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Frederick’s Road, West Ham, Deaf School (1893-1937)

Hugh Dominic WStiles14 June 2019

The Frederick’s Road School, sometimes Frederick Road, was founded in 1893.  It was on what is now known as Mandela Road, north of Custom House, E.16.  It seems to  have closed between 1930 and 1939, from mentions in the NID Handbook, most probably 1938.  It came under the West Ham education committee.

The head teacher in 1913 was Miss Margaret E. Oldfield.  In 1924 she was still there, but by 1930 the head was a Miss Lucy Elizabeth Mullen.  Lucy Elizabeth Septimia Jane Mulllen, was born in Walthamstow on the 11th of December, 1883, and died in Croydon in 1959.  Her father was a teacher, and I have been unable to find her in the 1911 census.  Thanks to Geoff Eagling who tells us that Oldfield trained at Ealing, while Mullen was at Fitzroy Square (see comment below).

The school took children from aged five, with a catchment area of ‘the south-west of the borough, also from part of East Ham and Barking (1913), Clerkenwell to West Ham (1930).  In 1913 ‘accommodation’ (day attendance) was for up to 44, in 1924 20, but back up to 40 in 1930.

In 1913 we are told they used oral and finger-spelling for education, in 1924 and after just ‘oral.’  It probably closed in 1938 when Water Lane School in Stratford also closed, and Miss Mullen became head of the Turnmarsh (now Tunmarsh) Lane School.  The new school took children at five or under, teaching the boys woodwork, metalwork, bookcraft (printing and binding I would suppose) and technical drawing, while girls did cookery, needlework, dressmaking etc, the usual division of labour in that age.  “The school is fitted with cinema, epidiascope and spray baths.”

I am not sure when it ceased to be a Deaf school, but the Turnmarsh Lane School building is still there, and is still a school.  The photograph here is of uncertain date, but probably circa 1920.

NID Handbook, for various years

Marcus Hill Kerr – a Deaf American Artist & … Animal Trainer (1845-1903)

Hugh Dominic WStiles17 May 2019

An American Deaf man of the late 19th century, Marcus Hill Kerr was born in Liberty Township, Jackson, Michigan, in 1845.  His father Robert was a farmer with at least eight children, and as the town was settled in 1835, the Kerr family must have been one of the first in the district.  When he was three he suffered from ‘brain fever’ and lost his hearing as a result.   When he was twelve he was sent to Flint, to the Michigan School for the Deaf, and he graduated from there in 1865 (Gallaher, p.142, from which much of what follows comes, and Obituary).  Kerr went on to study at Gallaudet, to what level I cannot say – Gallaher says merely he ‘spent some time’ there.

His artistic talent was evident as a child – for example, he drew ‘an Indian shooting an elephant on a small wooden box’!  The article in Representative Deaf Persons of the United States of America seems to have been from interview with Kerr, and we have a few particular details of his early life, such as that he would read newspapers at the local ‘news depot’ but as he could not afford to buy them, he would draw pictures from memory afterwards.

Marcus’s first oil painting was painted when he was thirteen and was of his old shepherd dog.  He also made landscapes and portraits, ‘for a living’ before going to Rochester, New York, to study under a ‘celebrated artist’ Professor Adam Springfield.*  Before that he had been entirely self-taught.  Kerr went on to the artists’ colony in New York we are told, and then travelled to Europe in 1871, including visits to London, Düsseldorf  and Paris.  The article says he ‘studied’ in these places.  Probably that means he was studying under his own steam, and we may wonder how long he was studying with the celebrated Professor.  Springfield was a witness to Kerr’s passport application, in September 1872 – was he going abroad then, after getting married, rather than in 1871?  That would be an area for further research.

In September 1871, he married a Deaf lady from Jackson, called Adele George (1834-1921), nine years his senior, but who had also been at the Michigan School.  Hois obituary does not mention her, but does say he lived at the corner of Elm street and Main.  Adele is herself really interesting, and if you can you should read the article on her by Seitz and Laffrado cited below.  She was a poor Deaf woman who found her voice, writing and publishing her life story, A brief narrative of the life of Miss Adele M. George: (being deaf and dumb) in a number of different editions over many years, from 1859, then selling sufficient copies to rescue herself and her mother from homelessness.

Adele married a cousin, Harrison Jewell, and they had three children including a Deaf son who went to the Michigan School but died aged sixteen.  They were divorced, and then Adele married Marcus Kerr.  The marriage was not successful in the long run, and they had to endure the loss of three children in infancy.  Their divorce in 1890 was reported in the newspapers, as Kerr was well known, though Adele (Adell) is described in the city directory for Jackson in 1899 and also in 1902, as ‘Kerr, Adelle (wid Marcus H) bds 736 S Milwaukee’ – in other words she was calling herself a widow before Marcus died (Seitz and Lallrado p.174).  Kerr had accused Adele of “extravagance and desertion” (ibid.).   we might wonder what blame he carried – he did not wait about, marrying another deaf lady, Mamie E. Nettleton of Indiana, in January 1891.**

Kerr spent his later years in St. Louis, moving there in 1885, painting the ex-mayor Walbridge, as well as a pastel of the Rev. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, which was exhibited at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893, and was presented to the college.  He also painted Helen Keller and Alexander Graham Bell.  Do these portraits survive?

The most bizarre thing about Marcus Kerr, is his entry in Peeps into the Deaf World, where we discover that he trained a pug to perform various tricks.  It was this picture that got me looking into his life.  Whether this was a pastime or perhaps an additional source of income I do not know.  I am sure there is more to discover.  His end was sad, and a fate shared by many deaf people over the years.  He was knocked over when crossing a road on the 10th of April, 1903, by a car he did not of course hear.

Mamie is pretty opaque in the records – at least after a brief search I have not been able to pin her down, neither have I found Kerr on the 1900 census, but I have little time to look.  Did their marriage last, or did she die?  In his obituary she is not named.  That obituary, in the Jackson Citizen, quoting the St. Louis Post and Dispatch, says he had a studio at 3837 Delmar Avenue (see article on Find a Grave in the link below).

*Someone I have not been able to track down in the brief time available to research this blog in any detail, but have found this romantic Victorian historical painting by him.

Gallaher, James E., Representative Deaf Persons of the United States of America, 1898 (2nd ed.) p.142-3

Roe, W.R., Peeps into the Deaf World, 1917 p.290-1

The St. Louis Republic. (St. Louis, Mo.), 11 April 1903. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020274/1903-04-11/ed-1/seq-3/>

Seitz, Rush, and Laffrado, Laura, Adele M. George Jewel Kerr (1834–?), Legacy Vol. 30, No. 1, Special Issue: Women Writing Disability (2013), pp. 172-183

US Census returns

Year: 1850; Census Place: Liberty, Jackson, Michigan; Roll: M432_352; Page: 402A; Image: 556

Year: 1880; Census Place: Jackson, Jackson, Michigan; Roll: 585; Page: 424D; Enumeration District: 123

U.S. Special Census on Deaf Family Marriages and Hearing Relatives, 1888-1895

Kerr’s Gallaudet page

Passport Record – National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 187; Volume #: Roll 187 – 01 Aug 1872-30 Sep 1872

Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]

Adele M George Kerr

Marcus H Kerr

 

The ‘Thankful Hearts League’ School for the Deaf, Jerusalem, 1931-? – “This is a wonderful place, here little devils are turned into angels”

Hugh Dominic WStiles12 April 2019

Having previously covered Mary Chapman and her missionary deaf school work in south Asia, we recently mentioned her Jerusalem school in relation to the beginnings of Israeli Sign Language.  Chapman raised funds through the “Thankful Hearts League” to found a mission school for the Deaf in Jerusalem, and started the school in 1931 according to Höxter (p.118).  He continues,

Until now it has had but few pupils, mostly native Arab children, who receive their instruction in the English language from the directress in a small congenially arranged dwelling house. The school has a homelike atmosphere; the lovable directress cares for her small charges with affection and devotion. She has taught the deaf for thirty years in many lands. One of her former pupils from Burma instructs the children in manual training and drawing. With the younger children the method of instruction depends mainly upon observational activity, seeking to direct attention to training in lip-reading. Speech instruction is carried on by the single-sound method. The school should grow in the near future.

Chapman had the help of her long-time colleague Miss Martin, and the Burmese Deaf young man, Bolo.  She appears to have written regular newsletters to her Thankful Hearts League supporters in the U.K., and they must have assisted with both money and material items such as clothes. In 1937 the school had a visit for Sir Arthur Wauchope the High Commissioner, who gave £10 for the school.

The school taught the boys with lipreading, and they learnt to lipread both English and Arabic.  She says in the 1938 newsletter, “There are some sounds in Arabic which seem almost impossible to lip read, or to get a born deaf child to say, but we are persevering !!!”

Further on she tells us this story –

Two of the Sergt. Majors came to our help one Sunday morning, when a Moslem man brought his little son to our School. The Matron of the Government Hospital most kindly said she would take the boy, give him a carbolic bath, and get the Doctor to examine him, before we admitted him to school. Miss Walden and I were so relieved, as we were alone with the boys, all the others having gone to Church, but our joy was short lived, for the telephone went, and the Matron said she was sending Ally back, as his screams, and kicks were frightening all the patients, many of whom were seriously ill. We knew that once the father had left, Ally would settle down happily with the other boys, so I went next door, and these two Sergt. Majors gladly came in, took the boy from his father, and gave him a bath. The Matron sent an Arab policeman from the hospital to help the father bring the boy back to school, for the poor man could do nothing with his son, and he is only seven years old . The policeman asked to see the school, and was amazed to see such a happy well behaved number of deaf and dumb boys!! and great was his astonishment when the boys spoke to him in Arabic, and answered the questions he asked them ; he went away saying “This is a wonderful place, here little devils are turned into angels”.

The school was still going in 1948, as Miss Mary F. Chapman’s School for the Deaf and Dumb, at 135 St. Paul’s Road, Jerusalem.  I  wonder if the school closed with the crisis that saw war in Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel?  If you have any information, please add it below.  I include the 1937 newsletter as a picture, and the 1938 one as a pdf.  If there are other newsletters surviving, it would be nice to know.

As usual, click onto smaller images for a larger size view.

Höxter, Richard, The Deaf and Provision for Their Education in Palestine. American Annals of the Deaf Vol. 82, No. 2 (March, 1937), pp. 117-121

American Annals of the Deaf Vol. 93, No. 1 (January, 1948), pp. 48-60

“A letter arrived in May which sent me to Psalm 46:10” – Mary Corbishley’s Oral School at Cuckfield (1937-96)

Hugh Dominic WStiles5 April 2019

It seems peculiar, but there were a large number of privately run Deaf Schools in Sussex in the 19th century.  We might suppose it was the comparative closeness to London and the rural setting – also perhaps cheaper large buildings or houses suitable as small schools – that made it attractive.  Cuckfield House was one such.  It was founded by Mary Stephens Corbishley (1905-1995).  She was born in Worcestershire, and was a sickly child, enduring a number of bouts of illness.  She began working as a nurse to a Jewish family in Brighton in 1928, then the following year started to look after the 5 1/2 year old daughter of a doctor in Worthing, a girl who was then discovered to be going deaf (Stewart, p.14).  Mary taught herself lip-reading by watching herself in the mirror.

Around that time she met Frank Barnes (1866-1932), the Teacher of the Deaf who had recently retired to the south coast, after being head of the Penn School.  She had no school diploma and was therefore ineligible for a teacher training course such as that in Manchester, however, Barnes was sufficiently impressed by her to nominate her for associate membership of the National College for Teachers of the Deaf in 1929/30 (Stewart, p.18).  She was offered a trainee teacher post by Mary and Ethel Hare’s Dene Hollow School, in 1931.  While at that school she met and made friends with Miss Jessie B. Hancock, who had gone to America as nurse to a deaf boy, then trained and taught at the oralist Central Institute for the Deaf, St. Louis for a while (Stewart, p.31).

Some years previously, Corbishley had had a ‘spiritual’ conversion and became quite religious (Corbishley, p.25).  It seems that eventually this spirituality began to conflict with the more secular nature of Mary Hare’s school, and Corbishley resigned on the 10th of March 1937 (she called it her ‘Thanksgiving Day’), although Mary Hare wrote her a nice reference (Stewart p.21-3).  She soon happened upon a bed-sitter flat in Hassock, and was asked to take on teaching an eleven-year-old girl, Jean.  Two more pupils quickly appeared, along with the threat of legal action by her former employer – “A letter arrived in May which sent me to Psalm 46:10” (Corbishley, P.40). Her landlady’s son who was studying law, helped her with advice and the firm of solicitors he worked for wrote a letter in return and the matter was quickly closed (ibid).

Corbishley found a permanent home for the school in Cuckfield in May, 1939.  A copy of the school brochure from an uncertain date, but perhaps 1940s, tells us that fees were £50 a term.  A brochure tells us,

The Aim of Cuckfield House is that deaf children should grow up in a healthy environment, with a variety of interests and the ability to enter into the normal activities of hearing children. To achieve this, special attention is given to Language, Speech and Lip-reading. A wide experience of the needs of the deaf has proved the necessity for constant intercourse with hearing people. A child accustomed to read only the lips of the teachers is at a disadvantage in both social and business spheres. Cuckfield House is fortunate in that it has a large circle of hearing friends, who frequently visit the School. The School stands in its own grounds, with playing fields adjoining, and is situated in the village of Cuckfield, one mile and a half from Haywards Heath.

During the war Ian Stewart tells us that Deaf London pupils from the Randall Place L.C.C. School, Roan Street, Greenwich, were evacuated to Cuckfield, but although orally taught (under a Miss G.A. Kirby in 1939), Corbishley was ‘disturbed’ to see them signing, so they were segregated from her pupils, lest they teach them signs (Stewart, p.42)!

Miss Hancock left in 1947 and worked privately  in Midhurst, before moving to South Africa (Stewart, p.59).

The school closed on July 19th 1996, shortly after Corbishley’s death.

http://cuckfieldmuseum.org/buildings/millhall

School Brochure, circa 1939/45?

CORBISHLEY, M., Corby. 1980

Stewart, Ian M., Mary Stephens Corbishley M.B.E.: A biography of her life and work at her Oral School for Deaf Children in Cuckfield, East Sussex, the U.K. 2010

The Origin of Israeli Sign Language & Deaf Education in Israel

Hugh Dominic WStiles29 March 2019

According to Meir and Sandler’s 2008 book, A Language in Space: the Story of Israeli Sign Language (p.185), we know nothing of the signs used by deaf people, Jewish or Arabic, in the late Ottoman period in Jerusalem.  Persecution in Europe in the 1930s saw immigration into British mandated Palestine, and an early Deaf immigrant was Moshe Bamberger, who arrived in Jerusalem in 1935 (ibid).  A ‘Jewish School for Deaf Mutes’ had been established there in November, 1932, with the backing of a Jewish man from Shanghai who had lost his hearing, and a teacher from the Jewish Deaf School in Berlin was appointed as head.

The Jewish school for the deaf, which has the major part in the education of the deaf in Palestine, was called into being mainly by the efforts of the otologist, Dr. Marcus Salzberger, who soon after his settling in Palestine (1923) conceived the plan to establish such a school. As funds were necessary for such an undertaking, the carrying out of plan took several years. He found in Miss Jessie Samter of Rechowoth, near Tel-Aviv, a valuable aid who succeeded in procuring some funds from America. To manage the school they found an instructor who professed to have had training in Poland to teach the deaf. Under these auspices there was opened in 1930 in Tel-Aviv the first Jewish school for the deaf in Palestine, an enterprise which lasted for two years. In the year 1929 there died in Shanghai one Leone A. Levy, who at the age of thirty had become deaf. He left his fortune to the Alliance Israélite Universelle with the request that a school for the deaf be established in a Jewish center. Dr. Salzberger went to Paris and prevailed upon Professor Sylvain Levy, the then president of the Alliance, to found the school in Jerusalem under the direction of a specialist in the education of the deaf from Germany, the present director. It was opened in November 1932 with two pupils. (Höxter, p.118-9)

The influence of German sign Language (DSL) was important on the development of Israeli sign Language.  Bamberger met two other Deaf people in Jerusalem, Aryeh Zuckerman, who had also been a pupil at the Berlin School at Weissensee, and a local man, Yehezkel Sella, and they formed the nucleus of the Jewish deaf community in Jerusalem (Meir and Sandler, p.186).  Although the Jerusalem school was oralist at first, it seems that when they could the children naturally used sign language (ibid p.198).  With contributions from immigrants from different places in Europe and native Deaf people, Israeli sign language had a mixed origin, which makes it interesting as a subject for linguists to study.

We have a document from 1969 by J. Shunary, attached below, which is a brief history of the formation of Israeli sign Language.  One of the sources was Zillah Farkash.  Neither of those people is mentioned in the index of Meir and Sandler, so perhaps they did not have this document.  Shunary says,

it is very difficult to determine which of the original German signs did in fact displace local signs, and which were rejected by the local deaf population as being unsuitable.  (For example, one source claims that the signs “not good,” “Jew,” and. “English” were discarded.)  Usually the Germen signs, described by one veteran as highly flexible and refined, were accepted as being in accordance with the character of locally used signs. It in therefore probable that there was a process of mutual interaction between local and imported signs, with a resulting trend towards increased refinement and stylization [sic] of newly created signs.

At the end of the 1930’s and in the early 1940’s members of the deaf association customarily met on the Tel Aviv seashore and in a certain cafe on the main road, or in private homes. Although many were illiterate or poorly informed and were not able to obtain much information from the usual channels, this lack did not prevent them from playing important roles in the forming society. The home of three members served as a central meeting place. A central social role was also played by another member, a tailor of limited means. Although illiterate, he was an outstandingly warm host and his house was always crowded with visitors. Another focal meeting place was the home of “Educated” Egyptian-born brother and sister who had recently immigrated from France. Conversation at meetings concerned everyday affairs, work, current events, films they had seen, jokes mimed by a few members with considerable pantomimic talent and a good sense of humor, and naturally, plain gossip too. News items were related to those who were illiterate by the “Educated.” At that time group games as they are played. today were not the custom. However, the Europeans used to invent sketches, and programs were performed for special occasions, religious festivals, etc. A member who was hard of hearing served for some time as producer of these sketches. (Shunary, p.2)

There was also a French Convent School,  St. Vincent, of which Höxter says, “In the convent school, deaf, blind and crippled children are under the care and instruction of French nuns. The number of deaf children and the method of instruction are unknown to the writer of this paper, as no visitors are admitted to this convent school.” (p.117)

The third school, was that run by Mary F. Chapman who I have written about with regard to her mission work in Ceylon and Burma.  I will come back to that school in a future post.

A Pioneer again goes pioneering. Further work for the deaf and dumb in Palestine. British Deaf Times 1931, p.75

Höxter, Richard, The Deaf and Provision for Their Education in Palestine. American Annals of the Deaf Vol. 82, No. 2 (March, 1937), pp. 117-121

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_Sign_Language

Meir, Irit, and Sandler, Wendy, (2008) A Language in Space: the Story of Israeli Sign Language. Chapter 11, The History of the Deaf Community in Israel p.185-216

Shunary, J., (1969), Social Background of the Israeli Sign Language

“How doth the little busy bee Improve each shining hour” – Mary Ann Frances Burnell – A Sampler, 1870

Hugh Dominic WStiles15 March 2019

Mary Ann Frances Burnell was born in Cosgrove, Northamptonshire, in 1857, daughter of a labourer, William Burnell (aslo Burnal) and his wife, Elizabeth.  She was not described as deaf in the 1861 census when she was three, but a later census says she was ‘deaf from birth’ (1891).  She had at least one hearing brother and sister surviving, but many more that died very young.

This beautifully done sampler was made by her when she was a pupil at Edgbaston School, which she entered aged 9 in 1867, and left in 1873.  It says,

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower
Mary Ann Frances Burnell
Aged 14 years 1870
Deaf and Dumb School
Edgbaston

It may not surprise you to know that she became a lace-maker – Northamptonshire being famous for its lace at that time.  In the 1881 census she was living with her parents in Cosgrove.  By the late 19th century however, modern materials and methods of mass manufacture had ruined the old lace-making trade, and she and her mother were working as laundresses, a very tough job.  Mary died in Oxfordshire, in 1947, never having married. 

I wonder if the sampler came to us via Selwyn Oxley.  He went on several mission trips to Oxfordshire and worked there in some capacity for a while on a voluntary basis.

On the left is a list of some of the pupils in the school in 1872.  Click onto the image for a larger size.  It is possible that we could find her in some of the mission news, but it seems likely that as an adult she was the only Deaf person in her immediate area, and she lived in a village rather than a town where she might have had the company of other Deaf people as she had at school.

The Embroidery & Seamstress pictures come from the 1857 book, An Illustrated Vocabulary Prepared for the use of the Deaf and Dumb.


1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 927; Folio: 29; Page: 16; GSU roll: 542722

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 1537; Folio: 28; Page: 13; GSU roll: 1341370

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1189; Folio: 20; Page: 7

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 1413; Folio: 25; Page: 13

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 8351; Schedule Number: 79

Free BMD Deaths Mar 1947 Burnell, Mary A F aged 89 Oxford 6b 1242

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”

Hugh Dominic WStiles8 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)

The Late Arthur Macdonald Cuttell, BDT 1905 p.41-2

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”

Hugh Dominic WStiles1 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.*

*unless I have the wrong J.B. Foster

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

Bessie Wolfenden

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

Thomas Storer Adcock, (1879-1953) – “he was wiry and willing”

Hugh Dominic WStiles25 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.

In 1911 they were living in 12, Dorothy Road, Leicester.  They appear to have had but one child, Thomas Raymond (1911-95), who was a fireman at the time of his father’s death.

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

ANDOR – Algemeen Nederlands Doofstommen ORgan – the Dutch Deafness Organisation periodical, 1934

Hugh Dominic WStiles18 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, ANDORAlgemeen 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.  

See also https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/64bf/b288b7e6d6af8dde7638dc20a3a91b3ad511.pdf

Click onto photos for a larger scale view.