“Oh, that the younger generation of the deaf were more like him!” Saul Magson of Manchester
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 27 January 2017
Saul Magson was born in Manchester in August 1813. He was, according to the census return for 1871, ‘deaf from birth’. His obituary however says that he lost his hearing aged two, after an illness ‘attended with convulsions’. The The British Deaf-Mute (1894), on which much of this is based, also says that he was one of the earliest pupils at the Salford School, what became The Manchester School,in February, 1825. It was then under its first headmaster, William Vaughan, with eight girls and six boys (Bessant, 1892, p.98-9). Vaughan had been an assistant master at the Old Kent Road Asylum. As an aside, it would be very illuminating to draw a connected list of teachers, to see under whom each one trained, making an intellectual family tree in the way that is sometimes done for academics.
Magson became a clerk in Manchester Town Hall, but he never married. He worked there for forty years until retirement. In 1871 he was living with his younger brother James, a ‘stone and flag salesman’ (census 1871). He was a regular at the Manchester Society for Promoting the Spiritual and Temporal Welfare of the Deaf, which was established in 1850, and until 1854 apparently he ran it with Mr. Patterson. He also held services for deaf people in Ashton-under-Lyme, Oldham, Bury and Rochdale, among other places. He was friends with G.A.W. Downing and William Stainer, (later both becoming ‘the Reverend) among many others. “He was methodical, and notably punctual. He often spoke of the friendly appreciation and kindness he received from the late Sir Joseph Heron, the first Town Clerk of Manchester, in whose department he was employed.” He lived through the period of the extraordinary growth of Manchester. By the time he moved to Southport, much of the town must have been totally transformed. Heron earned an astounding £2,500 a year at one point, so I wonder how much Magson earned. It is possible that there are records in Manchester archives that would tell us more about Magson and what he worked on.
he was a good servant; he knew his own mind; he knew when he was well off, and he was not one of those who are “given to change.” The consequence was that he was never out of a situation. He kept the same situation and no other for forty years. Oh, that the younger generation of the deaf were more like him!
Saul Magson died on the 12th of April 1894, and was interred at Cheetham Hill, Manchester. If you know that cemetery, and have the opportunity to see where he is buried, please let us know in the comment field below.
In Memoriam – the Late Saul Magson, The British Deaf-Mute, 1894, vol.3 p.119
The Manchester School, Quarterly Review of Deaf Mute Education, 1892, vol. 2 p.97-108)
1871 census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3979; Folio: 87; Page: 4; GSU roll: 846090
V. R. Parrott, ‘Heron, Sir Joseph (1809–1889)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/49712, accessed 27 Jan 2017]