“the trouble… starting through one of them brushing some water on to the other’s coal” – Deaf Derbyshire Dress Maker, Sarah (H)annice Sneap, née Grainger,1871-1955
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 14 November 2019
Sarah Grainger was born on the 11th of January, 1871, in Stoneyford (a small place right on the railway line that seems to have disappeared from modern maps), Loscoe, Derbyshire, and her birth registered as Sarah Hannice Grainger. Her parents were Frances and Samuel Grainger, and her father worked in a colliery as an engine driver. She attended the Derby School under Dr. William R. Roe, and in the beautifully produced quarterly magazine for the school, Our Deaf and Dumb for September 1895, her photograph appears with a column that was, I imagine, written by Roe.
Our friend, when a pupil here, showed no special aptitude in any particular line, but a cheerful willingness to do whatever she was called upon to undertake, and to ‘do it well.’ This, after all, is a very good trait in anyone’s character, and reminds us of a leading statesman, who, on being reminded by a fellow-statesman that he used to be only a boot-black, replied, Didn’t I black the boots well r That’s the point, to do well’ all we undertake, and then success is sure to follow, as in the case of our friend, who is now in business for herself as a dressmaker, and, we are told, ‘has a nice little connexion.’ When travelling once, a lady told us she thought our old pupil improved both in lip-reading and speech.’ This is encouraging to us, and no doubt is a great aid to our friend in speaking on business matters to her customers.
We know she has had many obstacles in her way, and are glad of it. Yes, the true value of a difficulty has never yet been estimated. It is a real stimulus. It is like a ladder set up that one may climb. It is a tacit invitation to command the outlook. It is the open door of opportunity. It is the intimation to look within and discover one’s latent powers, and use them. Very few come up to their highest measure of success. Some fail through timidity or lack of nerve ; they are unwilling to take the risks incident to life, and fail through fear in venturing on ordinary duties ; they lack the pluck necessary to success in life. Others fail through imprudence, lack of discretion, care, or sound judgment. ‘They over-estimate the future, build air-castles, venture beyond their depth, fail, and fall. A still greater number fail through lack of application and perseverance. They begin with good resolves, but soon get tired of that and want a change, thinking they can do much better at something else, and, alas ! move aimlessly from one thing to another without any set purpose in view. No one has a right to live aimlessly, for no one has a right to abandon reason and self-control, and consent to be a mere waif, drifting hither and thither like chaff before the wind. Whether deaf or hearing we are endowed with reason, conscience, and will, in order that we may both become and do that which is noble and beneficent. Let us remember that we live in a busy world, where the idle and lazy do not count in the plan of campaign ; and let every girl now within the walls of our Institution—yea, and those who have left us, too—remember the good old text, ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.’
In 1905 Sarah married a Deaf man from Ilkeston, who was ten years younger, a labourer and coal hewer called John Henry Sneap (1881-1936). Sneap was possibly the same person who was recorded as having an accident in the Derby Daily Telegraph for Friday 31st of May, 1935 –
John Sneap (60), miner, of Marehay was admitted to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary to-day with a severely injured right leg. He is employed by the Butterley Co., and was caught by a fall of bind in the Marehay pit.
If that is him, it may have contributed to his death the following year, as he died in 1936.
Just as I thought I had finished writing this, I discovered that Sarah was another Deaf person who made it into the local press, in an unfortunate minor case. This is from the Mansfield Reporter for Friday, the 23rd of November, 1917, adjacent to stories about cauliflower thefts and damaging turnips –
DEAF AND DUMB WOMAN IN COURT.
Two Selston women aired their grievances before the magistrates, the trouble apparently starting through one of them brushing some water on to the other’s coal. The complainant was Elias Jane Swain, and she said that a week ago last Tuesday the defendant Sarah A. Sneap, who is deaf and dumb, and who had the assistance of her brother-in-law as interpreter, struck her on the face with a yard brush, and when she put her hand up to defend herself she got a second blow on the arm.
—When this was explained to defendant through the deaf and dumb alphabet, she stated, through the same means, that complainant struck her first, and that she then acted in self defence.—The brother-in-law: She can’t hear or speak, but she has instincts, and she knows that complainant has made game of her, and has put her fists into her face.
—Defendant: I have not done such a thing.
—Complainant’s little boy said defendant struck the first blow, and then his mother took the brush away from her, and struck her with it.
—The Bench dismissed the case.
—The brother-in-law asked for some form of protection for Mrs. Sneap, but was told she must take proceedings with this end in view.
We learn from this that John Sneap’s brother could presumably sign, though it is always difficult to be sure whether someone is only using the ‘finger alphabet’ or is properly interpreting with sign language, as local reporters would possibly not have been clear as to the difference.
Sarah lived on in Basford, closer to Nottingham, and died in 1955. Her death merited a notice in the Ripley and Heanor News and Ilkeston Division Free Press for Friday, the 6th of January, 1956 –
BRINSLEY RESIDENT’S DEATH.
The death occurred on Wednesday of last week of Mrs. Sarah Annice Sneap, of 37, Plain Spot, New Brinsley, at the ago of 84 years. Although deaf and dumb, Mrs. Sneap led very active life, and was well-known locally for her dressmaking abilities, which she carried on until prevented by her declining years.
The funeral took place at St. James’ Church. Brinsley, and was conducted by the Rev. F. H. Newbery on Saturday last. Mrs. Daff, sister of deceased, was unable to attend.
The chief mourners were: Mr. and Mrs G. Grainger, Mr. and Mrs. R. V. Daff, Mr. and Mrs. H. Reynolds, Mr. and Mrs. A. Daff, Mr. and Mrs. I. Daff. Mr. B. Eley, Mrs. Clarke, Mrs. Mellors, Mrs. Williamson, nephews and nieces; Mr. L. Moore and Mrs. Ayre, cousins; Mr. W. Rockley, friend; Mr. Fox (Deaf and Dumb Institute secretary); Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Chamberlain, friends.
Floral tributes were sent all the above; also Annice. Mabel and family; Mr. and Mrs. Rockley and Shirley; Mr. and Mrs. Purdy; Mr. and Mrs. Riley and Kit; Mrs. Andrews; Friends and Neighbours of Plain Spot and Frances Street.
Sarah Annice Grainger, Our Deaf and Dumb, September 1895, Vol. 2 no. 2 p. 25
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3320; Folio: 40; Page: 6; GSU roll: 1341791
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2658; Folio: 32; Page: 3
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3143; Folio: 51; Page: 41
1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6254C
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3150; Folio: 72; Page: 28
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 20357
Derby Daily Telegraph – Friday 31 May 1935
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 5 November 2019
I know some people love fireworks but they are not good. Fireworks are damaging to the environment. They contain metals and salts, that are blasted directly into the atmosphere. They are also disturbing to animals, both domestic and wild. Pollution is itself a threat to hearing.
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. “The Chemistry of Firework Colors.” ThoughtCo, Nov. 4, 2019, thoughtco.com/chemistry-of-firework-colors-607341
Pollution and Hearing Loss
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Prize Letters from Abraham Fink, Catherine Lewis, and Edith Dingley, to ‘Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf’, & a Deaf Private School
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 1 November 2019
Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf was a London-based magazine, that was intended as a national church magazine for the Deaf. One of the main editors was the Reverend Fred Gilby. They had a regular children’s page written by ‘Aunt Dorothy’ and the editors offered prizes – we cannot say what – to letter writers. It seems there were some regular writers. In the June edition, there is a letter from Abraham Fink – not the first from him that year.
Abraham was, he tells us, 15 years and 5 months old, so would have been born in 1880/81. His birthplace was Russian Poland, and he was the son of Solomon and Rebecca Fink. I assume that the came to London in the 1880s.
The Finks had nine children altogether, and were Naturalized on the 7th of April, 1903, at which time Abraham is said to be twenty, and so ‘under age.’ He was in fact about 23, but presumably this saved him having to undergo the same process as a Deaf person, which might have been more difficult. Note that I spell naturalized with a ‘z’ – this is because the act was the ‘Naturalization Act.’ The family lived for many years at 49 Buxton Road – presumably now lost or with a changed name, but near Brick Lane.
Abraham attended the Summerfield, or Somerford Road School, and was a pupil of Mary Smart. After leaving school Abraham became a Cabinet Maker, his job in 1901, but later he became a Furrier, which was his job in 1911, at which time he was living at 8 Leman St, Aldgate. He married Deborah Cohen, a hearing girl, in 1908, and they had I think two sons, Bennett, and Gerald. He died in Harrow Hospital on the 7th of October, 1956. Another Deaf life that was unspectacular, but which illustrates the British Deaf experience in the last century.
Edith Maud Dingley was born in Birmingham, on the 17th of December. 1885, and was deaf from birth according to the 1911 census. Her father, Richard, was a Birmingham jeweller, and in 1911 they lived at 330 Hagley Road, Edgbaston. She never married, and she is given no occupation on the census return. She had lost a brother at Arras in 1917. The 1939 register says she was ‘incapacitated’ so perhaps she had other health issues, or was that just a code for her deafness? She died in 1943.
Catherine Lewis, was born in Bangor, North Wales, in 1884.* In the 1891 census, she was living in Sutton Coldfield, at a school in someone’s house, with five other deaf children. She was only seven at the time, and the household, headed by George Masters, a commercial Traveller, was at 70 Anchorage Road, Sutton Coldfield. I was fascinated to see that this was yet another private Deaf school, run by Fanny Masters, nee Fanny Armitage Rutherford (1860-1945) the wife of George. Her nephew, Albert Rutherford, son of her brother, was also Deaf, and living with the family.
1891 Census –
In the 1881 census, Fanny Rutherford and her nephew Albert, were at the oralist Ealing Training College, the Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf and for the Diffusion of the German System.
In the 1901 census – (at Gravelly Hill, Erdington)
|George Masters||Head||52||1849||Male||Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England|
|Fanny Armitage Masters||Wife||41||1860||Female||Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England|
|Albert M Rutherford||Nephew||29||1872||Male||Birmingham, Warwickshire, England|
|Ethel Perkins||Boarder||11||1890||Female||Astwood Bank, Warwickshire, England|
|Minnie Pountney||Servant||19||1882||Female||Birmingham, Warwickshire, England|
In the 1911 census –
|George Masters||Head||1849||62||Male||Married||Companys Secretary||Cirencester||72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham|
|Fanny Armitage Masters||Wife||1860||51||Female||Married||School For Deaf Children||Nottinghamshire||72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham|
|Mildred Rutherford||Sister||1839||72||Female||Widowed||Living On own Means||Cirencester||72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham|
|Albert Masters Rutherford||Nephew||1872||39||Male||Single||Merchants Clerk||Birmingham||72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham|
|Cecil Hull Jordan||Pupil||1895||16||Male||Single||At School||Handsworth, Birmingham||72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham|
|Dorothy Violet Lepage Sanders||Pupil||1895||16||Female||Single||At School||Crudwell Nr Malmesbury||72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham|
|James Gordon Calder||Pupil||1901||10||Male||Single||At School||Smethwick||72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham|
|Winifred Adams||Servant||1892||19||Female||Single||Domestic Servant General||Walsall||72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham|
It would make a really interesting project, to trace all those Ealing teachers and see where they ended up, then look at census returns and map and follow through with all their pupils.
Anyway, we can also now see that Edith Dingley was one of Fanny Masters’s pupils as well. It seems that middle class families were the people who most feared sending their children to ‘ordinary’ public Deaf Schools, and chose instead small private schools.
I do not know what happened to Catherine after leaving school.
*Thanks to John Lyons for identifying Catherine Lewis in the 1891 census, and enabling me to write a bit about her story.
Naturalization – Class: HO 334; Piece: 35
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 265; Folio: 30; Page: 55
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 304; Folio: 18; Page: 28
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 1489
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2390; Folio: 47; Page: 3
1901 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 17917; Schedule Number: 237
1911 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2814; Folio: 150; Page: 13
1939 Register – Reference: RG 101/5526A
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2438; Folio: 90; Page: 13
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 1344; Folio: 48; Page: 51; GSU roll: 1341327
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2875; Folio: 130; Page: 41
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 18341
1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/5490G
“His appearance is mild, but rather sullen” – a Manslaughter charge against a Deaf man in Manchester, 1853
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 25 October 2019
I came across the following story from the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser for Saturday the 10th of December, 1853:
Charge of Manslaughter against a Deaf and Dumb Boy.
John Flannagan, a deaf and dumb youth, was charged with killing a boy named John Stanley, on the Garratt-road, near Manchester, on the 17th September, by throwing him into the canal. The prisoner being deaf and dumb, the proceedings attendant on the investigation created considerable interest. Mr. Andrew Patterson, teacher in the Deaf and Dumb Institution, at Manchester, was sworn to act as interpreter. -It appeared the prisoner had been an inmate of this institution for three years, and was considered a lad of considerable aptitude and sharpness. Mr. Monk prosecuted, and Mr. Wheeler defended. After some discussion between the legal gentlemen, it was admitted that the evidence was insufficient to establish so serious a charge manslaughter. On investigation it appeared that the prisoner and another boy were proceeding along the road when they were joined by the deceased, who soon after attempted to take a stick from one of the boys, and the prisoner seized hold of him. A struggle ensued, and deceased was tumbled into the canal.
This is very interesting, but John Flannagan proved tricky to pin down. The article says he was a pupil at the Manchester School for three years, so he ought to be on the list of pupils for 1851 and 1852, years we have school reports for, and one would expect he would also be on the list of pupils for the 1851 census, but I could find no mention of him in either place. We have Andrew Patterson sworn in to interpret in court, although it is not clear that his services were required. Furthermore, we see a Deaf person coming out the right side of justice. A sad and unfortunate story, with an appropriate ending, or so I thought.
However, the story is more complicated. Newspapers today frequently get facts wrong and misspell names, and that was equally true in the past. When no amount of searching gave me a hint of John Finnigan, I looked again at that report. I realized it said he ‘had been’ an inmate of the institution, so he was a bit older. I looked at the earliest annual report we have for the school, 1850, and there is a John Finnigan, aged 15 in March 1850, from Manchester, “father a nailer, 2 deaf and dumb” admitted to the school July 28th, 1845. Now we were getting somewhere, and a new search of the newspaper archive found an earlier version of the story, from September, just after the incident, which gives it a completely different slant. This came from the London Daily News for Thursday the 22nd of September, 1853:
THE MURDER AT MANCHESTER.
John Finnigan, the deaf and dumb boy, charged with the murder of James Shanley, a child six years old, by throwing him into the Rochdale Canal, at Manchester, on Saturday, was again brought up for examination, yesterday, before the magistrates at the Manchester City Police Court.
Betsey Shanley, the mother of the deceased, said her son left home between 5 and 6 o’clock on Saturday evening, and she never saw him alive afterwards.
Thomas Shanley, the father of deceased, said, I live at 13, Taylor’s-court, Oxford-street. I called at all the police-stations on Saturday night, and did not return home till past two o’clock on Sunday morning, and on Sunday I made time same round again, also calling at the workhouses, without obtaining any information whatever of my son. I and another man found him in the canal on Sunday after- noon, between 2 and 3 o’clock.
Angus Thorley, a little boy, ten years of age, who in giving his evidence, displayed considerable dullness of apprehension, said, I was going up Garratt-road for a walk on Sunday, with another boy, when two boys came behind us. One of them was going to throw me into the canal, and the other got hold of the boy who was with me, by the clothes, and threw him into the water. I know it was Sunday.
Alderman Walker- What day did you say it was when you were here before ?
Witness – I said it was Sunday. I don’t know what time it was. We were going over the bridge. I go some- times to school on Sunday, but I could not go that day. There were no workmen or carts about. I don’t know when I told my mother about it. I had never before seen the boy who threw the deceased into the canal, but I know the prisoner is the same. I am sure he did it on purpose, and then he ran away.
Mr. Superintendent Taylor, of the Manchester police, said this boy (the last witness) came to the Police-office shortly after 10 on Monday morning with his mother and the deceased’s father, and stated that on Saturday [not Sunday] evening he was taking a walk up Garratt-road with another boy, when the prisoner came up and threw his companion into the water.
Mrs. Thorley, the mother of the witness Angus Thorley, said – My son came home on Saturday night about seven o’clock, looking very downcast, and laid his head against the wall. He has often been stoned and ill-used by other boys in the street, and I thought they had been molesting him as usual. On Sunday night, after the body had been found, I was putting him to bed, when he laid his head on his breast, and said ” Mamma, I have seen the little boy that was drowned;” and afterwards started up and exclaimed “I saw him throw him in though.”
There being no further evidence, the prisoner was remanded till Friday.
Mr. Pattison [sic], master of the Deaf and Dumb School at Old Trafford, interpreted the evidence to the prisoner, who seemed, by signs and gestures, indignantly to deny every- thing that appeared to criminate him. He is said to be a very intelligent boy, and can write very well. He is apprenticed to a joiner, and his father is a nail maker, residing in Chorlton-upon-Medlock. The prisoner was educated in the Deaf and Dumb School, where he had the character of a very headstrong and self-willed boy, but never manifested a disposition from which it could be inferred that he was likely to commit a serious crime like this. His appearance is mild, but rather sullen.
Further reports emerge, all with some slight variations of names and spelling, due to the mis-hearing of names & having to guess at spellings for names heard in court. The Sun (London), for Thursday the 22nd of September, 1853, repeats that report, verbatim. The Stamford Mercury for Friday the 16th of December, 1853, has the victim as ‘James Shandley’. One of the papers tells us the victim was six years and eight months old.*
Another version in the Manchester Times for Saturday the 24th of September, 1853, gives the fullest account of the original hearing [I have added some paragraphs not in the newspaper, to make it easier to read]:
WILFUL DROWNING OF A BOY IN THE CANAL
On Wednesday, at the City Police Court, John Finnigan, a deaf and dumb lad, aged eighteen, was again brought before the magistrates upon the charge reported in our last paper, of having caused the death of James Shanley, a child of six or seven years old, by throwing him into the canal adjoining Messrs. Bellhouse’s timber yard, Garratt Road. The prisoner’s parents live at 31, Leigh-street, Chorlton on Medlock, and he himself is apprenticed to Mr. M’Lean, builder, on the Stretford New Road; he has been five years in the Deaf and Dumb Institution, at Old Trafford, and, in despite of the deprivation of his senses, he is considered intelligent, and has been usually well conducted; he can read and write well. The child whose death was the subject of inquiry belonged to a poor man’s family, at 18, Taylor’s Court, Oxford Road. His mother states that he went out to play between five and six o’clock on Saturday evening last, and never returned. His father, Thomas Shanley, went in search of him on Saturday evening, and called at all the police stations in the town, but could hear no tidings of the child that night. On Sunday morning, he went out again early, and continued his search; went to the workhouses and other places, but could get no intelligence of the lost boy. It was between two and three o’clock on Sunday afternoon, when the dead child was found in the canal by his father, assisted by a young man of the neighbourhood. On Monday morning, the father of the dead child, accompanied by a little boy named Angus Thorley, with his mother, came to Mr. Taylor, the ‘superintendent of police at the Chorlton Town Hall, to make known the statement of the boy Angus Thorley. This witness, who is ten years old, told Mr. Taylor then, that, on Saturday evening, he was with the other child, James Shanley, whose name he did not know ; and that, in their play, they walked along the canal by the Garratt Road, and he there saw the prisoner, with another big boy ; and that, after a short time, although nothing had been done or said between them, the prisoner caught up the little fellow Shanley, who was with witness, taking hold of his clothes behind, and threw him into the water, and then ran away—that he (the witness) ran after the prisoner, but could not overtake him, and that some one told him it was “the dummy boy”. The mother of Angus Thorley described the manner in which her son came to tell her this story of what he had seen. She said: I was very strict with him, and frequently forbid him to go near the water (which might amount for his not mentioning the matter to his mother at first). On Saturday afternoon, be came home to be washed, about five o’clock, and when he came home he was not like as at other times, but he laid his head against the wall, and was very quiet. I noticed him then, but I thought it was because some of the Irish boys, who have a great antipathy to him, and have stoned him several times, had been at him as usual. I washed him myself, as I always do, and put him to bed, and nothing more was said by him that night, only that several times after be asked me for drink, and his aunt also gave him water to drink. On Sunday night, he was going to bed at the usual time, and I was up with him myself, and put him to bed ; but when he was undressed, he sat on the ground, and held his head on has breast; end at last he said to me, “Mamma, I’ve seen that little boy that was drowned,” and I said, “What little boy ?” for I had not heard then of the other child being lost; and he said, “The little boy that was thrown into the canal !” I said, “What do you mean, child ?” Then he looked up and said, “I saw him throw him in,— he’s black, mamma, and he had salt on his stomach.” This means the corpse of the child, which, when it was taken out of the canal, was discoloured, as commonly happens with dead bodies, so probably, the boy, Angus Thorley, had been lingering about the place on Sunday afternoon when the dead child was taken out, and had seen salt rubbed into the abdomen, in the hope of restoring life. The boy having told his mother the story of what he had witnessed, she took him to the father of the dead child Shanley, and he brought them to the police superintendent. The boy was again examined by the magistrates on Wednesday ; Mr. Gray, of the office of Mr. W. P. Roberts, attending as attorney for the prisoner, and Mr. Patteson [sic], of the Deaf and Dumb Institution, to interpret the evidence to the prisoner.
—The young witness was evidently confused, but his manner was very childlike and simple; he said now, differently from what he had said on Monday, that it was Sunday afternoon, instead of Saturday. when he saw the prisoner throw the child who was playing with him into the water; the place was “just as they were going over the bridge beside where they wind the planks up.” He seemed quite sure, on looking at the prisoner, that he was the same person who threw the boy in,—and that he threw him in on purpose, not accidentally; he (the prisoner ), with another boy, were coming behind witness and the deceased, over the bridge, when the prisoner caught hold of the loose skirts of his clothes behind, lifted him, and threw him into the canal, and then “chased off”. No other person was near at the time. The witness repeated, that this happened on Sunday ; but he did not seem to know much of the days of the week; he went to a Sunday-School “sometimes,” but had not been to school that day. At present, no information could be obtained as to the other lad, who was stated to have been with the prisoner when this was done; and the prisoner had nothing to say for himself, or was advised by his attorney to say nothing. He was, therefore, remanded to Friday for further inquiry.
—He was again brought up yesterday, and discharged from the custody of the court.
–The coroner for the city, Mr. Herford, held an inquest on Wednesday afternoon, at the Royal Infirmary; when the prisoner, with his attorney, were present; and the boy, Angus Thorley, then repeated his original statement, in the following words:—On Saturday afternoon, me and the boy that is dead were going up the hill out of Garratt Road, and going across the bridge over the canal at the timber-yard; and that boy (the prisoner) and another boy came behind us. I said to the boy that was with me,”Cut away;” and he (the deceased probably) tried to take the stick from me; then, the master was coming, and the other boy (who was with the prisoner) ran away. The dummy boy then laid hold of the boy who was playing with me, taking him by the clothes, with one hand his neck and the other his back part, and threw him in; his feet went first into the water. The dummy boy then ran away and turned up an entry, but he did not get into Garratt Road. I did not see him again; I had never seen the “dummy” boy before. In reply to questions from Mr. Gray, the boy said: I know I told the magistrates that that this was on Sunday, but it really was on Saturday, it was about five o’clock, and as light as it is now. I had no quarrel about the stick with the boy that is dead; but he wanted it, and took hold of it.
—The superintendent of police stated that the witness had picked out Finnigan, the deaf and dumb lad, from amongst five others, and identified him as the one who threw the little fellow into the water. He had, also, shown them the place on the canal bank, which was about thirty yards distant from the place where the corpse was found; but if the locks were open there would be current strong enough to carry the body that distance, there is a coping stone three-quarters of a yard above the water.
—Mr. A. Paterson, surgeon, had examined the body, but found no marks of violence ; drowning was the cause of death.
—The inquest terminated by the jury finding a verdict of “Manslaughter” against John Finnigan, who has been, accordingly, committed for trial.
Further reported in the Liverpool Mercury for Tuesday the 27th of September, 1853, the writer says “The evidence was very meagre and unsatisfactory. […] The prisoner had a man with him, who also attempted to throw Thorley in. Prisoner and the man ran away, and Thorley says he ran after the prisoner, and saw no more of Shanley.”
Here we have Thorley saying someone else was there who attempted to throw Thorley in to the canal.
In the Kentish Gazette for Tuesday the 27th of September, 1853, Thorley’s mother said that he
has often been stoned and ill-used by other boys in the street, and thought they had been molesting him as usual. […] Mr. Pattison, master of the Deaf and Dumb School at Old Trafford, interpreted the evidence to the prisoner, who seemed, signs and gestures, indignantly deny everything that appeared to criminate him. He is said to be a very intelligent boy, and can write very well. He is apprenticed to a joiner, and his father is nail maker, residing in Chorlton upon-Medlock. The prisoner was educated in the Deaf and Dumb School, where he had the character of very headstrong and self-willed boy, but never manifested a disposition from which could be inferred that he was likely to commit serious crime like this.
It seems to me that there is far more going on here than has emerged in any of the court sessions. All I have is various suspicions and more questions. Clearly Thorley was the subject of bullying ‘by the Irish boys’ which perhaps might include Finnigan, but whatever the story was with the stick, we can only guess. Did Thorley invent the story to cover an argument he had with Shanley? Who was the fourth person, the young man with Finnigan, and what was that about “the master was coming” – who was the master? Why did Thorley run after Finnigan and not cry out for help? Why do we hear nothing from Finnigan, if he was innocent? Thorley was supposed to be 10, however the only person I can find on the census who seems to match, is an Angus Thorley who became a porter, dying aged 38 in 1885. There are not many Angus Thorleys, so I am confident that this is him. That suggests that he was only six years old at the time of the death of James Shanley, rather than ten.
Was the victim James or John, Shanley or Shandley or Stanley?! You see the problem with using newspapers as historical sources. The Morning Post for Thursday, the 8th of December, 1853, has a name that is impossible to ready but must be James —ley. I have not definitively found his death record, or his family.
There is more to be found on Finnigan. In 1859, at Manchester Cathedral, he married a Deaf girl, Eliza Barlow (1837-78). Eliza was born in Staffordshire, at Newcastle under Lyme, and was described as Deaf and Dumb on the 1851 census. She was at the Manchester Deaf school as well. John Finnigan was born in Manchester, according to the 1861 census, but in Ireland, according to the 1871 census, when he was living in Hulme as a Pattern Maker. The 1881 census has his age as 30, with him born at Salford, Eliza being dead by then. His marriage record tells us that he was a son of Thomas Finnigan, nailer, so we can be sure that he is the right Finnigan. I cannot find him in later census returns but an ancestry family tree has him dying in 1924. John’s brothers were also pupils.
In the school register, on a page kindly sent to me by our great Deaf History sleuth Norma McGilp, it tells us John was born on the 25th of March, 1835. It adds in the comments field, information from the Rev.Downing who ran the Manchester Adult Society, presumably added in 1878 –
The eldest of the four Deaf and Dumb in the family, and probably the best of them, but he married a Deaf and Dumb woman of intemperate habits, by which she hastened her death, and whom I buried last week. Their eldest daughter is the mother of an illegitimate child.
I do not know Manchester so pinning down the locations with name changes of streets is not easy, but this is where the Bellhouse building was here but was I assume not where the timber yard was, which must nonetheless be in central Manchester. Please comment if you know where Garratt Rd. was, or can pinpoint the spot where the tragedy occurred.
In addition to the papers quoted above –
*Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Saturday 24 September 1853
Morning Post – Thursday 08 December 1853
Manchester, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930 (Cathedral)
Eliza Barlow –
1851 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 4002; Folio: 19; Page: 31; GSU roll: 846101
John & Eliza Finnigan –
1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2921; Folio: 31; Page: 6; GSU roll: 543050
1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 4002; Folio: 19; Page: 31; GSU roll: 846101
John Finnigan –
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3962; Folio: 7; Page: 7; GSU roll: 1341946
Angus Thorley –
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3887; Folio: 47; Page: 41; GSU roll: 1341928
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 17 October 2019
In the British Deaf Times for 1923, right below that for Herbert Roxburgh, is the following article on Charles Payne (1894-1979), as another one one of those Deaf swimming heroes. They got his name wrong of course, as newspapers do…
A WELSH HERO.
Charles Pain [sic], of the Manchester Arms, Menai Bridge, has been presented by Mr. John Edwards, chairman of the local Urban Council, with an illuminated address, the silver medal of the Royal Humane Society, and £3 in recognition off his bravery in rescuing from drowning off the Menai Bridge Pier, on June 28th last, the young daughter of Mr. John Owen, Greenbank, Menai Bridge.
Councillor Captain Davies said Pain’s act spoke well for his swimming powers.
It transpired that this was Pain’s fourth rescue of persons from drowning, two of them at Menai Bridge. Pain, who is deaf and dumb, handed in a written acknowledgement of the presentation, and also expressed his thanks briefly by means of the deaf and dumb alphabet.
He was born in Menai Bridge, Anglesey, on the 22nd of December, 1894, son of an Essex born mariner, Charles Payne senior, and his Welsh born wife, Margaret. They were living in Anglesey by 1881, though in a quick search I did not identify Margaret’s maiden name. They had ten children, five living in 1911. At least three were deaf, Charley or Charles, Jenny born around 1886, and William, born around 1885. I do not know where they went to school – if you discover that or know more please tell us in the space below. In the 1911 census, Jenny is said to be Jenny Jenkins, married for three years with a son Charles William Jenkins who was a year old and born in Cheshire. I have not tracked Jenny down elsewhere. William sadly died aged eighteen, in 1902.
I know Charles married Annie Hughes (born 1895) in 1925, and they had several children. He became a house painter (1939 register), and died in 1979, but that is all I can add, so he is yet another person who was perfectly ordinary and anonymous for most of his life, but when an opportunity presented itself, did something remarkable.
A Welsh Hero. British Deaf Times, 1923, 20 (239/240), 105.
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 5574; Folio: 33; Page: 25; GSU roll: 1342338
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 5277; Folio: 91; Page: 12
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 34471; Schedule Number: 156
1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/7516H
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 14 October 2019
As you enter the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, on the right hand side there remains, for the present, a carving of St. Blaise healing a person. No doubt it will in time be moved with the new hospital, but, until then, it is opposite the Joubert plaque I investigated previously.
St. Blaise (d.316) was Bishop of Sebastea in the East Roman Empire in the 3rd century, who was formerly a physician, and was associated with healing conditions of the throat as early as the 5th century. Much of what is claimed for this saint comes from a much later source, the Acts of St. Blaise. He is supposed to have saved a boy from choking on a fish bone, as he was going to his execution. Some Roman Catholics today celebrate the ‘blessing of the throats’, on February the 3rd, the Saint’s day in the Roman Church, the day after Candlemas, and the 11th of February in the Eastern Church.
The sculptor was Cecil Walter Thomas (1885-1976), born in West London, and a student at the Slade (UCL). Thomas became known for his medallions and coins, that included work for the Royal Mint, as well as bronzes. He served in the army in the First World War, and was wounded, then later served in the Second World War.
Although he won the competition outright for designing the first coinage of Elizabeth II, only his 6d. and florin coins were produced for Britain. He was asked to tidy the other designs used; this rankled. Almost as a consolation his crowned effigy of the queen was used on some of the Commonwealth coinage, for example in the West Indies, Fiji (1953–65), and in Hong Kong, Mauritius, and Nigeria. (Simmons, DNB)
The St. Blaise carving was produced in 1920, according to information in one of our files, but I have not substantiated that.
Frances Simmons, Thomas, Cecil Walter (1885–1976) DNB online https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/64419
” People who can hear think it is rather comic not to be able to, instead of a bitter tragedy” – Felix Joubert’s Royal Ear Hospital memorial, “Deafness Listening”
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 4 October 2019
In 1927, Neville Chamberlain, then Minister for Health, opened the new Royal Ear Hospital building in Huntley Street. Ninety-two years later, the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, which incorporated the Royal Ear Hospital, is moving back to Huntley Street in two phases.
The Huntley Street site was paid for by Sir Geoffrey Duveen (1883-1975) who was a barrister and, like his father, a philatelist. The hospital was a memorial to his parents.
WAR AGAINST DEAFNESS. There is great sympathy as well as great friendship, between the two men who are putting up a memorial to the conquest of deafness at the Royal Ear Hospital in London Felix Joubert, the artist who designed the charming group of “Deafness Listening,” has had to give up the art of the foils, at which he won international fame, owing to ear trouble. Geoffrey Duveen, the man who gave the memorial and has rebuilt add re-endowed the hospital at his own expense, is a business magnate of varied interests, who has found deafness a great burden and is determined to alleviate it where he can. “You’ve no idea how widespread it is,” he told me, “especially among the children in the elementary schools. Deafness gets no sympathy! People who can hear think it is rather comic not to be able to, instead of a bitter tragedy.”—”Mr. Gossip” In the “Daily Sketch” (Belfast Telegraph)
The artist of the attractive bronze plaque, Jules Felix Amedée Joubert, was born in London in 1872, son of Henri, an upholsterer who had a business in the Kings Road, Chelsea. Henri’s father, Jean Baptiste Amidée Joubert, also an upholsterer, born in Paris in 1796. He came to London, where he married Louise Pariens in 1828, and died in Marylebone, in 1866. He was certainly not described as deaf when younger, but in 1927 he was fifty-five, and presumably age-related hearing loss meant he could not hear the judges when fencing, which is what we might suppose caused him to give it up. Duveen obviously felt his hearing loss keenly, and thousands of patients ever since have cause to thank him for his generosity.
I have found scattered records of Felix Joubert, as he seems to be most commonly known, but I am sure that someone could probably put together an interesting essay on him with a little archival work. Many newspaper records mention him for his fencing, and while he was on the initial team for the 1912 Olympics, he was not in the team that finally competed. One of Joubert’s passions was for old arms and armour, and he made a collection which he donated to the Musée Masséna in Nice, in 1925. He is also supposed to have ‘forged’ items – perhaps it would be kinder to say ‘imitated’, but maybe he just took his chances to make some money from gullible people with money. During the Great War he designed a trench knife that was supposed to follow an ancient Welsh pattern but was in reality his own design, with influence from ancient swords.
For many years the Jouberts lived in a house at 2 Jubilee Place, Chelsea. I do not know where Joubert studied, but he married Blanche Cappé in 1907.
Joubert was it seems friendly with many famous people, including the Prince of Monaco and the Rothschild family. He designed scenes for the theatre in 1912 (The Stage – Thursday 03 October 1912), a stained glass window in 1918, the first with a khaki clad soldier according to the Illustrated London News (Saturday 08 June 1918), and he even made a film in 1922. Clearly he was a talented and interesting man.
Incidentally, it seems Duveen’s wife was the first person to have a radio in her car – a cadillac – in Britain, in 1926, but this involved her chauffeur slinging a 50 foot aerial between the car and a tree (The Times, 1997)!
Joubert died in Nice on the 1st of June, 1953, and is buried in Brompton cemetery.
The idea of the ‘conquest of deafness’ is one that might still appeal to some in the medical profession, but a greater understanding of Deaf people and deafness suggests that it is probably a form of words we now best avoid.
Joubert is seen here dressed as a knight presumably in his own armour, at the Chelsea Arts Club Ball (The Sketch – Wednesday 13 March 1912).
Belfast Telegraph – Wednesday 04 July 1928
Eason, Kevin The Times (London, England), Saturday, February 1, 1997, Issue 65802, p.1[S1]
Illustrated London News – Saturday 19 February 1927
Leeds Mercury – Thursday 10 February 1927
Ancestry.com. UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 [database on-line]
1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 1475; Folio: 380; Page: 8; GSU roll: 87798
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 82; Folio: 112; Page: 41; GSU roll: 1341018
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 59; Folio: 156; Page: 6
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 72; Folio: 143; Page: 43
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 381
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 20 September 2019
James Herbert Roxburgh was born in December 1898, probably in Dublin. According to his marriage certificate, his father, also James, was a ‘painter [or perhaps printer] traveller’. He may be the James Roxburgh who attended the Claremont Institution and was there in the 1911 census, with an unknown girl called Roxburgh who was aged 10 and possibly a sister. The 1901 Irish census has James, a Scottish printer manager, and Salvation Army member, with a son William Roxburgh aged seven who was deaf. William sadly died in 1907, aged 13. Another son, Bertie, who was two, is I believe, James Herbert. His deafness may not yet have been apparent. They probably abbreviated Herbert to Bertie as the father was also called James. That could explain why I am unable to find his birth record. The girl on the Claremont census was almost certainly Bertie’s younger sister, Dorothy Emma Roxburgh, who was aged six months in the 1901 census. Dorothy was recorded as living with her mother, and her brother Ronald, in the 1939 register, at 4 Charnwood Grove, West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England, and she died in Bath in 1984.*
James Herbert emerges from obscurity into a fleeting moment of fame, not far from the spot where the River Fleet enters the Thames.
In 1923 he was working on the photographic staff of Boots, Stamford Street, London. On August the 25th, he was returning from work at about 12.30 pm, when he saw a crowd of people staring down at the river by Blackfriars Bridge. When he reached there he saw a boy struggling in the water. Pausing only to remove his hat and coat, he dived in, and got his left arm under the boy’s armpits, raising him up. He swam back to the steps, where he proceeded to resuscitate the unconscious boy.
The rescue was entirely unassisted, and the tide was running up very strongly at the time.
Although another man failed to reach the lad before he had been brought ashore, he assisted in the effort to revive him, which was successful, and the seven-year-old boy (son of an ex-soldier) was taken home by his parents. The rescue was witnessed from the Bridge by five of the rescuer’s fellow-workers, whose evidence and full particulars have been forwarded to the Royal Humane Society. (British Deaf Times)
There are steps on each side of the south end of Blackfriars Bridge – it could have been from either of those that he made his rescue. It is nice for us that in Selwyn Oxley’s photo collection, there is a reproduction of the Royal Humane Society’s award.
You may be interested to note that James Roxburgh is the third Deaf swimming hero I have written about on the blog, and there are others.
James was recorded as working as a ‘photographic copyist’ in the 1939 national register.
In 1931 James married Estelle K Maclean. Estelle was the daughter of a Scottish born Concertina Tuner (a very specific job!), James Maclean. In 1911 he had been married to his wife Jane for twenty-four years, so I suppose he moved to London in the 1880s, and they had four children. Estelle and her brother Gordon James Maclean (1889-1964), a cabinet maker, were both ‘deaf from birth’ according to the 1911 census, at which time the family lived at 23 Ashburnham Grove, Greenwich. In 1919 Gordon married Annie Florence Harvey (1897-1957) who was also Deaf from aged two, and who lived with her family at The Cottage, Hythe Road, Willesden Junction.
James and Estelle retired to Torbay, where he died in 1986, and she died in 1988.
If you can add anything more about the lives of these four related Deaf people, please do below.
Deaf man’s brave act: a Thames rescue. British Deaf Times, 1923, 20 (239/240), 105.
Marriage 1931 – Reference Number: p78/pau1/007
1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/405I
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 533; Folio: 156; Page: 50
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 2680
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 224
*Thanks to Norma McGilp for spotting James and Estelle’s death records, and for digging out additional family links.
“Mr. M’Diarmid, of Donaldson’s Hospital, who, without any facts… upon which to ground his opinion, has arrived at a different conclusion”
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 13 September 2019
In 1856, two members of the Committee of the National Deaf and Dumb Association of Ireland, that started the Claremont Institution, came to Scotland and England to examine the major education institutions for the Deaf, and how they were run. The Honorary Secretary was John Ringland (1816-76), of 14 Harcourt Street, Dublin, a midwifery doctor at the Coombe Lying In Hospital – he was ‘Master of the Coombe’ from 1841-76, and Mr John Gelston. I could not find out anything interesting about him in the time available.
Here we have a list of the institutions they visited. As you will see from the title page, Gelston was with the Inland Revenue.
The introduction to the report credits Harvey Peet’s Report on European Institutions, and Ringland says (p.4), “It affords us much satisfaction to be able to state that in most of his views we entirely concur with Dr. Peet: in the few trifling points upon which we differ with him, we do so with extreme unwillingness, as we feel assured that the conclusions he has arrived at have been the result of unprejudiced judgement, and of earnest convictions.” One section where they did disagree with Peet was the ‘separation of the sexes’:
With but two or three exceptions, namely, Edinburgh, Donaldson’s Hospital, and, we believe, one other, all the pupils, both male and female, take their meals at the same time in a common hall; but in all we found that there was a separate play-ground for each sex, and that, excepting during the time already stated, they are kept strictly apart. We think it right to observe that at Glasgow the play-grounds are separated by a very low wall, which answers the purpose merely of marking out the point of separation.
With the exception of Mr. M’Diarmid, of Donaldson’s Hospital, who, without any facts, however, upon which to ground his opinion, has arrived at a different conclusion, the Principals of all the Institutions we visited highly approve of these arrangements, so almost universally adopted, and do not believe that any immorality has ever resulted from them, but, on the contrary, consider that they have been the best means of preventing any tendency to it.
In reference to this point, we cannot help quoting the opinion of Dr. Peet, of New York, who in his very interesting report of his visit to the different Institutions for the deaf and dumb in Europe, expresses his conviction, “that the effects of such a system—namely the strict separation of the sexes—would be evil.” He subsequently goes on to say that “with us the sexes, accustomed daily to see each other, are also accustomed to self-control, to the habitual decency of thought, manner, and expression ; are accustomed to put down truant thoughts by religious and moral motives ; are impressed strongly with the truth that their future happiness in this life will mainly depend on their present good conduct ; and, in short, are under all the moral influence that in families and in society preserve the virtue of the young. If for this moral control, aided by a constant supervision, we should substitute strict seclusion from intercourse with the other sex, should we not impress our pupils with the idea that in circumstances of temptation their fall would be inevitable ? If we treat virtue as a hot-house plant, will it endure as well when removed from our conservatory to take its chances in the open air.” (pages 17-18)
I have scanned the whole report with the exception on the Appendix 3, which is a large table covering the differences in how the schools approached certain things, such as the time of meals. I have however photographed it, but if you have trouble reading it, come in to see it here!
“his client was terribly afflicted, and totally unable give any evidence except by Signs” – alleged assault on Emma Conway of Dosthill, 1893
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 23 August 2019
This is a story touching on the life of Emma Conway, a Deaf girl, who was briefly in the news for all the wrong reasons, before sinking again into obscurity.
She was born in Staffordshire, at Brownhill(s), Wallsall in 1869, but the family moved to Dosthill, near Tamworth. Her father, Isaac, worked as a labourer, and two brothers were miners. She also had at least two sisters. Emma was born deaf, and probably had no education in any formal way. The 1881 census does not say she was a scholar, when she was thirteen. Her sister, Eliza, was married and lived close by. She probably had no contact with other Deaf people, and would therefore have grown up isolated from any possibility of learning either sign language or finger-spelling, though the latter would of course only be useful to someone who could read, and we might guess that she could not. The family and friends must have coped with ‘home signing’ which is often found where a single child is deaf within a speaking community. Her story illustrates the importance of language in obtaining justice.
Herbert Baylis, was a Fazeley born butcher’s assistant, son of Francis Baylis, a local butcher. (Note that his name was consistently spelt ‘Bayliss’ below).
The case emerges in local newspapers. On the morning of the 7th of March, a Tuesday, Herbert Baylis, then 18, allegedly ‘feloniously’ assaulted Emma (Coventry Evening Telegraph – Wednesday 22 March 1893). The Lichfield Mercury for Friday 24th March 1893, expands the story. They tell us that Baylis was “summoned by Eliza Holiday to answer a charge of indecently assaulting Emma Conway, a deaf and dumb girl, at Dosthill, on the 7th inst.” Eliza being a sister of Emma. Mr. E. Argyle, who defended, objected initially, as “the offence was alleged to have taken place in Warwickshire, and proceedings had been taken in Staffordshire.” Argyle also objected “that the information was not laid upon oath, but by the girl’s sister. He did not deny that defendant went to the house, but asserted that he had a perfect answer to the charge. A summons had been issued for which there was not a shallow of foundation support it.” Here we see the problem of language, on which the case was to hinge.
In reply to the Bench, complainant’s sister said the girl did not know the deaf & dumb alphabet. She understood what her sister meant by the motions she made.
—Mr. Argyle objected to the sister interpreting the evidence ; it should done by a sworn interpreter.
—After consideration by the Bench, Mr. Argyle said in any case he would have to ask for an adjournment, as his witnesses were not present. He was only instructed that morning, just before coming to the Court. Mr. Argyle added that should strongly object to the sister acting as interpreter.
—The Bench said she could ask someone else to do so. (Lichfield Mercury)
Consequently, the case was adjourned for a fortnight. It is hardly surprising that the defence should object as the sister was hardly unbiased, and I suppose home sign is not a true language, though it is a form of communication.
The Tamworth Herald – for Saturday the 8th of April 1893, continues the story, calling it “An Extraordinary Case.”
Mr. R. Nevill appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. E. Argyle defended. The case was heard at the last fortnightly sessions, and was adjourned order that someone might be obtained to interpret the girl’s evidence.
—Mr. Nevill said his client was terribly afflicted, and totally unable give any evidence except by Signs. The offence was alleged to have occurred in the forenoon about ten. Mrs Sarah Woods, neighbour who had known the girl for the last five or six years would interpret her evidence.
—At Mr Argyle’s request all the witnesses except Mrs. Wood and Mrs. Holiday, were ordered by the Bench to leave the Court until called.
—Mr. Argyle said the case was the most difficult he had ever known. The girl was not acquainted with the deaf and dumb alphabet.
—Mrs. Wood was then sworn, and said she was the wife of John Wood, miner. She bad known the girl Conway for four and half years, and could understand from her signs what she meant.
—Emma Conway was through the interpreter next sworn, and kissed the book. According to the interpreter the girl conveyed by her signs that the defendant came into the house, and followed her into the parlour, where the assault complained of was alleged to have taken place.
—Agnes Aucott (11), [an error for Allcott] residing with her parents at Dosthill, said defendant drove to Conway’s house. She heard him ask Conway where someone lived. Witness then informed defendant that the girl was deaf and dumb, and he asked whether Conway’s mother was alive, and she replied in the negative. He also asked whether the girl had a sister and brother, and she said yes, adding that the brother had gone to work. She saw the defendant follow the girl Conway down the passage towards her house, and she afterwards went and told Mrs. Holiday.
— Cross-examined : She had often seen the defendant, but had not spoken to him before. He came to Dosthill twice a week. She saw the defendant with the tobacco pipe produced in his hand. She did not hear him asking the girl for a match ; but she saw him show her a penny. The penny was not a match box. Between her seeing the defendant follow Conway down the passage and her telling Mrs. Holiday, she heard the barking of the dog which is kept as a protection to Conway. She heard no screaming.
—Eliza Holiday, wife of Joseph Holiday, miner, Balfour’s buildings, Dosthill, said she was a sister of Emma Conway, and lived next door but one to her. In consequence of what the previous witness told her she went to her sister’s house. She went in the back door, and saw the defendant pushing against the parlour door. She asked him what he wanted and he gave no answer. The dog which was chained up in one corner of the house was savagely barking, and she could hear the sound some crying. She again asked the defendant what he wanted, and he said “a match.” She told him that she hoped he would not be caught there again. Afterwards, defendant used a threatening expression to her, and at that moment he had a knife in his hand. After getting defendant out of the house she went in and found Conway crying, and in consequence of what the girl made her understand, she took out a summons against the defendant next morning.
—Cross-examined : She had never dealt with the defendant, but she owed something to defendant’s father, and she thought that when the bills were put right she would owe only 6d. There was some ill-feeling over the matter. She did not go to Mrs. Cook and say that defendant had “struck my poor sister.” When she accused defendant twenty minutes afterwards of committing an assault upon her sister, defendant said that if she did not take care he would have her locked up for making such an accusation.
— [During this witness’s cross-examination the persons occupying the gallery gave vent to some laughter, whereupon the chairman threatened that the gallery would be cleared if any further expression of feeling were made.]
— Emma Simpson, wife of George Simpson, miner, and living next door Conway’s house, said in the forenoon of the day in question she heard noises from the next house as of someone screaming, and also of dog barking. She sent her daughter to Conway’s to see what was the matter.
—Cross-examined : She owed to defendant’s father.
—This was all the evidence for the prosecution.
—Mr. Argyle submitted that there was no case against the defendant such any grand jury would entertain.
—The Chairman held that there was a case for the defendant to answer.
—Mr. Argyle said he would therefore advise his defendant to reserve his defence. After a consultation with the defendant, and the defendant’s father, Mr. Argyle said he still held that there was not shadow of a case against the defendant, and he could not recede from the position he had taken up. There was no corroboration of the evidence. The case would have to go for trial unless their worships decided to dismiss it.
—The Chairman said the Bench would have to send the case for trial to the Quarter Sessions.
—Defendant was allowed bail in the sum of £50, his father giving the necessary sureties.
The defence was trying to imply that the witnesses had an interest in seeing Baylis lose the case. As to the nature of the alleged assault, it is typically opaque
The case came before a grand jury – used in England and Wales until the 1930s – at the end of June. The Leamington Spa Courier for Saturday the 1st of July, 1893, said that the grand jury was told that,
The most difficult case they would have to deal with was a charge of assault upon a deaf and dumb girl who had not been instructed in the deaf and dumb alphabet. The only means of understanding her was by signs and gesticulations, and none but some of her neighbours could tell what she meant. He would advise them to be very careful with the case, and, unless they were satisfied that the petty jury were likely to understand the case, it would be safer to throw out the bill.
That is exactly what happened, as we read in the Alcester Chronicle for Saturday the 1st of July, 1893, which reports that that Baylis was acquitted –
The prosecutrix, who is deaf and dumb, did not appear to understand the nature of an oath, and the case was accordingly dismissed, no evidence being tendered. The magistrates promised get the girl into deaf and dumb asylum.
I am not sure that the magistrates understood what ‘deaf asylums’ were. She was not a child, so unless they were going to get someone to help teach her as an adult, say from one of the Midland missions, I am not sure what they were expecting. She would have been worse off in a workhouse, and it seems that her family were looking out for her and caring for her. Additionally as we have said, the finger-alphabet is useless without an understanding of spelling, so unless Emma could read, which does not seem likely, the only sensible thing would have been for her to be taught sign language.
Baylis seems to have died in Lewisham in 1933.*
In 1911 Emma was living with her older sister, Catherine, and her husband James Besant, a carter, at 23 Paddock Lane, Walsall. She died in 1946, never having married.
Coventry Evening Telegraph – Wednesday 22 March 1893 – other newspapers as quoted a
1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 2915; Folio: 122; Page: 48; GSU roll: 836406
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 2775; Folio: 17; Page: 28; GSU roll: 1341664
1891 Census – Emma – Class: RG12; Piece: 2211; Folio: 64; Page: 7
1891 Census – Eliza – Class: RG12; Piece: 2211; Folio: 64; Page: 8
1891 Census – Bayliss – Class: RG12; Piece: 2211; Folio: 23; Page: 9
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 17169; Schedule Number: 20
1929 – Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 909
*There is another Herbert Baylis who was born in India who some family history researchers seem to have confused with this Herbert Baylis. His father was
|Theophilus Ledbook Baylis|