“when we talk about Deaf and Dumb we use a misnomer” – Ladies Christian Homes for Deaf & Dumb Children
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 19 March 2015
The Ladies Christian Homes for Deaf & Dumb Children From Four Years of Age, on the Oral System were first established in 1875. The first home was in Pentonville Road, North London, between Angel and Kings Cross. Other branches were to follow in rapid succession so by 1880 there was a home at 6 Victoria Park Square near Bethnal Green, and one at 171 Grange Road, Bermondsey. Several more opened in the following years. The homes emerged from the founding of the London School Board after 1871, as there was insufficient provision for the education of Deaf children in London, with 300 not receiving any education (Woodford, 1999). William Stainer of the Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb, was approached to begin classes at Bethnal Green, in the Wilmott Street Board School with five pupils (ibid). Children attended and boarded for the week days, but went home at weekends. Doreen Woodford’s 1999 article is well worth reading, but despite consulting records at the London Metropolitan archive, it seems she could find none of the annual reports for these institutions.
The 1881 census shows the children were almost all girls – there are only two boys –
|Harriet Mealey||Servant (Head) Widower||54||female||Housekeeper||Datchit Nr Windsor|
|Alice Ensor||Boarder||25||female||Assistant School Teacher||Hackney Middlesex|
|Sarah Barnes||Servant||16||female||Gen Servant||Clerkenwell Middlesex|
|Eleanor Rivers||Boarder||12||female||Scholar||Penge Surrey|
|Beatrice Allen||Boarder||14||female||Scholar||Marylebone Middlesex|
|Mary Welch||Boarder||14||female||Scholar||St Lukes Middlesex|
|Elizabeth Johnson||Boarder||13||female||Scholar||Finchley Middlesex|
|Ellen Mays||Boarder||9||female||Scholar||Kensington Middlesex|
|Alice A. Hale||Boarder||9||female||Scholar||Rugby Warwickshire|
|Steller ? Frost||Boarder||12||female||Scholar||Chiswick Middlesex|
|Emily Shelford||Boarder||6||female||Scholar||Highbury Middlesex|
|Emily Harris||Boarder||7||female||Scholar||Barnstaple Devon|
|Eliza Sparrowhawk||Boarder||17||female||Scholar||Hackney Middlesex|
|Sarah Pufferd||Boarder||Younger Than 1||female||Fulham Middlesex|
|Margaret Jarvis||Boarder||7||female||Scholar||Battersea Surrey|
|Beatrice Underhill||Boarder||12||female||Scholar||New Cross Kent|
|Abraham J. Webb||Boarder||9||male||Norwood Surrey|
|Ernest F. Howard||Boarder||9||male||Warwickshire|
In 1881 Stainer was living at 1 Gore Road, Hackney, and had a number of private pupils (I have excluded details of where they were born for reasons of space) –
|William Stainer||Head Widower||53||Male||Curate St Matthews Beth Gr & Inst Deaf & Dumb School Bd For Lndn|
|Macdonald Campbell||Boarder||18||Male||Articled Asst Teacher (School Master)|
|Ann Honey||Servant Widow||66||Female||Housekeeper Domestic Serv|
|Mary A. Miller||Servant||54||Female||Housemaid Domestic – Deaf & Dumb|
|Jane Faulkner||Servant||19||Female||Housemaid Domestic|
|Samuel Smith||Boarder||26||Male||Scholar – Deaf & Dumb|
|William P. Turner||Boarder||13||Male||Scholar – Deaf & Dumb|
|Horace E. Sharp||Boarder||13||Male||Scholar – Deaf|
|William Randale||Boarder||11||Male||Scholar – Deaf & Dumb|
|Gerard Hiel||Boarder||7||Male||Scholar – Deaf & Dumb|
|Florrie Mann||Boarder||9||Male||Scholar – Deaf & Dumb|
Doreen Woodford pointed out in her 1999 article, that most of the sources of material on the Stainer Homes, at least early on, is partial. Stainer was behind the Deaf Quarterly News and as he “was one of the original promoters of the “Conference of Headmasters”, as well as being on nearly every committee, including some internal ones, most of the evidence is biased.” (Woodford 1999).
In the proceedings of the meeting, Mr. Sydney Buxton said (p.5 of 1880 Annual Report), in a particularly dull passage announcing his Oralist intentions –
I am afraid I have no special claim upon your attention for I have no particular information to give with reference to the work that is going on. The only information I can place before you has been from attending the Committee of the School Board which has reference to this special work. I think after the remarks of the Chairman with reference to the Report that no addition is required from me with regard to it, what he said with respect to the Oral Teaching shows that when we talk about “Deaf and Dumb” we use a misnomer. This is rather a pity. “Deaf and Dumb” has become a common phrase, but in point of fact, excepting a few children who have a malformation of the mouth, no child is really dumb. Every child can really be taught to speak if sufficient attention be given to it. […] At the Conference held in Milan, the large majority of the members were of the opinion that the Oral System was infinitely better than the Manual System, and that it was the only true scientific way by which to teach the Deaf and Dumb. The London School Board has now, after trying the two systems, practically adopted the Oral System in all its schools, and it would be a good thing if it went a little further, and declared that the Oral system [sic] was the best.
Further on, the Rev. Septimus Hansard, of St. George’s in the East adds his ha’pennyworth –
Think how fifty years ago these deaf children were left to grow up as idiots! It never entered the heads of people to educate the Deaf and Dumb. After some time it is true education was provided for the Deaf and Dumb, but only for those who had reached nine or ten years of age, and these institutions exist to this day. But the little ones were left to drift into imbecility. […] I have known Mr. Stainer for many years, he has devoted his life to this work.
Stainer was Hansard’s curate at this time in Bethnal Green. Hansard looks to be a very interesting person – taught by Arnold at Rugby and F.D. Maurice in London and involved in the ‘Surplice Riots’ of East London. Indeed, “he was a schoolfriend at Rugby of Thomas Hughes, who based the Tom Brown’s Schooldays character of Holmes the praepostor, ‘one of the best boys in the school’, on him.” (St. George’s in the East website)
The homes later went into a decline and were eventually closed.
The Ladies Christian Homes for Deaf & Dumb Children , Fifth Annual Report, 1880
LAISHLEY, R. Report on deaf-mute institutions. VIII. London Board Schools and the Rev. W. Stainer’s Homes. Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1888, 1, 300-305.
Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1888, 1, 320.
WOODFORD, D.E. The rise and fall of the Stainer’s Homes. Deaf History Journal, 1999, 3(2), 27-38.
Census returns for 1881 – Class: RG11; Piece: 353; Folio: 4; Page: 2; GSU roll: 1341076
Class: RG11; Piece: 312; Folio: 106; Page: 59; GSU roll: 1341067
St. George’s in the East website [accessed 19/3/2015]