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

Hugh Dominic WStiles13 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!”

Hugh Dominic WStiles14 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)

Hugh Dominic WStiles31 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)

Hugh Dominic WStiles24 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

Hugh Dominic WStiles17 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’

‘I said to her, “The child’s head is cut off.” I have seen her several times since, and she still insists that the head came off.’ Esther Dyson 1807-1869

Hugh Dominic WStiles29 November 2019

William Dyson (baptised 1804) and his sister Esther, were born in Ecclesfield, Yorkshire, and were both Deaf.  They were children of Isaac and Hannah Dyson, and Esther was the youngest of eight.  I do not know the fates of all the children, but one of the newspapers said that they had no parents or siblings surviving in 1831, though there were other Dysons still in the village.  I came across Esther’s story in the newspaper archive, and it is a sorry tale of neglect.  I will leave it to the papers to tell the story.

CHILD MURDER. Sheffield, Sept. 30.

Some excitement has been occasioned in Sheffield and the neighbourhood for the last two days, in consequence of the discovery of child murder, young woman, 23 years of age, at a village called Ecclesfield, on the road to Leeds from Sheffield. The accused person is Esther Dyson, a deaf and dumb girl, working at a thread-mill at that place, girl of exceeding good appearance, and remarkably shrewd and cunning.

THE INQUEST.

On Thursday, a respectable body of men assembled at the house of Mr. Ashton, the Black Bull Inn, in Ecclesfield, near Sheffield, before Mr. B. Badge, coroner for that district of Yorkshire, on view of the body of the child, when the following evidence was adduced -Ellen Greaves, the wife Thomas Greaves, of Ecclesfield, in the county York, file-cutter, deposed – I knew Esther Dyson, single woman, who is about 23 years of age; she is deaf and dumb ; I live next door to her, and she lives with her brother, who is also deaf and dumb. Three or four months ago I challenged her with being in the family way, but she denied it; she has sufficient knowledge, in my opinion, to know what is right or wrong, and I can make her understand by signs what I mean. About a month ago I again challenged her with being with child, and she seemed angry with me, and she told me signs that it was some stuff that she had applied inwardly and outwardly to her throat, which had made her body swell. I made signs to her to begin and make some clothes for her child, at the same time showing her my infant, but she seemed to blow it away, making signs showing that she was not with child; I was in the habit of seeing Esther Dyson daily. On Friday last, the 24th ult., I saw her about twelve o’clock, at her own house-door, and she appeared quite big in the family way ; I did not see her again till about nine o’clock on Saturday morning, when she was washing the house-floor, and she seemed pale, languid, and weak. On Saturday morning last, about nine o’clock, I motioned her to know how she was; she then had a flannel tied round her neck. She motioned to that she had thrown up a large substance, and it had settled her body. About three o’clock on Sunday last, the 20th inst., I went to her house, and her brother motioned me that his sister was in bed very sick, but I did not go up stairs. About four o’clock on the same day, she appeared poorly and weak, and I desired her brother make her some tea, and I stopped till she took it. I left about five o’clock Sunday afternoon. From her altered appearance I have doubt she had been delivered of a child.

Hannah Butcher corroborated the above evidence, and said, that from her observation, as a married woman, she believed the prisoner had been delivered of a child on the Friday.

William Graham examined.- I am a blacksmith. I know the prisoner, and think her intelligent. On Saturday night last, 20th inst., at about 8 o’clock, I was returning home to Ecclesfield from Wortley, and I met the prisoner in Lee-lane, in Ecclesfield township, with something wrapped before her apron. She was on a footpath leading from Ecclesfield to Wortley and about 600 yards from the Cotton-mill Dam, where the body of female child has been found. She having passed, I met H. Woodhouse, and he asked me if it was not the dumb girl whom I had met ? and I said yes, it was.

Fanny Guest, a gentleman’s servant, who had been in conversation with Woodhouse, deposed to her having also seen the dumb girl pass her, with something under her apron.
James Henderson, overlooker of the thread-mill belonging to Mr. Barlow, knows the prisoner and her brother, who is also deaf and dumb. They have worked in the mill 11 years. Is satisfied that the dumb girl is capable of distinguishing right from wrong. On Sunday last witness went to Wm. Dyson, the dumb man’s house, and he willingly gave me his keys to examine the boxes belonging to him. I saw nothing suspicious in his room. I then examined the prisoner’s room, and I found blood on the chamber floor, and blood partially wiped off the floor. The wall was also sprinkled with blood. I withdrew the curtain of her chamber window, and observed marks of blood on the window bottom. I opened a hand-box, and found two aprons and a skirt, on which appeared as if a substance had been laid upon them, the blood having run through the skirt. The prisoner came up stairs, and, by signs, desired me to come away, and not search. Being convinced that something wrong had been done, I sent for the vestry clark, and in his presence searched the prisoner’s box, and found several articles, from which it was evident that they belonged to person who had been delivered of a child. On Monday last, about an hour after the child had been found in the dam, it was brought to the Ecclesfield workhouse, and laid down she blamed him? She then satisfied me that he had no-thing to do with it, but that she had done it herself .She told her brother in my presence that she did not throw the child into the dam. She merely laid it in. I conceive the prisoner to be a shrewd, clever woman.

Ann Briggs examined – I am the wife of Thomas Briggs, cutler of Ecclesfield. The piece of green cloth produced by Wm. Shaw, the constable, and in which the child was found, is part of a sofa cover belonging to Wm. Dyson, prisoner’s brother ; I took the body of the child out the cloth, and then to the workhouse ; I also, at the same time, took the head of the child also found in the dam, out of a separate piece of green cloth, which also belonged the sofa alluded to. I have practised as midwife for upwards of 20 years, and it is my opinion that the head of the child had been cut off by some dull instrument. Mr. Thomas Yeardley, who has a dumb child of his own gave me some books, which are published for the purpose of instructing deaf and dumb children; for up- wards of 12 months I instructed the prisoner in signs and learning her the dumb alphabet, and she obtained that instruction that I am convinced she can understand me ; she is of very quick apprehension. Monday last I went to the prisoner, and asked her to explain the manner to me how she was delivered of her child. I said to her, “The child’s head is cut off.” I have seen her several times since, and she still insists that the head came off. On reproving her with throwing it into the dam, she showed that she had, not thrown in it, but had laid it in pretty and nice.

James Machin deposed that, in consequence of information given him Sunday night, he went to the prisoner’s house, and found it in the state described by the other witnesses. I, assisted by W. Shaw, the constable of Ecclesfield, searched the dam, and pulled out the headless body of a fine full-grown infant – a female. This witness went on to corroborate the testimony of Henderson and Greaves, as to the appearance, in the prisoner’s bed-room.

Sarah Ingham deposed – l am the governess of the Ecclesfield workhouse. I went to the house of Dyson, and received from Henderson certain articles wrapped in bundle; they were saturated with blood. The articles produced are the same, and have been in my care ever since. I examined the breasts of the prisoner, and found a deal milk in them. She told the same story to the manner in which the head came off, she did the other witnesses. I produced a knife to her, and showed signs that she bad cut the head off. But she threw herself on one side, and shunned the idea.

Wm. Shaw, the constable of Ecclesfield, confirmed the testimony of Machin.

Mr. Wm. Jackson, lecturer on anatomy, stated that on the 27th day of September last he examined Esther Dyson the prisoner, and she had every appearance of having been recently delivered. He was decidedly of opinion, from the examination, that the head of the child had not been torn or screwed off by the mother. He had had no doubt, from the particular examination of the body of the deceased, and from the appearance that it exhibited on that examination, that the child was born alive.

Mr. Joseph Campbell, surgeon, having also examined both the woman and the child, fully corroborated Mr. Jackson’s testimony.

The coroner having summed up,

The jury retired, and in few minutes returned with verdict of Wilful Murder against Esther Dyson.

The coroner then issued a warrant for the unfortunate woman’s committal to York Castle, to take her trial the ensuing Lent Assizes. (London Evening Standard – Saturday, 2nd October, 1830)

It would be interesting to trace Yeardley’s child, and work out which book she or he was taught with – I would suggest Watson’s as used in the Old Kent Road Asylum.  No one seems interested in who the father might have been – no doubt there was plenty of speculation locally.  How much Esther knew of what society deems right and wrong, we can only guess.

Six months later, the case was decided in the Assizes.

FRIDAY, March 25. CHARGE OF MURDER.

ESTHER DYSON was this morning placed at the bar, charged with the wilful murder of her female bastard child, at Ecclesfield, near Rotherham, on the 24th of Sept, last.
In consequence of the prisoner labouring under the infirmity of having been born deaf and dumb, the greatest interest was excited, and the galleries were crowded on the opening of Court.

The prisoner is 26 years of age, but does not appear so old. She is rather tall, and of slender make. She has light hair and complexion, and of rather a pleasing and pensive cast of feature. She was dressed in a coloured silk bonnet, a light calico printed dress, and a red cloth cloak. She had the appearance of a respectable female in the lower walks of life.

The Clerk of the Arraigns having read over the indictment, which contained four counts, in which the charge was differently stated, put the question, “Guilty or Not Guilty,” to which, in consequence of her infirmity, she made no answer.

The Jury was then impanelled, pro forma, to try whether she stood mute of malice, or from the act of God.

James Henderson was then sworn, who deposed that he communicate ideas to her by signs. He was then sworn to interpret the various questions to the prisoner.

In reply to a question from the judge, the witness stated In reply to a question from the judge, the witness stated that the prisoner had no counsel – that she had no father, mother or relative, except a brother, who was himself deaf and dumb.

His Lordship said she must have counsel, and at his request Sir Gregory Lewin undertook to conduct the defence. years, endeavoured to make the prisoner understand, by signs, that she might object to any of the gentlemen of the Jury, but he failed to make her comprehend the Jury, but he failed to make her comprehend the nature of the question.

The Jury returned a verdict “that the prisoner was not sane.”

The Judge then directed her to be remanded, and every proper means taken to instruct her. In a previous part of the proceedings, the Judge said he should reserve the point tor the consideration of the Judges, whether she should be tried upon the charge, or confined during the King’s pleasure. (York Herald – Saturday, 26th of March 1831)

Esther seems to have lived out her life in the asylum, dying in 1869, and was buried on the 23rd of March 1869, at the Parish of Stanley, York, England.  William died, I think, in 1875.

We should recall that at this time you could be hanged for robbery and assault – that was the fate of three young men at the same assizes – Turner, Twibell and Priestley-

“Lord have mercy upon your souls.” During the passing of the sentence, Turner wept bitterly ; and, at the conclusion, exclaimed ” Oh, dear.” Twibell also sobs, and cried out – Oh, Lord spare our lives.” (ibid)

…so I think she was fortunate.

It really is not my intention to continually add lurid stories of death here, but that was life at the time.  This tale is another one that points to the sad way many Deaf people in the past were unsupported, though it also shows that 19th century society was not without compassion, and how, despite their faults, the Institutions (schools and missions) could reduce this from happening as often, by giving children the ability to communicate and belong to a community.

Incidentally, Sir George Lewin came to an unfortunate end after getting into financial trouble.

Esther 

1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 1271; Book: 10; Civil Parish: Wakefield; County: Yorkshire; Enumeration District: West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum Yorkshire; Folio: 51; Page: 16; Line: 10; GSU roll: 464241

England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 Class: HO 27; Piece: 42; Page: 403

England, Select Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991

https://ourcriminalancestors.org/the-story-of-esther-dyson/

‘Natural Pantomime’: Spectacle, Silence and Speech Disability Kate Mattacks

https://www.sheffieldhistory.co.uk/forums/topic/9047-infanticide-by-a-deaf-and-dumb-mother/

William

Deaths, 1875, March – 

DYSON  William  71  Wortley  9c 191

1871 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2335; Folio: 241; Page: 21; GSU roll: 87581-87582 

Yorkshire CCLXXXVIII.8 (Ecclesfield; Sheffield) 
Surveyed: 1890, Published: 1892

 

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?

This photograph shows the Oxford Mission in 1902, from the British Deaf Monthly –

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

 

 

“the trouble… starting through one of them brushing some water on to the other’s coal” – Deaf Derbyshire Dress Maker, Sarah (H)annice Sneap, née Grainger,1871-1955

Hugh Dominic WStiles14 November 2019

Sarah Grainger was born on the 11th of January, 1871, in Stoneyford (a small place right on the railway line that seems to have disappeared from modern maps), Loscoe, Derbyshire, and her birth registered as Sarah Hannice Grainger.  Her parents were Frances and Samuel Grainger, and her father worked in a colliery as an engine driver.  She attended the Derby School under Dr. William R. Roe, and in the beautifully produced quarterly magazine for the school, Our Deaf and Dumb for September 1895, her photograph appears with a column that was, I imagine, written by Roe.

At the time it came out, Sarah was working as a dress maker.  Roe tells us that the photographer has not flattered her.  He continues,

Our friend, when a pupil here, showed no special aptitude in any particular line, but a cheerful willingness to do whatever she was called upon to undertake, and to ‘do it well.’ This, after all, is a very good trait in anyone’s character, and reminds us of a leading statesman, who, on being reminded by a fellow-statesman that he used to be only a boot-black, replied, Didn’t I black the boots well r That’s the point, to do well’ all we undertake, and then success is sure to follow, as in the case of our friend, who is now in business for herself as a dressmaker, and, we are told, ‘has a nice little connexion.’ When travelling once, a lady told us she thought our old pupil improved both in lip-reading and speech.’ This is encouraging to us, and no doubt is a great aid to our friend in speaking on business matters to her customers.

We know she has had many obstacles in her way, and are glad of it. Yes, the true value of a difficulty has never yet been estimated. It is a real stimulus. It is like a ladder set up that one may climb. It is a tacit invitation to command the outlook. It is the open door of opportunity. It is the intimation to look within and discover one’s latent powers, and use them. Very few come up to their highest measure of success. Some fail through timidity or lack of nerve ; they are unwilling to take the risks incident to life, and fail through fear in venturing on ordinary duties ; they lack the pluck necessary to success in life. Others fail through imprudence, lack of discretion, care, or sound judgment. ‘They over-estimate the future, build air-castles, venture beyond their depth, fail, and fall. A still greater number fail through lack of application and perseverance. They begin with good resolves, but soon get tired of that and want a change, thinking they can do much better at something else, and, alas ! move aimlessly from one thing to another without any set purpose in view. No one has a right to live aimlessly, for no one has a right to abandon reason and self-control, and consent to be a mere waif, drifting hither and thither like chaff before the wind. Whether deaf or hearing we are endowed with reason, conscience, and will, in order that we may both become and do that which is noble and beneficent. Let us remember that we live in a busy world, where the idle and lazy do not count in the plan of campaign ; and let every girl now within the walls of our Institution—yea, and those who have left us, too—remember the good old text, ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.’

In 1905 Sarah married a Deaf man from Ilkeston, who was ten years younger, a labourer and coal hewer called John Henry Sneap (1881-1936).  Sneap was possibly the same person who was recorded as having an accident in the Derby Daily Telegraph for Friday 31st of May, 1935 –

John Sneap (60), miner, of Marehay was admitted to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary to-day with a severely injured right leg. He is employed by the Butterley Co., and was caught by a fall of bind in the Marehay pit.

If that is him, it may have contributed to his death the following year, as he died in 1936.

Just as I thought I had finished writing this, I discovered that Sarah was another Deaf person who made it into the local press, in an unfortunate minor case.  This is from the Mansfield Reporter for Friday, the 23rd of November, 1917, adjacent to stories about cauliflower thefts and damaging turnips 

DEAF AND DUMB WOMAN IN COURT.

Two Selston women aired their grievances before the magistrates, the trouble apparently starting through one of them brushing some water on to the other’s coal. The complainant was Elias Jane Swain, and she said that a week ago last Tuesday the defendant Sarah A. Sneap, who is deaf and dumb, and who had the assistance of her brother-in-law as interpreter, struck her on the face with a yard brush, and when she put her hand up to defend herself she got a second blow on the arm.

—When this was explained to defendant through the deaf and dumb alphabet, she stated, through the same means, that complainant struck her first, and that she then acted in self defence.—The brother-in-law: She can’t hear or speak, but she has instincts, and she knows that complainant has made game of her, and has put her fists into her face.

—Defendant: I have not done such a thing.

—Complainant’s little boy said defendant struck the first blow, and then his mother took the brush away from her, and struck her with it.

—The Bench dismissed the case.

—The brother-in-law asked for some form of protection for Mrs. Sneap, but was told she must take proceedings with this end in view.

We learn from this that John Sneap’s brother could presumably sign, though it is always difficult to be sure whether someone is only using the ‘finger alphabet’ or is properly interpreting with sign language, as local reporters would possibly not have been clear as to the difference.

Sarah lived on in Basford, closer to Nottingham, and died in 1955.  Her death merited a notice in the Ripley and Heanor News and Ilkeston Division Free Press for Friday, the 6th of January, 1956 – 

BRINSLEY RESIDENT’S DEATH.

The death occurred on Wednesday of last week of Mrs. Sarah Annice Sneap, of 37, Plain Spot, New Brinsley, at the ago of 84 years. Although deaf and dumb, Mrs. Sneap led very active life, and was well-known locally for her dressmaking abilities, which she carried on until prevented by her declining years.

The funeral took place at St. James’ Church. Brinsley, and was conducted by the Rev. F. H. Newbery on Saturday last.  Mrs. Daff, sister of deceased, was unable to attend.

The chief mourners were: Mr. and Mrs G. Grainger, Mr. and Mrs. R. V. Daff, Mr. and Mrs. H. Reynolds, Mr. and Mrs. A. Daff, Mr. and Mrs. I. Daff. Mr. B. Eley, Mrs. Clarke, Mrs. Mellors, Mrs. Williamson, nephews and nieces; Mr. L. Moore and Mrs. Ayre, cousins; Mr. W. Rockley, friend; Mr. Fox (Deaf and Dumb Institute secretary); Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Chamberlain, friends.

Floral tributes were sent all the above; also Annice. Mabel and family; Mr. and Mrs. Rockley and Shirley; Mr. and Mrs. Purdy; Mr. and Mrs. Riley and Kit; Mrs. Andrews; Friends and Neighbours of Plain Spot and Frances Street.

Sarah Annice Grainger, Our Deaf and Dumb, September 1895, Vol. 2 no. 2 p. 25

Grainger

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3320; Folio: 40; Page: 6; GSU roll: 1341791

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2658; Folio: 32; Page: 3

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3143; Folio: 51; Page: 41

1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6254C

Sneap

1901  Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3150; Folio: 72; Page: 28

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 20357

Derby Daily Telegraph – Friday 31 May 1935

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