Ralph Duncombe Jackson of the British Deaf and Dumb Association
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 31 October 2016
Ralph Duncombe Jackson was born in South Shields in 1848, eldest son of Robert Jackson and his wife Charlotte. We are told that he was deafened at the age of four from an attack of scarlet fever (Ephphatha, from which this is broadly taken). That would have been in 1852/3. He was educated at the Newcastle ‘Northern Counties School for the Deaf‘, which would have meant that he was taught by William Neil.
Ralph married a deaf lady Jane Walker in 1871. She is described in the 1891 census as deaf from childhood, and Jane’s sister Isabella, living next door in Normanby St, Monkwearmouth, is also described as deaf. Isabella’s husband, William Morrison, a millsawyer aged 42, was like his brother-in-law Ralph, deaf from scarlet fever.
Ralph had a varied career, unfortunately interrupted by ill-health, though his obituary does not tell us what form that took. He began as a compositor, working on the Daily Post – I have no idea about the Daily Post, as it does not appear on the British Newspaper Archive. If you know, please leave a note. At any rate, his health forced him from that job and he became a grocer in Normanby Street, Monkwearmouth. He became a missioner to the local deaf community in the urban north-east, and in 1898 became a ‘Scripture Reader’ for the Northumberland and Durham Mission, eventually becoming a full time missioner. Unfortunately we have no local mission reports before 1920, though the Northumberland and Durham Mission dates from 1876. He was long a member of the British Deaf and Dumb Association, ‘almost from its formation’, acting as a local secretary when he lived in Sunderland.
Ralph and Jane had three daughters, and a son Ralph who emigrated to New Zealand. He died in 1910 after having a major operation and then developing pneumonia. His funeral was so well attended by friends that there was insufficient room in the chapel for all to be seated.
Death of Mr. R. Duncombe Jackson, Ephphatha, 1910, no.29 p.107 (picture)
Letter, Deaf and Dumb Times (June 1890) p10-11
1891 Census Class: RG12; Piece: 4150; Folio: 116; Page: 10; GSU roll: 6099260