Arthur MacDonald Cuttell -“He hoped that the day would come when the Union Jack… would fly over an open college door, where the deaf could secure higher education, which was their unquestionable right”
By , on 8 February 2019
Arthur MacDonald Cuttell, (1869-1904), was an editor of Ephphatha and then later of the British Deaf Mute. Born in Cornwall, son of the Rev. A.W. Cuttell of Margate, he became deaf through scarlet fever when he was nine. He was educated at Helston Grammar School, then later in Matlock, Derbyshire. He was apprenticed at the Crown Derby Works, where he became an artist decorating ceramics.
It was whilst at Derby Mr. Cuttell’s attention seems to have been drawn to work upon behalf of the deaf and dumb, and, leaving an artistic career, he entered the Derby Institution for the Deaf, and for a time worked as a teacher under Dr. Roe. He also undertook mission work amongst the adult deaf of Derby. Leaving Derby, he went to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and, during the illness of the Rev. W. W. Adamson, acted as missioner to the deaf of that city and district. In 1897 he was appointed missioner to the deaf of Leicester and county, and upon their behalf he laboured until his death. (Obituary)
In Gilby’s unpublished memoir, Cuttell gets two brief mentions. One might have expected more as they worked together as editors.
on July 9th, 1902, the Bishop of Barrow in Furness was with us at St. Saviour[‘]s Parsonage. “Us,” I imagine as being Rev. W.W. Adamson and the late A.M. Cuttell. We three were Editors of the Church Messenger and we being all in sympathy with the progress and proper carrying on our work on Church lines, took counsel together. The title of the “Council of Church Missioners” appears as such on that date. (Gilby, 172/15)
He married in September 1901, a hearing lady, Edith Violet Vaille, who was a Ripon born governess. She re-married in 1908, a few years after his death.
He was, his obituary says, “A man of many talents, and possessed of a bright and ready wit, he will be sorely missed by a very large circle of friends and acquaintances; especially severe is his loss to the deaf of Leicester and county, whose friend and missioner he had been for the past seven years.”
In the 1899 National association of Teachers of the Deaf Conference at Derby, Cuttell expressed his hope for future higher education for the deaf –
Mr. CUTTELL, whose remarks were read by Mr. Townsend, said that as he was not aware how far his voice would reach, he would borrow that of a friend. He appealed to the members of the Conference to do all that they could to secure the privileges of Higher Education for the Deaf. Those pupils who showed marked ability had, certainly, as much right to it as they had to their primary education. He hoped that the day would come when the Union Jack, as well as the Stars and Stripes, would fly over an open college door, where the deaf could secure higher education, which was their unquestionable right. (p.162, with adjacent photo)
1899 National Association of Teachers of the Deaf, Proceedings of the Biennial Conference
Proposed Council of Ministers, BDT 1905 p.219
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3004; Folio: 113; Page: 16
From Oralism to Sign Language – Missioner J.B. Foster -“deaf due to a severe shock to his nervous system”
By , on 1 February 2019
Joseph Bradley Foster (1863-1940) was born in Edinburgh, son of Joseph Foster, a ‘commercial agent,’ and Emily Ann Foster. There were at least eight children. When he was about eighteen months old, “he became deaf due to a severe shock to his nervous system” (quoted in Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf, 1894 p.109-10, which I follow closely, along with the BDT article). Note how the author says ‘became deaf,’ rather than ‘lost his hearing,’ which is a subtle but interesting difference.
When he was five, his family moved to Glasgow. We are told that from there he was sent to New Barnet and London, to be educated by Mr. Van Asch, the teacher who was the first to introduce the German or Oral system of education (ibid, & British Deaf Times 1934, p.29). He remained with Van Asch for about six years or four years, depending on the two articles and presumably his memory when interviewed, and then attended an academy for hearing pupils in Glasgow. He was considered one of Van Asch’s best pupils (British Deaf Times).
He became apprenticed aged 16 (1879/80) to a Glasgow printer or ‘Lithographic Artist,’ as it says on the 1881 census. At that time (and in 1891) the family lived in No 32 Queen Square, Kinning Park, which looks to be a pretty row of stone houses in the Govan area. Attending local Deaf social gatherings it seems that Joseph then came across sign language for the first time. He joined eagerly in with the mission as an assistant to James Muir, and learnt sign language. Gradually the mission work became more important to him, and he was appointed missioner in North and East Lancashire in 1892, before moving on to Carlisle.
The article tells us that he could
articulate very plainly, and is a skilful lipreader. Through Mr. Henderson, of Glasgow, his views on the utility of the Oral system were laid before the Royal Commission, and, from his own perspective, Mr. Foster showed very clearly that, although it was in many cases a most useful accomplishment, it was of comparatively little value to the deaf in general.
On the 6th of September, 1899, Foster married a Deaf lady, Bessie Wolfenden (1873-1904), daughter of a brewer/’hotel proprietor’ (publican), Robert Wolfenden. Bessie was being boarded out when she was seven, with her brother and two sisters. At the time of her marriage she was living in Dale Street, Lancaster, while Joseph’s address was in Carlisle. Perhaps they had met some years before, when he was the local missioner? In 1901, when they were in Rickergate, Carlisle, they had a daughter, Gertrude B. Foster, two months old at the time of the census. Joseph and Bessie are both described as ‘Deaf’ but they had servants, including one who was ‘Deaf and Dumb,’ Mary Ostell, born in Whitehaven in 1879. Mary’s mother Annie Ostell (b.ca 1854) was also ‘Deaf and Dumb’ according to the 1881 census. The 1911 census does not say Annie Ostell was Deaf, but does say her eighteen year old lodger, Thomas Cunnings, was. ‘Deaf and Dumb.’ Was the 1881 record meant to say deaf after Mary’s name? There is clearing an interesting web of connections for someone to explore.
Sadly, Bessie died only a few years later, in 1904.
Foster later worked as a missioner in Leicester (1905-12/13), Oxford (1912/13-18), where he gave Selwyn Oxley ‘some insight into mission work,’ Gloucester (1918-23) and Exeter, where his assistant Mr. Dodds was headmaster at the Deaf School. In the 1939 Register he was living in retirement in with his sister Lilian and daughter Gertrude. He died in 1940 it seems, in Honiton.*
Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf, 1894 p.109-10
Retirement of Mr J.B. Foster. British Deaf Times, 1934, Mar-Apr, 29-30
Census 1881 Scotland – Parish: Glasgow Kinning Park; ED: 35; Page: 11; Line: 3; Roll: cssct1881_251
Census 1891 Scotland – Parish: Glasgow Govan; ED: 35; Page: 10; Line: 8; Roll: CSSCT1891_298
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 4867; Folio: 165; Page: 34
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 19314
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 4270; Folio: 64; Page: 10; GSU roll: 1342021
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3466; Folio: 42A; Page: 31
Mary and Annie Ostell
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 5160; Folio: 35; Page: 6; GSU roll: 1342245
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 31307
By , on 25 January 2019
Thomas Storer Adcock was born in Leicester in 1879, son of Thomas, a boot clicker, the person who cut out the leather uppers of the shoe or boot. His mother was Eliza Storer, and Thomas was their first child. Thomas was a pupil of the Midland institution, at Friar gate, Derby, under Dr. Roe. In the July 1897 edition of the Derby school magazine, Our Deaf and Dumb, A photo of Thomas appears, and Roe says,
When he he came to us he was not strong, or at any rate not robust, but like some others now here he was wiry and willing, and this makes all the difference in the world between success and failure. Moreover he was never a boy to neglect his opportunities in the past, and we believe that in the future he will seize the chances of improvement as they open out, and hold onto them with an iron grasp.
I am sure Roe meant well, but it does not seem that Thomas rose above his father’s trade, at least that was the case in 1911. In 1907 Thomas married a Deaf lady, Harriet Martha Iliffe (b.1880). Thomas was obviously involved in the Leicester Mission in some way, as his death is noted in the 56th Annual Report for the mission. He will have known Leslie Edwards, missioner at Leicester for many years.
When Thomas died in 1953, he was living at 29 Houghton Street, Leicester, and left over £1,200 in his will to his son.
As far as I can see, there is little to add to this. Thomas led a life such as most of us lead!
If you know more, please add a comment.
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2731; Folio: 29; Page: 12
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2999; Folio: 104; Page: 10
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 19246
By , on 18 January 2019
We have a pretty good collection of international journals, now of historical interest, from the 19th and 20th centuries. One of them is the Dutch periodical, ANDOR – Algemeen Nederlands Doofstommen ORgan. We have bound copies of the first two years, 1933-4, then copies from 1948 on into the 1970s, with some gaps.
It appears that the earliest formal education for deaf people in the Netherlands, was in 1790, when the Wallonian Calvinist preacher, Henri Daniel Guyot (1753-1828) started a school at Groeningen with Willem Hora Siccama, Gerrit van Olst and Hendrik van Calcar. Guyot had it seems met de l’Épée in Paris, and this inspired him to work with two deaf children, one Christian and one Jewish. He ran the school until his death, and after him his two sons became heads of the school, Dr. C. Guyot to 1854, and then R.T. Guyot with a Dr. Alings. they were followed by Dr. Roodha, Dr. Woltjer, and then Brunkner. Selwyn Oxley visited the school in 1923. We have a photo of an engraving of Guyot.
In January 1884 the Guyot deaf organisation was begun, founded by M.J. van Ijzer. Unfortunately we have missed the 135th year celebration!
Dovenschap (formerly Dovenraad), founded in 1955, is ‘the Dutch association for, among others, prelingual deaf people who have Dutch Sign Language as their mother tongue.’ According to their Wikipedia page, there are about 15,000 prelingually Deaf in the Netherlands.
In the first copy of ANDOR, here with an article by Jaap van Praag, we see some of the organisers of the Dutch Deaf in the 1930s. Was he related to the van Praag who introduced oralism to England? Probably not – it is not an uncommon name, usually I suppose suggesting someone of Jewish origin. Here is the ANDOR board in 1934.
Here is a cover of an early issue, followed by the Guyot founding members, from a photograph that appears in the November 1934 copy of ANDOR, when the Guyot club was celebrating its Jubilee. I have not had time to give more than a glimpse into the history of the Netherlands Deaf. Please feel free to comment below if you can add any interesting information.
By , on 4 January 2019
In The Diary of a Country Parson, 1758-1802, that is the diary of Parson Woodforde, we find there is the following comment, illustrative of the portrayal of Deaf people in writing –
1769 Dec. 26. I was very bad in my throat all night, but towards the morning was rather better, only extremely hoarse. . . I could not go to read Prayers this morning at Cary though it was St. Stephen, which I hope will be forgiven. . . . Sister Jane visited me this morning, and she being deaf and I not able to speak, was good company. . .
It would make an interesting research project, to consider how people regardeded deafness historically, particularly as a subject for humour.
By , on 21 December 2018
In 1909 the Finlands Dövstum-förbund produced the first of their special ‘Jul’ – ‘Yule’ – editions. This was a Swedish language journal. Finland has a large Swedish population, having been a part of Sweden for hundreds of years. Below is the cover from 1918, & below that an article on the sign counting system used, from the 1909 issue. It was developed partly from foreign example, by the first teacher of the Deaf in Finland, himself deaf, Carl Oscar Malm (1826-63).
I hope to write about him at greater length next year. If the fates allow!
Dövstummas Jul 1909-29
By , on 14 December 2018
In 1905 the King and Queen went to Salford to open the New Dock. They also stopped at Henshaw’s Blind Asylum, and The Royal Schools for the Deaf and Dumb, where the pupils did what children do when they meet royalty – they gave them bouquets.* The girl here from the Deaf School, whose photograph first appeared in the Penny Illusatrated Paper, is Mary Hickman (1890-1978), who was Head Girl at the school.
When told that she was to present the Queen with a boquet, Miss Hickman was naturally both proud and elated, and it goes without saying that her mind was fully occupied until the very auspicious Thursday dawned. According to the newspaper reporters, she played her part in the little ceremony very neatly; and to our representative she naively confessed that sh “did not feel a bit nervous. The Queen was very lovely and the Kinglooked very jolly.” (British Deaf Times)
Born on the 17th of November, 1890, Mary Hickman lost her hearing aged five and a half according to the 1911 census and the school annual report (1903), from meningitis. When she was seven she entered the Manchester school, on the 28th of January, 1898. She was due to leave on the 17th of November, 1906 when she was sixteen. When she was at the school her father, salford born Walter, was a clerk. He later became a newsagent and tobacconist according to the 1911 census, when they lived in 224 Ashton Old Road, Openshaw. They were presumably in long gone terraced housing, as the two daughters and son shared a four room house with their parents. Mary had studied for certificates with the College of Preceptors, the oldest professional body for teachers, but we find that in 1911 she was working as a ‘tracer’ for engineers – presumably in a drawing office.
I found that her sister married in 1915, but she seems to have stayed at home, and in the 1939 register she was in Station Road, living with her father. It seems a pity that she never got to teach, but we cannot be sure that she did not – we really have too little information. Perhaps schools would not contemplate taking on a Deaf teacher in the first decades of the 20th century.
Mary died in Manchester in 1978.
If you know anything of her life, please comment below.
*I think someone could probably write an interesting study on the history and sociology of children giving royalty bouquets!
Deaf Girl’s Unique Experience, British Deaf Times 1905, vol 2 (22) p.217
Census 1891 – Class: RG13; Piece: 3938; Folio: 95; Page: 35
Census 1901- Class: RG13; Piece: 3667; Folio: 208; Page: 8
Census 1911 – Class: RG14; Piece: 23729
1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/4546A
Penny Illustrated Paper – Saturday 22 July 1905
Robert Smithdas, American deaf-blind poet -“Blindness takes you away from scenes. But deafness takes you away from people.”
By , on 7 December 2018
Robert J. Smithdas was the first deaf-blind person to gain a master’s degree when he graduated from New York’s St. John’s University in 1953. Born in 1925, Smithdas caught cerebro-spinal meningitis aged four and a half, and lost hearing and sight as a result. He became director of Services for the Deaf-Blind at the “Industrial Home for the Blind,” and at the Helen Keller National Center.
We have a signed copy of his poetry book, City of the Heart (1966). In the preface he says,
I composed these poems because my heart sang them to me over the years – because poignant moods, or powerful emotions, made me crystallize my thoughts and feelings into verbal expressions. Sometimes inspiration was so spontaneous that the words came flooding into my consciousness and shaped themselves into song; but far more frequently I found myself searching through the labyrinthine meanings of language to find the most convincing words , and the most plausible rhythms, to serve as crucibles for my themes. Yet I always knew the intrinsic essence of the thing I wanted to express in a sonnet, or a lyric, or the nobler passion of blank verse.
Barbara Walters: The lives of the deaf-blind have changed remarkably since the era of Helen Keller. She was never able to live by herself without sighted help, never able to be independent.
Bob: And today, it’s a tremendous difference, we can communicate, we can cook, we can go out and it is a wonderful type of progress
Barbara Walters: In spite of the good things Bob, what is the hardest part of be being deaf and blind? What is the most frustrating?
Bob: At this stage of life, I am very used to being deaf blind, but I will admit that I miss not being able to see my friends’ faces or hearing their voices. Remember deafness takes you away from sound, from music. Blindness takes you away from scenes. But deafness takes you away from people.
Robert Smithdas died in 2014.
His poetry book, Christmas Blessing and Other Poems, (1959) is available on Archive.org –
“Gently the snowflakes fall
Fragile and thin and light…”
The photo of him above is the same as that at the back of the poetry book. Unfortunately, when an external contractor tagged all of our books, the #### people doing the task were so slap-dash that they place the tag neatly over the photograph.
Please note, the chief U.K. deaf-blind charity is Sense.
Deaf Chess Player, Missioner, & Teacher, Leigh Hossell (1867-1907) -“to get the best out of, and make the most of, life notwithstanding affliction”
By , on 30 November 2018
Leigh Hossell (1867-1907) was one of at least ten children born to John Hossell and his wife Ann. His father was a fellmonger, a dealer in hides, particularly sheepskin. This illustration of a Fellmonger is from T. J. Watson’s 1857 book, An Illustrated Vocabulary for the use of the Deaf and Dumb, published by the S.P.C.K.
He told friends that while his parents thought he had lost his hearing at the age of four by an ‘attack of sunstroke,’ he thought that he was born deaf (BDM, 1894). He did “not remember ever having been able to hear and speak, and his friends appear to have no recollection of having heard him speak at any time” (ibid). However, in his obituary it was said that later “he recovered the power of speech to some extent” (BDT, 1907). We may well wonder if his parents were correct, but perhaps this speech was as a result of his education. When he was seven (around 1874) Leigh became a private pupil of Mr. Hopper, at the Edgbaston School, Birmingham.
Up to the age of fifteen he received his education by the silent system. It was whilst at the Birmingham school that Mr. Hossell first took a liking to the fascinating game of chess, to which he has devoted much time and attention ever since. (BDM)
When Hopper died, his parents placed him as a private pupil with Mr. Bessant at Manchester, who taught him using the oral system.
On the completion of his education he was appointed pupil teacher at the Old Trafford Schools for the Deaf, Manchester, and is at the present time a teacher at these schools.
As Mr. Hossell owes his education to both systems, we thought his opinion as to which he considered the best would prove of interest to our readers. In answer to our questions, Mr. Hossell said :— “Until I obtained a knowledge of the oral system I naturally thought the silent one the best possible means of instructing the deaf, but since then I have come to feel that all the deaf who can be taught to speak and lip-read should have that great advantage. At home I am able to make myself entirely intelligible by speech, and can follow very well all that is said to me by my friends and relations by lip-reading. When travelling and shopping, too, I find my speech of real assistance. I should indeed be sorry not to be able to speak and lip-read now. At the same time I feel that the silent system must be retained for some of the deaf, but I should like to see them use spelling more freely than they do, in place of signs.” (BDM)
Hossell represented the Droitwich Workman’s Club at chess, and was good enough to play Joseph Blackburne, “the Black Death”, and English champion, “whom he won a game from, about two years ago” which would mean around 1904/5 (BDM). He was a keen sportsman, particularly with lawn tennis and croquet (BDT).
Hossell was a lay helper at the Grosvenor Street Institute for the Deaf, Manchester, and for a while was Missioner to the Deaf in Oxford, before he left to go into business (BDT). Quite what the business was his obituary fails to tell us, but one brother was a solicitor so the family was not poor.
His funeral was held on October the 29th, 1907 at Handsworth Parish Church, in the town where he was born, by the Rev. R. R. Needham.
His obituary says, he “was in some respects a remarkable young man, considering his limitations.” I suppose he means his deafness, but who can say. He was
widely known and unversally esteemed, he endeared himself to all who knew him by his gracious manner and amiable disposition. His private character was exemplary, and his personality was a most inyteresting one; in fact his career was a notable example of what can be done by the Deaf and Dumb in order to get the best out of, and make the most of, life notwithstanding affliction. […] He could ill be spared and will be sadly missed.
Obituary: Mr. Leigh Hossell, British Deaf Times, 1907, vol. 4 p.280
Montgomery County Times and Shropshire and Mid-Wales Advertiser – Saturday 12 December 1896 – (chess problem set by Leigh Hossell)
1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 2972; Folio: 27; Page: 47; GSU roll: 838862
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 2835; Folio: 125; Page: 16; GSU roll: 1341679
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3160; Folio: 168; Page: 4
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2796; Folio: 24; Page: 40
By , on 23 November 2018
Michael Reed, (1913-99) was a psychologist, audiologist, and teacher of the deaf, and was the first educational psychologist in England to work with deaf children. He was employed at the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, Gray’s Inn Road, London, from 1949-1961. He then moved to the Inner London Education Authority as Her Majesty’s Inspector for Special Education, with responsibility for deaf pupils. He remained there until his retirement in 1978, and then settled in Canada in 1989.
Michael Reed was the author of the Reed Picture Screening Test (see below) and Educating hearing impaired children, published by the Open University Press in 1984.
He had a long involvement with the NID/RNID. He was co-opted onto the NID Medical and Scientific Committee in 1956, then elected onto the Council of Management in 1957. He became Vice-Chairman of the RNID in 1972, and Chair from 1975-85.
In 1986 he was awarded the OBE and created a Vice-President of the RNID for life.
AKHURST, B.A. Michael Reed OBE 1913-1999. Psychologist, 2000, Jul, 2000, p.338.
He uses the language of the time – ‘defect’ sounds uncomfortable to us now, and probably did in the 1960s to some.
PICTURE SCREENING TEST OF HEARING By Michael Reed, B.SC.
THERE IS NO DOUBT that the earlier a hearing defect is discovered the more the handicap caused by such a defect can be alleviated. The picture presented by severe or total deafness is all too obvious, but in the case of slight or moderate deafness, the picture is sometimes more obscure. Many children have been thought to be mentally very dull when, in fact, they have been partially or severely deaf. Frequently they had become frustrated and non-co-operative and therefore it had become difficult to establish the true facts. Many simple cases of deafness have been misdiagnosed because a complete understanding of the effects of distorted hearing or slight hearing losses has been lacking. Children with slight hearing losses which are not obvious may become educationally retarded in the adverse noise conditions of a class-room. Therefore it is extremely important to discover any significant hearing loss as soon as possible in order to be aware of the problem and so help the child. If there is a slight loss of hearing for all frequencies throughout the speech range, or severe loss for frequencies above 1000Hz, there will be some disability in discriminating between consonants. The R.N.I.D. Picture Screening Test has been designed around this simple fact. It is interesting to children and therefore fairly certain of ensuring their co-operation, and is easy both to carry around and to use.
The test is made up of several separate cards each of which has four pictures. The names of the pictures conform with the following conditions.
1. The words must be monosyllabic so that the rhythm of that word does not give a clue.
2. The words in any one row must contain the same vowel sound.
3. The words must be those within the vocabulary of the children to be tested.
The test as designed here can be used for children with a mental age of four years and older and with many children of mental age of three years. To ensure that the child to be tested knows the name of the picture, he is told how to name the pictures first, especially with very young children. If the child calls the owl a bird, one says ‘That’s right but I am going to call it an owl.’ Similarly if the hen is called a chicken, or the sheep a lamb, or the lamb a sheep, he is told that it is to be called a hen a sheep and a lamb so that the words do have the common vowel sound. If the child does not know any words then one cannot test in this way and if in doubt, a full audiometric examination must be requested.
REED, M. A verbal screening test for hearing. proceedings of the 3rd World Congress of the Deaf, Weisbaden, 1959. Deutschen-Gerhorlosen-Bundes, 1961. pp. 195-97.
HOLDING, B., HOLDING, J. and OWEN, A. Prawf clyw darluniadol Dyfed. British Journal of Audiology, 1987, 21. 147. (Welsh version)
McCORMICK, B. Screening young children for hearing impairment. Whurr, 1994. pp. 76-77.