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William Walter Adamson, Missioner to the Deaf in Northumberland, (1867-1947)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 25 October 2018

William Walter Adamson was a Geordie of Scottish extraction.  He was born in Newcastle in 1867, son of Thomas (a draper) and his wife Elizabeth.  He was educated at Dr. Bruce’s Academy, according to a note by Selwyn Oxley.  He seems to have remained in the city all his life, dying in 1947 at the age of eighty.  In 1885 he formed a club for poor boys in the city, and a Deaf boy came along.  As he lived near the Northern Counties Institution (school), he went along and this began a life-long interest in the Deaf (Teacher of the Deaf, on which much of this is based).  In 1895 he gave up work in a local shipping company, and became a candidate for ordination.  The Rev. Gilby mentions him several times in his memoir – they worked quite closely together in the ten years following, Adamson becomomg a co-editor of Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf (Gilby memoir p.172).

Adamson was made the first chaplain to The Northumberland and Durham Mission to the Deaf and Dumb, a post he held until 1920.

His obituary says that he disliked publicity, and “fought firmly all exploitation of the deaf.”  It continues –

He taught all manner of subjects at the Mission and interested the members in athletics, in-door games and hobbies.  He sought out deaf children who were not attending school and brought them to the notice of the Authorities.  These self-appointed tasks were carried out with enthusiasm and the work he began 50 years ago is now well established.

His understanding and knowledge of the problems of the deaf placed him in a unique position in the North.  He had a large circle of influential friends and he was able to cover much ground in his efforts to improve matters for all handicapped children. In addition to the work he did for the deaf, a lively interest was taken in blind and crippled children.  During his life-time he saw many changes, and thanks to his efforts light and colour brightened innumerable lives.  The spiritual life and general welfare of the deaf were his constant care and he was often consulted with regard to improve-ments in schools and administrative affairs.

Adamson never married but lived for many years with a sister.

Below is a page from the local mission magazie, D & D from 1903, and a photograph that appears to show him to the left of Sir Arthur Fairbairn at a ‘sale of Work’ for the mission.

Click onto the images for a larger size.

Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf, 1894 vol.1 p.15-16

Obituary, Teacher of the Deaf, 1947 p.205

A Missioner, two frauds, and UCL

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 12 October 2018

R.W. Dodds (1866-1948) was from Cramlington, Newcastle.  He became a teacher of the deaf under B.H. Payne in Swansea, then at Old Trafford under Bessant, and finally went to Donaldson’s Hospital, Edinburgh, before becoming a missioner.  His first appointment as such was in Dundee, then later he was missioner in Belfast from 1903 to 1939.  He was a regular contributor to the British Deaf News in that period.

There have always been unscrupulous people who exploit the good nature and generosity of the public, and who thus cause huge harm to trust. In October, 1897, when he was missioner to the Deaf of Dundee, Dodds wrote a letter to The Dundee Courier & Argus, about two such beggers, one representing herself as deaf but almost certainly hearing, and the other apparently deaf for about two years.

LETTERS TO EDITOR.
A WARNING. TO THE EDITORS OF THE DUNDEE COURIER. SIR.,—

I beg to warn the public, and particularly managers of public works, workshops, &c., against respectably dressed deaf mutes soliciting help by means of letters. One at present in the district hailing from London shows a book containing some rough sketches described as his own work, and signing himself as “Jack Leslie.” He is well dressed, and by putting on a bold front is readily admitted into factories, stores, and workshops, being regarded by porters as a factory inspector or traveller. His method of proceeding is to leave circulars, and then return to collect subscriptions from workmen, &c., who generally help him all round. I would also draw attention to a young girl representing herself as Shields, dressmaker, aged 17, an orphan, and deaf and dumb, from Whitehaven, England. Has a ruddy complexion, and generally wears a brown Jacket. Having come across her begging late in the day by means of a letter, I stopped her, and after inquiries made arrangements to get her work, but instead of appearing at time appointed she escaped by an early train. As she has passed through all the towns south of Dundee, carefully evading missionaries and deaf and dumb persons, I expect she has proceeded northward. It is doubtful as to her being a deaf mute. Again, I would earnestly request the public to refuse all such deaf mute applicants, both the respectable and the poorly clad, and refer them to Mr Dodds, 31 Reform Street, who is now prepared to attend to the genuine needs of all deaf mutes, and to find them suitable work. As this mission is supported by public subscription through an authorised collector, we sincerely regret that vagrants should be allowed to impose on a generous people. The authorised collector for our Mission is finished for this year.—I am, &c., R. W. DODDS, Missionary. October 23, 1897.

A few days earlier, the Dundee Evening Telegraph described Leslie as follows –

Medium-sized of gentlemanly appearance, dark, clean-shaven attired in a black suit, and wearing a dark straw hat, one might take him for a traveller attached to a well-to-do publishing firm, a supposition which would appear to be borne out by the fact of his currying a portfolio under his arm. But this gentleman is no ordinary traveller, and if he should drift across the readers path you will find he has an extraordinary tale to tell.

In November, 1897, the British Deaf Monthly published an article about Jack Leslie, if indeed that was his real name.  They included the text of his mawkish appeal to sentiment referred to above, designed to make anyomne who refused him feel guilty of cruelty.

AN AFFLICTED TALENT.

PLEASE: READ.

The only joy in my silent life is Art.

I am not begging. A mute’s appeal.

Ah! Nature itself is beauty alone to those who can speak

and hear and listen to the music of God’s

own nature, and speak to the ones

he loves most dear.

Please purchase my Poems below and assist me

to become an Artist.

Price whatever you desire to give.

Small as well as large gifts will be thankfully received.

Everything helps.

To the Reader,—For more than two years I have been deaf and dumb from a horrible attack of scarlet fever, and, as I am alone in this world, my sole ambition is to become an artist. My father has been dead for four years. Two years ago I became seriously ill with scarlet fever, and my only friend, my mother, attended me during my illness, and was my only comfort. But alas! for her duty and kindness, one day became ill herself with the fever, which was caught by attending me. After my mother was stricken with the fever, and on awaking one morning, I tried to call her in the next room. I made several efforts to speak, but the words came in soft whispers. I could neither speak nor hear, and everything appeared silent and dead about me. “My God,” I whispered in a breath, “I cannot speak or hear.” The feelings that crept over me you must imagine—my pan can never describe them. I went to the room occupied by my sick mother. She smiled on me when I entered, her eyes closed and her pale lips moved, but I could not hear what she muttered. When she learned the fact that I was deaf and dumb she took from her hand her wedding ring, and, placing it upon my left hand, kissed me good-bye as she breathed her last moments. I believe now it was the shock she received that killed her as she learned of ray sorrow and the thought of my past misfortunes. Would to God I had died with my poor mother than to be left upon earth a burden to myself, as you see before your eyes. I take my sorrow more to heart than any one born deaf and dumb. They are more happy than I because they know not what it was to be happy before, with a promising future and a happy home, but which now has passed to misfortune and sorrow. God only knows what I have suffered, and what I deserve. God has left me one gift, and that is art, for which you will see I have a great natural talent by looking at the sketch-book I carry. I hope by offering the poems below, which I composed myself, for sale to obtain money enough to study art at the Slade School of Art, University College. What you give will never be missed from your pocket, and all will be put to good use, for I am not a beggar. God will reward you by future good fortunes, for perhaps Providence has been more kind to you than me. If so, assist me all you can, and thus cast a ray of hope and sunshine on a dark and gloomy pathway.

N.B.- I speak both double and single hand language. Any one doubting my affliction can inquire at University College. (British Deaf Times, Nov. 1897, p.3)

Oh dear!

The University College Secretary, J.M. Horsburgh was forced to put out a statement in July saying that Leslie was nothing to do with them and had no connection with the Slade School.  It would have been simple enough to test his finger spelling ability.  He had made all sorts of claims, including being an American artist, but no one saw any of his work apart from the few sketches he showed when begging.  He dressed well and liked to stay in good hotels, having carried out his fraud in Ireland as well as Scotland, where he was run out of Glasgow by two detectives and forced to buy a train ticket to London, presumably England being considered fair game.

The BDT article says that he was a little over 18 years old, and, “although he belongs to London, has spent some time in America” (p.3).  It says that, as he claimed, he could not hear and had no speech.  I wonder if there are records of him in America, but the problem is, he may have used more than one name.  The article ends saying that he “is now in prison charged with indecency and begging” (p.4)

I wonder what became of him.

Dundee Evening TelegraphThursday 21 October 1897; pg. 2

The Dundee Courier & Argus (Dundee, Scotland), Friday, October 22, 1897; pg. 5; Issue 13828

The Dundee Courier & Argus (Dundee, Scotland), Monday, October 25, 1897; pg. 4; Issue 13830

The Morning Post (London, England), Tuesday, July 27, 1897; pg. 3; Issue 39044

The Late Rev R.W.Dodds, C.T.D. Obituary, British Deaf Times 1947, XLV p.87

Wanted to be an Artist. British Deaf Times, Nov. 1897, p.3-4

 

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

 

“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

“Oh, that the younger generation of the deaf were more like him!” Saul Magson of Manchester

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 27 January 2017

Saul MagsonSaul Magson was born in Manchester in August 1813.  He was, according to the census return for 1871, ‘deaf from birth’.  His obituary however says that he lost his hearing aged two, after an illness ‘attended with convulsions’.  The The British Deaf-Mute (1894), on which much of this is based, also says that he was one of the earliest pupils at the Salford School, what became The Manchester School,in February, 1825.  It was then under its first headmaster, William Vaughan, with eight girls and six boys (Bessant, 1892, p.98-9).  Vaughan had been an assistant master at the Old Kent Road Asylum.  As an aside, it would be very illuminating to draw a connected list of teachers, to see under whom each one trained, making an intellectual family tree in the way that is sometimes done for academics.

Magson became a clerk in Manchester Town Hall, but he never married.  He worked there for forty years until retirement.  In 1871 he was living with his younger brother James, a ‘stone and flag salesman’ (census 1871).  He was a regular at the Manchester Society for Promoting the Spiritual and Temporal Welfare of the Deaf, which was established in 1850, and until 1854 apparently he ran it with Mr. Patterson.  He also held services for deaf people in Ashton-under-Lyme, Oldham, Bury and Rochdale, among other places.  He was friends with G.A.W. Downing and William Stainer, (later both becoming ‘the Reverend) among many others.  “He was methodical, and notably punctual.  He often spoke of the friendly appreciation and kindness he received from the late Sir Joseph Heron, the first Town Clerk of Manchester, in whose department he was employed.”  He lived through the period of the extraordinary growth of Manchester.  By the time he moved to Southport, much of the town must have been totally transformed.  Heron earned an astounding £2,500 a year at one point, so I wonder how much Magson earned.  It is possible that there are records in Manchester archives that would tell us more about Magson and what he worked on.

he was a good servant; he knew his own mind; he knew when he was well off, and he was not one of those who are “given to change.”  The consequence was that he was never out of a situation.  He kept the same situation and no other for forty years.  Oh, that the younger generation of the deaf were more like him!

Saul Magson died on the 12th of April 1894, and was interred at Cheetham Hill, Manchester.  If you know that cemetery, and have the opportunity to see where he is buried, please let us know in the comment field below.

In Memoriam – the Late Saul Magson, The British Deaf-Mute, 1894, vol.3 p.119

The Manchester School, Quarterly Review of Deaf Mute Education, 1892, vol. 2 p.97-108) 

1871 census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3979; Folio: 87; Page: 4; GSU roll: 846090

V. R. Parrott, ‘Heron, Sir Joseph (1809–1889)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/49712, accessed 27 Jan 2017]

“My advice to the young men is, ‘study your trade and learn to do well.'” – Augustus W. Argent, Deaf Printer

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 29 January 2016

There is nothing spectacular or unusual to say about today’s subject.  He seems to have lived a particularly ordinary life.  Augustus William Argent was born on the 19th of December 1846 in Fetter Lane, Fleet Street.  He became deaf aged two, through scarlet fever (Ephphatha 1898 and 1911 census).  Aged nine (1856) Augustus went to the Old Kent Road School (Ephphatha 1898).  His father Isaac was a printer compositor, and Augustus followed him into that trade when he left the Old Kent Road Asylum, being apprenticed to Messrs. Graham and Lowe.  That firm went bankrupt so he finished the last four years of his apprenticeship at Spottiswoode and Co. printers, remaining there for a total of 53 years (Ephphatha 1917 p.496, Ephphatha 1898)During the latter part of his apprenticeship we are told that he found his English deficient,

so he resolved to devote his spare time to mastering the language with the aid of a dictionary.  He often sat up half the night reading and studying the meaning of every word.” (Ephphatha 1898).

In his memoir Gilby says of him “Language excellent but no speech.” (p.146)

When he retired, he said, “My advice to the young men is, ‘study your trade and learn to do well.'”  (Ephphathat 1917, p.497). 

In 1871 he married a deaf lady, Catherine Oliva Broughton (1849-1922), and they had a large family (eight children according to the 1911 census), including two sons who became compositors, one of them serving in the Boer War and one wounded in the First World War (ibid p.497).  In 1881 they were living at 4 Waite Street, Camberwell, and according to the 1911 census, when they were living at 26 Constance Road, East Dulwich, she had lost her hearing aged 3 (circa 1852/3).

Augustus died in 1917.  In his obituary, Willian Raper said of him, “His influence for good was very great, and he will be much missed in London.” (p.497)

He was an ernest temperance worker, and was to be seen sometimes in connection theewith at the late Mr.J.P. Gloyn’s centres in North London. In former days he was a prominent figure at the debates and lectures at St. Saviour’s, Oxford Street, W., and the Rev.W. Raper has quite a collection of old syllabuses containing Mr. Argent’s name and subjects. He worked under the the Revs. S. smith, C. Rhind, and W. Raper, with latterly the Rev. F.W.G. Gilby as superintendent-chaplain.

ArgentRaper, William, The Late Mr. A.W. Argent, Ephphatha 1917 p.496-7

Ephphatha (First Series) 1898, vol.3 p.

CENSUS

1851 Class: HO107; Piece: 1527; Folio: 203; Page: 41; GSU roll: 174757

1861 Class: RG 9; Piece: 220; Folio: 8; Page: 13; GSU roll: 542594

1871 Class: RG10; Piece: 426; Folio: 8; Page: 10; GSU roll: 824633

1881 Class: RG11; Piece: 698; Folio: 50; Page: 15; GSU roll: 1341163

1891 Class: RG12; Piece: 485; Folio: 45; Page: 27; GSU roll: 6095595

1901 Class: RG13; Piece: 517; Folio: 78; Page: 35

1911 Class: RG14; Piece: 2472

“Mr. Healey has a horror of extremists” George F. Healey of Liverpool

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 20 November 2015

George F. Healey (1843-1927) was Missioner to the Deaf, at the Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society from its inception in 1864.  Born at Gateacre, in the Liverpool suburb of Little Woolton on August the 28th, 1843, the son of a coach builder, Gerorge lost his hearing when less than one – “an accident which occurred to him brought on acute inflammation of the brain” (Oldham Deaf–Mute Gazette).  His obituary in the Deaf Quarterly News tells us it was a fall from his nurse’s arms, but that the loss was not discovered until he was nearly two (p.1).  He became a pupil of Mr. H.B. Bingham of Rugby for eight years, and was taught by the ‘combined method’, that is sign language and articulation and lip reading.  The Oldham Deaf–Mute Gazette says of Bingham, “there has never been a more successful instructor of the deaf, his aim evidently being to adapt the method to the child instead of the child to the method, and not a few of his pupils have filled and are filling responsible positions in a manner that reflects credit alike on teacher and taught.” (ibid p.207)  A final year was spent under a Liverpool teacher of the deaf, Dr. David Buxton (1821-1897).George F Healey

After his schooling, Healey worked for his father at the coach works in Berry Street.  His obituary in the Deaf Quarterly News tells us that he was inspired by annual visits to London, where he heard the Revs. Samuel Smith and Charles Rhind preach (p.1).  The British Deaf Times obituary says he was first taken by Mr. G. Bright Lucas in 1862.  At that time there was little being done to help the adult deaf in Liverpool, so Healey worked with his friend Robert Armour (1837-1913) to start the Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society in 1864 (ibid p.208).  He was the Hon. Secretary until 1895, then Vice-Chairman.

Healey worked hard to raise money for a new Liverpool Instiute building, and it was opened on May the 16th, 1887 by H.R.H. Princess Louise.  He was himself fortunate that his parents left him and his sister enough money to make them financially secure, but .

He gave evidence to the Royal Comission of 1881 regarding deaf education, being a firm advocate for the combined method.  “Mr. Healey has a horror of extremists, experience having convinced him that such people in any cause seldom do much good, but invariably accomplish a great deal of mischief.” (Oldham Deaf–Mute Gazette p.206).  Healey was also Hon. Treasurer to the BDDA, and one of its founders.  His influence was wide, and he travelled we are told, to most of the missions across the country, for example helping start the Cork mission in the 1880s (ibid p.2010).

George never married but lived for many years with his sister Florence.

Dear Friends of the Deaf No.2 Mr. George F. Healey , Oldham Deaf–Mute Gazette Jan-Feb 1906, p. 205-11

Mr. George F. Healey, Ephphatha No. 63, Autumn 1924, p.842-3

The Late Mr. George F. Healey, Deaf Quarterly News, No.92, p.1-3 Jan-Mar 1928 (includes photo)

Mr G.F. Healey, Liverpool, British Deaf Times 1928 Vol 25 p.12

Our Portrait Gallery No.3 Mr George F.Healey. Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf p.29-30 1894 includes (photo)

W.R. Roe, Mr. George F. Healey, Peeps into the Deaf World 1917 p.61-3

Healey 2

“Truly, he was a good man” – The Rev. Charles Orpen, Founder of the Claremont Institution

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 30 October 2015

Orpen 001Born in Cork in 1791, Charles Edward Herbert Orpen founded the first Institution for the Deaf in Ireland.  According to his biographer, Emma Lucretia le Fanu, mother of Sheridan Le Fanu, he was supposed to become a doctor, proceeded to do an apprenticeship and then discovered his teacher was not a licentiate of the Dublin College of Surgeons, so he had to embark on a new apprenticeship.  When Charles finally qualified, he toured in England, visiting ‘hospitals, prisons, manufactories &c.’ (Orpen 1836, p.ix).  According to his book ‘Anecdotes’, one of the people he visited was Dr. De Lys in Birmingham, who gave him a report on the newly established Birmingham institution.Orpen Anecdotes

While resident in Edinburgh and London, I had never even heard of the existence of such Asylums in these capitals; and in such ignorance then was I as to the wretched state of the Deaf-mute when uneducated, and the importance and interesting nature of their instruction, that I took so little interest about them, as not even to visit the school in Birmingham at that time.  On looking into the Report, however, I found that it originated from a few lectures on the subject, and the exhibition of a little girl, whom Dr. De Lys and his friend Alexander Blair, Esq. had partially educated for that purpose.  I knew that no such school had ever existed in Ireland; and it occurred to me, that perhaps I might at some future time be able to apply the same means to the same end, for the good of my own country. (ibid, p.ix-x)

Dedication OrpenWe have a copy of Orpen’s concisely titled book, The Contrast between Atheism, Paganism and Christianity, Illustrated; or, the Uneducated Deaf and Dumb, as Heathens, Compared with those who have been Instructed in Language and Revelation, and Taught by the Holy Spirit, as Christians (1828).  It is dedicated by Orpen to Edmond Nugent, Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1827-8.  It appeared in a second edition, as Anecdotes and Annals of the Deaf and Dumb (1836). In it, Orpen tells us how he took a neglected orphaned child called Thomas Collins from a Dublin institution where Orpen had served his apprenticeship under Surgeon Todd, the House of Industry.  Fumbling his way along, being ignorant of teaching, he eventually got the child to acquire some vocabulary and ability to pronounce words and letters (Quarterly Review of Deaf Mute Education, p.365, Anecdotes p.x).  Collins became an appentice printer and printed Orpen’s Anecdotes (p.xi).  The idea of taking an ‘exibition pupil’ like this to demonstrate to the public what might be achieved in the education of a deaf child, was not unique of course.

Inevitably for the period, Orpen was religiously motivated, and the passages he writes in the Anecdotes  demonstrate this.  He is at pains to say that Thomas Collins “knows himself as a sinner, and the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Saviour” (p.xi).

There never was but one missionary to the Deaf and Dumb; that missionary was a Jew ; that Jew was Jesus. Shall we be innocent, if we do not teach them to read his history? (p.384)

Orpen was also supportive of the use of sign lanuage, and in the Anecdotes, where each chapter is supported by extended quotes from various sources, for example p.474-6 qoutes Mr. Lewis Weld of the Pennsylvanian Institute, “it is is capable of expressing the nicest shades of thought, and of application to all the concerns of life.”

As well as supporting the education of Deaf people in sign language, he supported the use of Irish Gaelic, and the Anti-Slavery Society.  In 1823 he married Alicia Sirr, and had a large family (Le Fanu, Chapter 11).  In 1826 when Thomas Collins had a pocket watch, the gift of the Doctor’s brother, stolen, at the trial orpen interpreted for the court (p.106-7).  This shows us that he must have been an able signer.  In 1833 Orpen left Dublin, hoping to open a school in Birkenhead, but it fell through (Le Fanu p.124, p.128-9).  “Schemes at variance with long-established systems and confirmed habits seldom meet with success till after a great length of time has elapsed” (ibid).

When two of his sons went to sea, and were so taken with the beauties of the Cape that they decided to stay there, Orpen determined to follow them, arriving in 1848 (ibid p.137).  Orpen, who was ordained in South Africa, opposed slavery and the exclusion of black people from the Dutch churches (p.210-2).  Le Fanu says of slavery, “Those who have had opportunities of seeing it best know how it brutalizes those who are bent on perpetuating it for their own sordid objects” (ibid p.217).  Orpen died on the 20th of April, 1856 (ibid p.237).  Le Fanu ends her biography, “Truly, he was a good man” (ibid p.243).

Wikipedia entry on Orpen

Charles Edward Herbert Orpen, Anecdotes and Annals of the Deaf and Dumb, 1836 [library historical books]

Claremont 1A Magazine Intended chiefly for the Deaf and Dumb, Vol.3, No. 30, p.86-7

Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1888, 1, 364-374.

British Deaf-Mute and Deaf Chronicle, 1895, 4, 145-146. (illus)

Educating the deaf of Ireland. III. The work at Claremont. British Deaf Times, 1904, 1(10), 217-19. (photos)

POLLARD, R. The Avenue: the history of the Claremont Institution (1816-1978). The author, 2001. (illus)

UPDATE: 3/11/2015

Rachel Pollard produced another more extensive book on the Claremont Institution, under the same title in 2006 –
The Avenue: A History of the Claremont Institution, Denzille Press ISBN-10: 0955323908

Alexander Strathern (1844-90), Deaf Missioner

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 January 2014

Alexander Strathern was one of the founders of the Glasgow Mission to the Deaf.  He was born in Glasgow, son of Sheriff Strathern.  We are told in his obituary (Deaf and Dumb Times, Vol.2 (9), 1891 p.110-111), that he lost his hearing at an early age.  He first attended an ordinary school then was for a time a day pupil at the Glasgow Institution under the tuition of Duncan Andersonstrathern.  He became apprenticed as a wood engraver but did not take to the trade.  After his father’s death he apprenticed himself to the London printers Messrs. Dalziel Brothers, and there became involved with the Royal Association for the Deaf and Dumb, attending meetings and giving lectures.  Returning to Glasgow in 1872, he helped combine the two existing missions, becoming first secretary then later treasurer after James Howard became the missioner. 

After the Rev. Samuel Smith gave up as editor of The Deaf and Dumb Magazine, Alexander took over that task.  He was also involved, with Mr. Paul of Kilmarnock,  in founding the short-lived National Deaf and Dumb Society in 1877.

He married Mary Bellars in 1873, and they had two surviving children.