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“Jordan’s waves are rolling At thy palsied feet” Ebenezer Chalmers, Teacher of the Deaf in Scotland, Ireland & Australia (1823-81)

Hugh Dominic WStiles13 December 2019

Ebenezer Chalmers (1823?-1881) was a Scottish teacher of the deaf, born in Edinburgh in 1823 (or perhaps a little earlier).  He worked under the famous Teacher of the Deaf Robert Kinniburgh for 9 years in Edinburgh, according to his essay, Remarks on the Deaf and Dumb, 1849.  That would suggest that he started as a pupil-teacher, in other words, a boy-teacher (circa 1838 perhaps, depending on when he was born).  The 1841 Scottish census says that he was 20, and that could be accurate, however it may have been rounded up as we find quite often in the 1841 census.  It seems that he left the school when Kinniburgh retired (1847) – maybe he was forced out, perhaps he saw another opportunity.  I am not clear where he was working from then until 1851, but that year he was at Sandyknowe, Smailholm, near Kelso, probably as a private teacher, in the house of James Hewett (Heweit), a “Farmer Of 600 Acres.”  I wonder if it was his two younger children who were deaf, as they were living together and both unmarried many years later (see 1891 Census).

At this time, the Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb was looking for missionaries to work with the deaf of London, as we can see from this note, written by the Secretary Mr Charles Bird, on a copy of the laws of the Association in November 1854.  Presumably this was sent to potential candidates for the post(s).

On December the 13th of December, 1854, Ebenezer wrote from ‘Sandy Knowe,’ Kelso, to Major Butts of the Association (later RADD), accepting a position as a missionary in London, to start on February 1st, 1855.  He did start, being the very first missioner, and made a report for the Association summarised in the Annual Report here, dated the 30th of April – Association Report 1855.  However, he did not last long.  In the RADD materials at the London Metropolitan Archives, there is a resignation letter dated the 27th of June, 1855, written at 4, Bloomfield Terrace, Pimlico. “I am under deep obligations for your various expressions of kindness towards me since I came to London” and “I have, from a sense of duty, been led to take this step” – but what sense of duty encouraged him to resign?

He was later assistant head at the Institution for Deaf Mutes in Belfast, but I am not sure exactly when, as we have incomplete reports. It would seem he went from London to Belfast, and applied by letter on the 25th of September, 1856, for a job with the Association as Principal of a proposed Infants School, but we may assume that came to nothing.  We may speculate that he was not settled happily in Belfast at that time.  Perhaps he stayed there until 1869, or maybe returned to Scotland – if you know please contribute below.  It is possible that he advertised and worked as a private teacher.

On the 2nd of December, 1869, be sailed on the Asia from Glasgow, bound for Hobson’s Bay in Australia, arriving on the 23rd of April, 1870.  Form newspaper reports below, we gather that he was employed for a while as a teacher in the Victorian Institution, Prahan, Melbourne.  The Deaf man who founded the school was Frederic John Rose (1831-1920) who had emigrated  to Australia in 1852.  Rose had been a pupil in the Old Kent Road Asylum.  Shortly after Chalmers arrived, he must have approached Rose, unless he had contacted him before he left Scotland. According to a card index of Selwyn Oxley’s in the library, one of Kinniburgh’s sons or grandsons emigrated to Australia in 1849, but I am not clear which and whether the move was permanent.  If it was, that person might have been a contact or an example for Chalmers, although it was twenty years later.

Curiously, the ship’s manifest says Chalmers was Irish, rather than from Edinburgh.

This advertisement appeared in an Australian local paper in June 1870 –

EBENEZER CHALMERS, for 30 years teacher of the Deaf and Dumb In Great Britain, and late head assistant In theInstitution for Deaf Mutes, Belfast, Ireland, is anxious to procure private TUITIONS! Apply to F. J. Rose, Esq., Victorian Institution, Prahran. (The Argus, Sat 25 Jun 1870, Page 1 )

Chalmers also tried his hand at writing poetry – perhaps this gave him a few shillings –

THE DYING MUTE.

Silent child of sorrow,
All thy pains are o’er,
Thine, a bright to-morrow
On Emmanuel’s shore.

Lowly now thou liest
On thy couch of death,
Welcome ! from the Highest,
With expiring breath.

Jordan’s waves are rolling
At thy palsied feet,
But ONE stands consoling,
Ready thee to meet.

Deaf, and sight receding,
What is this I see ?
Moving fingers pleading,
” Jesus died for me !”

Now the scene is closing,
Angel throngs are nigh –
In their arms reposing,
Wafted to the sky.

EBENEZER, CHALMERS,
Prahran, Aug. 5. Teacher of the Deaf and Dumb

(The Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian,Sat 13 Aug 1870 Page 8)

This next poem shows his Presbyterian religious views –

THE DIAMOND

There is a gem above all gems
Which darkness cannot screen,
It shines in glowing brilliancy
When all gems are unseen.

This princess of the jewel world
Has deck’d the brow of kings,
And sparkled on fair lily hands
And diadems of queens.

Hidden till cut – this peerless gem
Lies buried out of sight,
Like spirits that most nobly shine
In dark affliction’s night.

But there’s a gem that’s brighter far
Than diamonds of earth,
Eternal in its principles
‘Twas heaven that gave it birth.

This Diamond is the WORD OF GOD,
Its rays can pierce the soul;
Destined to shed its matchless rays
With power from pole to ‘pole.’

Its God-given rays for long were hid,
And darkness had its reign,
But Truth eternal rose from dust
In glory, once again.

*    *    *

A monk sat in his lonely cell,
This diamond on his shelf,
He swept the dust of ages off
He read it for himself.

Its rays pierced grand good Luther’s soul,
And darkness wing’d its way,
And heaven and earth hail’d with delight
Blest “REFORMATION” Day.

Oh! may this diamond shed its light,
‘ O’er earth’s remotest bound,
Then sects shall fade like dying mist
And Paradise be found.

EBENEZER CHALMERS, T.D D.  (The Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian Sat 4 Nov 1871 Page 8 )

Things began to go wrong for Chalmers, presumably as he could not get sufficient money to have somewhere to stay.  The complex story of alcohol and homelessness is a vicious circle, that the local papers describe best –

A man named Ebenezer Chalmers, a teacher, aged 51, living at Prahran, was yesterday afternoon admitted into the Alfred Hospital, suffering from a fracture of the right leg, the result of a fall whilst walking up Chapel street. He was immediately attended to by Dr Cooke, and is progressing favourably. (The Argus, Thu 31 Dec 1874 p.5)

POLICE CASES.- Ebenezer Chalmers was remanded for a week on the charge of having no lawful visible means of support. (The Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian Sat 21 Oct 1876 Page 3 )

POLICE CASES. Henry Mores was fined 5s for being drunk and disorderly, and Ebenezer Chalmers was sent to gaol for three months on the charge of being an idle and disorderly person. (The Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian Sat 10 Aug 1878 Page 5 )

Ebenezer Chalmer, a man who is said to have once occupied a high position and is only a few days out of gaol was charged with being idle and disorderly. The man was found wandering about the street and was arrested. He was sent to gaol for three months. (The Argus, Tue 25 Feb 1879 , p.7)

MINOR OFFENCES. -Ebenezer Chalmers, who was only out of gaol for a week, was found by Constable O’Connor on Sunday morning last lying in Chapel-street, totally incapable of taking care of himself. The Bench considered, it would be to the benefit, of the unfortunate fellow to send him back again to Pentridge, which they accordingly did for twelve months. (The Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian  Sat 6 Dec 1879  Page 5 )

A sad instance of the degrading effects of intemperance was brought under the notice of the Prahran, Bench on Monday, when a once respectable man, named Ebenezer Chalmers, was charged with being Idle and disorderly. It seems that but a short time since the unfortunate man occupied a respectable position, and was engaged as a teacher at the Deaf and Dumb Institution, but owing to his intemperate habits, he was dismissed from that post, and gradually reduced himself to his present position. Constable O’Connor found Chalmers in Commercial road in a most wretched condition, and removed him to the lock-up. The Bench sentenced the prisoner to twelve months’ imprisonment. (Weekly Times Sat 6 Dec 1879 Page 18 )

A painful instance of demoralisation was presented at the Prahran Court on 5th Dec, when a man named Ebenezer Chalmers, who at one time held the position of teacher at the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, was brought up, by Sergeant Parkinson, charged with being an idle and disorderly person. He was a well educated man, possessing the university degree of LL.D.  Having given way to drink, he had gradually fallen into the most miserable condition. He was sent to gaol for twelve months. (Illustrated Australian News Fri 31 Dec 1880 Page 246 )

GEELONG. (From our own correspondent.) Tuesday Evening. A magisterial inquiry was held to-day by Mr. Pardey, J P , on the body of Ebenezer Chalmers, 58 years of age, a teacher, who was admitted from tho Melbourne Gaol six months since whilst undergoing a sentence of 12 month’s imprisonment for vagrancy, and had been ailing since. Dr. Mackin deposed that death was caused by debility and dropsy, and the magistrate found accordingly. (The Argus, Wed 20 Jul 1881, p. 7)

From a detailed description of Ebenezer in the Victoria Police Gazette 1879 (AU7103-1879) we know he had a ‘fresh’ complexion, auburn to grey hair, and blue eyes (the police record below in the references said his eyes were grey).  We can never know what led him to his demise and the sad end of his life.

Poems –

The Deaf Mute Uneducated and Educated

Astronomy

The Old and the Young

The Mute at Prayer

Letters etc

Letter to the Editor 1870

Letter about Disraeli’s works

Bound with The Blind Deaf & Dumb, & some Yorkshire Institution Reports: Remarks on the Deaf and Dumb, 1849

Newspaper reports (also see links above for further reference)

The Argus, Thu 31 Dec 1874 p.5

The Argus, Tue 25 Feb 1879 , p.7

The Argus, Wed 20 Jul 1881, p. 7

Family History records

Death Record 1881

Australian Police Gazette

Series: VPRS 7666; Series Title: Inward Overseas Passenger Lists (British Ports) (via www.ancestry.co.uk)

1851 Scottish Census – Parish: Smailholm; ED: 3; Page: 7; Line: 16; Roll: CSSCT1851_203; Year: 1851

1891 Census Parish: Smailholm; ED: 3; Page: 4; Line: 10; Roll: CSSCT1891_388

Australian Prison Record 41717*

RADD records – LMA 4172/A/10 001*

1841 Census*

*all thanks to Norma McGilp @DeafHeritageUK, who waves her magic historical sources wand!

List of Ulster Institution Pupils in 1881

Hugh Dominic WStiles10 December 2019

I thought it might be interesting to share a list of the pupils at the Ulster Institution in 1881, Deaf and Blind.

Some of you may care to compare this with the 1881 census returns.  We have only incomplete runs of this annual report unfortunately.

Ulster Society for Promoting the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, and the Blind, Belfast –

1837-1845, 1847, 1849, 1850, 1854, 1858 (incomplete), 1859 (incomplete), 1872, 1881, 1918, 1919, 1960

Louisa Allchin & Harry Collcutt, Margate & Old Kent Road pupils

Hugh Dominic WStiles22 November 2019

Harry Edgar Collcutt was born in Oxford in 1861, and lost his hearing aged two according to the 1911 census.  His father Henry was then a college servant, later a butler.  The family clearly fell on hard times, as we see in the short card pictured and transcribed here –

Harry E. Collcutt, Aged nine years,

Resident at Henley-on-Thames, is a Candidate for Admission into the above Asylum. His mother is paralysed; his father is broken in health; four young children are dependent upon these afflicted parents. The Votes and active interest of Subscribers are most earnestly requested in aid of this pressing case of urgent need, for the January, 1870, and subsequent Elections, by the following :—
Rev. Dr. PLUMPTRE, Master of University College, Oxford.
Rev. Dr. SYMONDS, Warden of Wadham College, Oxford.
Rev. Dr. OGILVIE, Canon of Christ Church, Oxford.
Dr. ACLAND, Regius Professor of Medicine, Oxford.
Professor WALL, Balliol College, Oxford.
Professor JOWETT, Balliol College, Oxford.
Rev. A. M. W. CHRISTOPHER, Rector of St. Aldate’s, Oxford.
Rev. T. A. NASH, Rector of St. Philip’s, Heigham, Norwich.
Rev. B. S. FYNCH, Rector of St. Paul’s, Deptford.
T. COMBE, Esq., M.A., University. Press, Oxford.
Alderman T. RANDALL, Oxford. (uncle of the above?)
G. C. HITCHINGS, Surgeon, Oxford.
Proxies will be received by the Rev. A. M. W. CHRISTOPHER, Park Town ; and Mr. J. T. K. CASTELL, 4, St. John’s Terrace, St. Giles’, Oxford. (uncle of the above?)

I suppose these are all people who would have known his father.

Harry was indeed a successful candidate, and we see that he was at the Old Kent Road Asylum in the 1871 census.  I am not clear what happened to his father, but he was living as a lodger with various people, being a gamekeeper at Caversham in 1881, and ended up in 1891 as a gardener, not with the family.  Harry trained as a cabinet maker.  He died in 1927.

In 1893 Harry married London-born Louisa Charlotte Catherine Allchin (1866-1933).  Louisa was Deaf from about 5 years old, according to the 1911 census.  Her father was a rent collector.  She attended the Margate School, and you can see her there on the 1881 census.

In 1903, a party of Deaf from Reading visited Oxford, and Harry was mentioned –

OXFORD DIOCESAN CHURCH MISSION THE DEAF AND DUMB.
The combined excursion of the Reading and Oxford members in connection with the above mission took place on Saturday, the 8th inst,, and was fortunately favoured with fine weather. About fifty from Reading arrived in Oxford at 8.35 a.m., and were conducted to Christ Church College, where they ware received by Mrs. Spooner (secretary) and Mrs. Biggs, the latter of whom explained that Dr. Biggs would have been present had he not been called upon to deliver a lecture at the University Extension Summer Meeting now being held. The party were shown over the chief features of the College—the kitchen, the dining-hall, the Cathedral, etc.—by Mr. Francis, the head verger, his explanatory remarks being interpreted by Mrs. Spooner. Next they walked through Christ Church Meadows and Botanic Gardens to Magdalen College, where Mr. Francis again acted cicerone, and caused the chapel opened specially for them to see. Later, they proceeded up the famous High-street to the Sheldonian Theatre, where they were joined by some fifty more members from Oxford and vicinity. The whole party then drove off in five brakes, accompanied the Missioner (Mr. George Mackenzie) for the old-world village of Woodstock. After luncheon they went into the fine demesne of Blenheim, and were shown many objects of interest in the park and gardens the Secretary to the Duke of Marlborough. A return drive by a different route brought the people to New College in Oxford, where they ware photographed and then entertained totea by the Warden and Mrs. Spooner. There were numerous friends the Mission present, the Rev. A. Negus, Miss A. Randall, Miss Miss Barnby, Miss Steedman, and others. The Warden (Canon Spooner) spoke few words of welcome, which were interpreted the deaf and dumb language by Mrs. Spooner. A vote of thanks to the Warden and Mrs. Spooner was moved by Mr. G. Mackenzie (the Missioner), who said this was the most successful ex- cursion ever held in connection with the Mission. Mr. Radbone seconded, and asked Mrs. Spooner to accept a framed photograph of this gathering, subscribed for the majority of the people, as a memento and a slight mark of their appreciation. Mr. H. Collcutt supported, remarking that the sea of happy and smiling faces he saw in front of him testified to the all-round enjoyment. He also took the opportunity, being Oxonian, add a word of welcome to the Reading friends. The vote was carried by acclamation. The Warden and Mis. Spooner briefly responded, expressing the pleasure it had given them to entertain the visitors. Mr. C. Leavey (Reading) also spoke a few grateful words on behalf of the Reading visitors. Before dispering homewards the party were taken over New College. It may be mentioned that the deaf and dumb in Reading are increasing numbers, and that consequently they feel the want of a small and central institute where they can hold meetings of various kinds, and where the work of the Mission can carried on. (Reading Mercury – Saturday 22nd August, 1903)

The Rev. and Mrs Spooner, are the famous Oxford Spooners.  Mrs Frances Spooner was the founder of the Oxford Diocesan Council for the Deaf.  After her, her daughter Rosemary was deeply involved in the mission, and also learnt sign language.

I wonder if that photograph is still to be found somewhere?

Louisa 

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 754; Folio: 64; Page: 10; GSU roll: 824725

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 986; Folio: 132; Page: 3; GSU roll: 1341234

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1055; Folio: 14; Page: 22

Harry

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 601; Folio: 113; Page: 8; GSU roll: 818907

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 1502; Folio: 80; Page: 13; GSU roll: 1341363

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1168; Folio: 27; Page: 19

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 1384; Folio: 134; Page: 2

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 8132; Schedule Number: 270

Rosemary Spooner

A History

 

 

ARRET DU CONSEIL D’ÉTAT Concernant l’éducation et l’enseignement des Sourds et Muets: Order of the Council of State concerning the education & teaching of the Deaf & Mute

Hugh Dominic WStiles21 November 2019

A memorable day in French Deaf History… translation below.

ARRET DU CONSEIL D’ÉTAT 

Concernant l’éducation et l’enseignement des Sourds et Muets.

Du 21 Novembre 1778. Extrait des Registres du Conseil d’État.

LE ROI étant instruit du zèle & du désintéressement avec lequel le sieur Abbé de l’Épée s’ai dévoué depuis plusieurs années à l’instruction des Sourds & Muets de naissance, & dei succès presque incroyable de sa méthode, Sa Majesté auroit cru devoir prendre sous sa protection un établissement aussi utile & en assurer la perpetuité; Elle auroit résolu en conséquence d’y destiner une portion des biens que les monasteres des Célestins, situés dans le diocise de Paris, & dont la Congrégation ne doit plus avoir lieu, conformément aux Lettres patentes du 5 avril dernier, tiennent de la libéralité des Rois ses prédécesseurs; pour y parvenir, de charger les Commissaires établis pour l’exécution de l’arrêt du Conseil du 23 mai 1766, de lui proposer les moyens qu’ils estimeront les plus, convenables pour le succès de ses vues. Maiscomme l’examen de ces différens moyens & leur exécution pourroient exiger des délais & qu’on ne peut prendre des mesures trop promptes pour venir au secours de ceux qui font assligés d’une infirmité mer sâcheure & former des Instituteurs capables de perpétuer une méthode aussi intéressante pour l’humanité Sa Majesté a jugé convenable de commettre particulièrement deux lesdits Commissaires pour veiller de concert avec les autres, à tout ce qui peut préparer & accélérer ledit établissement, même de les autoriser à employer provisoirement à cet effet les fourmes qu’ils jugeront nécessaires à les faire acquitter sur la partie libre des biens que Sa Majesté entend un jour y être destinée. A quoi voulant pourvoir: Oui le rapport & tout considéré; LE Roi ÉTANT EN SON CONSEIL, a ordonné & ordonne, que par les sieurs Commissaires établis pour l’exécution de l’arrêt du 23 mai 1766, concernant les Ordres réguliers, sera incessamment procédé à l’examen des moyens les plus propres pour former dans la ville de Paris un établissement d’éducation d’enseignement pour les Sourds & Muets de naissance des deux sexes, & proposé à Sa Majesté tels Statuts & Règremens appartiendra, tant pour la fondation , que pour le gouvernement & direction dudit établissement; & en attendant qu’Elle y ait pourvu définitivement, ordonne Sa Majesté que sur la portion libre des biens que les monastères des Célestins situés dans le diocese de Paris, tenaient de la libéralité des Rois ses prédecesseurs, il sera, sur les ordres du sieur Taboureau, Conseiller d’État, & du sieur Évêque de Rodés, que Sa Majesté a commis & commet pour veiller particulièrement à tout ce qui peut accélerer & préparer ledit établissement, payé & délivré par les sieurs Bollioud de Sainte-Julien, Commis à la régie desdits biens, par les arrêts des 29 mars & 6 juillet 1776, les sommes qui seront par eux jugées nécessaires, soit pour ta subiessiance & entretien des Sourds & Muets qui seraient sans fortune, soit en général pour toutes les dépenses préparatoires dudit établissement, desquelles sommes il sera, par lesdits sieurs de Saint-Julien, rendu un compte séparé dans la forme à eux prescrite par lesdits arrêts; quoi saisant, ils en seront bien & valablement quittes & déchargés.

FAIT au Conceil d’État du Roi, Sa Majesté y étant, tenu à Versailles le vingt-un novembre mil sept’cent soixante-dix-huit. Signé MULOT.

A PARIS DE L’IMPRIMERIE ROYALE. 1778
I hope French readers will forgive the ‘Google Translation’ – at least it gives a flavour of the original.

The King being informed of the zeal and disinterestedness with which the Abbé de l’Épée devoted himself for several years to the education of the deaf and dumb by birth, and of the almost incredible success of his method, his majesty would have thought it his duty to take under his protection an institution so useful and to ensure its perpetuity; It would have resolved accordingly to destine a portion of the goods that the monasteries of Celestins, located in the diocese of Paris, & whose Congregation no longer must take place, in accordance with the Letters Patent of April 5, hold the liberality of Kings his predecessors; in order to do so, to instruct the Commissioners established for the execution of the Council’s decision of May 23, 1766, to propose to him the means which they consider the most suitable for the success of his views. But as the examination of these different means and their execution might require delays, and measures can not be taken too quickly to come to the rescue of those who suffer from a crippling infirmity and to train teachers capable of perpetuating a method. As important to humanity, His Majesty has judged it appropriate to commit particularly two of the said Commissioners to watch together with the others, all that can prepare and accelerate the said establishment, even to authorize them to use provisionally for this purpose the they will judge it necessary to have them paid on the free part of the property which His Majesty intends to be destined for it one day. What does it mean to provide: Yes the report & all considered; THE KING BEING IN HIS COUNCIL, has ordered and orders, that by the Sieurs Commissaires established for the execution of the decree of May 23, 1766, concerning the regular Orders, will be proceeded without delay to the examination of the most suitable means to form in the city of Paris, a school of education for the deaf and dumb of birth of both sexes, and proposed to His Majesty such statutes and regulations will belong, both for the foundation, and for the government and direction of the establishment; and while waiting for it to be definitively settled, orders His Majesty that on the free portion of the property which the monasteries of the Celestines situated in the diocese of Paris, held from the liberality of Kings his predecessors, he will be, at the orders of the Lord Taboureau, Councilor of State, and of the Bishop of Rodés, whom his Majesty has committed to pay particular attention to all that may speed up and prepare the said establishment, paid for and delivered by the Sieurs Bollioud de Sainte-Julien, manager of the property, by the judgments of the 29th of March and the 6th of July, 1776, the sums which shall be deemed necessary for them, either for your subsistence and maintenance of the deaf and dumb, who would be without fortune, or, in general, for all the preparatory expenses of that establishment, of which he is, by the said sisters of St. Julian, rendered a separate account in the form prescribed to them by the said judgments; what is striking, they will be well and validly quit & discharged.

GIVEN at the Council of State of the King, His Majesty being held at Versailles this twenty-first day of November, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight.

The original is in our collection, in a frame.

Corrections to the translation below, or email me!

Prize Letters from Abraham Fink, Catherine Lewis, and Edith Dingley, to ‘Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf’, & a Deaf Private School

Hugh Dominic WStiles1 November 2019

Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf  was a London-based magazine, that was intended as a national church magazine for the Deaf.  One of the main editors was the Reverend Fred Gilby.  They had a regular children’s page written by ‘Aunt Dorothy’ and the editors offered prizes – we cannot say what – to letter writers.  It seems there were some regular writers.  In the June edition, there is a letter from Abraham Fink – not the first from him that year.

Abraham was, he tells us, 15 years and 5 months old, so would have been born in 1880/81.  His birthplace was Russian Poland, and he was the son of Solomon and Rebecca Fink.  I assume that the came to London in the 1880s.

The Finks had nine children altogether, and were Naturalized on the 7th of April, 1903, at which time Abraham is said to be twenty, and so ‘under age.’  He was in fact about 23, but presumably this saved him having to undergo the same process as a Deaf person, which might have been more difficult.  Note that I spell naturalized with a ‘z’ – this is because the act was the ‘Naturalization Act.’   The family lived for many years at 49 Buxton Road – presumably now lost or with a changed name, but near Brick Lane.

Abraham attended the Summerfield, or Somerford Road School, and was a pupil of Mary Smart.  After leaving school Abraham became a Cabinet Maker, his job in 1901, but later he became a Furrier, which was his job in 1911, at which time he was living at 8 Leman St, Aldgate.  He married Deborah Cohen, a hearing girl, in 1908, and they had I think two sons, Bennett, and Gerald.  He died in Harrow Hospital on the 7th of October, 1956.  Another Deaf life that was unspectacular, but which illustrates the British Deaf experience in the last century.

Edith Maud Dingley was born in Birmingham, on the 17th of December. 1885, and was deaf from birth according to the 1911 census.  Her father, Richard, was a Birmingham jeweller, and in 1911 they lived at 330 Hagley Road, Edgbaston.  She never married, and she is given no occupation on the census return.  She had lost a brother at Arras in 1917.  The 1939 register says she was ‘incapacitated’ so perhaps she had other health issues, or was that just a code for her deafness?  She died in 1943.

Catherine Lewis, was born in Bangor, North Wales, in 1884.*  In the 1891 census, she was living in Sutton Coldfield, at a school in someone’s house, with five other deaf children.  She was only seven at the time, and the household, headed by George Masters, a commercial Traveller, was at 70 Anchorage Road, Sutton Coldfield.  I was fascinated to see that this was yet another private Deaf school, run by Fanny Masters, nee Fanny Armitage Rutherford (1860-1945) the wife of George.  Her nephew, Albert Rutherford, son of her brother, was also Deaf, and living with the family.

1891 Census –

George Masters Head Male 42 1849 Cirencester Gloucestershire
Fanny A Masters Wife Female 31 1860 Nottingham Nottinghamshire
Jenny A Jones Servant Female 26 1865 Birmingham Warwickshire
Albert M Rutherford Nephew Male 19 1872 Birmingham Warwickshire  Deaf
Harriet F Wacker Pupil Female 15 1876 Wolverhampton Staffordshire  Deaf
John H Croxford  Pupil  Male 14 1877  Gloucester Gloucestershire  Deaf
Henry Lowe  Pupil Male 9 1882  Birmingham Warwickshire  Deaf
Arthur R Tatlow  Pupil Male 9 1882  Glasgow  Deaf
Catherine Lewis  Pupil Female 7 1884  Bangor Caernarvonshire  Deaf

In the 1881 census, Fanny Rutherford and her nephew Albert, were at the oralist Ealing Training College, the Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf and for the Diffusion of the German System.

In the 1901 census – (at Gravelly Hill, Erdington)

George Masters Head 52 1849 Male Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England
Fanny Armitage Masters Wife 41 1860 Female Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Albert M Rutherford Nephew 29 1872 Male Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Ethel Perkins Boarder 11 1890 Female Astwood Bank, Warwickshire, England
Minnie Pountney Servant 19 1882 Female Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

In the 1911 census –

George Masters Head 1849 62 Male Married Companys Secretary Cirencester 72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham
Fanny Armitage Masters Wife 1860 51 Female Married School For Deaf Children Nottinghamshire 72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham
Mildred Rutherford Sister 1839 72 Female Widowed Living On own Means Cirencester 72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham
Albert Masters Rutherford Nephew 1872 39 Male Single Merchants Clerk Birmingham 72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham
Cecil Hull Jordan Pupil 1895 16 Male Single At School Handsworth, Birmingham 72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham
Dorothy Violet Lepage Sanders Pupil 1895 16 Female Single At School Crudwell Nr Malmesbury 72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham
James Gordon Calder Pupil 1901 10 Male Single At School Smethwick 72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham
Winifred Adams Servant 1892 19 Female Single Domestic Servant General Walsall 72Kingsbury Road Gravelly Hill Birmingham

It would make a really interesting project, to trace all those Ealing teachers and see where they ended up, then look at census returns and map and follow through with all their pupils.

Anyway, we can also now see that Edith Dingley was one of Fanny Masters’s pupils as well.  It seems that middle class families were the people who most feared sending their children to ‘ordinary’ public Deaf Schools, and chose instead small private schools.

I do not know what happened to Catherine after leaving school.

*Thanks to John Lyons for identifying Catherine Lewis in the 1891 census, and enabling me to write a bit about her story.

Abraham Fink

Naturalization – Class: HO 334; Piece: 35

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 265; Folio: 30; Page: 55

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 304; Folio: 18; Page: 28

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 1489

Edith Dingley

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2390; Folio: 47; Page: 3

1901 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 17917; Schedule Number: 237

1911 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2814; Folio: 150; Page: 13

1939 Register – Reference: RG 101/5526A

Catherine Lewis

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2438; Folio: 90; Page: 13

Fanny Masters

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 1344; Folio: 48; Page: 51; GSU roll: 1341327

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2875; Folio: 130; Page: 41

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 18341

1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/5490G

“His appearance is mild, but rather sullen” – a Manslaughter charge against a Deaf man in Manchester, 1853

Hugh Dominic WStiles25 October 2019

I came across the following story from the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser for Saturday the 10th of December, 1853:

Charge of Manslaughter against a Deaf and Dumb Boy.
John Flannagan, a deaf and dumb youth, was charged with killing a boy named John Stanley, on the Garratt-road, near Manchester, on the 17th September, by throwing him into the canal. The prisoner being deaf and dumb, the proceedings attendant on the investigation created considerable interest. Mr. Andrew Patterson, teacher in the Deaf and Dumb Institution, at Manchester, was sworn to act as interpreter. -It appeared the prisoner had been an inmate of this institution for three years, and was considered a lad of considerable aptitude and sharpness. Mr. Monk prosecuted, and Mr. Wheeler defended. After some discussion between the legal gentlemen, it was admitted that the evidence was insufficient to establish so serious a charge manslaughter. On investigation it appeared that the prisoner and another boy were proceeding along the road when they were joined by the deceased, who soon after attempted to take a stick from one of the boys, and the prisoner seized hold of him. A struggle ensued, and deceased was tumbled into the canal.

This is very interesting, but John Flannagan proved tricky to pin down.  The article says he was a pupil at the Manchester School for three years, so he ought to be on the list of pupils for 1851 and 1852, years we have school reports for, and one would expect he  would also be on the list of pupils for the 1851 census, but I could find no mention of him in either place. We have Andrew Patterson sworn in to interpret in court, although it is not clear that his services were required.  Furthermore, we see a Deaf person coming out the right side of justice.  A sad and unfortunate story, with an appropriate ending, or so I thought.

However, the story is more complicated.  Newspapers today frequently get facts wrong and misspell names, and that was equally true in the past.  When no amount of searching gave me a hint of John Finnigan, I looked again at that report.  I realized it said he ‘had been’ an inmate of the institution, so he was a bit older.  I looked at the earliest annual report we have for the school, 1850, and there is a John Finnigan, aged 15 in March 1850, from Manchester, “father a nailer, 2 deaf and dumb” admitted to the school July 28th, 1845.  Now we were getting somewhere, and a new search of the newspaper archive found an earlier version of the story, from September, just after the incident, which gives it a completely different slant.  This came from the London Daily News for Thursday the 22nd of September, 1853:

THE MURDER AT MANCHESTER.
John Finnigan, the deaf and dumb boy, charged with the murder of James Shanley, a child six years old, by throwing him into the Rochdale Canal, at Manchester, on Saturday, was again brought up for examination, yesterday, before the magistrates at the Manchester City Police Court.

Betsey Shanley, the mother of the deceased, said her son left home between 5 and 6 o’clock on Saturday evening, and she never saw him alive afterwards.

Thomas Shanley, the father of deceased, said, I live at 13, Taylor’s-court, Oxford-street. I called at all the police-stations on Saturday night, and did not return home till past two o’clock on Sunday morning, and on Sunday I made time same round again, also calling at the workhouses, without obtaining any information whatever of my son. I and another man found him in the canal on Sunday after- noon, between 2 and 3 o’clock.

Angus Thorley, a little boy, ten years of age, who in giving his evidence, displayed considerable dullness of apprehension, said, I was going up Garratt-road for a walk on Sunday, with another boy, when two boys came behind us. One of them was going to throw me into the canal, and the other got hold of the boy who was with me, by the clothes, and threw him into the water. I know it was Sunday.

Alderman Walker- What day did you say it was when you were here before ?

Witness – I said it was Sunday. I don’t know what time it was. We were going over the bridge. I go some- times to school on Sunday, but I could not go that day. There were no workmen or carts about. I don’t know when I told my mother about it. I had never before seen the boy who threw the deceased into the canal, but I know the prisoner is the same. I am sure he did it on purpose, and then he ran away.

Mr. Superintendent Taylor, of the Manchester police, said this boy (the last witness) came to the Police-office shortly after 10 on Monday morning with his mother and the deceased’s father, and stated that on Saturday [not Sunday] evening he was taking a walk up Garratt-road with another boy, when the prisoner came up and threw his companion into the water.

Mrs. Thorley, the mother of the witness Angus Thorley, said – My son came home on Saturday night about seven o’clock, looking very downcast, and laid his head against the wall. He has often been stoned and ill-used by other boys in the street, and I thought they had been molesting him as usual. On Sunday night, after the body had been found, I was putting him to bed, when he laid his head on his breast, and said ” Mamma, I have seen the little boy that was drowned;” and afterwards started up and exclaimed “I saw him throw him in though.”

There being no further evidence, the prisoner was remanded till Friday.

Mr. Pattison [sic], master of the Deaf and Dumb School at Old Trafford, interpreted the evidence to the prisoner, who seemed, by signs and gestures, indignantly to deny every- thing that appeared to criminate him. He is said to be a very intelligent boy, and can write very well. He is apprenticed to a joiner, and his father is a nail maker, residing in Chorlton-upon-Medlock. The prisoner was educated in the Deaf and Dumb School, where he had the character of a very headstrong and self-willed boy, but never manifested a disposition from which it could be inferred that he was likely to commit a serious crime like this. His appearance is mild, but rather sullen.

Further reports emerge, all with some slight variations of names and spelling, due to the mis-hearing of names & having to guess at spellings for names heard in court. The Sun (London), for Thursday the 22nd of September, 1853, repeats that report, verbatim.  The Stamford Mercury for Friday the 16th of December, 1853, has the victim as ‘James Shandley’.  One of the papers tells us the victim was six years and eight months old.*

Another version in the Manchester Times for Saturday the 24th of September, 1853, gives the fullest account of the original hearing [I have added some paragraphs not in the newspaper, to make it easier to read]:

WILFUL DROWNING OF A BOY IN THE CANAL
On Wednesday, at the City Police Court, John Finnigan, a deaf and dumb lad, aged eighteen, was again brought before the magistrates upon the charge reported in our last paper, of having caused the death of James Shanley, a child of six or seven years old, by throwing him into the canal adjoining Messrs. Bellhouse’s timber yard, Garratt Road. The prisoner’s parents live at 31, Leigh-street, Chorlton on Medlock, and he himself is apprenticed to Mr. M’Lean, builder, on the Stretford New Road; he has been five years in the Deaf and Dumb Institution, at Old Trafford, and, in despite of the deprivation of his senses, he is considered intelligent, and has been usually well conducted; he can read and write well. The child whose death was the subject of inquiry belonged to a poor man’s family, at 18, Taylor’s Court, Oxford Road. His mother states that he went out to play between five and six o’clock on Saturday evening last, and never returned. His father, Thomas Shanley, went in search of him on Saturday evening, and called at all the police stations in the town, but could hear no tidings of the child that night. On Sunday morning, he went out again early, and continued his search; went to the workhouses and other places, but could get no intelligence of the lost boy. It was between two and three o’clock on Sunday afternoon, when the dead child was found in the canal by his father, assisted by a young man of the neighbourhood. On Monday morning, the father of the dead child, accompanied by a little boy named Angus Thorley, with his mother, came to Mr. Taylor, the ‘superintendent of police at the Chorlton Town Hall, to make known the statement of the boy Angus Thorley. This witness, who is ten years old, told Mr. Taylor then, that, on Saturday evening, he was with the other child, James Shanley, whose name he did not know ; and that, in their play, they walked along the canal by the Garratt Road, and he there saw the prisoner, with another big boy ; and that, after a short time, although nothing had been done or said between them, the prisoner caught up the little fellow Shanley, who was with witness, taking hold of his clothes behind, and threw him into the water, and then ran away—that he (the witness) ran after the prisoner, but could not overtake him, and that some one told him it was “the dummy boy”. The mother of Angus Thorley described the manner in which her son came to tell her this story of what he had seen. She said: I was very strict with him, and frequently forbid him to go near the water (which might amount for his not mentioning the matter to his mother at first). On Saturday afternoon, be came home to be washed, about five o’clock, and when he came home he was not like as at other times, but he laid his head against the wall, and was very quiet. I noticed him then, but I thought it was because some of the Irish boys, who have a great antipathy to him, and have stoned him several times, had been at him as usual. I washed him myself, as I always do, and put him to bed, and nothing more was said by him that night, only that several times after be asked me for drink, and his aunt also gave him water to drink. On Sunday night, he was going to bed at the usual time, and I was up with him myself, and put him to bed ; but when he was undressed, he sat on the ground, and held his head on has breast; end at last he said to me, “Mamma, I’ve seen that little boy that was drowned,” and I said, “What little boy ?” for I had not heard then of the other child being lost; and he said, “The little boy that was thrown into the canal !” I said, “What do you mean, child ?” Then he looked up and said, “I saw him throw him in,— he’s black, mamma, and he had salt on his stomach.” This means the corpse of the child, which, when it was taken out of the canal, was discoloured, as commonly happens with dead bodies, so  probably, the boy, Angus Thorley, had been lingering about the place on Sunday afternoon when the dead child was taken out, and had seen salt rubbed into the abdomen, in the hope of restoring life. The boy having told his mother the story of what he had witnessed, she took him to the father of the dead child Shanley, and he brought them to the police superintendent. The boy was again examined by the magistrates on Wednesday ; Mr. Gray, of the office of Mr. W. P. Roberts, attending as attorney for the prisoner, and Mr. Patteson [sic], of the Deaf and Dumb Institution, to interpret the evidence to the prisoner.

—The young witness was evidently confused, but his manner was very childlike and simple; he said now, differently from what he had said on Monday, that it was Sunday afternoon, instead of Saturday. when he saw the prisoner throw the child who was playing with him into the water; the place was “just as they were going over the bridge beside where they wind the planks up.” He seemed quite sure, on looking at the prisoner, that he was the same person who threw the boy in,—and that he threw him in on purpose, not accidentally; he (the prisoner ), with another boy, were coming behind witness and the deceased, over the bridge, when the prisoner caught hold of the loose skirts of his clothes behind, lifted him, and threw him into the canal, and then “chased off”. No other person was near at the time. The witness repeated, that this happened on Sunday ; but he did not seem to know much of the days of the week; he went to a Sunday-School “sometimes,” but had not been to school that day. At present, no information could be obtained as to the other lad, who was stated to have been with the prisoner when this was done; and the prisoner had nothing to say for himself, or was advised by his attorney to say nothing. He was, therefore, remanded to Friday for further inquiry.

—He was again brought up yesterday, and discharged from the custody of the court.

–The coroner for the city, Mr. Herford, held an inquest on Wednesday afternoon, at the Royal Infirmary; when the prisoner, with his attorney, were present; and the boy, Angus Thorley, then repeated his original statement, in the following words:—On Saturday afternoon, me and the boy that is dead were going up the hill out of Garratt Road, and going across the bridge over the canal at the timber-yard; and that boy (the prisoner) and another boy came behind us. I said to the boy that was with me,”Cut away;” and he (the deceased probably) tried to take the stick from me; then, the master was coming, and the other boy (who was with the prisoner) ran away. The dummy boy then laid hold of the boy who was playing with me, taking him by the clothes, with one hand his neck and the other his back part, and threw him in; his feet went first into the water. The dummy boy then ran away and turned up an entry, but he did not get into Garratt Road. I did not see him again; I had never seen the “dummy” boy before. In reply to questions from Mr. Gray, the boy said: I know I told the magistrates that that this was on Sunday, but it really was on Saturday, it was about five o’clock, and as light as it is now. I had no quarrel about the stick with the boy that is dead; but he wanted it, and took hold of it.

—The superintendent of police stated that the witness had picked out Finnigan, the deaf and dumb lad, from amongst five others, and identified him as the one who threw the little fellow into the water. He had, also, shown them the place on the canal bank, which was about thirty yards distant from the place where the corpse was found; but if the locks were open there would be current strong enough to carry the body that distance, there is a coping stone three-quarters of a yard above the water.

—Mr. A. Paterson, surgeon, had examined the body, but found no marks of violence ; drowning was the cause of death.

—The inquest terminated by the jury finding a verdict of “Manslaughter” against John Finnigan, who has been, accordingly, committed for trial.

Further reported in the Liverpool Mercury for Tuesday the 27th of September, 1853, the writer says “The evidence was very meagre and unsatisfactory. […] The prisoner had a man with him, who also attempted to throw Thorley in. Prisoner and the man ran away, and Thorley says he ran after the prisoner, and saw no more of Shanley.”

Here we have Thorley saying someone else was there who attempted to throw Thorley in to the canal.

In the Kentish Gazette for Tuesday the 27th of September, 1853, Thorley’s mother said that he

has often been stoned and ill-used by other boys in the street, and thought they had been molesting him as usual. […] Mr. Pattison, master of the Deaf and Dumb School at Old Trafford, interpreted the evidence to the prisoner, who seemed, signs and gestures, indignantly deny everything that appeared to criminate him. He is said to be a very intelligent boy, and can write very well. He is apprenticed to a joiner, and his father is nail maker, residing in Chorlton upon-Medlock. The prisoner was educated in the Deaf and Dumb School, where he had the character of very headstrong and self-willed boy, but never manifested a disposition from which could be inferred that he was likely to commit serious crime like this.

It seems to me that there is far more going on here than has emerged in any of the court sessions.  All I have is various suspicions and more questions.  Clearly Thorley was the subject of bullying ‘by the Irish boys’ which perhaps might include Finnigan, but whatever the story was with the stick, we can only guess.  Did Thorley invent the story to cover an argument he had with Shanley? Who was the fourth person, the young man with Finnigan, and what was that about “the master was coming” – who was the master?  Why did Thorley run after Finnigan and not cry out for help?  Why do we hear nothing from Finnigan, if he was innocent?  Thorley was supposed to be 10, however the only person I can find on the census who seems to match, is an Angus Thorley who became a porter, dying aged 38 in 1885.  There are not many Angus Thorleys, so I am confident that this is him.  That suggests that he was only six years old at the time of the death of James Shanley, rather than ten.

Was the victim James or John, Shanley or Shandley or Stanley?!  You see the problem with using newspapers as historical sources.  The Morning Post for Thursday, the 8th of December, 1853, has a name that is impossible to ready but must be James  —ley.  I have not definitively found his death record, or his family.

There is more to be found on Finnigan.  In 1859, at Manchester Cathedral, he married a Deaf girl, Eliza Barlow (1837-78).  Eliza was born in Staffordshire, at Newcastle under Lyme, and was described as Deaf and Dumb on the 1851 census. She was at the Manchester Deaf school as well.  John Finnigan was born in Manchester, according to the 1861 census, but in Ireland, according to the 1871 census, when he was living in Hulme as a Pattern Maker.  The 1881 census has his age as 30, with him born at Salford, Eliza being dead by then.  His marriage record tells us that he was a son of Thomas Finnigan, nailer, so we can be sure that he is the right Finnigan.  I cannot find him in later census returns but an ancestry family tree has him dying in 1924.  John’s brothers were also pupils.

In the school register, on a page kindly sent to me by our great Deaf History sleuth Norma McGilp, it tells us John was born on the 25th of March, 1835.  It adds in the comments field, information from the Rev.Downing who ran the Manchester Adult Society, presumably added in 1878 –

The eldest of the four Deaf and Dumb in the family, and probably the best of them, but he married a Deaf and Dumb woman of intemperate habits, by which she hastened her death, and whom I buried last week. Their eldest daughter is the mother of an illegitimate child.

I do not know Manchester so pinning down the locations with name changes of streets is not easy, but this is where the Bellhouse building was here but was I assume not where the timber yard was, which must nonetheless be in central Manchester.  Please comment if you know where Garratt Rd. was, or can pinpoint the spot where the tragedy occurred.

In addition to the papers quoted above –

*Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Saturday 24 September 1853

Morning Post – Thursday 08 December 1853

Manchester, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930 (Cathedral)

Eliza Barlow

1851 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 4002; Folio: 19; Page: 31; GSU roll: 846101

John & Eliza Finnigan –

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2921; Folio: 31; Page: 6; GSU roll: 543050

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 4002; Folio: 19; Page: 31; GSU roll: 846101

John Finnigan –

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3962; Folio: 7; Page: 7; GSU roll: 1341946

Angus Thorley – 

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3887; Folio: 47; Page: 41; GSU roll: 1341928

“Mr. M’Diarmid, of Donaldson’s Hospital, who, without any facts… upon which to ground his opinion, has arrived at a different conclusion”

Hugh Dominic WStiles13 September 2019

In 1856, two members of the Committee of the National Deaf and Dumb Association of Ireland, that started the Claremont Institution, came to Scotland and England to examine the major education institutions for the Deaf, and how they were run.  The Honorary Secretary was John Ringland (1816-76), of 14 Harcourt Street, Dublin, a midwifery doctor at the Coombe Lying In Hospital – he was ‘Master of the Coombe’ from 1841-76, and Mr John GelstonI could not find out anything interesting about him in the time available.

Here we have a list of the institutions they visited.  As you will see from the title page, Gelston was with the Inland Revenue.

The introduction to the report credits Harvey Peet’s Report on European Institutions, and Ringland says (p.4), “It affords us much satisfaction to be able to state that in most of his views we entirely concur with Dr. Peet: in the few trifling points upon which we differ with him, we do so with extreme unwillingness, as we feel assured that the conclusions he has arrived at have been the result of unprejudiced judgement, and of earnest convictions.”  One section where they did disagree with Peet was the ‘separation of the sexes’:

With but two or three exceptions, namely, Edinburgh, Donaldson’s Hospital, and, we believe, one other, all the pupils, both male and female, take their meals at the same time in a common hall; but in all we found that there was a separate play-ground for each sex, and that, excepting during the time already stated, they are kept strictly apart. We think it right to observe that at Glasgow the play-grounds are separated by a very low wall, which answers the purpose merely of marking out the point of separation.

With the exception of Mr. M’Diarmid, of Donaldson’s Hospital, who, without any facts, however, upon which to ground his opinion, has arrived at a different conclusion, the Principals of all the Institutions we visited highly approve of these arrangements, so almost universally adopted, and do not believe that any immorality has ever resulted from them, but, on the contrary, consider that they have been the best means of preventing any tendency to it.

In reference to this point, we cannot help quoting the opinion of Dr. Peet, of New York, who in his very interesting report of his visit to the different Institutions for the deaf and dumb in Europe, expresses his conviction, “that the effects of such a system—namely the strict separation of the sexes—would be evil.” He subsequently goes on to say that “with us the sexes, accustomed daily to see each other, are also accustomed to self-control, to the habitual decency of thought, manner, and expression ; are accustomed to put down truant thoughts by religious and moral motives ; are impressed strongly with the truth that their future happiness in this life will mainly depend on their present good conduct ; and, in short, are under all the moral influence that in families and in society preserve the virtue of the young. If for this moral control, aided by a constant supervision, we should substitute strict seclusion from intercourse with the other sex, should we not impress our pupils with the idea that in circumstances of temptation their fall would be inevitable ? If we treat virtue as a hot-house plant, will it endure as well when removed from our conservatory to take its chances in the open air.” (pages 17-18)

I have scanned the whole report with the exception on the Appendix 3, which is a large table covering the differences in how the schools approached certain things, such as the time of meals.  I have however photographed it, but if you have trouble reading it, come in to see it here!

Report of a Deputation from the National Association for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb Poor

“his client was terribly afflicted, and totally unable give any evidence except by Signs” – alleged assault on Emma Conway of Dosthill, 1893

Hugh Dominic WStiles23 August 2019

This is a story touching on the life of Emma Conway, a Deaf girl, who was briefly in the news for all the wrong reasons, before sinking again into obscurity.

She was born in Staffordshire, at Brownhill(s), Wallsall in 1869, but the family moved to Dosthill, near Tamworth.  Her father, Isaac, worked as a labourer, and two brothers were miners.  She also had at least two sisters.  Emma was born deaf, and probably had no education in any formal way.  The 1881 census does not say she was a scholar, when she was thirteen.  Her sister, Eliza, was married and lived close by.  She probably had no contact with other Deaf people, and would therefore have grown up isolated from any possibility of learning either sign language or finger-spelling, though the latter would of course only be useful to someone who could read, and we might guess that she could not.  The family and friends must have coped with ‘home signing’ which is often found where a single child is deaf within a speaking community.  Her story illustrates the importance of language in obtaining justice.

Herbert Baylis, was a Fazeley born butcher’s assistant, son of Francis Baylis, a local butcher.  (Note that his name was consistently spelt ‘Bayliss’ below).

The case emerges in local newspapers.  On the morning of the 7th of March, a Tuesday, Herbert Baylis, then 18, allegedly ‘feloniously’ assaulted Emma (Coventry Evening TelegraphWednesday 22 March 1893). The Lichfield Mercury for Friday 24th March 1893, expands the story.  They tell us that Baylis was “summoned by Eliza Holiday to answer a charge of indecently assaulting Emma Conway, a deaf and dumb girl, at Dosthill, on the 7th inst.” Eliza being a sister of Emma.  Mr. E. Argyle, who defended, objected initially, as “the offence was alleged to have taken place in Warwickshire, and proceedings had been taken in Staffordshire.”  Argyle also objected “that the information was not laid upon oath, but by the girl’s sister. He did not deny that defendant went to the house, but asserted that he had a perfect answer to the charge. A summons had been issued for which there was not a shallow of foundation support it.”  Here we see the problem of language, on which the case was to hinge.

In reply to the Bench, complainant’s sister said the girl did not know the deaf & dumb alphabet. She understood what her sister meant by the motions she made.

—Mr. Argyle objected to the sister interpreting the evidence ; it should done by a sworn interpreter.

—After consideration by the Bench, Mr. Argyle said in any case he would have to ask for an adjournment, as his witnesses were not present. He was only instructed that morning, just before coming to the Court. Mr. Argyle added that should strongly object to the sister acting as interpreter.

—The Bench said she could ask someone else to do so. (Lichfield Mercury)

Consequently, the case was adjourned for a fortnight.  It is hardly surprising that the defence should object as the sister was hardly unbiased, and I suppose home sign is not a true language, though it is a form of communication.

The Tamworth Herald – for Saturday the 8th of April 1893, continues the story, calling it “An Extraordinary Case.”

Mr. R. Nevill appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. E. Argyle defended. The case was heard at the last fortnightly sessions, and was adjourned order that someone might be obtained to interpret the girl’s evidence.

—Mr. Nevill said his client was terribly afflicted, and totally unable give any evidence except by Signs. The offence was alleged to have occurred in the forenoon about ten. Mrs Sarah Woods, neighbour who had known the girl for the last five or six years would interpret her evidence.

—At Mr Argyle’s request all the witnesses except Mrs. Wood and Mrs. Holiday, were ordered by the Bench to leave the Court until called.

—Mr. Argyle said the case was the most difficult he had ever known. The girl was not acquainted with the deaf and dumb alphabet.

—Mrs. Wood was then sworn, and said she was the wife of John Wood, miner. She bad known the girl Conway for four and half years, and could understand from her signs what she meant.

—Emma Conway was through the interpreter next sworn, and kissed the book. According to the interpreter the girl conveyed by her signs that the defendant came into the house, and followed her into the parlour, where the assault complained of was alleged to have taken place.

—Agnes Aucott (11), [an error for Allcott] residing with her parents at Dosthill, said defendant drove to Conway’s house.  She heard him ask Conway where someone lived.  Witness then informed defendant that the girl was deaf and dumb, and he asked whether Conway’s mother was alive, and she replied in the negative.  He also asked whether the girl had a sister and brother, and she said yes, adding that the brother had gone to work.  She saw the defendant follow the girl Conway down the passage towards her house, and she afterwards went and told Mrs. Holiday.

— Cross-examined : She had often seen the defendant, but had not spoken to him before.  He came to Dosthill twice a week.  She saw the defendant with the tobacco pipe produced in his hand. She did not hear him asking the girl for a match ; but she saw him show her a penny.  The penny was not a match box. Between her seeing the defendant follow Conway down the passage and her telling Mrs. Holiday, she heard the barking of the dog which is kept as a protection to Conway.  She heard no screaming.

—Eliza Holiday, wife of Joseph Holiday, miner, Balfour’s buildings, Dosthill, said she was a sister of Emma Conway, and lived next door but one to her.  In consequence of what the previous witness told her she went to her sister’s house.  She went in the back door, and saw the defendant pushing against the parlour door.  She asked him what he wanted and he gave no answer.  The dog which was chained up in one corner of the house was savagely barking, and she could hear the sound some crying.  She again asked the defendant what he wanted, and he said “a match.”  She told him that she hoped he would not be caught there again.  Afterwards, defendant used a threatening expression to her, and at that moment he had a knife in his hand.  After getting defendant out of the house she went in and found Conway crying, and in consequence of what the girl made her understand, she took out a summons against the defendant next morning.

—Cross-examined : She had never dealt with the defendant, but she owed something to defendant’s father, and she thought that when the bills were put right she would owe only 6d.  There was some ill-feeling over the matter.  She did not go to Mrs. Cook and say that defendant had “struck my poor sister.”  When she accused defendant twenty minutes afterwards of committing an assault upon her sister, defendant said that if she did not take care he would have her locked up for making such an accusation.

— [During this witness’s cross-examination the persons occupying the gallery gave vent to some laughter, whereupon the chairman threatened that the gallery would be cleared if any further expression of feeling were made.]

— Emma Simpson, wife of George Simpson, miner, and living next door Conway’s house, said in the forenoon of the day in question she heard noises from the next house as of someone screaming, and also of dog barking.  She sent her daughter to Conway’s to see what was the matter.

—Cross-examined : She owed to defendant’s father.

—This was all the evidence for the prosecution.

—Mr. Argyle submitted that there was no case against the defendant such any grand jury would entertain.

—The Chairman held that there was a case for the defendant to answer.

—Mr. Argyle said he would therefore advise his defendant to reserve his defence.  After a consultation with the defendant, and the defendant’s father, Mr. Argyle said he still held that there was not shadow of a case against the defendant, and he could not recede from the position he had taken up.  There was no corroboration of the evidence. The case would have to go for trial unless their worships decided to dismiss it.

—The Chairman said the Bench would have to send the case for trial to the Quarter Sessions.

—Defendant was allowed bail in the sum of £50, his father giving the necessary sureties.

The defence was trying to imply that the witnesses had an interest in seeing Baylis lose the case.  As to the nature of the alleged assault, it is typically opaque

The case came before a grand jury – used in England  and Wales until the 1930s – at the end of June.  The Leamington Spa Courier for Saturday the 1st of July, 1893, said that the grand jury was told that,

The most difficult case they would have to deal with was a charge of assault upon a deaf and dumb girl who had not been instructed in the deaf and dumb alphabet.  The only means of understanding her was by signs and gesticulations, and none but some of her neighbours could tell what she meant.  He would advise them to be very careful with the case, and, unless they were satisfied that the petty jury were likely to understand the case, it would be safer to throw out the bill.

That is exactly what happened, as we read in the Alcester Chronicle for Saturday the 1st of July, 1893, which reports that that Baylis was acquitted –

The prosecutrix, who is deaf and dumb, did not appear to understand the nature of an oath, and the case was accordingly dismissed, no evidence being tendered.  The magistrates promised get the girl into deaf and dumb asylum.

I am not sure that the magistrates understood what ‘deaf asylums’ were. She was not a child, so unless they were going to get someone to help teach her as an adult, say from one of the Midland missions, I am not sure what they were expecting. She would have been worse off in a workhouse, and it seems that her family were looking out for her and caring for her.  Additionally as we have said, the finger-alphabet is useless without an understanding of spelling, so unless Emma could read, which does not seem likely, the only sensible thing would have been for her to be taught sign language.

Baylis seems to have died in Lewisham in 1933.*

In 1911 Emma was living with her older sister, Catherine, and her husband James Besant, a carter, at 23 Paddock Lane, Walsall.  She died in 1946, never having married.

Coventry Evening TelegraphWednesday 22 March 1893 – other newspapers as quoted a

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 2915; Folio: 122; Page: 48; GSU roll: 836406

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 2775; Folio: 17; Page: 28; GSU roll: 1341664

1891 Census – Emma –  Class: RG12; Piece: 2211; Folio: 64; Page: 7

1891 Census – Eliza –  Class: RG12; Piece: 2211; Folio: 64; Page: 8

1891 Census – Bayliss – Class: RG12; Piece: 2211; Folio: 23; Page: 9

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 17169; Schedule Number: 20

1929 – Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 909

*There is another Herbert Baylis who was born in India who some family history researchers seem to have confused with this Herbert Baylis.  His father was

Theophilus Ledbook Baylis

“they lose the dull heavy look of a deaf mute…” – Oralist supporter, the Lip-reading teacher, Eliza Frances Boultbee

Hugh Dominic WStiles16 August 2019

Eliza Frances Boultbee (1860-1925) was the daughter of Marian and James Boultbee.  At the time of her birth in Staffordshire, her father was a curate, and in the 1861 census they were staying with her grandfather Thomas Boultbee, who was Vicar of Bidford, Warwickshire.  James Boultbee became Vicar of Wrangthorn, Leeds, from 1866-1908.  Eliza’s younger sister, Anne Gertrude Boultbee (1867-87) was born deaf, and according to the Boultbee family history website, she was taught to lip-read by Eliza.  Presumably this was how she developed her interest in deaf education and oralism.  This is where I hit myself on the forehead, for I have come across the name Boultbee before, though I could not recall the context.  Annie Boultbee was a pupil of the oralist teacher John Barber, at his Edgeware Road school in 1881, who I wrote about exactly one year ago!

In the introduction of her book Practical lip-reading for the use of the deaf  (1902), summarising the history of deaf education through the ages (the familiar litany of Ponce de Leon, Juan Pablo Bonet, William Holder, John Conrad Amman, Samuel Heinicke etc), she makes clear her oralist agenda.  I quote at length to illustrate that. After calling de l’Epee a ‘benevolent man’, she continues –

Heinicke’s system, as we understand it now, enables the deaf to use their voices in the shape of language, and the sense of sight is taught to recognise the varying motions made by the lips and tongue in speaking.  In fact, it enables them to converse as do hearing people; thus they naturally learn much they would have been in ignorance of, had they been left to the companionship of those who only understand by signs.  They listen, as it were, with their eyes.  They are no longer shunned, but looked upon with wonder and interest.  The system gives them an increase of bodily health, constant speech increasing the respiratory action, and consequently inducing greater development of the lungs, making them thus less prone to pulmonary diseases.

In addition to this, they have an improved expression of countenance, they lose the dull heavy look of a deaf mute whose facial muscles are chiefly used in the process of mastication.  Their lives are happier, their disposition improved, and their suspicion of hearing persons decreased.

They are less likely to marry among their deaf allies, and can be instructed in the duties of religion and daily life by any clergyman.  On the other hand, De l’Eppe, by his system, gave signs as the language of thought.  When translated either with the written or spoken word, we soon find they do not follow in the grammatical order of any language, and that conversation is carried on, especially by the pupils, in a very confusing method.

The late Mr. A. A. Kinsey, to whom I have already referred, who did much in his day to diffuse the Oral System in England, refers in one of his pamphlets to this. He proves most convincingly how injurious is the system of teaching by signs : ” The order of the sign language,” he says, ” is an inverted order, and totally at variance with the construction of the English language ; so far from assisting its pupils to a correct expression, it tends to prevent their attaining it.”  He gives an authentic literal translation of the Lord’s Prayer from signs used at an asylum for deaf mutes :

” Father your and mine Heaven ; name Thy hallowed; Kingdom Thy come, men and women all; will Thy done, angels obey people all like ; day this, clay every, give bread, drink, clothes, things all, temptation we fall not; but devil bondage deliver; for Kingdom Thy, power Thy, glory Thy, for ever. Amen.”

Heinicke saw clearly that there could be no combination of these two methods—they are antagonistic in principle. (Boultbee, 1902, p.15-17)

Here is an excerpt from page 18, where Boultbee praises the Milan Conference.

It seems that, like Kinsey, she failed to understand that sign languages have their own structure and syntax, and are not merely the transposition of spoke language into signs.  In fact, to be fair, it took a long period for linguistics to recognise that.

Many thanks to Geoff Eagling for alerting me to Eliza as a student at the Ealing Training College, an oralist foundation which trained a mass of almost exclusively female teachers.  She would have attended from 1882, completing her studies there in 1883, at the same time as Mary Hare.   I have not found her in the 1891 census, but the surname seems to have presented a difficulty to the modern transcribers.  We can say, from a newspaper advertisement in The Queen for Saturday the 15th of September, 1894, that she must have started teaching in 1884 –

LIP READING.—This can be taught at any age to those born deaf or who have become more or leas deaf.  With deaf children to eight years of age is the best time to begin.  In cases of deafness in adult life, lip reading is taught much more readily, and with patience and perseverance a dozen or two dozen lessons, according to circumstances in each case, will be sufficient for complete and permanent mastery of the art.  No knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the organs of speech is required in the learner, though the teacher must have a thorough knowledge of both. The lessons ore extremely simple and easy to understand.  Particulars as to alienist and time required in any particular cue can be obtained by applying to Miss E. F. Boultbee, 37, Gloucester-place, Portman-square, W, who has successfully taught the system for ten years past, and who is always willing to answer applications for information.

At the time of the 1901 census, Eliza was staying with the Scottish minister and journalist, William Robertson Nicoll in Hampstead, London, and is described as a school teacher working on her own account at home.

In the 1911 census, when Eliza Boultbee was living in Members Mansions, 36 Victoria Street, S.W. London (her address in her 1903 book and her 1913 book), with Joyce Visger Lloyd (1895-1984), a sixteen year old deaf girl who was born in Assam, and was presumably a private pupil.  Her grandfather was Major-General Francis Thomas Lloyd, R.A.,who was commandant of Woolwich from 1887–1901.  Joyce married William Whitham Coultas in 1919, and he went into the diplomatic service.  Joyce travelled with him to South East Asia and there is a lovely photograph of them in that link.

A review of her 1913 book, in The Norther Whig for the 18th of December, 1913, says,

Lip-reading is a method conversation wherein the eyes of the deaf replace their ears, and they see instead of hear the words of the speaker as they leave his lips. The many advantages of this method —its rapidity, for one thing, and the fact that it enables anyone talk to the deaf without knowledge of the sign language (not part of the equipment of the normal individual) —are self-evident that one cannot understand why Miss Boultbee should think it necessary to drive them home at such length. Even for those who happily preserve their sense bearing, one can imagine it becoming fascinating and at times useful pursuit. the technical side Miss Boultbee’s book consists of chapters on the mechanism of speech and how to teach, learn, and practise lip-reading. Hints are given to the deaf on the art of conversation, and all the influence of such things as cheerfulness, tact, concentration, and apathy. Sir James F. Goodhart, M.D., supplies an introduction to what should prove a useful and stimulating little work.

Eliza Boultbee died at a nursing home in Bedfordshire in 1925.

UPDATE 21/8/2019

More Miss Boultbees

Thanks to the prompt from Geoff Eagling, below, I can also say that the youngest sister of Eliza, Agnes Clara Boultbee (1875-1951), also attended the Ealing College, from 1893-4, after which she taught at the Norther Counties Institution in Newcastle, presumably giving that up when she married the Rev. James Wallace, Vicar of Barnsbury, in 1906.  It seems probable that she was also the Miss Boultbee who was teaching at the Ealing College’s associated schools, Eaton Rise and Elmhurst, and left in April 1902 according to a newspaper report  (Middlesex & Surrey Express – Wednesday 08 July 1903).

Regarding the two other Miss Boultbees, the 1911 student, Miss M. Boultbee, who worked afterwards at the Ealing College, and Marjorie Boultbee who qualified in 1916, one is probably the Marjorie Boultbee who was a niece of Eliza and Agnes, daughter of their (vicar) brother Henry Travis, and born in 1889, married 1932 to the Reverend Hugh Birley.  I suspect this Marjorie was the person who advertised “MISS MARJORIE BOULTBEE (Certificated Teacher of the Deaf) gives Lessons in Lip- Reading to the Deaf and Partially Deaf. For terms apply ESSEX LODGE, LIVERPOOL GARDENS, Worthing” in the Worthing Gazette – Wednesday 11 June 1919.  Trying to find them in the 1911 census is tricky to say the least!

Anyway, I think we can be confidant that they were all closely related.

Boultbee, E.F. Practical lip-reading for the use of the deaf. 1902

Boultbee, E.F. Help for the deaf – what lipreading is. 1913

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2236; Folio: 28; Page: 5; GSU roll: 542940

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 4562; Folio: 130; Page: 21; GSU roll: 847141

1881 Census – Eliza – Class: RG11; Piece: 4538; Folio: 6; Page: 5; GSU roll: 1342092

1881 Census – Annie – Class: RG11; Piece: 1362; Folio: 38; Page: 12; GSU roll: 1341330

1891 Census – not found her – it seems the transcribers have trouble with the surname…

1901 Census – Eliza Boultbee – Class: RG13; Piece: 120; Folio: 118; Page: 27

1901 census – Joyce Lloyd – Class: RG13; Piece: 564; Folio: 10; Page: 12

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 492

William Whitham Coultas

“translating with a fluent ease the addresses of ordinary speakers into the silent but expressive language of signs” – Edward Townsend, teacher at Edgbaston

Hugh Dominic WStiles5 July 2019

Edward Townsend (1846-1933) was a teacher of the deaf who became headmaster at the Edgbaston school. He was born in Battersea, son to William Townsend, a baker, and his wife Sarah.  It seems perhaps astonishing to us now, to discover that very often teachers began to learn their trade at the age of 14, as soon as they themselves had left school.  Townsend was that age when he started to teach – or perhaps learn to teach – at the Doncaster Institution, under Charles Baker and along with Walter S. Bessant, who went on to become headmaster at Manchester.

In 1895 he was interviewed by the British Deaf Times –

Essentially a bright engaging man, of most expressive countenance, with great command of facial expression—all the features well-defined and, even when in exaggerated play, pleasing, intelligent, and always full of animation and of purpose; he is a man of enthusiasm in his work and in the doing of it, but with the fortiter in re qualified by the suaviter in modo of cultured gentleness. The very man to teach with energy and spirit, and with expressive kindly countenance those banished children of misfortune—the isolated deaf and dumb. “How then “—after seeing some of the details of his work and system—” how then did you become associated with this special branch of education ? ” we asked Mr. Townsend, with considerable curiosity as to his reply. ” Did you apply yourself to the work from any conviction or tendency towards it, or—” ” Simply drifted into it,” is the response.

Mr. Townsend, who had of course already determined upon, and qualified himself for, an educational career, heard quite by chance that an assistant-teacher was required at the Yorkshire Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, at Doncaster. He applied for and obtained the appointment and became the assistant of Mr. Charles Baker, the head-master, and brother of the late Mr. Alfred Baker. (British Deaf Mute, p.113)

According to the 1861 census his sister Sarah and brother-in-law Joseph Jones were national school teachers.  That suggests how it came to be an idea for a career.  From his obituary in the Teacher of the Deaf we can say he must have been at Doncaster until he was eighteen, then spent eighteen years at the Old Kent Road Asylum, where we find him in the 1871 census.  I looks as if all the teachers were bachelors, but Edward married, I think in 1871, and moved to the Margate branch of the school.  In 1882 he was appointed to replace Arthur Hopper, who had died, and presided over the rebuilding of the school.

He was, according to his obituary, “not opposed to Oral Teaching,” and was a strong advocate of finger-spelling.  The British Deaf Mute article also seems to stress he was – at least at that time – far from being opposed to the manual system –

Mr. Townsend is also opposed to the advocate’s for supplanting, or at least depreciating, the manual and gesture method of teaching by the undue adoption of the ” oral ” system. The “oral” system, although regarded as a novelty, is in fact identified with the earliest known efforts of communication with deaf-mutes, but this gave place in a large measure, and particularly is France and in England, to the use of gestures and the finger alphabet, and at the present time, either the manual method or what is known as the ” combined system ” is still largely employed in the United Kingdom, and also in America, where the education of the deaf and dumb is carried to a more successful issue than in any country in the world. (British Deaf Mute, p.115)


Above we see Edgbaston girls in a composition class, probably Edwardian period.

Of his fitness for the position he holds there can be, as we have said, no question. He has ability, enthusiasm, and tactical skill. The children love him and he has the confidence of all with whom he is brought into official relations. He is a member of the committee of the College of Teachers of the Deaf, and one of its examiners. He is also the vice-chairman of the National Association of Teachers of the Deaf, Dr. Elliott being the chairman. He is therefore largely in request at meetings of teachers—and of the deaf themselves, being a very Daniel to interpret visions of flying fingers to the hearing, and, vice versa, translating with a fluent ease the addresses of ordinary speakers into the silent but expressive language of signs for the benefit of the deaf. Concerning methods of education Mr. Townsend, for the present, maintains a discreet reserve. But the eclectic system—any method for good results—appears to be most in favour at the Edgbaston Institution and is meeting with encouraging success. That the school and the energetic principal, whose career we have thus faintly sketched out, will have many years of usefulness before them is our sincere hope and wish. (Ephphatha)

In the British Deaf Mute, he is quoted as defending the idea of Deaf Institutions against attacks by a eugenicist –

Mr. Townsend has quite recently controverted in toe local press a conclusion which Sir James Crichton Browne advanced in his lecture on “Heredity,” delivered in the Athletic Institution, viz. : “That the association of deaf-mutes in schools and institutions, the one in which Mr. Townsend’s charge is detrimental, because apt to encourage marriages between persons similarly afflicted, and thus tend through their offspring and the process of heredity to the production of a deaf and dumb variety of the human race.” Professor Graham Bell of telephone celebrity, was the initiator of the theory lately formulated here by Sir James Crichton Browne, but Mr. Townsend’s experience leads him to suppose that the theory is fallacious ; and that, except in very occasional instances, the offspring of deaf mutes are in possession of their normal faculties. He says, moreover, a much greater evil is consanguineous marriages, and on the occasion of our visit pointed out several pupils who were the children of first cousins and other close-blooded relationships. (British Deaf Mute, p.114-5)

Townsend retired to Bournemouth, where he died in 1933, and was buried in Witton, Birmingham.

I am grateful to www.interpreterhistory.com for showing me correspondence of Townsend with Sibley Haycock from the Cadbury Archives in Birmingham.

Edward Thompson, Ephphatha, 1897, p.8-9

Mr. Edward Townsend, The British Deaf Mute, Volume 2 no. 20 p.113-5

W.H.A., Obituary, Teacher of the Deaf, 1933 p.55

1861 census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2198; Folio: 117; Page: 3; GSU roll: 542934

1871 census – Class: RG10; Piece: 601; Folio: 111; Page: 3; GSU roll: 818907

1881 census – Class: RG11; Piece: 985; Folio: 69; Page: 21; GSU roll: 1341234

1891 census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2360; Folio: 120; Page: 7

1901 census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2816; Folio: 43; Page: 29

1911 census – Class: RG14; Piece: 5841; Schedule Number: 215