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Archive for the 'Deaf Missions' Category

Three Deaf Tailors of Plymouth

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 6 April 2018

This photo, shows three tailors of Plymouth who were deaf.  The photo probably dates from 1910/20.  It is possible that one of men, on the right or in the centre, may be Edward John Tavenor (1855-1938), who was born in Plymouth, but attended the Old Kent Road Asylum where he is listed in the 1871 census.  Perhaps those in the photograph are a little young looking, but perhaps the photo is a little older than my guess.

At any rate, Edward was not born deaf according to the 1861 census, and so he probably lost his hearing having already acquired some speech.  He was involved in the local Plymouth and District Deaf and Dumb Mission for a number of years as a member of the committee.  At that time the missioner was Hiram Blount, who was himself deaf.  Edward married a Deaf lady, Susannah Creber, in 1880.  I am not sure if she was educated locally or not.

I have touched on the Plymouth Mission before, and there is a rich seam of Deaf history to be mined here.

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 1442; Folio: 68; Page: 56; GSU roll: 542813 (Edward)

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 1454; Folio: 85; Page: 27; GSU roll: 542815 (Susannah)

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 601; Folio: 112; Page: 5; GSU roll: 818907

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1744; Folio: 140; Page: 43

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2093; Folio: 27; Page: 46

1911 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1725; Folio: 24; Page: 42

Plymouth Mission Annual Reports for 1915, 1916, 1919, 1920, 1922, 1924 (we have incomplete holdings)

Weeding brings happy discoveries… International Games for the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 2 February 2018

We are in the process of weeding our grey literature collection for the Action on Hearing Loss part of the collection.  There is a wealth of good material, but it is hidden beneath a mountain of old photocopies of articles, mostly of dubious worth to our holdings.  At one time the library catered many groups of people who were unable to use an academic library, so we had speech therapists as well as ENT doctors and teachers of the Deaf using the material.   The Ear Institute part of our Library covers ENT fully and comprehensively, while UCL’s Language and Speech Science Library covers speech and language, and the Institute of Education covers, well, education!  Therefore the Action on Hearing Loss collection focuses on Audiology, Sign Language, Deafness and related areas.

The sort of things we are removing are broadly old and never consulted articles about, among other things, aphasia, stuttering and speech problems, and voice, dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.  Many of these are online now, or held in print form elsewhere.  In the process we are making happy discoveries, and we will gather some of the historical items into archive boxes to better preserve them.

As examples of what we have found, material that was indexed on the card catalogue but would have been hard to search for by topic, in 1958 George E. Robinson, Superintendent of Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society, donated programmes for four International Games for the Deaf, London (1935), Stockholm (1939), Brussels (1953), and Milan (1957).   These will now be put into an archive box together.

Top, the reverse of the Brussels programme, next the London programme showing the Prince of Wales who was patron of the games, then football teams in 1953 and the cover of the Brussels programme.

 

“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 Deaf tailor to King Edward VII – George Arnold of Windsor (1855-1922)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 October 2017

George Arnold  (1855-1922) was born in Wimborne, Dorset.  He lost his hearing at the age of eight, being described in the 1901 census as ‘stone deaf,’ and was then educated at the Old Kent Road and St John’s College, Margate, under the personal tuition of G. Banton and the headmaster, Richard Elliott.  The 1881 census says he was ‘Deaf after birth, not dumb’ so he had spoken language.  On leaving school, he trained as a tailor with Mr W. Fletcher, tailor to King Edward VII.  In 1880 he married Amelia Bartlett, of Preston, Dorset then aged 18.  According to the 1901 census, she was partly deaf.

The article about Arnold in The Messenger says that “on leaving school he chose the trade of a tailor and has been with with Mr. Fletcher, tailor to H.M. the King, H.R.H. Prince Christian, &c., for over twenty years.  Besides making various clothes for the King, he made clothes for the late Emperor Frederick of Germany, while the latter was staying at Windsor Castle, as well as for other Royalties.

In the 1891 census he was being visited by Henry S. Gander, a fellow Deaf tailor.   I wonder if Gander was looking for work, or perhaps he was just a friend from the same trade with a similar background?  Had he been staying with the Arnolds on a longer basis it would probably have said he was a ‘boarder.’  Thanks to information provided by Deaf historians Norma McGilp and Geoff Eagling, we can say something more about Gander.

Harry Stonestreet Gander, was baptized on the 17th of November, 1867, in Hove, Sussex. His parents John and Sarah Ann Gander.  At the time of the 1871 census he was living at  27 Osborne St, Hove, where he was a pupil at the Brighton “Deaf and Dumb Asylum.”  He had lost his hearing through from scarlet fever’, and his father was a gardener.  At the Brighton Institution, his Admission number was 438.  He was living at Cliftonville, Sussex at the time of his admission in 1877.  Geoff Eagling says, “Reverend Fully paid on his behalf £8-0s-0d per year, this is lower than the normal school fee of £10-0s-0d. Perhaps he was a day pupil. No date of leaving but would be around 1882-83 when he was around 14-15 years old. Private pupil at the time was £50-0s-0d, a lot in those days.”   I cannot be sure when Harry died.  There seem to be a fair number of Ganders in Sussex, but there is a death notice for Lewes in 1910, a Harry Gander aged 42, that could fit.  If you find out or know please make a note below.

Arnold was an amateur conjurer, and was in demand to provide entertainments.  In the Brighton Gazette for the 7th of January, 1904, Arnold performed at a New Year party held at the Brighton Institution, presided over by Sir Arthur Fairbairn, and William Sleight, who was headmaster.  I wonder if Arnold or Gander made clothes for them?  He also acted as a stand-in missioner to his local Deaf community, for example in the South Bucks Standard for the 24th of October 1912, we read that the Bishop appointed him to take Sunday services when the Rev. A.H. Payne moved to Liverpool.

As a young man, he had been a very good athlete.  Roe tells us he ran a mile in 4 mins 47 secs, at Fordingbridge, near Salisbury, and a half-mile in 2 mins 10 secs at Winton.

George Arnold died in 1922, at Clewer, near Windsor, aged only 67.  His wife Amelia had died His obituary in Ephphatha said “Mr. Arnold abounded in energy, good spirits and social magnetism; he was an optimist, a humorist, a man who relished life.”

I cannot say whether any of his clothes survive, but perhaps they do in some museum or in the Royal Collections.  It is also possible that there are surviving accounts and other correspondence that might be of interest to those wanting to research this subject.

George Arnold

MACKENZIE, G. King Edward’s deaf mute tailor. Messenger, 1902, 5(5), 83-84. (photo)

Obituary, Mr George Arnold, Ephphatha, 1922 p.701

Roe, W.R. Peeps into the Deaf World, 1917, p.2-3

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 1339; Folio: 40; Page: 15; GSU roll: 542798

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 1195; Folio: 94; Page: 13; GSU roll: 1341293

1881 Census (Henry S. Gander) – Class: RG11; Piece: 1077; Folio: 55; Page: 39; GSU roll: 1341254

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1013; Folio: 34; Page: 23; GSU roll: 6096123

1901 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1013; Folio: 34; Page: 23; GSU roll: 6096123

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 6718; Schedule Number: 175

 

First Deaf Person on TV in Britain – “Topsy,” or Eileen Guy, from Central Asia (ca.1914-1998)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 29 September 2017

Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer (00A)In the early part of the 20th century, three bold and independent women made a name for themselves as the ‘Trio’ of missionaries in the far east of China, in Gansu.  They were Mildred Cable (1878-1952), and the two sisters, Evangeline French (1869-1960) and Francesca French (1871-1960).  They travelled widely in the deserts and moutains of that region, attempting to convert local people.  One day they heard a ‘tap, tap tap’ at the door, and it was a young child of six or seven nicknamed ‘Gwa Gwa,’ that is ‘little lonely’ (Cable & French p. 9-14).  The girl was deaf, the daughter of a Tibetan mother and a Mongol chief.  She had been fostered, then the foster mother sold her when she discovered she was deaf.  She was then sent out to beg (ibid p.19-22).  The Trio bought her freedom, and changed her name to Ai Lien, meaning ‘Love Bond.’  The three missionary ladies called her Topsy for some reason.  After some difficulties with one of the warlords in the area, they eventually escaped to Urumchi, then Chuguchak.  Topsy mapTo get through Russia, they had to give Ai Lien a British name and passport, so they anglicized it to Eileen with the surname Guy as one of the three, the ‘Blue Lady’ as she is called in the book, had the Chinese surname Gai.  Eventually they had permission to cross Russia, and they arrived back in England, where they divided their time between living in Dorset and Watford.  Once in England she started to get an oral education (p.123-4)

The French sisters died within a short time of each other in 1960, leaving Eileen a comfortable inheritance.

According to one of our old library index cards from Selwyn and Kate Oxley, Topsy was the first Deaf person to be on television in Britain, with the Trio, at Alexandra Palace.  That would have been before the war.  It may be that the BBC archives could confirm that.

I have not discovered whether Eileen/Topsy had any contact with the Deaf community in Britain – I did not see an obituary in the British Deaf News.  She died in 1998 in Penge.  If anyone knew her, please do comment below.topsy 1

“Former Slave Girl Benefits In Wills.” Times [London, England] 27 Sept. 1960: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 29 Sept. 2017

Cable, M., and French, Fr., The Story of Topsy, (1937, reprinted 1957)

http://hucandgabetbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/women-of-gobi-journeys-on-silk-road.html

Gertrude M. Engledue and Edward Thomas – a deaf pupil and her teacher

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 4 August 2017

Gertrude Mary Engledue was born in Dublin, on the 30th of January, 1868, daughter of William John Engledue (born in Liverpool) and his wife Eliza McIvor Forrest (see www.ancestry.co.uk).  Her parents married in India.  She was deaf from birth, according to the 1881 census, and from childhood according to the 1901 census, but is not in the 1891 or 1911 censuses.  In 1881 she was a pupil at a small school for deaf children in Bristol, run by Glamorgan born Edward Thomas, and his wife Emily, at 8 Burlington Buildings, Redland Park.  Across the country there were thousands of these small schools, presumably not very well regulated, and run as small family businesses.  Some, like this one, specialised in particular children, ones who needed more care.  To what extent they got that, we might well question.  Perhaps the surest guide would be to follow through as best as possible what became of those children in later life.  Gertrude M EngledueHere is a truncated version of the 1881 census –

Edward Thomas Head 37 1844 Cowbridge Glamorgan
Emily Thomas Wife 41 1840 Bristol Gloucestershire
Eliza Nurse Mother in Law 70 1811 Bristol Gloucestershire
Gertrude M. Engledue Pupil 13 1868 Dublin Deaf & Dumb birth
Isabella Shickle Pupil 12 1869 Bath Somerset Deaf & Dumb birth
John R.K. Toms Pupil 13 1868 Wellington Somerset Deaf & Dumb
Edward Foster A. Pupil 13 1868 Canterbury Kent Deaf & Dumb birth
Cyril G. Bosanquet Pupil 11 1870 Ramsgate Kent
Wilfred J. Reckitt Pupil 13 1868 London Middlesex Deaf & Dumb birth
Horace R McGrath. Pupil 8 1873 Bempton Yorkshire
Frederick J. Gourlay Pupil 10 1871 Weston S M Somerset Imbecile
Catherine Gourlay Pupil 8 1873 Weston S M Somerset Imbecile

As we see, not all the pupils were deaf.

The teacher, Edward Thomas, became the missioner to the Deaf of Bristol in 1884, a post he held until his death in 1913.  His first wife Emily died in early 1898.Ed Thomas  Within six months he had re-married, to Theodora Ryecroft, who was twenty years his junior.  His obituary is full of praise for his hard work, visiting the sick and helping others to find work.  We are told in his obituary that he “acted as interpreter when necessary at weddings, funerals, police court cases, etc.”

Gertrude later became President of the Portsmouth Deaf and Dumb Club. The brief notice in The Hampshire Deaf Chronicle for 1923 tells us that she travelled extensively abroad, and came “into contact with the deaf of many countries.  She was the close friend of the late Sir Arthur Fairbairn, who during his life did so much for the Hampshire deaf.”

Well, she was in fact such a close friend that she married him, in February 1897.  Sir Arthur Fairbairn had married Florence Frideswyde Long in 1882, but the marriage only lasted a couple of weeks (see Eagling and Dimmock for more on Fairbairn).  Gilby says in his unpublished memoir,

it is quite often the case that a woman will marry a deaf man through pity, only to find out afterwards she has made a terrible mistake. So frequently have confidences of this nature been imparted to me and my wife that we feel bound to make known how unfortunate marriages of this sort are likely to prove. Sir Arthur Fairbairn made a marriage of this kind, and he was parted from his wife within a few weeks of the marriage. We are blaming neither of the parties to this marriage, but giving it as an instance. (Gilby memoir, p.66)

We might presume that although he was divorced, he felt unable to make his re-marriage public knowledge because of the social stigma.*  Gertrude seems to have retained her maiden name, even unto death – her registration is as Engledue – and neither William Roe in his article on Fairbairn in Peeps into the Deaf World, nor Gilby in his memoirs, mention that he married Gertrude.  Perhaps the couple’s friends kept the secret, but perhaps only a few people knew.

Gerty, as Gilby calls her at one point, was a close friend of Sir Arthur Fairbairn’s sister and companion, Constance.   When, in 1904, the Royal Association for the Deaf and Dumb as it was then called, held a Grand Bazaar at Marylebone in the Wharncliffe Rooms of the Grand Central Hotel, Marylebone, Constance and Gerty were a great help.  Constance,

had worked like a Trojan and with her great friend Miss Gerty Engledue, and those who helped at her stall did great things and died – yes died – a month after the event at which she lent her failing hands.  […]  Miss Gertrude Engledue (who had a deaf brother) and her Aunts were among our keenest supporters, and they were backing the Constance Fairbairn Stall.  Indeed Miss Engledue and Miss Fairbairn were Hon. Secretaries with me. (Gilby p.178)

Gertrude died in Northiam, Sussex, on the 29th of April, 1952, and is buried in Tunbridge Wells.

How sad that they felt they could not live together.

*I have not found a divorce record for them – if you have, please leave a comment below.  Indeed, did they get divorced?  Geoff Eagling and Arthur Dimmock say that the certificate for his second marriage in a registry office, calls him a bachelor.  When Florence died in 1941 she was called lady Fairbairn, Sir Arthur’s widow in The Times.  A Times story for 1909 reports the wedding of Thomas Fairbairn, arttended by Sir Arthur and ‘Mrs Fairbairn’ – is that Gertrude, as she is not called ‘Lady Fairbairn’?

[I found a death notice in the Times for 1944, placed by Gertrude to her faithful servant of 29 years, Catherine Barber, who was in 1911 a servant at the Fairbairn’s Chichester Home, Wren House.]

[Her Deaf brother would appear to have been James Allen, born in Calcutta – and a pupil at Bingham’s school, but I think this needs checking as the ancestry records say his father was William John, which might make him her uncle… It would then mean that Arthur may have been at school at the same time as James… This needs clarification!  Gilby was a pretty reliable witness, and relied on old diary entries for the incomplete memoirs, but he was writing in 1938, and perhaps he was confused or forgot some details.  Thanks to Norma McGilp  for additional information.]

Woodford, W., Obituary Mr. Edward Thomas, British Deaf Times 1913, p.203

The Hampshire Deaf Chronicle. Jan-Feb-Mar 1924 p. 4 (Photo of Gertuude Engledue)

Eagling, Geoff, & Dimmock, Arthur, Sir Arthur Henderson Fairbairn, 2006

Gilby’s unpublished memoir

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2212; Folio: 63; Page: 26; GSU roll: 542936

1881 Census – Thomas and Engledue – Class: RG11; Piece: 2503; Folio: 119; Page: 18; GSU roll: 1341604

1881 Census – Charles and Herbert Engledue – Class: RG11; Piece: 1231; Folio: 28; Page: 6; GSU roll: 1341301

1891 Census – Engledue – Class: RG12; Piece: 32; Folio: 71; Page: 25; GSU roll: 6095142

1901 Census – Thomas – Class: RG13; Piece: 2367; Folio: 186; Page: 30

1901 Census – Gertrude Engledue – Class: RG13; Piece: 36; Folio: 61; Page: 1

1901 Census – Ralph and Guy Engledue – Class: RG13; Piece: 593; Folio: 7; Page: 6

1911 Census – Engledue – Class: RG14; Piece: 133

“Far away in heathen lands” -Rosetta Sherwood Hall & Pyong Yang Deaf School (1909)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 7 July 2017

Rosetta Sherwood Hall was born Rosetta Sherwood in New York state in 1865.  She married a Canadian Doctor, Rev. William James Hall, M. D. and travelled with him to Korea in 1894.  He died not long after, of Typoid fever.  Not dissuaded from missionary work, she returned with her children in 1897.  At first she worked with a blind girl, Pongnai, but later in 1909 began teaching deaf children together with blind children.

The quotation below, from her article in Silent Worker, was reprinted from The Christian Herald.  The tone of the article reflects the zeal of the missionary age – as the title of one book has it, “How you gonna get to Heaven if you can’t talk with Jesus.”  The Deaf (and blind) are neglected in the fight to gain souls, and they need language in order to understand the ‘word of god’.

Far away in heathen lands, one of the trials of the Christian missionary is to realize his limitations in meeting and relieving not only the spiritual mental and moral dearth, but the physical defects and distress that press and depress upon every side.
The condition of the blind and of deaf-mutes of Korea is truly pitiable; the latter are considered imbeciles, while the former are never taught anything useful, but become fortune-tellers or vile sorcerers if their parents are well enough to do to have them thus trained; otherwise they are often neglected […]
There are several thousand deaf-mutes in Korea for whom the mysteries of life are fought with the animal instincts only; they have souls but do not know it; they live in a perpetual silence which the voice of no regular evangelist can ever penetrate. (Hall, Silent Worker, 1910)

She left Korea in 1933, and died in 1951.

The photos here are photographs of photographs, very small in the originals, no doubt used by Selwyn Oxley in a lantern slide show on Deafness.  I scanned at the best resolution I could – as usual, click on the image for a larger size.  We see Mrs Hall as the lady with glasses in the top image, and as the only woman on the other image.  Quite who the men are I do not know – Japanese military?  If you know please comment.

Hall, Rosetta Sherwood, The Deaf and Blind in Korea, Silent Worker, 1910  vol 23 no. 10 p.186 and 202

http://www.retina.co.kr/ver2/index.php?board=retina02_01&menu=2&btype=2&menu_sub=2_1&prc=view&num=292

 

Guild of St. John of Beverley stained glass windows from Ephphatha House, Ealing, 1928

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 30 June 2017

MemorialStained glass aIn our collection of artifacts, we have, bizarrely, three stained glass windows.  The windows were placed at 5 Grange Road, Ephphatha House, where Selwyn and Kate Oxley moved to when they got married in 1929.  Oxley’s mother bought the house on his behalf, originally as a home for the library of the Guild of St. John of Beverley.  The Guild deserves an entry of its own on the blog, for it was a repeating theme in Oxley’s life, & before his time it had its beginnings in the North of England with Ernest Abrahams and George Stephenson, among others.  When Oxley discovered it he seems to have taken it over, and as he wife mentions several times in her biography of him, Man with a Mission, he loved ceremonies and the associated ‘dressing up.’  Essentially it was a religious organisation, that particularly in the early years of the century, involved a sort of pilgrimage to Beverley, or at least annual services commemorating him and his ‘miracle’ healing a deaf man.

JesusI am not sure who the artist was, but Katherine Oxley says they were done by

a Hard of Hearing man, who had been in the employment of Messrs. Ward and Hughes of 67 Frith Street, Soho, above whose works the National Institute for the Deaf had at one time rented offices.
This firm had done work in All Saints’ Church, Petersham, Surrey, under the Vicariate of the late Rev. W.H. Oxley, and this was the last bit of work done by them as a firm, as soon after they suspended business.  The panels themselves are a work of art, depicting Our Lord healing the Deaf Man, and are flanked on each side by scenes portraying the miracles of St. John of Beverley and Francis of Sales.  The colours blended with a simple but strikingly effective beauty, especially when the rays of the sun caught them.

St JThey were unveiled in situ on the staircase by the Guild Warden, the Rev. W. Raper, ‘in his robes of office, carried the business through with a grave dignity’ (K. Oxley, 1953).  I have chosen the two smaller ones to photograph, as the St. John one is rather larger & harder to get out.

They were not in place too long before the Oxleys moved out of London.  I suppose that they came to us from Kate Oxley.

Oxley, K. A Man withe a Mission, 1953, Hill and Ainsworth

Oxley, Selwyn, The Seventeenth Annual Report of general Honorary Work Done for the Deaf… Year ending 1929Sales faces

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

 

“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