John David Willoughby & Ernest Warr – teacher & private pupil
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 15 June 2018
John David Willoughby , was a teacher of the deaf and first vice-president of the National Association of Teachers of the Deaf. He was born in Liverpool in 1863, son of John Willoughby, a grocer, and Harriet Gay, from Manchester. His career seems to have been settled upon early in life. In a biographical sketch written in 1896 in The British Deaf-Mute, we are told that twenty-two years before then he began as a pupil teacher in an Elementary School doing a five year apprenticeship. He would have been around eleven years old when he began. After that, he worked at Manchester School at first under the oralist convert, Andrew Patterson, then under Patterson’s successor, Bessant (ibid). The BDM article tells us that he acquireds “a complete and comprehensive knowledge of the intricacies of the system.” In 1885 he sat for the first examination at the new College of Teachers of the Deaf in Paddington Green.
Willoughby married Florence Toothill on the 18th of September, 1886, and they had three daughters. That same year he began to take on private pupils. From where his children were born we can assume he was in Hyde, Manchester, in 1888, in York in 1893, in Lewisham in 1895, and according to the 1901 census, when he called himself ‘Professor of Oral Education of Deaf,’ he was living at 86 Blackheath Road, Greenwich. The BDM says,
When the government at last decided to do something towards helping forward the education of the deaf, Mr. Willoughby became anxious to return to Public School work, and he accordingly applied to and was appointed by the London School Board. Being now once again in a Government School he lost no time in qualifying for the Elementary Teacher’s’ Certificate, taking the first year’s papers in December, 1894, and the second year’s in June, 1895.
I wonder whether the fact that on the 1901 census he described himself as a Secretary was a contributory factor? Running a small private school cannot have been easy.
He was also one of the founders of of the Association of Teachers of the Deaf and Dumb – later ‘National’ and now BATOD. I wonder if he is mentioned in their archives? His obituary tells us that he did not stick with state education however. He had been a petitioner to the Government to recognise Certificates of Teachers of the Deaf (BDM), but the obituary says “Had the teachers’ claims for better conditions moved at the pace of Mr. Willoughby’s hopes and ambitions the profession might have retained his services; but, as a consequence,, he sought and found another field for his abilities.”
In 1911 he was living in Deal, Kent, and in his role as a Freemason, he was an ‘inspector.’ Perhaps it was in connection with Freemasonry that he became a Freeman of the City of London in July 1913 (see online records) at which time he was living in ‘Highfield,’ Chertsey, Surrey, where he was head of Highfield College, Walton-on-Thames. This is presumably a long gone private school. Willoughby was a victim of the 1918 influenza epidemic.
In the 1901 census, Ernest Stanley Daniel Warr (b. 1890) was living with the Willoughby family as a private pupil. Interestingly, he was still with them in 1911 when they were in Deal, and when he was described on the census as a ‘mechanical dentist’ whatever that might be. Perhaps it means he made false teeth? In 1916 Warr lived at 9 Albion Road, Lewisham, and was still there in the 1930s. That summer he married Mabel Johnson, and the Rev. William Raper baptised their daughter at St. Barnabas’s Church for the Deaf that December. He was described as an ‘engineer’ on the baptismal register. I have been unable to track down Warr on the 1891 census, though I did find the registration of his birth in Forest Hill (Camberwell registration district), in the last quarter of 1890, so I have no idea about his family background.
Ernest Warr died in 1967 in South London, so I expect he remained a part of the Deaf community there. If you can add anything on him please comment.
The Teacher of the Deaf, 1919 p.50
1911 Census Class: RG14; Piece: 4568; Schedule Number: 67
1901 Census Class: RG13; Piece: 538; Folio: 41; Page: 8
1891 Census Class: RG12; Piece: 3888; Folio: 136; Page: 26