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Archive for the 'Deaf Missions' Category

The Rev. John Kinghan of Belfast Deaf Institution and Mission

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 March 2017

Kinghan mission churchThe Rev. John KINGHAN,  (1823-1895) was Principal of the Belfast Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.  Born in Ballymacarn, son of William Kinghan, John was educated at Dr. Blain’s Academy in Arthur Street, Belfast (see Obituary for what follows).  He went on to Belfast College, which was Presbyterian, obtaining his licence in 1852.  As early as 1845 we are told that he was giving instruction to Deaf and Dumb pupils in the Institution in Lisburn Road.  He may have met Charles Rhind at that time as he was Principal there for a while.  This was, of course, the period of the great famine in Ireland.  In May 1853 Kinghan took over from Rhind’s successor and predecessor, the Rev. John Martin, who then emigrated to America, being unanimously chosen from a list of nine candidates.  He remained at the school for the rest of his life, though after two bouts of illness he had to withdraw from much of the management work at the school in 1879 and 1884. He does not appear to have done anything particularly extraordinary or remarkable.

No one familiar with this Institution can overlook the lengthened and valuable services of the Rev. John Kinghan.  This gentleman has for so many years been identified with its working that he has come to be regarded as the Society itself.  His devotion to the cause of the deaf and dumb and the blind is widely known, and he has the satisfaction of seeing now a marvellous development of a work in the Institution, of which he was the leading figure.  His efforts have been ably seconded by Mr. James Bryden, the Head Master, a zealous and accomplished teacher, and Mr. John Beattie, the first assistant who graduated in the concern and is acquainted with all the details. (from Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1891, quoting The Belfast News Letter, of 4th February, 1891).

On 17th of May 1857, Kinghan started a mission to the deaf, obtaining the use of a room in Sandy Row where he could hold services for the deaf of Belfast.  This later moved to the Great Victoria Street schoolhouse, and in 1878  a special building, “the Bethel,” was erected in Sandy Row.


Below is the back cover of the 1914 report, with a picture of the Jubilee Home for women which the mission ran.  I expect there is information on this in the British Deaf Times where the picture comes from.  I am not sure what year the home began or when it closed.  Do tell us if you know more about it in the comments field below.Jubilee Home deaf women

Obituary. British Deaf-Mute, 1895, 5, 25. (photo)

Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1891, 2, 262-69, 289-95.

Annual Reports 1909,1913, 1914, 1917, 1919, 1924, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1943, 1948


His Family: 


One of his female ancestors, Catherine Sheridan, had an argument with one of the last wolves in Donegal –  http://www.thesilverbowl.com/familytree/Dill_descendants.htm

His Church:


“Oh, that the younger generation of the deaf were more like him!” Saul Magson of Manchester

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 27 January 2017

Saul MagsonSaul Magson was born in Manchester in August 1813.  He was, according to the census return for 1871, ‘deaf from birth’.  His obituary however says that he lost his hearing aged two, after an illness ‘attended with convulsions’.  The The British Deaf-Mute (1894), on which much of this is based, also says that he was one of the earliest pupils at the Salford School, what became The Manchester School,in February, 1825.  It was then under its first headmaster, William Vaughan, with eight girls and six boys (Bessant, 1892, p.98-9).  Vaughan had been an assistant master at the Old Kent Road Asylum.  As an aside, it would be very illuminating to draw a connected list of teachers, to see under whom each one trained, making an intellectual family tree in the way that is sometimes done for academics.

Magson became a clerk in Manchester Town Hall, but he never married.  He worked there for forty years until retirement.  In 1871 he was living with his younger brother James, a ‘stone and flag salesman’ (census 1871).  He was a regular at the Manchester Society for Promoting the Spiritual and Temporal Welfare of the Deaf, which was established in 1850, and until 1854 apparently he ran it with Mr. Patterson.  He also held services for deaf people in Ashton-under-Lyme, Oldham, Bury and Rochdale, among other places.  He was friends with G.A.W. Downing and William Stainer, (later both becoming ‘the Reverend) among many others.  “He was methodical, and notably punctual.  He often spoke of the friendly appreciation and kindness he received from the late Sir Joseph Heron, the first Town Clerk of Manchester, in whose department he was employed.”  He lived through the period of the extraordinary growth of Manchester.  By the time he moved to Southport, much of the town must have been totally transformed.  Heron earned an astounding £2,500 a year at one point, so I wonder how much Magson earned.  It is possible that there are records in Manchester archives that would tell us more about Magson and what he worked on.

he was a good servant; he knew his own mind; he knew when he was well off, and he was not one of those who are “given to change.”  The consequence was that he was never out of a situation.  He kept the same situation and no other for forty years.  Oh, that the younger generation of the deaf were more like him!

Saul Magson died on the 12th of April 1894, and was interred at Cheetham Hill, Manchester.  If you know that cemetery, and have the opportunity to see where he is buried, please let us know in the comment field below.

In Memoriam – the Late Saul Magson, The British Deaf-Mute, 1894, vol.3 p.119

The Manchester School, Quarterly Review of Deaf Mute Education, 1892, vol. 2 p.97-108) 

1871 census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3979; Folio: 87; Page: 4; GSU roll: 846090

V. R. Parrott, ‘Heron, Sir Joseph (1809–1889)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/49712, accessed 27 Jan 2017]

“the deaf who had been taught by the manual method were more intelligent & much better educated…” Agar & Rosa Russell

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 January 2017

Rosa Brommage was born in Wolverhampton in 1862, fourth child of Alfred, a clerk for a cemetery company, originally from Kidderminster, and his wife Caroline.  Her older sisters, Caroline and Annie, were both, like Rosa, deaf ‘from birth’ according to the census return.  Her five younger siblings all had normal hearing.  On the 18th of April, 1892, she married Agar Russell, who had lost his hearing aged 12.  Agar’s father was originally Samuel Gunster, from a Jewish family in Posen, although Agar said that they did not know his nationality – whether Polish or German.  Samuel went to America as a young man, but somehow avoided conscription and ended up in London, where he met his ‘wife’, though Agar was never sure whether they were married (various pages in his Reminiscences).

Agar Russell April 1899 Ephphatha 1We have the manuscript of Agar’s memoirs, Surdus; Reminiscences, written it seems in the war years.  They are rather higgledy-piggledy, with chapters that are themed rather than being chronological, for example “Workhouses and other Institutions,” or “Holiday Adventures.”  Some things you would like to know are not mentioned in much detail.

Agar Russell had grown up in London, where he was acquainted with the Rev. Fred Gilby and various people in the St.Saviour’s Deaf church congregation.  When he was 16, it was suggested that he become a teacher to the deaf, yet, as he says, “having never met a deaf and dumb person, or seen the manual alphabet.”  He went to the Llandaff School for six years as assistant to Alexander Melville.  The children of the school “gave a smiling welcome, and then began to make remarks to one another in a gesture language which I felt I should never be able to understand.”

Agar paints an interesting picture of life in the school.  He does not seem to have particularly liked the headmaster, Alexander Melville, and was not impressed by his teaching methods.  Melville “expected the children to answer his questions on subjects of which they had not sufficient written instructions.”  “Mrs Melville was deaf and dumb, of a quiet and gentle disposition and of no unusual attainments, and evidently in awe of her husband.  We cannot but conjecture that this union was due to her being the means of his requiring funds for the purpose of establishing the school” (see his Reminiscences).  When Mr Clyne of Bristol Deaf School came to take over temporarily after the death of Melville’s first wife,  Agar says he used instructions in writing before he put questions to the pupils –

Who? – Does? – What?

Mary – sweeps – the floor

What? – Done? – By Whom?

The floor – is swept – by Mary

In his Reminiscences he also said, “From my own experience I found that the deaf who had been taught by the manual method were more intelligent and much better educated than those brought up on the manual system.”  In the Ephphatha interview in 1896, Agar’s questioner, ‘C’, asked him,

“Speaking of the need for special services, have you ever met with a deaf person who could follow an ordinary discourse, by watching the lips of the speaker?”
“No, never; only a few who could with more or less difficulty make out short sentences uttered in an exaggerated manner by the speaker.  […] To suppose that children educated on the oral system can read everybody’s lips, even if everybody is patient enough to try them, is fallacious; and to assert that they can follow an ordinary viva voce lecture or sermon, is absurd.  The training of the mind of the deaf is more perfectly accomplished by the manual method and writing.  Many of the graduates of the oral system have a very poor grasp of language, and a very inferior mental development, as a consequence of their having been forced through many weary years to learn mere articulation and lip-reading.” (Ephphatha, p.67)

Mrs Russell jubilee ticketAgar took photos when he was in the Staffordshire mission, many being stuck into the annual reports that we have for the mission.  I expect that these were Agar’s own copies and that they were donated or willed to the library when Agar died in 1956, aged 91.  Unfortunately for us, this means that his photos are still in copyright for another ten years, so without knowing who inherited the copyright and holds it at present, we cannot legally reproduce his photos taken in the 1890s.

Rosa died in 1942, after fifty years of marriage.

Mr Russell Agar, an interview.  Ephphatha, vol.4 p.66-7, 1899

Russell, Agar, Surdus – Reminiscences.  Unpublished manuscript in library.

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2229; Folio: 20; Page: 34; GSU roll: 6097339

“He did possess that indefinable quality which for want of a better word we term genius” – Leslie Edwards O.B.E., Deaf Missioner and Teacher

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 2 December 2016

Leslie Edwards was born in Wanstead, Essex, on the 27th of December, 1885, fourth of a remarkable thirteen children.  His father, Samuel, from Hackney, was a stock jobber and later a stockbroker’s clerk, while his mother Harriet, was born in Bethnal Green.  Leslie lost his hearing through meningitis when he was seven years old, according to both the 1911 and 1901 censuses, though the Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) says nine.  He was fortunate that his family learnt to finger-spell which helped his education he said (ToD, p.194).  “It was this personal experience which led him throughout his life to advocate the use of finger-spelling, not to supplant oralism, but to provide those accurate patterns of words and sentences so essential to the acquirement of fluency in the use of language” (ibid, p.194-5).  He was educated at the Manchester Institution, according to W.R. Roe in Peeps into the deaf world, and London according to the Teacher of the Deaf obituary (by W.C. Roe I believe).  Perhaps both are true, though London does seem more likely.

In 1900 he went to art school to train as an advertising artist (ToD p.195).  On leaving art school in 1903, he worked as a lithographer, according to the 1911 census, yet another of the large number of Deaf people who learnt that trade.  He became a lay reader at the Royal Association for the Deaf and Dumb mission in West Ham.

In 1912 Edwards became an assistant teacher at the East Anglian School for the Deaf in Gorleston, Suffolk.  While there he met Marion Thorp, a Yorkshire born teacher of the deaf who had previously trained under William Nelson in Stretford, at the Manchester Institution (Deaf School).  Her father Robert was a Church of England clergyman.  They were married in 1916, and had two children, a son and daughter (ToD p.195).

Edwards speechWe have a 17 page typescript speech on welfare work that he gave in June 1950 to the Torquay Conference for Teachers of the Deaf, when his obituary says he ‘possessed the art of “putting it across,”‘ in his ‘harsh’ but ‘perfectly intelligible’ speech (ToD p.195).  For those interested in the development of oralism v. manualism it is worth reading at greater length.

The Sign Language is essential.  The word language is not necessarily confined to words, my dictionary gives several definitions one of which is “any manner of expression.”  In so far then as signing conveys ideas, gives information and increases knowledge, it is not incorrect to speak of Sign Language.
No responsible person wants to sign if it can be avoided.
If signing is to be disregarded and as far as possible suppressed as has been the case for so many years what satisfactory alternative is proposed.  Is it not time to face up to the fact that efforts to suppress this natural instinct have not been successful and are bound to fail. (Edwards 1950, p.5)

He develops this line of thinking, further on saying,

Many of you learnt French at school and I think it is reasonable to suggest you acquired about as much understanding of that foreign language as the born deaf do of their Mother Tongue.  How many of you enjoy sitting down to read a French novel? (Edwards, 1950, p.6)

Leslie EdwardsFrom 1915 until his death, he was the missioner at Leicester Mission.  Related to that was his work as a founder of the Joint Examination Board for Missioners to the Deaf in 1929, which gave a diploma to missioners and welfare workers.

He was the honorary secretary-treasurer for the British Deaf and Dumb Association from 1935 to his death, and received the O.B.E. for his work with the deaf, in 1949 (ToD p.195).

Academic qualifications, to quote his own words, he had none.  He needed none.  He did possess that indefinable quality which for want of a better word we term genius.  Nature ordained that he should be an artist and in deference to her command he sought, for a time, to utilize the gifts she had bestowed on him.  But in early manhood he found his true vocation and from then throughout his life the over-ruling factor was his unwavering determination to serve his fellow deaf. (McDougal)

He died on the 3rd of October, 1951.

Ayliffe, E., Obituary. Deaf News, 1951, 188, insert.

Census 1891 – Class: RG12; Piece: 1352; Folio: 68; Page: 38; GSU roll: 6096462

Census 1901 – Class: RG13; Piece: 1621; Folio: 90; Page: 13

Census 1911 Edwards – Class: RG14; Piece: 9703; Schedule Number: 69

Census 1911 Thorp – Class: RG14; Piece: 23656; Page: 1

EDWARDS, L, Adult Deaf Welfare Work. 1950, p.2.

McDOUGAL, K.P. Leslie Edwards: an appreciation. Silent World, 1951, 6, 174.

Memorial to the late Leslie Edwards: Loughborough Church for the Deaf beautified. British Deaf News, 1955, 1, 10-12.

Opening programme, 18 July 1961. Leicester and County Mission for the Deaf, 1961. pp. 11-12.

ROE, W,R, Peeps into the deaf world, Bemrose, 1917, p. 388.

SMITH, A. Leslie Edwards, OBE: his early days. Books and Topics, 1951, 17, 6-7.

The late Leslie Edwards, OBE. Teacher of the Deaf, 1951, 49, 194-95.


Two contrasting lives – John P. Gloyn (1830-1907) and Henry S. Lomas (1829-1905)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 18 November 2016

John Pugh Gloyn (1830-1907) was a fortunate man.  He was born in Clapham, London on the 16th of May 1830, son of C.J. Gloyn, a Launceston born solicitor (British Deaf-Mute, 1895).  He lost lost his hearing in his third year as a result of an inflammation “following the careless application of a cold knifeblade to a bruise” (BDT, 1904, p.109).

He was educated at the Old Kent Road Asylum under Dr. Buxton, when Stainer was assistant master, where he learnt sign language, the main method of teaching at that time (ibid).   On leaving school he worked as a telegraphist, then set up in business as a mathematical instrument maker (ibid).

Henry Samuel Lomas (1829-1905?) was in contrast an unfortunate man.  He was born in 1829 in St. Pancras, London, son of Samuel, a wheelwright from Sussex, and his wife Hannah, from Derbyshire.  He lived in Somers town, the notorious slum area partly destroyed by the building of St. Pancras station in 1868.  He also attended the Old Kent Road Asylum.  I noticed the following advertisement in A Magazine Intended Chiefly for the Deaf and Dumb for July 1874 inside the back cover.A Sad Case

Lomas was born deaf, and had very poor vision – sometimes he is called blind but there are degrees of blindness of course, and he must have had sufficient vision to be a ‘boot maker’ in both the 1901 census and on the records of St. Pancras Workhouse in Streatham.  I do not know when or how he lost his leg.  The Association for the Deaf and Dumb annual reports note several instances in the years around 1870 when a deaf person was knocked over and injured by a vehicle, so perhaps that happened. Cxdob7HXUAATHkf.jpg largeCases of sickness From the Trustees Committee minutes, for the meeting on 2nd May 1873, p. 205 we see that they gave Henry a small gratuity, tough clearly not enough in view of the appeal above.*

On the left is a page of cases from the Annual Report 1869-70 for the Association for the Deaf and Dumb (later R.A.D.D. now R.A.D.) which explains all too briefly that he lost his two fingers “unwisely meddling with some machinery”.  If he was in the University Hospital (UCLH), I wonder if there are any surviving records of their patients for that period in the London Metropolitan Archives.

In the 1851 and 1861 censuses Gloyn was living at 14 Brunswick Place, near Old Street, with his widowed father and various siblings.  In 1848-9 he began to  involved in ‘deaf work’ in a voluntary capacity, at first with Matthew Burns, who held services near Gloyn’s home in Shaftesbury Hall, Aldersgate, with the London Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb.  From January 1867 he conducted services in St. Paul’s Schools, Deptford, at the invitation of the Rev. Mr. Turner (Our Notice Board, 1907, BDT p.110).   In May 1872 he was appointed Missionary for the Northern District of the Association for the Deaf and Dumb, and he gave up his other work (BDM, 1895).  Gloyn’s obituary says,

Among the deaf he was a shining example of bright cheerfulness, and was never afraid to say what he thought, and had the very highest reputation as an upright man of unfailing punctuality and promptness in business matters.  His penny bank had for many years the largest amount of deposits, showing how well he drilled the deaf of north London in ways of thrift.

Lomas was a real survivor.  He started off poor, spent his life poor and disadvantaged, and ended it poor – yet despite all his misfortune he survived, we think, until early 1905 (search FREE DMB), though that would require a death certificate to confirm.  Gloyn died on the 19th of May, 1907.   Although they lived near one another, I wonder how much contact they had after they left school?  Perhaps Gloyn visited Lomas as part of his mission work, and maybe he brought his case to the attention of the Association.

GloynPhoto of Gloyn from BDM, 1895.

Many thanks to Norma McGilp of @DeafHeritageUK and John Lyon* @BristolDolt for additional information.


Association for the Deaf and Dumb annual reports – various issues.

A Magazine Intended Chiefly for the Deaf and Dumb


Census 1851 – Class: HO107; Piece: 1499; Folio: 446; Page: 14; GSU roll: 87832

Census 1861 – Class: RG 9; Piece: 129; Folio: 6; Page: 5; GSU roll: 542578

Popular deaf-mutes – J.P. Gloyn. British Deaf-Mute, 1895, 4(39), 34. (photo)

Our Missions Today; Mr John P. Gloyn & Islington, BDT 1904 p.109

John Pugh Gloyn, Our Notice Board, No.19, 1907, p.6


1851 Class: HO107; Piece: 1496; Folio: 854; Page: 36; GSU roll: 87828-87829

1861 Class: RG 9; Piece: 103; Folio: 95; Page: 43; GSU roll: 542574

1871 Class: RG10; Piece: 211; Folio: 85; Page: 88; GSU roll: 824596 (Drapers Place)

1901 Class: RG13; Piece: 480; Folio: 96; Page: 18

Charles Ebenezer Harle, Hon. Secretary for the Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 6 May 2016

Charles Ebenezer Harle (1807-92) was sometime Hon. Secretary of the Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb.  I was curious about his background so tried to see why he might have got involved in the organisation which became the modern Royal Association for Deaf people – the R.A.D.  It seems to me that the more we can discover about all the people involved in these early organisations, the better picture we can get of them and their histories.  Dots start to join up and bits of the puzzle begin to fall into place.

He was born into a non-conformist family.  His father was Thomas William Harle.  From his census entries we can see that he was a medical practitioner, L.R.C.P. – a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, and L.S.A. Lond. – Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries (London).  It should be possible to check their records to find out when he qualified and perhaps something of his career.  That is probably the sort of person we might expect to get involved in such an organisation.  Also, he was born in Shoreditch, so possibly came into contact with deaf people via his work and perhaps from early mission work in London.  He never married and he died in Enfield in 1892.

In 1841 Harle was living in Bloomsbury, in Orange Street, which now lies somewhere under the old St Martin’s College of Art buildings in Southampton Row.  Nearby was Red Lion Square where the Association had its premises from circa 1847 to at least 1851.  Perhaps that was how he became involved?  Two people are at the same address, I assume them to be his brothers – Samuel, also listed as a surgeon, and Thomas, a ‘shopman’.  In the same year he edited Three Discourses … The Church: the Offertory. Edited by C. E. Harle.   What might this ‘petition‘ of 1845 be?  Was it related to the Association?  In the 1861 census he was living with Esther, Mary and Matilda Jacobs as their lodger, at 9 Cross Street, Islington, a ‘medical ?doctor? at an hospital’.   In 1871 he was living with his widowed sister in Islington, but the census is very faded in the on line version so I cannot make out the address.  He was working as an apothecary, in which he qualified in 1862.  Between 1871 and 1881 he moved to Enfield, where he remained until his death on October 21st, 1892.  The brief notice of his death in The Lancet, says ‘late of the Bank of England’, and in the 1851 census he was a ‘clerk at the Bank of England’ which seems a strange career change – medical practitioner to bank clerk to apothecary*. 

What caught my initial interest in him was this letter, which is attached to a printed section of a report on the Association’s annual meeting (not dated but circa 1856).  It may be a real letter but it could be a reproduction.  I am not clear at what date it became possible to reproduce letters.  It reads as follows –

Association of the Deaf and Dumb
15 Bedford Row
July 15 1856

Sir, –
We have on our books nine uneducated and destitute Deaf and Dumb children too old for admission to the Old Kent Road Asylum.  We should be able to send all of them to a school in the country could we raise £80 per annum for this special purpose.

Permit me to commend their case to your Christian sympathy.

I have the honor to be
Your Obedient Servt.
Hon. Secy.

I wondered who the children were and what became of them, and it seems that some of them were sent to the Brighton Institution.*

Harle was on the committee as early as 1844 and was honorary secretary from 1856-57.  He then became the medical officer.*

Harle letter 11841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 672; Book: 6; Civil Parish: St George Bloomsbury; County: Middlesex; Enumeration District: 6; Folio: 4; Page: 1; Line: 8; GSU roll: 438787

*1851 Census – transcribed as Hurle – Class: HO107; Piece: 1706; Folio: 460; Page: 10; GSU roll: 193614

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 138; Folio: 44; Page: 29; GSU roll: 542580

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 300; Folio: 34; Page: 6; GSU roll: 824928

1872 Medical Register

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 1392; Folio: 33; Page: 59; GSU roll: 1341339

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1083; Folio: 109; Page: 48; GSU roll: 6096193

General Register Office: Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths surrendered to the Non-parochial Registers Commissions of 1837 and 1857; Class Number: RG 4; Piece Number: 4675

*Updated 9th of May 2016 with many thanks to Norma McGilp from @DeafHeritageUK

“My advice to the young men is, ‘study your trade and learn to do well.'” – Augustus W. Argent, Deaf Printer

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 29 January 2016

There is nothing spectacular or unusual to say about today’s subject.  He seems to have lived a particularly ordinary life.  Augustus William Argent was born on the 19th of December 1846 in Fetter Lane, Fleet Street.  He became deaf aged two, through scarlet fever (Ephphatha 1898 and 1911 census).  Aged nine (1856) Augustus went to the Old Kent Road School (Ephphatha 1898).  His father Isaac was a printer compositor, and Augustus followed him into that trade when he left the Old Kent Road Asylum, being apprenticed to Messrs. Graham and Lowe.  That firm went bankrupt so he finished the last four years of his apprenticeship at Spottiswoode and Co. printers, remaining there for a total of 53 years (Ephphatha 1917 p.496, Ephphatha 1898)During the latter part of his apprenticeship we are told that he found his English deficient,

so he resolved to devote his spare time to mastering the language with the aid of a dictionary.  He often sat up half the night reading and studying the meaning of every word.” (Ephphatha 1898).

In his memoir Gilby says of him “Language excellent but no speech.” (p.146)

When he retired, he said, “My advice to the young men is, ‘study your trade and learn to do well.'”  (Ephphathat 1917, p.497). 

In 1871 he married a deaf lady, Catherine Oliva Broughton (1849-1922), and they had a large family (eight children according to the 1911 census), including two sons who became compositors, one of them serving in the Boer War and one wounded in the First World War (ibid p.497).  In 1881 they were living at 4 Waite Street, Camberwell, and according to the 1911 census, when they were living at 26 Constance Road, East Dulwich, she had lost her hearing aged 3 (circa 1852/3).

Augustus died in 1917.  In his obituary, Willian Raper said of him, “His influence for good was very great, and he will be much missed in London.” (p.497)

He was an ernest temperance worker, and was to be seen sometimes in connection theewith at the late Mr.J.P. Gloyn’s centres in North London. In former days he was a prominent figure at the debates and lectures at St. Saviour’s, Oxford Street, W., and the Rev.W. Raper has quite a collection of old syllabuses containing Mr. Argent’s name and subjects. He worked under the the Revs. S. smith, C. Rhind, and W. Raper, with latterly the Rev. F.W.G. Gilby as superintendent-chaplain.

ArgentRaper, William, The Late Mr. A.W. Argent, Ephphatha 1917 p.496-7

Ephphatha (First Series) 1898, vol.3 p.


1851 Class: HO107; Piece: 1527; Folio: 203; Page: 41; GSU roll: 174757

1861 Class: RG 9; Piece: 220; Folio: 8; Page: 13; GSU roll: 542594

1871 Class: RG10; Piece: 426; Folio: 8; Page: 10; GSU roll: 824633

1881 Class: RG11; Piece: 698; Folio: 50; Page: 15; GSU roll: 1341163

1891 Class: RG12; Piece: 485; Folio: 45; Page: 27; GSU roll: 6095595

1901 Class: RG13; Piece: 517; Folio: 78; Page: 35

1911 Class: RG14; Piece: 2472

“Mr. Healey has a horror of extremists” George F. Healey of Liverpool

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 20 November 2015

George F. Healey (1843-1927) was Missioner to the Deaf, at the Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society from its inception in 1864.  Born at Gateacre, in the Liverpool suburb of Little Woolton on August the 28th, 1843, the son of a coach builder, Gerorge lost his hearing when less than one – “an accident which occurred to him brought on acute inflammation of the brain” (Oldham Deaf–Mute Gazette).  His obituary in the Deaf Quarterly News tells us it was a fall from his nurse’s arms, but that the loss was not discovered until he was nearly two (p.1).  He became a pupil of Mr. H.B. Bingham of Rugby for eight years, and was taught by the ‘combined method’, that is sign language and articulation and lip reading.  The Oldham Deaf–Mute Gazette says of Bingham, “there has never been a more successful instructor of the deaf, his aim evidently being to adapt the method to the child instead of the child to the method, and not a few of his pupils have filled and are filling responsible positions in a manner that reflects credit alike on teacher and taught.” (ibid p.207)  A final year was spent under a Liverpool teacher of the deaf, Dr. David Buxton (1821-1897).George F Healey

After his schooling, Healey worked for his father at the coach works in Berry Street.  His obituary in the Deaf Quarterly News tells us that he was inspired by annual visits to London, where he heard the Revs. Samuel Smith and Charles Rhind preach (p.1).  The British Deaf Times obituary says he was first taken by Mr. G. Bright Lucas in 1862.  At that time there was little being done to help the adult deaf in Liverpool, so Healey worked with his friend Robert Armour (1837-1913) to start the Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society in 1864 (ibid p.208).  He was the Hon. Secretary until 1895, then Vice-Chairman.

Healey worked hard to raise money for a new Liverpool Instiute building, and it was opened on May the 16th, 1887 by H.R.H. Princess Louise.  He was himself fortunate that his parents left him and his sister enough money to make them financially secure, but .

He gave evidence to the Royal Comission of 1881 regarding deaf education, being a firm advocate for the combined method.  “Mr. Healey has a horror of extremists, experience having convinced him that such people in any cause seldom do much good, but invariably accomplish a great deal of mischief.” (Oldham Deaf–Mute Gazette p.206).  Healey was also Hon. Treasurer to the BDDA, and one of its founders.  His influence was wide, and he travelled we are told, to most of the missions across the country, for example helping start the Cork mission in the 1880s (ibid p.2010).

George never married but lived for many years with his sister Florence.

Dear Friends of the Deaf No.2 Mr. George F. Healey , Oldham Deaf–Mute Gazette Jan-Feb 1906, p. 205-11

Mr. George F. Healey, Ephphatha No. 63, Autumn 1924, p.842-3

The Late Mr. George F. Healey, Deaf Quarterly News, No.92, p.1-3 Jan-Mar 1928 (includes photo)

Mr G.F. Healey, Liverpool, British Deaf Times 1928 Vol 25 p.12

Our Portrait Gallery No.3 Mr George F.Healey. Our Monthly Church Messenger to the Deaf p.29-30 1894 includes (photo)

W.R. Roe, Mr. George F. Healey, Peeps into the Deaf World 1917 p.61-3

Healey 2

The Oldham Deaf and Dumb Society

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 November 2015

HeseltineThe OLDHAM DEAF AND DUMB SOCIETY had its roots in 1851, when a Mr. William Bolton gathered all the local deaf people he could for a meeting in St. Peter’s Schoolroom, not far from Union Street where the society later found a home.  The only William Bolton I found in the 1851 census for Bolton, is not shown as ‘deaf’ on the census, but that does not mean he was not.  At any rate this did not get going as a regular service or mission at that time, we are told, until a Mr. John Street (hearing) became involved.  He got Andrew Patterson of Old Trafford involved (M’Cormick p.32, & Abraham p.163).   A free tea was then held for the ‘mutes’ (Abraham),  at ‘the Bent’, a place on the junction of West Street and Middleton Road, patterson being supported by two teachers, Hogg and Goodwin.   After this they announced that there would be a regular service at the Town Hall, conducted by the Manchester teachers.  Abraham says it was at some time in 1852 or 1853 that this commenced.  I suspect a search of local records might narrow this down.

Those who have followed this blog for a while may recall we have discussed Oldham and Ralph Clegg before.  The mission joined with that of Manchester in 1868/9, under the Rev. George A.W. Downing (ca. 1828-1880), but this did not please everyone and there was a break away group before the Oldham mission finally ‘officially’ split off in 1888.  Irish born Downing had worked as a teacher at the Claremont Institution for five years, then the Diocesan Institution for the Deaf and Dumb in Strabane where he remained for twelve years.  From there he went to work in north east London in an area that included Holloway and Whitechapel (M’Cormick p.33).  He only left there, we are told, when the Rev. Stainer resigned his position.  Downing married Catherine Siddon, eleven years his senior, and they had a son George.  George senior died in 1880.Lecture room

A long standing member of the Institute was Richard Heseltine (ca. 1828-1907).  He was a machine joiner, ‘deaf from birth’ (1881 census), born at Masham in Yorkshire and married to a hearing lady.  In 1903 M’Cormick described him as ‘fairly robust, silver-haired, genial and reminiscent’ (p.34).

Archibald WelshThe articles I quote from have much more detail than I can put into a short post here, but after the various difficulties with the years when the mission was divided , it was taken on by Archibald Welsh (ca. 1859-1940?) of the Old Trafford School, “a man of strong nerve, and endowed with great powers of endurance” (ibid p.41).  He sorted out the split, and M’Cormick says,

There is a touch of grim humour in the following concise paragraph dealing with this period, which will appeal to all who follow the trend of this little sketch, viz. :- “Overtures made by the leader of the rival association for amalgamation are declined by the Committee, and shortly after it ceased to exist.” (ibid p.39)

Under Welsh they acquired new premises for £1,500 in 1890 (ibid p.40).  He stayed until 1899 when he moved to Dundee.

His successor, William John M’Cormick (or McCormick) (ca. 1862-1919), who lost his hearing as an adult, while preparing for a musical degree.  He later told his missionary friend Bodvan Anwyl, that when he moved from Cork to Oldham, he had to abandon one set of signs for another (Anwyl, p.42).  M’Cormick was still able to play the organ, despite having also lost a finger.  He was succeeded as missioner to the deaf by his wife, Bessie.mRS mCCORMICK

In 1906 Gilby tells us that Mrs. (Bessie) M’Cormick took a party to London-

It was a hectic time, the very next morning I had to meet Mrs. McCormick a Missionary’s wife, with a party of deaf from Oldham. After breakfast they had to be taken to see the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral, plus some of the sights in Westminster. A Committee in the afternoon over a concert to be held at Lord Meath’s house on behalf of the National Physical Society. Then the Oldhamites had to be seen off. (Gilby memoirs p.192-3)

mCCORMICK M’Cormick revived the Oldham Deaf Mute Gazette in 1902, and we have an incomplete set of possibly unique copies through to 1918, and we may guess that when he became ill the Gazette ended.

M’Cormick, Brief sketch of the history of our society, Annual Report 1903, p.32-46

Historical summary showing the progress of the Oldham Deaf and Dumb Society, Report (1910), p.34-40

Abraham, Ernest J.D., History. British Deaf-Mute and Deaf Chronicle, 1894, 3(35), 163-64.

Anwyl, Bodvan, The late Mr. W.J. McCormick, The British Deaf Times, 1919 p.42-3

1891 Census – Richard Heseltine, Class: RG12; Piece: 3312; Folio: 51; Page: 17; GSU roll: 6098422

Trip to London, Oldham Deaf Mute Gazette, June-July 1906, p.16-19

“so moved by these unhappy souls” – Tommaso Pendola, Italian Teacher of the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 6 November 2015

This article was written by our colleague Debora Marletta, with some additions.

Born in Genoa on the 22nd of June 1800, Tommaso Pendola (1800-83) joined the order of the ‘Scolopi’, the Piarists (Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools) at the age of 16.  In 1821 he began to teach at the Collegio Tolomei in Sienna. The following quotation is phrased in a way that will sound familiar to regular readers –

Having found several deaf-mutes in Sienna, his city of adoption, he was so moved by these unhappy souls, shut out from the consolation of speech, and so desirous of relieving them from their melancholy condition, that, in 1825, he went to Genoa and placed himself, for nearly a year, as a youthful scholar under Padre Ottavio Assarotti, of the Scolopian Order, who, like De l’Epée in France, was another father to the deaf in Italy. Having learned the method well, Padre Pendola spent all his means in providing a refuge for these unfortunate ones and instructing them. (Matson, p.214-5)

L’Abate Ottavio Giovan Battista Assarotti (1753-1859) had founded the first deaf school in Italy, at Genoa, in 1801.

In 1831, under the auspices of the Grand Duke Leopoldo, Pendola founded and directed in Sienna an institute dedicated to the education of poor deaf people, later known as the Istituto Tommaso Pendola and now part of Asp (Azienda Pubblica dei Servizi alla Persona) ‘Città di Siena’.  In 1844 it was united with the school at Pisa.

Exulting in his heart, happy in relieving misery, he was the first among us to give a gentle and pious mother to these afflicted ones, calling to his Institution “The Daughters of Charity,” and when, in 1848, the members of this order were driven from Sienna as by a whirlwind, those of them that were with him remained peacefully under the protection of his uncontested authority. (Matson, p.215)

As Director at the Istituto, Pendola wrote a number of treatises on deafness and founded, in 1872, the quarterly journal titled L’Educazione dei Sordomuti (now L’educazione dei Sordi [The Education of the Deaf]).  Pendola had been a manual teacher, using sign language, influenced by Sicard, but he modified this teaching method under the influence of his friend Assarotti.

sordomutiThe aim of his new journal was pedagogical, its content directed primarily at teachers of the deaf:

‘The publication was aimed at the analysis of the didactical and pedagogical methods recommended to the teachers of the deaf’ [Esame critico dei mezzi pedagogici e didattici che vengono eventualmente raccomandati o proposti alla scuola dei sordomuti’] (L’Educazione dei Sordomuti, Anno I Serie III, vol. 26, 1903, p. 3).  The journal was also aimed at the promotion of the ‘metodo orale’ [‘the oral method’] or oralism, which had been popular in the United States since the 1860s, and had become known to Pendola via the priest Serafino Balestra, who had introduced into Italy the method known as ‘lip reading’.

Oralism – which opposed the use of sign language whilst advocating the use of speech and lip reading in the teaching of the deaf – was now deemed to be the most natural, appropriate and apt method for the social regeneration of the deaf: ‘il metodo orale è, senza contrasto, il più naturale, il più conveniente e il più opportuno per la rigenerazione sociale dei sordomuti’ (Ibid. p.2).

In 1873, a year after the journal was founded, Pendola organised the Congresso internazionale sull’educazione dei sordomuti di Siena [The International Conference for the Education of the Deaf Mutes of Siena].  As with the journal, the conference provided a platform to discuss the advantages of oralism vs manualism, also setting the theoretical basis for the Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf, held in Milan in 1880.  The ‘Milan Conference’, as it became known, formally established that oral education was superior to manual education, passing a resolution that banned the use of sign language in schools.  As readers of this website and those familiar with sign language will know, it caused much dissent, and is now seen by many as very harmful to the deaf community.  Pendola himself was not present, being old and frail, but was proclaimed honorary president (Matson, p.215).  Enthused by Oralism in the 1870s, Pendola was was appointed by the government as president of a commission to draw up plans for compulsory education of deaf children (ibid, p.216).

Volume 26 of L’Educazione dei Sordomuti, offers a large number of contributions for those interested in the history of the education of the deaf, including that of a teacher, who, in his article entitled ‘Il vocabolario dei nostri allievi’ [‘the Vocabulary of Our Students’] writes that repetition is fundamental in the teaching of a language, even in the case of deaf people. It also includes a review to Dr. Bezold’s book, published in 1902, on the aetiology of deaf-muteness, and a bibliography of studies on deafness within the context of education.

Pendola would seem to have been highly thought of by those who knew him.  He was a professor at the Uninersity of Sienna for thirty years, where, we are told, he fought against the influence of the “popular sensualist school of French materialism” (Matson, p.214).  His funeral on the 14th of February, 1883, seemingly held with greater pomp than he might have wished, was attended by much of the populace, and as he had wished, he was buried ‘with the poor, and in the midst of the deaf and dumb, my pupils’ (ibid p.217-8).

Pendola 001This is one of our copies of Pendola’s book, L’Educazione dei Sordo-muti in Italia, 1855.  It appears to be an inscription by the author.  His journal, L’Educazione dei Sordi, now available online, continues its publication of research articles, bibliographies and individual experiences in keeping with its pedagogical and didactical purposes.

We have a long run in the library from the third series, from 1903 to 1925, then picking up again in 1948.

Portrait of Tommaso.

Matson, Mrs. Kate L., Padre Tommaso Pendola, American Annals of the Deaf, 1883, Vol.28 p.213-9 (Matson’s article is mainly the words of Pendola’s friend, Padre Alessandro Toti.