The Deaf Baronet
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 28 October 2011
Sir Arthur Fairbairn was a worker with the deaf who was himself deaf. His grandfather was the Scottish engineer Sir William Fairbairn who had a successful career designing steam engines and bridges, and his father Sir Thomas became a great patron of the arts, cultivating friendships with Pre-Raphaelite artists such as Holman Hunt. Sir Thomas commissioned Thomas Woolner to make a marble statue of his eldest surviving children entitled Constance and Arthur, or, Deaf and Dumb (1857–62). Sir Arthur and his sister Constance were educated by Henry Brothers Bingham formerly of Edgbaston Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. Arthur Dimmock in his 2002 article says “Arthur and Constance were taught by fingerspelling and sign language so both were never efficient with speech and lipreading through their lives” (Dimmock 2002).
Sir Arthur was involved with Deaf causes for example acting as Honorary Treasurer to the Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb (RADD) and as patron of the British Deaf and Dumb Association (BDDA).
GILBART-SMITH, J.W. Sir Arthur Fairbairn and his surroundings: the story of a deaf and dumb baronet. Cassell’s Magazine, 1904, 606-612. (photos) (RNID Library location: B5903)
Well-known deaf persons: Sir Arthur Henderson Fairbairn, Bart. British Deaf Times, 1904, 1, 17-18. (photo)
Cartoon and brief biography. Mayfair, 1912, 7(89), 25 Jul, 910.
The late Sir Arthur H. Fairbairn, Bart. ROE, W.R. Peeps into the deaf world. Bemrose & Sons, 1917. pp. 280-282. (photos)
BRADDOCK, G.C. Notable deaf persons: Sir Arthur H. Fairbairn, Bart. British Deaf Times, 1941, 38(453-454), 81-82.
DIMMOCK, A.F. Sir Arthur Henderson Fairbairn (1852-1915): Britain’s deaf and dumb baronet. Deaf History Journal, 2002, 6(1), 32-34.