. (from Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1891, quoting The Belfast News Letter, of 4th February, 1891).

On 17th of May 1857, Kinghan started a mission to the deaf, obtaining the use of a room in Sandy Row where he could hold services for the deaf of Belfast.  This later moved to the Great Victoria Street schoolhouse, and in 1878  a special building, “the Bethel,”was erected in Sandy Row.

Kinghan

Below is the back cover of the 1914 report, with a picture of the Jubilee Home for women which the mission ran.  I expect there is information on this in the British Deaf Times where the picture comes from.  I am not sure what year the home began or when it closed.  Do tell us if you know more about it in the comments field below.Jubilee Home deaf women

Obituary. British Deaf-Mute, 1895, 5, 25. (photo)

Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1891, 2, 262-69, 289-95.

Annual Reports 1909,1913, 1914, 1917, 1919, 1924, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1943, 1948

http://jordanstownschool.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/HisGov.pdf

His Family: 

http://www.thepeerage.com/p38223.htm#i382221

One of his female ancestors, Catherine Sheridan, had an argument with one of the last wolves in Donegal –  http://www.thesilverbowl.com/familytree/Dill_descendants.htm

His Church:

https://www.presbyterianireland.org/Mission/Mission-Projects/Kinghan-Church.aspx

“They become unconsciously genuine stupefying explainers” – French Oralist Jean-Jacques Valade-Gabel

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 3 March 2017

Valade-GabelJean-Jacques Valade-Gabel (1801-79) was a leading proponent of oral education for the deaf who was active in the middle of the nineteenth century.  I first came across him through the book of moral tales he wrote, translated into English by Charles Baker of the Yorkshire Institution.  His son Andre followed him into teaching the deaf.  He taught at the Paris Institution before moving to Bordeaux (American Annals of the Deaf, 1860).  Harlan Lane says that he was “fired from Bordeaux for mysterious reasons” (Lane, p.436, note 110).  What did he do that was so disgraceful?  Since I initially wrote this post I have come across some biographical information on father and son Valade-Gabel.*  “Jusqu’en 1850, le nouveau directeur s’appliqua par des leçons constantes à former un personnel capable, dévoué, lorsque brusquement, le 25 juillet 1850, Valade-Gabel fut relevé des ses fonctions et replacé professeur à Paris.” – “Up until 1850, the new director applied himself by constant lectures to forming a capable staff, when suddenly, on July 25th, 1850, Valade-Gabel was relieved of his functions and returned to the position of professor in Paris.” (see Bélanger, 1900).  It did not affect his later career it seems.

Jean-Jacques was born at Sarlat in the Dordogne on the 23rd of September, 1801.  He entered the Institution Nationale de Paris on the 8th of September, 1825, as an aspiring professor, which position he attained in 1829.  At that time Bébian was deputy Principal.  He was a disciple of Pestalozzi (who has been mentioned before on a post).

Picture LessonsJJ Valade GabelHe taught in Paris from 1826 to 1838, was director of the National Institution at Bordeaux from 1838 till 1850, and later became Government inspector of the schools for the deaf in the 1860s, which must have put him in a powerful position to get his educational views instituted across France (The Association Review, 1902, p.274).  Our copy of Méthode à la portée des instituteurs primaires pour enseigner aux sourds-muets la langue française : sans l’intermédiaire du langage des signes (1857) is signed by Valade-Gabel.  This was the book that set out his views in full, and in 1875 his method was officially recognised by the Ministry of the Interior (The Association Review, 1904, p.274).VG Deaf Boy

We have two copies of the translated Picture Lessons for Boys and Girls, one with the author’s introduction, where he indicates a disdain for signing.  It seems he gave emphasis to reading and writing.  He says,

The reproach addressed by Jacotot to those who too much distrust the penetration of children, falls directly on such teachers as are in the habit of constantly interposing signs between the deaf and dumb and written language.  They become unconsciously genuine stupefying explainers.  The more graceful and appropriate are the signs, so much more do they turn the pupils from the attention which must be given to writing, in order to obtain in it a sort of power interpretive of thought.  We know in a certain establishment a certain very distinguished master, who, nevertheless, has not succeeded in making a good scholar, for the sole reason that he does not know how properly to teach the deaf-mute to cope with the difficulties of reading. (p.vi)

In The Association Review, they say,

This untiring reformer introduced at the Bordeaux Institution the intuitive method in instruction in language in its written form. He attracted the attention of specialists to his method by annual courses and lectures from 1839 till 1850, and in 1857 published his famous work, “Method for the use of primary teachers for teaching the deaf the French language without the intermediary of the sign language.” This important work was favorably received by the leaders of the French education of the deaf; and in 1875 Valade-Gabel’s method was officially recognized by the Ministry of the Interior. This method which substituted the eye for the ear, employed writing, and abandoned signs as a means for learning language, was adopted either entirely or in conjunction with older methods by the majority of the French schools many years before the Milan Congress. (p.274)

They continue to explain something of his method (p.275): “Valade-Gabel’s method is based on two leading principles: the first, that language shall be taught without either methodical or natural gestures, and the second, that instead of begin- ning with words, developing and explaining them, each one by itself, the beginning should be made with sentences.”

VG Deaf and Dumb Man

Above are two pages from the Picture Lessons.  Note that this last picture below, shows a child – a ‘chatterer,’ – signing to his fellow.  “They are chatters when they make any unmeaning or unnecessary signs.” Chatterer

I think that the poet, Leon Valade, may have been his son, or a relative.  Please add a note in the comments if you can provide any additional information about Valade-Gabel.

Arnaud, Sabine, Fashioning a Role for Medicine: Alexandre-Louis-Paul Blanchet and the Care of the Deaf in Mid-nineteenth-century France.  Soc Hist Med (2015) 28 (2): 288-307

*Bélanger, Ad., Nos Gravures – J.J. Valade-Gabel, André Valade-Gabel, Revue Générale de L’Enseignement de Sourds-Muets, Vol.2, (5), Novembre 1900 & two plates facing p. 122 & p. 128

Fourth Report of the Institution for the Deaf at Venersborg, Sweden… The Association Review, 1902, Vol.4 p.272–8

Lane, Harlan, When the Mind Hears, a History of the Deaf.  

Picture Lessons for Boys and Girls [review] American Annals of the Deaf, 1860 Vol 12, p.191-2

Quartararo, Anne T.,  The Perils of Assimilation in Modern France: The Deaf Community, Social Status, and Educational Opportunity, 1815-1870.  Journal of Social History, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Autumn, 1995), pp. 5-23

Valade-Gabel, J-J., Picture Lessons for Boys and Girls, Translated and adapted by Charles Baker. 1860, London, Wertheim and Macintosh

Valade-Gabel, J-J,, The Institutions for the Deaf and Dumb in France

A picture of Valade-Gabel is on this interesting Danish website