Oralist Arthur Alfred Kinsey of the Ealing Training College, “most uncompromising champion of the system to which he was devoted”
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 1 December 2017
Arthur A. Kinsey, (1850–1888) was the Principal of the Ealing Training College, and an oralist teacher of the deaf. He was born the son of an Arthur Kinsey, ‘gentleman’. From his evidence to the Royal Commission we know that part of his education was in Germany. It may be that explains why I have been unable to find him in 1861 or 1871 or 1881 census returns. He was the leading instrument for oralism in the period from 1877 to his death on Christmas Day, 1888.
When the Ealing Society was founded, he was introduced to Benjamin Ackers, presumably on account of his knowledge of German. He was to be trained in the ‘German’ system, as oralism was also known. From his testimony to the Royal Commission on the Blind, the Deaf and Dumb (pages 245-55) that would have been circa 1875. He was to become the Principal of the academy when it opened in 1878, and to that end he travelled extensively in Europe, and was educated in Germany on the ‘oral’ system. He remained for some time at Osnabrück, where he studied and then taught under Rössler, who had been a pupil of Professor Moritz Hill of the Weissenfels school. He also attended the school in Riehen, and visited schools in the U.S.A., where he studied under Bell (1876). In 1877 he was one of those who led the oralists at the Conference of Head masters of Institutions and of other workers for the Education of the Deaf.
the rival systems were there brought face to face, and the great controversy between them began in England. Mr. Kinsey entered upon the contest with all the fiery zeal of a combatant, and was, from first to last, a fearless and most uncompromising champion of the system to which he was devoted; ready to do battle in its defence at all times, in all places, and against all comers; giving no quarter, expecting none, accepting none. Opinions will, of course, always be divided as to whether this is the best way in which to advance a new cause, but into such a question as this, beside a grave so prematurely opened and so newly closed, we do not enter here. […] we cannot be surprised that in taking up a cause which at once came into conflict with that which so long had held the ground, opposition waxed warm in an ardent, able advocate like Mr. Kinsey. Rightly or wrongly, this was his way: and no one will deny that he did possess in the fullest degree the courage of his convictions. (Obituary, p.60)
He was the secretary for the English-speaking section at the Milan Congress in 1880, and in Brussels in 1883, and the volume of proceedings in English was compiled from his official minutes as Secretary (ibid).
In 1882 Kinsey married Margaret Eveline Isabella Underwood, and after his death she continued at Ealing as Principal. On his marriage certificate he described himself as ‘Professor’. They had a son, Arthur Francis St John Kinsey (1883–1936).
His funeral was at Highgate cemetery.
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 1190; Folio: 124; Page: 18
Obituary. Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1889, 2, 59-61.
Royal Commisssion on the Blind, the Deaf and Dumb
The Morning Post (London, England), Thursday, December 27, 1888; pg. ; Issue 36358.
[Updated with Mrs Kinsey portrait 8/2/19]