George Hartnoll Hogg, human calculator
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 21 August 2015
George Hartnoll Hogg was a pupil of the celebrated teacher of the deaf, Henry Brothers Bingham. Born in Bideford, Devon, on the 13th of February 1819, George was the son of John Hogg, a chemist and druggist (British Deaf Monthly). His father had been offered a living by the Rector, but his mother, a non-conformist, made him turn it down. George was sent to Exeter to be educated by Bingham when he was eight, staying there for seven years, then moving to Manchester shortly after Bingham went there.
He seems to have had a remarkable talent for mental calculations, particularly division and multiplication. In the book illustrated here, A Selection from a Series of Mental Calculations Made by George Hartnoll Hogg, a Deaf and Dumb Pupil of Mr. H.B. Bingham, Master of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, Manchester (1841), Bingham, a writer of prodigiously long sentences, introduces the idea of the education of the deaf in dedicatory remarks addressed to the Queen, then in the main body of text launches into his ideas of education;
Every human being, and probably every animal, educates itself, that is to say, they are provided by nature with certain instincts and faculties which being most powerful in early life stimulate and urge them to acquirements, and accordingly in the first four or five years they acquire more than they do in all the after years of their life, however long that may be; they learn to stand, to walk, to use their hands, they acquire the faculty of speech, the application of thought, a knowledge of distances and resemblances between different objects in nature; they become acquainted with most of the passions and their expressions; in fine, the germs also of all virtues and vices, are implanted in their minds during that period; and all the rest of their lives only suffice to give precision to some of the original ideas which they have attained while the mind was fresh from the Creator’s hands.(p.i)
Bingham, who believed in what we might call whole body education, was clearly fond of a long sentence. Further on he says,
To lead into the fields, to point out and explain the visible operations of nature, to teach them by conversation, with the natural objects before their eyes, to encourage them to work in gardens, to teach them gymnastics, and to explain the true principles of what they see and do, at the very time of seeing and doing, , reserving the teaching by books until a later age, when their own thirst for further knowledge will inevitably lead them to such study, seems to me the true mode of education. It is nature’s mode, and it is in strict accord with the Baconian or inductive system of Philosophy, namely, to provide by observation a sufficient number of facts before reasoning to a conclusion; whereas the present system of commencing with books, besides the injury it does to the physical constitution, is the forming system a priori, to be verified by the scholar by observation afterwards.(p.iv-v)
That last sentence could have described the scientific method of his contemporary, Charles Darwin. He continues,
if the principles of education laid down above be, as I believe, sound and true, the Deaf and Dumb are especially susceptible to being taught to good purpose. For first, the deprivation of hearing renders their other senses peculiarly sensitive and vigorous; and imitation, nature’s great educational lever, is more powerfully exerted through the eyes than through the ears.(p.vi)
In the 1851 census, George was a master’s assistant at the Old Trafford School under the then headmaster Andrew Patterson. Sometime between the 1871 census and the 1881 census, he lost his job. The BDM article says he taught there for 43 years, which would mean 1875. Could he have been one of the victims of the move towards oral teaching that was coming into vogue at that time, or did he just retire? At any rate by 1881 he was described as a ‘retired school teacher’, ‘deaf and dumb from birth’, and was living at Sale in Cheshire with William and Sarah Cordingly, a Deaf farm labourer and his Deaf wife . William and his brother James were former pupils at the Old Trafford School as we see from the 1859 student list, so were William was taking in his old teacher as a lodger. (Click twice on the pupil lists for a readable size.)
In 1891 George was living in Withington, Stretford, with another deaf couple, Ann and William Morton. A year later on 16th of May 1892, aged 73, he married Louise Williams, a 45 year old Deaf dressmaker, born in Shropshire. Her brother James Taylor, a printer-compositor, was also a former Old Trafford pupil. The couple were living with him and his family (who were hearing) in Macclesfield in 1901. I wonder if she too was a former pupil of his. George Hogg died in Leicestershire in 1906 (see the Free BMD).
We are grateful to Norma McGilp for pointing out the article in BDM, from whence the portrait comes.
Blog updated 24/8/2015.
An Old Deaf Teacher, British Deaf Monthly, 1901, Vol. 10, p. 204
A Selection from a Series of Mental Calculations Made by George Hartnoll Hogg, a Deaf and Dumb Pupil of Mr. H.B. Bingham, Master of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, Manchester (1841)
Manchester School annual reports
1851 Census Class: HO107; Piece: 2218; Folio: 537; Page: 20; GSU roll: 87228
1871 Census Class: RG10; Piece: 3971; Folio: 125; Page: 6; GSU roll: 841958
1881 Census Class: RG11; Piece: 3507; Folio: 49; Page: 17; GSU roll: 1341840
1891 Census Class: RG12; Piece: 3162; Folio: 85; Page: 26; GSU roll: 6098272
1901 Census Class: RG13; Piece: 3313; Folio: 78; Page: 4