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Matthew Robert Burns, Deaf Teacher and Missioner (part 2)

H Dominic W Stiles14 May 2020

Continued from Heathen Bristol

Burns moved back to London “engaged by the committee” of the then ‘Adult Institution for providing Employment, &c. for the Deaf and Dumb,’ where he served until June, 1845, when he was obliged to join the old congregation, who, under the Rev. Robert Simson, M.A., appointed him biblical instructor and assistant secretary.” (ibid)*

After 1849 he was the head and honorary secretary of this organization.

Aldersgate St 1852TO THE DEAF AND DUMB AND THEIR FRIENDS. Price 2s. 6d.. A FAITHFUL AND CHARACTERISTIC LITHOGRAPHED PORTRAIT of MR. MATTHEW ROBERT BURNS, DEAF AND DUMB FROM BIRTH, AND FOR THIRTY TEARS Church of England Biblical Instructor to the Deaf and Dumb. THIS PORTRAIT is not only valuable to his admirers and to the earnest reclaimers from misery and degradation of this section of waste mind, but to the Phsycologist and Philanthropist. Its Photographic correctness gives evidence of the unusual energy of mind and health of body enjoyed at 61 years of age by one who has been educated to active and elevated exertion, whose fellow-sufferers, when neglected and undeveloped, are doomed to much below the averaged period of human existence. Apply, by letter, to Mr Thomas Jacob Cook, 76, Fore-street, City. EC. (1860).

DEAF AND DUMB. THE gratuitous Dinner will given to those of the Mutes who are in indigent circumstances of Shaftesbury Hall Chapel. Aldersgate-street, Thursday, the 26th Inst., at 1 o’clock, the Gate of St. John of Jerusalem, Clerkenwell. The Committee trust that the subscriptions of the benevolent supporters of the above will enable them to provide the poor Mutes with their usual plentiful supply of Christmas fare.  In such a work of love we shall greatly rejoice, we know the deaf and dumb labour under a threefold affliction, namely want of hearing, want of speech, and want of money. Inscrutable wisdom has placed them amongst the speaking commu-nity, and perhaps this for the very purpose of exercising Christian sympathies; and if we neglect them, we are truly also doing evil to our own souls. Further atletnpts to influence the public we would refrain from. A sweet scripture says, “He that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.” MATTHEW ROBERT BURNS. Biblical Instructor, and Secretary the above Chapel. (Clerkenwell NewsWednesday 25 December 1861)

In 1866 J.P. Gloyn took over this role, and the remainder of his life was apparently lived in obscurity, with Burns surviving on £40-£50 per year.  Gilby recalls how Burns would visit his parents, who would help him out when they could.  He died of bronchitis on 21st of January 1879.

………..

Note

The Action on Hearing Loss archive contains a small selection of his letters from his latter years. I speculate that someone also had a scrapbook thats seems to have had a lot of Burns memoranda and there are photos of documents in the Action on Hearing Loss collection that may no longer exist.  Someone could use these disparate sources to put together an iteresting sketch of his life and work.

*Unusually I have failed to compile bibliographic notes or references for this or the much earlier Burns item.  This section was intended to use his remaining letters, and I cannot say where the top quote was from as I  wrote this item over two years ago.  Without full access to the collection, that is  unfortunately now impossible.

This may well be the last blog I write here, due to various circumstances including the closing of the libraries and the Covid-19 lockdown.  I had a stack of potential items that would have been put up here in the remaining time we had.  They may or may not see the light of day in another space, depending on access to research matrerials and resources.

Copyright on what I have written in these blogs resides with me as author, however when it comes to images used on the blog it is a whole lot more complicated.  Broadly, where images are photos the copyright resides with the image taker, and continues for 70 years after the death of the author.  This is complicated when the work is anonymous and it becomes an ‘orphan work’.

I hope the items in the blog have been of some interest and I would be especially pleased if they encouraged young Deaf people to take an interest in Deaf History.

Scottish Deaf Day Schools

H Dominic W Stiles14 May 2020

Scottish Deaf Day Schools

1883 Greenock

“In the 1880s and previous there was a Deaf School attached to the Glebe School under Misses Galbraith and Fisher.”

1885 Dundee (see a previous blog entry)

1886 Govan

Then came the Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act 1893 after which schools had to be registered and checked.

1894 Paisley

1896 Ayr

1904 Aberdeen

1910 Glasgow, Renfrew Street Special Hard of Hearing School

1911 Hamilton

Liverpool School for the Deaf and Dumb

H Dominic W Stiles14 May 2020

LIVERPOOL SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF AND DUMB (1825-2003)

Originally known as The School for the Deaf and Dumb, established in Liverpool in 1825, in 1839 Oxford Street, Liverpool, premises were bought. In 1927 the name changed to Liverpool School for the Deaf and it moved to Lancaster Road, Birkdale. It became then the Liverpool School for the Partially Deaf (LSPD) in 1948 under the headship of Frank Denmark. He retired in 1956 and Mr Furness took over. There were further name changes, in 1957 to the  School for the Partially Hearing, Birkdale (SPHB), then in 1973 to Birkdale School for Hearing Impaired Children. The school closed on 23rd July 2003.

Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1889, 2, 69-79.

The centenary of the Liverpool School for the Deaf and Dumb, 1825-1925: a brief history of the school. Deaf Quarterly News, 1925 (80), 2-5; (81), 2-3. (photo)

Prospectus 1936 B11854 [in Liverpool archive box]

Annual reports 1825-1828, 1842-1854, 1856-1858, 1861-1872, 1877, 1884, 1909-1912, 1922-1927, 1929-1934, 1936, 1937, 1939, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1947, 1973-4

The Talking Deaf Man – Johann Konrad Ammann (1669-1724)

H Dominic W Stiles14 May 2020

Johann Konrad Ammann (1669-1724), a Swiss doctor, produced one of the earliest books on a method of teaching a born Deaf person to speak.   The book, Surdus Loquens, was published in 1692, then translated into English a year later.

The Action on Hearing Loss copy really does have wooden boards, leather covered and with a bite out of the lower right of the front cover.

Amman 1 001You can read the whole (short) book on the wonderful Project Gutenberg.

Frederick Collins of Bristol (1866-19?) “makes very intelligible signs and gives proof of great thought and memory”

H Dominic W Stiles13 March 2020

I came across a photostat – I choose that word because of the age of the copy – of a school entry record for Frederick Collins (1866-?), when he went into the Bristol District Institution.  The Institution was founded in 1841, and closed in 1907.  It moved from Park Row, the address on the form, in 1874, so this form dates from prior to that.  The form seems incomplete – unless we suppose it to be a copy?

Frederick and his sister, Charlotte Elizabeth Collins (1871-?), were both born deaf.  They both attended the Bristol Institution and we can see them both there in the 1871 census.  Frederick became a French Polisher, and married a Deaf lady, Jessie Miller (18-?), daughter of a cab inspector, and they had three surviving children in 1911.

IN all cases of application for Admission into this Institution, Answers are to be made in writing to the following Questions ; to which must be subjoined the attestations of a Medical Practitioner, the Minister of the Parish, or two credible witnesses. This Paper is then to be returned to the Honorary Secretary for the inspection of the Committee ; and should it appear that the Child is a proper object, its name will be inserted in the list of approved Applicants.
– QUESTIONS

1. What is the name of the Child ?  Frederick Collins.

2. When was the child born ?  Filton, Nr Bristol, Born May 29th, 1866.

3. What is the name and occupation of its parents ?  John & Elizabeth Collins, Farmer.

4. Where do they reside ?  Filton, Nr. Bristol.

5. Was the child born Deaf, or has become so in consequence of disease ?  If, so, state at what age, and by what disease ?  Born Deaf.

6. Do the other senses seem perfect ?  Yes, in every particular.

7. Has the child ever been affected with idiotcy, or by fits, or with any nervous complaint, and is it free from infectious disorder ?  Never has been in any way affected and is perfectly free from infectious disorder.

8. Has the child had the small-pox, or been vaccinated ?  And, if so, when ?  Has been vaccinated on the 26th of Augt 1866.

9. Is the child generally, healthy ? Yes.

10. Has the child any personal defect or deformity ?  No.

11. Can the child dress and wait on itself, and are its personal habits cleanly ? Can dress himself and is particularly cleanly in his habits.

12. How many brothers and sisters has the child ?  Three brothers & two sisters.

13. Are any others of the family Deaf and Dumb ?  Yes, one.  A sister.

14. Were the parents related ‘before marriage’? If so, in what manner ?  First Cousins.

15. Does the child make intelligible signs, and give proofs of thought and memory ?  Yes makes very intelligible signs and gives proof of great thought and memory.

16. What instruction has the child received, and can he or she form letters ?

17. State the name and address of some respectable Householder or Parish Officers willing to give security for the payment of such sum, for the board of the child (if admitted) as the Committee shall appoint, ( £10 ) and for the fulfilment of the other condition contained in the Extracts from Rules and By-Laws ?

CERTIFICATE OF MEDICAL PRACTITIONER
I, the undersigned, do hereby certify, that the Answers to the foregoing Questions, referring above named Child are true. Witness my hand this day of …… 18….

ATTESTATION OF FRIENDS AND MINISTER, OR TWO CREDIBLE WITNESSES.  We, the undersigned, do hereby certify, that the Answers to the foregoing Questions are made under our personal knowledge and are true. Witness our hands this day of …… 18 …….

As we see, Charlotte and Frederick’s parents were cousins so probably had inherited hearing loss.  Jessie, Frederick’s wife, was however deaf through illness aged two.

In 1911 Charlotte was living with her unmarried brother and sister at 11 Fairlawns Avenue, Filton, working as an upholstress.  Clearly the Bristol Institution equipped the siblings with the skills to have a job with an income that they could live on.  I have not had time to discover what became of these three Deaf people in later life.

More ordinary people again!  Let us celebrate ordinary lives as well as famous lives.

Frederick –

1871 Census  – Class: RG10; Piece: 2573; Folio: 60; Page: 12; GSU roll: 835271 

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 2476; Folio: 119; Page: 19; GSU roll: 1341596

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1973; Folio: 126; Page: 29; GSU roll: 6097083

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2360; Folio: 74; Page: 41

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 15091; Schedule Number: 262

Charlotte

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 15107; Schedule Number: 74

Below I give the pupil list for the 1871 census in the Bristol Institution.  I find it very interesting that there are so many pupils for whom their birthplaces were unknown – were they foundlings, illegitimate?  I have of course not sufficient time to research that…!

Fanny Warren Servant 17 1864 Female General Serv Domestic Frampton Cottrell Gloucestershire
Elizabeth Alsop Servant 23 1858 Female General Serv Domestic Iron Acton Gloucestershire
Elizabeth Stowell Servant 23 1858 Female Domestic Serv Kitchenmaid Gilivern Breconshire
Fredrick Collins Inmate 14 1867 Male Scholar Filton Gloucestershire
Charlotte E. Collins Inmate 10 1871 Female Scholar Filton Gloucestershire
Ellen Coleman Inmate 13 1868 Female Scholar Nk
Charles W. Maggs Inmate 15 1866 Male Scholar Bristol Gloucestershire
William J. Barnes Inmate 13 1868 Male Scholar Chidiock Dorset
Emma Brown Inmate 13 1868 Female Scholar Bream Westside Gloucestershire
Phoebe A. Brown Inmate 10 1871 Female Scholar Bream Westside Gloucestershire
Mabel F. Hurley Inmate 12 1869 Female Scholar Weston-S-Mare Somerset
Joshua Williams Inmate 12 1869 Male Scholar Westbury On Trym Gloucestershire
Robert Quick Inmate 13 1868 Male Scholar Bedminster Somerset
Joseph Bobbett Inmate 11 1870 Male Scholar Nk
James Knott Inmate 11 1870 Male Scholar Nk
Edwin Osborne Inmate 14 1867 Male Scholar Colerne Wiltshire
Mary A. Buxton Inmate 14 1867 Female Scholar Burrington Somerset
John W. Price Inmate 14 1867 Male Scholar Dudley Worcestershire
Oliver Brooke Inmate 11 1870 Male Scholar Bristol Gloucestershire
George W. Anderson Inmate 15 1866 Male Scholar Lyndhurst Hampshire
William Halford Inmate 14 1867 Male Scholar Nk
Horace A. Swinerd Inmate 16 1865 Male Scholar London Surrey
Robert Pendock Inmate 9 1872 Male Scholar Mangotsfield Gloucestershire
George Kemp Inmate 14 1867 Male Scholar Priors Dean Hampshire
Thomas H. Day Inmate 14 1867 Male Scholar Plymouth Devon
Emma Spenser Inmate 11 1870 Female Scholar Nk
John C. Strick Inmate 11 1870 Male Scholar Nk
Jane Lewis Inmate 10 1871 Female Scholar Nk
Florence M. Cook Inmate 9 1872 Male Scholar Nk
Robert E. Powell Inmate 8 1873 Male Scholar Nk
Anna M. Thomas Inmate 9 1872 Female Scholar Worle Somerset
James L. Edwards Inmate 10 1871 Male Scholar Nk
Albert T. Elliott Inmate 9 1872 Male Scholar Nk
Gilbert W. Jones Inmate 11 1870 Male Scholar Nk
Harry J. Robinson Inmate 13 1868 Male Scholar Avebury Wiltshire
George J. Fisher Inmate 9 1872 Male Scholar Nk
Thomas H.T. Trivett Inmate 7 1874 Male Scholar Nk
Lucy J. Rogers Inmate 8 1873 Female Scholar Nk
Jacob J. Phelps Inmate 8 1873 Male Scholar Nk
Louisa F. Pollard Inmate 10 1871 Female Scholar Nk Gloucestershire
Rosa L. Dorey Inmate 10 1871 Female Scholar Nk
Henry Williams Inmate 8 1873 Male Scholar Nk
Elizabeth Hatton Inmate 7 1874 Female Scholar Nk
Frederick Evans Inmate 11 1870 Male Scholar Nk
Edwin G. Smith Inmate 7 1874 Male Scholar Nk
Kate Rogers Inmate 7 1874 Female Scholar Winterbourne Gloucestershire

This was the first blog for several weeks – I confess to being rather disillusioned by things, and overwhelmed by events here.

Charlotte Rolfe, dressmaker – “So fair is the earth, both by night and by day!”

H Dominic W Stiles14 February 2020

Charlotte Rolfe, or Lottie, was the youngest daughter of Charles Rolfe, a tailor, and his wife Maria Rolfe.  She was born in Bury St. Edmunds on the 2nd of February, 1856.  There is no suggestion on the census returns that she was deaf until the 1901 census, so we may assume she had a form of progressive hearing loss, though it rendered her almost completely deaf.  At earlier stages of life she was a servant, but later worked as a dressmaker.  There were a lot of Rolfes in Suffolk, so they can be confusing, but I am sure of my identification of the right Charlotte Rolfe.

I came across her in the British Deaf Monthly (BDM), where she wrote what might be considered an anti-war poem –

LONGING FOR PEACE.
BRIGHT is the moon, and the wind, softly blowing,

Wafts the sweet scent of the newly mown hay :

I feast on the scene till my heart is o’erflowing—

So fair is the earth, both by night and by day!

 

So peaceful the scene, can it be (ay, too truly !)

That War’s mighty standard’s still reared o’er the world ?

Oh, when will the nations become less unruly,

And the Banner of Peace be for ever unfurled ?

 

Who can forget how our soldiers are lying

Sick, wounded, distressed, from their friends far away ?

And daily are added more sick and more dying—

For them and their kindred I’ll cease not to pray !

 

In war a dear brother—I still mourn him—perished,

Who toiled and served nobly his Queen for awhile—

Deep, deep in my heart is his memory yet cherished

While he peacefully sleeps on the bank of the Nile.

 

‘Tis late, nay, ’tis early ! soon day will be dawning :

I’ll rest for awhile—gather strength for the day,

And in the bright sunshine I’ll spend the glad morning,

Then Zephyrus ! winnow my sorrow away.

CHARLOTTE ROLFE

I think that is a very good amateur poem.  That she submitted a poem to the editors, suggests that she was familiar with the BDM, and felt herself  a part of the larger deaf community.

I take it her brother had died a few years before, perhaps serving under Kitchener, but I have not identified him – her parents had a lot of children and I have only a limited time to research this.  I then found nothing more, until, that is, I looked in the British Newspaper Archive.  That turned up another sad story, this time concerning Charlotte’s sister.  I think the writer or printer added an incorrect age for her sister, who was I think 47 rather than 57. *

This story appears in the Hackney and Kingsland Gazette, for Wednesday the 9th of September, 1903 –

HOMERTON WOMAN’S SUICIDE

A SAD STORY

An inquest was held the Hackney Coroner’s Court Monday morning on the body of Mary Ann Dennison. 57, the wife of John Dennison, a silver finisher, of 31. Church-road. Homerton, who died from the effects of oxalic acid poisoning.

The husband of the deceased said his wife had no trouble of which was aware. When he left home on Friday morning she appeared all right, but returning the evening he found the room in darkness. He struck a light and then saw his wife lying dead on the sofa – dressed, with the exception of boots and stockings. On a chair near was a bottle and beside it a bill in which the bottle had evidently been wrapped by the chemist. Curiously enough, however, the name of the chemist had bean cut out. On the back of the bill the following note had been written to deceased’s sister, Miss Charlotte Rolfe, of Kentish Town : –

“Dear Lottie, – My head has been bad for years, and then I say and do foolish things. Poor old Jack is not to blame; he has been goodness itself to me! I can’t do so — l am best out of the way. God will call for my dearest of children! Don’t let them know I have taken my own life. – Tiny.”  Tiny, explained the witness, was the name by which his wife was familiarly known.

The Coroner: The jury will naturally ask, “Why did she take her life?” What reason can yea give for that ?

Witness; Well, sir, I can only say I have found her come home now and again the worse for drink. And that upset her mind ?- I don’t know, sir, but I have seen her reeling now and again.

How often ? Pretty often, lately, sir.

Once a week ? -Once a day, sir, and been going for years on and off.

During that time she has threatened to take her life several times ? -Yes, sir.

What reason did she give ? -She said she was tired. I always asked her what she meant by it, and I never could get anything out of her.

Charlotte Rolfe, to whom the note was addressed, said she last saw her sister on Friday week, when she made the curious remark that a number of people had committed suicide lately. This witness was so deaf that the Coroner had write down the questions he wished her to answer.

Dr. J. C. Baggs said he found the bottle referred to contained a small quantity of oxalic acid. Deceased’s mouth was burned by some corrosive poison, and death was due to oxalic acid poisoning.

A verdict of Suicide whilst temporally insane was returned.

Mary Ann clearly had a form of depression of long standing, and was unable to articulate it, even to her family.

She was retired at the time of the 1939 register, and living at The Sycamores, Beck Row, Mildenhall.  Her death was registered in Birmingham – perhaps she was visiting family or friends – noted in the Suffolk paper The Bury Free Press,

ROLFE.—On January Ist. 1945, CHARLOTTE ROLFE passed peacefully away, aged 89 years.  Service at St. Marylebone Crematorium. North London, Jan. 22nd.

but she was cremated in London.

If you discover more about Charlotte, please  do contribute in the comments field below.

* NOTE: Thanks as ever to Norma Mcgilp who found her in the 1939 Register, and when she died.

Also, apologies but I somehow lost the ends of two sentences in this version, now corrected.

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 1141; Folio: 142; Page: 22; GSU roll: 542762 

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 14; Folio: 7; Page: 8; GSU roll: 838752

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 863; Folio: 73; Page: 42; GSU roll: 1341204

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1451; Folio: 152; Page: 30; GSU roll: 6096561

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 204; Folio: 10; Page: 11

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 9881; Schedule Number: 76

BDM vol: 9, no. 107, September 1900 p.245

Mobi Urbanova, Deaf Czechoslovak Dancer (1914-88)

H Dominic W Stiles31 January 2020

Mobi Urbanova was born Emilie Urbanova, in Prague, on the 24th of July, 1914.  It seems that she was Deaf from birth.  As it was a period of prewar mobilisation, her family called her ‘Mobi’ and the name stuck.

Her family was middle class, and her mother was a good pianist, and Mobi first showed an interest in dancing when only three.

The picture, in our postcard collection (so undoubtedly used by Selwyn Oxley for a lantern slide show), is probably taken from The Silent Worker.  I skipped through it quickly but could not spot the original.  Under the heading, Deaf Dancing Star of Prague, it continues,

INTERESTING PHENOMENON—A DEAF DANCER
There are very few deaf dancers.  Only three have acquired world fame: the American dancer, Miss Helen Heckman, the leading dancer at the Opera Vienna, Mlle. Adeline, and M. David Marvel of America. There now appears a fourth dancing star of the deaf world: a child dancer, NH. Mobi Urbana.
She is now eleven years old.  She was born in Prague of a middle-class family, and, though deaf by birth, she showed from early childhood a remarkable talent for rythmics and dancing. She danced everywhere and at any time; she played by dancing and created her own dance evolutions. Later she took a course in rythm [sic] and learned to dance the gavotte, the butterfly dance, and the polka, in its elaborate form, etc.  She first appeared on the stage at eleven years of age, and has since won many records for exhibition dancing in Prague, and other towns and resorts in Czech-Slovakia. Her parents give her every opportunity to study dancing and music. She receives instruction in playing the piano, and is now one of the pupils of Mlle. Stephanie Klimesova, ballet mistress of the National Theatre in Prague.  Her dancing is natural and free from all affectation. V. B. H.

Remarkably, she was able to publish a memoir, Splněný sen/Erfüllter Traum in 1943, at  a time when the Germans were brutalising Deaf people.  Perhaps because she was reasonably well known, she had some propaganda value.

Mobi’s mother remarried, Jiří Bubla, who in 1947 became chairman of the Czechoslovak Central Association for the Deaf.  She taught dance to Deaf children from around 1942, and after the war.  She would also play the piano as a part of her performance.

She died in Prague on the 22nd of January, 1988.

Please Note: I have broadly followed the Czech Wikipedia page, as I have found very little in English.

http://www.pametnaroda.cz/witness/clip/id/3493/clip/10490

http://www.pametnaroda.cz/witness/index/id/3900

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=mobi+urbanova&hl=en&prmd=ivns&tbas=0&source=lnt&sa=X&ved=0CA4QpwVqFQoTCLPvqJSOs8gCFcVVGgod2-0Fhw

“After a great struggle he managed to rescue her” – George Biddle (b.ca. 1912)

H Dominic W Stiles24 January 2020

I came across yet another example of a Deaf person who heroically rescued a drowning person – George Biddle (b.ca. 1912) of Glasgow.

DEAF AND DUMB HERO Award to Glasgow Rover Scout The Silver Cross for Gallantry has been awarded to a deaf and dumb Rover Scout, George Biddle, aged 24, of the 154th Glasgow (Handicapped) Group, by the Boy Scouts Association for his outstanding bravery in rescuing a woman from drowning in the River Clyde at Bridge Wharf, Broomielaw, Glasgow, at mid-day on March 12.  Biddle was cleaning a car when a man drew his attention by making signs and pointing to the water.  Seeing the woman in the water, Biddle unhesitatingly took hold of a lifebelt and jumped in fully clothed and with heavy boots on.  He caught hold of the woman, and the men on the side pulled them to the bank by the rope of-the lifebelt , which he had left attached to the ring. (The Scotsman – Wednesday 27 May 1936)

The Magazine for the Scottish Deaf covered the story –

Thrilling Rescue

The deaf are in the news, and for this we have to thank George Biddle, who at great personal risk saved a woman from drowning in the Clyde on 12th March. It appears that the woman for no apparent reason jumped into the river. Immediately George, without any hesitation, got hold of a lifebelt and dived in fully clothed and with heavy boots on. After a great struggle he managed to rescue her.

Feeling that public interest might be awakened as a result, here are some extracts from a letter sent to the Press :—

” It may be of interest to the public to know that the young man is a member of the Glasgow Mission to the Deaf and Dumb, and also, for 7 years, of the 154th Glasgow Crew of Deaf and Dumb Rover Scouts, attached to the Mission.

There can be no doubt that Biddle’s alertness and quick thinking saved the woman from death, and he deserves every credit for his gallant action. It should be noted that while there were several hearing people on the scene, it was left to one who is deaf and dumb to play the part of rescuer. My object in writing is to emphasise that the deaf can be as alert, and at times even more so, than others with all their faculties, a fact which is unfortunately very often overlooked.

There are many kids in and around Glasgow of Biddle’s type who, for lack of understanding on the part of employers, have been given no chance of finding their place in the industrial world.

Unemployment is the most acute problem the deaf, particularly the younger people, have to face, and I hope that, as the result of this incident, there will be a better understanding of the character of the deaf. I particularly appeal to employers to follow the excellent example of Messrs Taggarts, the well-known motor agents, who are Biddle’s employers.”

Well done, George! (Magazine for the Scottish Deaf, 1936, vol.6 (3) p.45)

As a scout, I am pretty sure he must be in this photo from 1928 of  the  154th  scouts.  I have no more information about George – do contribute if you can!

 

 

“One obstruction Sir Francis Baring had to contend with from his earliest days—an incurable deafness” the merchant banker, Sir Francis Baring

H Dominic W Stiles17 January 2020

I was interested to discover, that the famous merchant banker, Sir Francis Baring (1740-1810), was deaf, or ‘partly deaf’.

At Lee, Kent, aged 74, Sir Francis Baring, bart. one of the Directors of the East India Company, and formerly M.P. for Taunton. He was of a Devonshire family; came to London early in life, and studied mercantile affairs, if we mistake not, in the house of Boehm.  His talents were of a very superior cast, and highly improved by reading. Few men understood the real interests of trade better ; and it may surely be added, few men ever arrived at the highest rank and honour of commercial life with more unsullied integrity. At his death, he was unquestionably the first merchant in Europe; first in knowledge and talents, and first in character and opulence.  His name was known and respected in every commercial quarter of the globe; and by the East India Company, and other public trading bodies, he was consulted as a man of consummate knowledge and inflexible honour.  Throughout his long and respectable life, he acted on those steady principles which seldom fail to raise men to opulence and credit, although they may not always enable them to shine with such superior lustre.  One obstruction Sir Francis Baring had to contend with from his earliest days—an incurable deafness. By the usual helps, however, he contrived that this should very little impede this communications; and both in Parliament, and as chairman of the East India Company, his opinion was so highly valued that every pains was taken to prevent the subject in debate from suffering by his infirmity.  His private, as well as public life, if faithfully delineated would form a most instructive lesson to the mercantile world; and a lesson particularly necessary at a time when so many seem to forget or despise the genuine attributes of an English merchant, and aspire at sudden and unsubstantial wealth and credit, by the paltry speculations of mere fraud and low cunning.  On the contrary, the soundest principles and truest policy laid the foundation of Sir Francis Baring’s fortune and character, and guided him in all his transactions. In future annals, he will rank with the illustrious names of Gresham, Firmin, and Barnard, men who have formed the English character, and to whom English commerce is indebted for its superiority.  (my emphasis) (Obituary, in the Gentleman’s Magazine, LXXX, 1810, II, p 293)

The great portraitist, Thomas Lawrence, cleverly represented Baring’s deafness in his group painting of Baring, his brother, and Francis Wall, from 1806/7, where the three men are in discussion and Francis has his left hand up to the side of his face, as if to cup his ear.  In his biography of Lawrence, Sir Thomas Lawrence: The Artist (2005), Michael Levey says, “He clearly felt no inhibition about being so depicted, and both he and Lawrence may have recalled that one of Reynold’s self portraits similarly showed him as deaf.” The following page is from the Life and Correspondence of Sir Thomas Lawrence by D.E. Williams –

In his memoirs, the business man Vincent Nolte, wrote, 

He had become somewhat feeble, and very deaf, when I first got personally acquainted with him. (Fifty Years in Both Hemispheres, p.158)


I have struggled to find additional sources as to his deafness, most seemingly going back to this obituary or another version of it, as newspapers often reprinted articles from other papers in full with no credit.  Unless someone can point to a contemporary source in his lifetime, such as a letter for example, we will have no idea of the extent of his deafness or its cause.  If you know of any additional sources for his deafness, please add a comment  below.  As with so many areas connected with things I come across in writing these pages, it is deserving of far more research than I can give it.

Thanks to the Baring Archive for this reference, from Anecdotal Reminiscences of Distinguished Literary and Political Characters by Leigh Cliffe

Sir FRANCIS BARING was a person of vast importance in the commercial world, and of some influence in the House of Commons of which he was an opposition member; he was the particular friend of Lords Lansdowne and Ashburton, Colonel Barry, Jekyll and many other names well known to the world, and was, though troubled with an inveterate deafness, which prevented his hearing even common conversation without the assistance of a pair of ear trumpets, constant in his attendance at St Stephens, whenever any question of interest was before the house.

I did come across this anecdote, in The New Monthly Belle AssembléeA Magazine of Literature and Fashion, Volumes 10-11, p.308 –

The late Sir Francis Baring, father to the present Lord Ashburton, was very deaf, and on one occasion, the bells being out of order at his residence, a man was sent to arrange them properly, and he, having completed his task, requested Lady Baring to try them.  Like most fine ladies who dislike to be troubled about trifling concerns, she asked him somewhat angrily why he could not try them himself, when he pleaded excessive deafness as an excuse.

There is a recent book, Disability and Colonialism: (Dis)encounters and Anxious Intersectionalities (2015), edited by Karen Soldatic and Shaun Grech, that may be of interest.  It has a chapter by Esme Cleall on ‘Orientalising deafness: race and disability in imperial Britain,’ that mentions Baring, who made a considerable amount of money in the slave trade, and via the East India Company.

It may interest you to know that Francis Baring is a 5 x greats grandfather of Prince William, through a daughter of his grandson, Edward Baring, 1st Baron Revelstoke.

https://www.studiointernational.com/index.php/painters-paintings-from-freud-to-van-dyck-review-national-gallery-london

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

The Baring Archives

Orbell, J.  (2009, May 21). Baring, Sir Francis, first baronet (1740–1810), merchant and merchant banker. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 17 Jan. 2020, from https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-1382

The Hampshire Archives have some documents that may be of interest – 92M95/NP3/1/1 contains a birthday memorial written for him as a child and 92M95/NP3/9/5 is a news cutting dated 1805 entitled ‘Interesting anecdotes of living characters – Sir Francis Baring Bart’

Gilby’s Ephphatha Newspaper & its iteratations

H Dominic W Stiles13 January 2020

Early newspapers and magazines for and by the Deaf were usually short-lived.  One problem was that Deaf people were spread out, but also magazines and papers were of varied quality, would not appeal to everyone, and were expensive to produce.  The Rev. F.W.G. Gilby’s earliest  attempt at religious ‘journalism’ was –

1885-87 THE HERALD This was written out by hand, and I think produced as a mimeograph process.  It is not particularly useful for Deaf history, as it is more interested in sermonising and religion than people.

It was followed after a few years by –

1892—93 OUR QUARTERLY PAPER Also produced by Gilby.

1894 OUR MONTHLY CHURCH MESSENGER TO THE DEAF  This was edited by Rev. F.W.G. Gilby, Mr A. Macdonald Cuttell and Mr W.W. Adamson.

1896-99 EPHPHATHA

1897 Mr A. Macdonald Cuttell became sole editor.

1899 It amalgamated with THE BRITISH DEAF MONTHLY

* * * *

1909 Rev. F.W.G. Gilby edited EPHPHATHA – This included the R.A.D.D. circular OUR NOTICE BOARD as an insert, or was itself inserted onto ONB, and became the R.A.D.D. magazine.  In turn, other missions would continue to use Ephphatha with their own local mission news as an insert or wrap-around.

1948 EPHPHATHA re-started in a new series, but in 1959 it ended.