“His experiences have been many and strange” – James Reyner of Leeds
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 12 May 2017
James Reyner was born in 1872 in Leeds. Aged seven he lost his hearing after a bout of Scarlet Fever. According to the article on him in the BDM for 1900, he was educated in Leeds School for the Deaf, “under Mr. E.A. Kirk’s skilful tuition”. Sadly after only two years there his father died and he had to leave to start work. Eventually he got a job as a ‘coat presser’ in a clothing store, but lost his job due to a strike. Fortunately that was around the time the BDM started, and he was offered work by the editor, Mr. Hepworth, as a canvasser for the journal. As a consequence he travelled widely around the U.K., estimating that he had travelled 40,000 miles in Britain and Ireland by rail, and 2,000 by sea. We are told, that “His experiences have been many and strange.”
He married a deaf lady, from Bolton, Maria Hughes in 1898. Maria’s father was William Hughes, a railway porter, born in Antrim, while her mother Nancy was from Bolton. She was certainly deaf aged five.
Sadly, I found the bare record in The Deaf Quarterly News for July 1905 ( p.4), “J. Reyner of Leeds is dead. He died of consumption. His wife is a Bolton woman. She and her child will now return to live with her father.” He had died on the 16th of May. Despite a good search I did not spot a notice in the British Deaf Times, even though it was edited by Hepworth.
Unfortunately we have got neither Leeds or Bolton area magazines for the crucial period. I am not sure when Maria died, though @DeafHeritiageUK tells me that Maria’s parents and brother Edward living in Belfast in 1911.* Perhaps she moved there with them, or go re-married? I could not find Maria in any later records. Their daughter, Florence Stewart Reyner, was born in Leeds on the 30th of June, 1903. Her baptismal record says, “(Deaf and dumb parents) (An interpreter present).”
Please contribute in the space below if you have anything to add about this family.
Round the United Kingdom for the BDM. British Deaf Monthly, December 1900, Vol. 10, p. 28
The Deaf Quarterly News, July 1905, p.4
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 4251; Folio: 10; Page: 11.
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910, log in required
UPDATED 15/5/2017* Thanks as usual to Norma McGilp of @DeafHeritageUK