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“but being deaf, the Spirit not the Body tires” – the Duke of Wellington’s Hearing Loss

Hugh Dominic WStiles3 May 2019

Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, who was born 250 years ago, in 1769, suffered from noise-related hearing loss caused by artillery.  William Wright tells us,

The Duke of Wellington was inspecting an experimental carriage for a howitzers and whilst in advance of the gun, gave the word ” Fire ;” the result was the rupture of the membrane of the drum of the left ear. The Duke went immediately to Mr. Stevenson who told his Grace the story, about thickening the drum of the ear. The solution of caustic was applied; instant pain ensued, from the caustic passing through the ruptured membrane amongst the ossicula, and very sensitive internal tissues. Within six hours the Duke was conveyed home from Lord Liverpool’s, in a state of insensibility, and it was only by most careful, skilful treatment that his life was then preserved. He went to Verona, a great sufferer, and the country had very properly to make a handsome compensation to Dr. Hume, and his family, for giving up his practice to attend the Duke on his mission. (Wright, 1860, p.75-6)

Graham Smelt says that this was on On August the 5th, 1822.  His hearing loss was made considerably worse by the botched treatment, a story related by a Mr Gleig, in an anecdote that suggests it was Hume who was to blame –

The Duke, many years ago, being deaf, sent for his medical man, who poured some stuff into his ear, not knowing that the drum of the ear was broken. This proved very mischievous in its results. The Duke said it was not sound that was restored to him; it was something terrifically beyond sound: the noise of a carriage passing under his window was like the rolling of thunder. Thus suffering, he returned home about the middle of the day, and went to bed. Next day, Dr. Hume called and found the Duke staggering about the room. Dr. Hume, although he well knew the Duke’s temperate habits, supposed that he had taken a little too much wine overnight, and had not recovered from it. He was leaving the room, when the Duke said to him : Hume, I wish you would look to my ear ; there is something wrong there.’ Hume looked and saw that a furious inflammation had begun, extending to the brain ; another hour, and the stuff would have done for the Duke what all his enemies had failed to do : it would have killed him. Hume bled him copiously, sent for Sir Henry Halford and Sir Astley Cooper, who treated him with great skill, and brought him round. The poor man came next day and expressed his great regret. The Duke spoke to him in his kindest manner and said, I know you did not mean to harm me ; you did your best, but I am very deaf.’ Upon which, the Doctor said, I am very sorry for it ; but my whole professional prospects are at stake, and if the world hears of it I shall be ruined.’ ‘The world need not hear at all about it,’ said the Duke; ‘keep your counsel, and I’ll keep mine.’ The Doctor, encouraged by this, went a little further : Will you let me attend you still, and let the world suppose that you still have confidence in me ?’ ‘No, no,’ said the Duke, ‘I cannot do that ; that would not be truthful.’ (Davies, 1854 p.16-17)

To me this sounds like a well-rehearsed anecdote, but there is something ‘missing,’ it seems to me, in Wright’s account, in that he seems to imply that Hume had some hand in the affair without explicitly saying so.  Or is he just omitting Stevenson’s name, and ‘the poor man’ is Stevenson?  Smelt says that Stevenson was to blame, and that Hume treated him afterwards.  In an earlier book, Wright tells us –

Deleau states that he can reach the cavity of the tympanum by a bent probe, or catheter. If he even can do so, which I consider is very problematical, I am convinced the operation is attended with considerable danger, for the ossicula (the small bones) which extend from the inside of the membrana tympani, to the opposite side of the cavity, would be in great danger of being forced from the situation in which Providence has been pleased to place them, or their functions would be otherwise diminished, or destroyed, and such would be the effect of any injury being inflicted on this delicate organization, that inflammation of the brain, and even death, would be a probable consequence. An example of this was unfortunately nearly afforded about the end of 1822, or beginning of 1823, in the case of the Duke of Wellington, a lotion of lunar caustic had been dropped into the external auditory passage, there was an opening at the time through the membrane (or drum), from an accidental cause, and the caustic lotion entered the cavity beneath, containing the highly sensative [sic] integuments, and machinery therein placed ; the results were intense pain; in a few hours inflammation of the brain, with symptomatic fever, and his life was only preserved by the most prompt and efficient treatment pursued by his Physician, aided by other medical and surgical advice derived from the first men of the age. In June, 1823, I was called into attendance on his Grace, as his aurist, and continue still to attend him when necessary ; even at this distant period from the unfortunate occurrence, the Duke feels sufficient unpleasant effects occasionally, not to allow him to forget it, independent of the privation of his left ear.* Similar, if not even worse, must necessarily be the consequence of introducing an instrument into the cavity of the tympanum, even if the patient be in a state of health; but if there exist any tendency to inflammatory action, scrofula, or erysipelas, the danger is increased, and the disastrous effects, or even fatal termination of the experiment, for it is nothing more in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, unavoidable. (Wright, 1839, p.55-7)

* In pp. 159 and 160, of “An Exposition of Quackery and Imposture in Medicine,” written by Dr. Caleb Ticknor, of New York, republished in this country, which I edited, and upon which I wrote copious notes, will be found a further account of the Duke of Wellington’s case.

Note how free doctors were then with patient information, while the patient was still alive. Smelt suggests as well as the seriously damaged ear, he also had noise-induced hearing loss in his other ear as he got older.

In 1852 the Duke wrote in a letter,

I have none of the infirmities of old age I excepting Vanity perhaps. But that is a disease of the mind, not of the Body ! My deafness is accidental ! If I was not deaf, I really believe that there is not a youth in London who could enjoy the world more than myself or could bear fatigue better, but being deaf, the spirit, not the body, tires. One gets bored, in boring others, and one becomes too happy to get home. (Wellington, 1854, p.314-5)

Losing his hearing had other consequences, as we see from this on February 20th, 1848 from the Greville memoirs –

At the House of Lords on Friday night, for the Committee on the Diplomatic Bill. Government beaten by three, and all by bad management ; several who ought to have been there, and might easily have been brought up, were absent : the Duke of Bedford, Duke of Devonshire, Lord Petre, a Catholic, dawdling at Brighton, and Beauvale. The Duke of Wellington, with his deafness, got into a complete confusion, and at the last moment voted against Government. (Greville, 1888, p.129)

When he was in his eighties, as members of Derby’s 1852 government were announced, the now quite deaf Duke kept repeating, “Who? Who?”  It became known as the “Who? Who?” ministry.

Davies, George Jennings, The completeness of the late duke of Wellington as a national character, 1854

Greville, Charles Cavendish Fulke, The Greville Memoirs: A Journal of the Reigns of King George IV, King … 1888

Hazlitt, William, ed, Arthur Wellesley Duke of Wellington, The Speeches of the Duke of Wellington in Parliament, Volume 2, 1854

Smelt, Graham, Wellington’s Deafness. Abstract presented at the meeting British Society for the History of ENT, Held December 1st 2011 In the Toynbee McKenzie Room, at the Royal Society of Medicine, London

Wright, William, A few minutes’ advice to deaf persons…, 1839

Wright, William, On the varieties of deafness and diseases of the ear, 1829

Wright, William,  Deafness and Diseases of the Ear: The Fallacies of Present Treatment Exposed … 18

Guichard Duvernay, pioneer of Otology (1648-1730)

Hugh Dominic WStiles14 September 2018

Guichard Joseph Du Verney (5 August 1648 – 10 September 1730) was a pioneer of otology.  He was born in Feurs, in the south of France, and studied at Avignon as a doctor befoire moving to Paris.  He became Court Anatomist – a post created for him (Hawkins, p.9).  As Hawkins says, “Duverney’s treatise is remarkable not only for its anatomical presentations, but also for its author’s thoughts on the physiology and pathology of the ear” (ibid).  Neil Weir and Albert Mudry say that it was also significant that it was published in French rather than Latin.  He was also, they continue, the first to show that the boney external meatus developed from the tympanic ring; that the Eusachian tube was a channel wherby the air in the tympanum was renewed; he explained bone conduction; he was the first to use the term boney labyrinth for the whole inner ear.  He produced his brilliant drawings without the aid of a microscope (Weir & Mudry, 2013 p.38-9).

That his book was translated to English over fifty years after his death, says a lot about how valuable it was considered.  We have copies of both the original, and the translation.

Le Vestibule est une cavité presque ronde, creusée dans I’os pierreux et d’environ une ligne et demie de diamètre. II est scitué derrière la fenestre ovale, et revestu par dedans d’une membrane parsemée de plusieurs vaisseaux : on y remarque neuf ouvertures dont il y en a une de laquelle il a déja esté parlé, sçavoir la fenestre ovale qui donne entrée de la quaisse du tambour dans le vestibule ; les huit autres lont dans la cavité de ce vestibule. La première mene dans la rampe superieure du limaçon ; il y en a’cinq qui donnent entrée dans les trois canaux demi-circulaires ; et les deux dernieres laissent passer deux branches de la portion molle du nerf auditif.

Je donneray des noms aux conduits demi – circulaires pour les distinguer, et je les nommeray par rapport à leur situation.  J’appelle le premier Supérieur parce; qu’il embrasse la partie superieure de la voute du vestibule ; le sécond Inferieur, parce qu’il entoure partie inferieure ; et le troisième qui est plus en dehors et sîtué entre les deux autres seranommé le Mitoyen. (1683, p.32-3)

The Vestibulum is a Cavity almost round, formed out of the Os Petrosum, and about a Line and a half in diameter. It is situated behind the Fenestre Ovalis, and covered on the Inside by a Membrane, furnished with a great many Vessels.  There are nine Foramina in it, of which one has been already described, viz. the Fenestre Ovalis, which forms an Entrance from the Tympanum into the Vestibulum; the other eight are in the Cavity of the Vestibulum: The first leading into the upper Range or Scala of the Coclea; there are five more which afford Entrance to the three Semi-circular Canals; and the two last through which two Branches of the Portio Mollis of the Auditory nerve pass.

I shall give Names to the  three Canales Semicirculres to distinguish them, and I shall take those Names from their situation: The first  I call the Superior, because it takes up the upper Part of the Arch of the Vestibulum; the second Inferior, because it surrounds lower Part; and the third, which is placed more towards the Outside, and is situated betwixt the other two, Medius. (1737, p.32)

Hawkins says that Du Verney “was a true forerunner of Helmholtz, putting forward a resonance theory before its time” (Hawkins, p.9).  It seems that he also dissected an elephant, in front of King Louis XIV in 1681.  The book is full of beautiful plates, some reproduced here.  I showed it to a UCLH otologist, and he was amazed by their quality.  Unfortunately no portrait of him appears to survive.

Du Verney, Traité de l’organe de l’ouie, contenant la structure, les usages & les maladies de toutes les parties de l’oreille. A Paris, : chez Estienne Michallet, ruë S. Jacques à l’image S. Paul. 1683

Traité de l’organe de l’ouie… on Google Books

Du Verney, A treatise of the organ of hearing: : containing the structure, the uses, and the diseases of all the parts of the ear./ Translated from the French of the late Monsieur Du Verney, of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Counsellor Physician in Ordinary to the late King of France, and Professor of Anatomy and Surgery in the Royal Physick-Garden at Paris. Translated by John Marshall. 1737

Desai, Sapan S & Dua, Anahita, History of Research in the Vestibular System: A 400-Year-Old Story.  Anatomy &  Physiology 2014, 4:2 DOI: 10.4172/2161-0940.1000138

Hawkins, Joseph E., Auditory Physiological History: A Surface View. Chapter 1, p.1-28, in  Santos-Sacchi, Joseph R., Physiology of the Ear. 2001

Weir, N. and Mudry, A., Otorhinolaryngology: an illustrated history, 2013

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph-Guichard_Du_Verney

“there is nothing, as I have said, in this mortal life except inanity, emptiness, and dream-shadows” – Girolamo Cardano 1501-76

Hugh Dominic WStiles1 June 2018

Girolamo Cardano (1501-76), or Hieronymus Cardanus, or Jerome Cardan, to use the Italian, Latin and English forms of his name, was born in Pavia.  His family lived in Milan during its occuption by the French.  His father was a lawyer.  Jerome was a sickly child, and seems to have had more than his fair share of accidents.  He attended the academy at Pavia, now the university, where he first lectured on Euclid (Cardano, p.11-13).  When he was twenty-five he became a doctor of medicine in Padua.

Attempting to make money from gambling, Cardano was the first person to work out the science of probability, though he did not get the credit for being first as he wanted the advantage of keeping the information to himself, and did not publish it in his lifetime.

Rejected by the Milanese College of Physicians (until 1539), he felt snubbed and was forced to make his reputation  in the provinces (see Hannam, p.238).  His philosophy was to allow patients to heal naturally so he did not introduce invasive and painful treatments to patients, rather prescibing rest & sensible eating.  This meant he was more successful than his fellows.  He was invited to Scotland by John Hamilton the archbishop of St. Andrews in 1551, who was very ill, and the archbishop recovered, and was full of praise for Cardano (ibid p.239).

He was rather obsessed by horoscopes, predicting he would die aged 45.  He prepared horoscopes of historical figures, including Jesus, though that later got him into trouble with the Inquisition.

We have a French version of De subtilitate rerumOn natural phenomena, whence the illustrations here.

He was a remarkable and fascinating man, and his memoir makes for a lively and vivid read.  He is resonably honest and certainly phlegmatic.  The behaviour of his sons might have crushed a lesser man, one being a violent criminal, and the other in an unhappy marriage poisoned his wife and was executed.

“I am by no means unaware that these afflictions may seem meaningless to future generations, and more especially to strangers; but there is nothing, as I have said, in this mortal life except inanity, emptiness, and dream-shadows.” (p.83-4)

Below we see the page on the beaver.  For some reason, perhaps connected with the use of Castoreum, according to Aesop’s Fables and then Pliny the Elder, mediaeval tradition said beaver’s would chew off their own testicles to escape hunters.  As a beaver’s testicles are internal, perhaps that contributed  to the myth.

Cardano, Girolama, The Book Of My Life. Translated by Jean Stoner (2002)

Les livres de Hierosme Cardanus medecin milannois: intitulez de la subtilité, & subtiles inuentions, ensemble les causes occultes, & raisons d’icelles. Traduits… Richard Le Blanc, Paris, Pour Pierre Cauelat ruë S. Iaques, à l’enseigne de l’escu de Florence (1584)

Hannam, James, God’s Philosophers (2009)

“Brandy for giddiness, 2s” – Jonathan Swift’s Meniere’s Disease

Hugh Dominic WStiles13 April 2018

One of the great writers of English, Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was plagued for much of his life by bouts of giddiness, and by increasing deafness, though in many other respects he was healthy and lived to the age of seventy-seven.  It sometimes incapacitated him for long periods.

In August 1727 he wrote to Lady Henrietta Howard,

About two hours before you were born, I got my giddiness by eating a hundred golden pippins at a time at Richmond, and, when you were five years and a quarter old, baiting 2 days, I got my deafness, and these two friends, one or other, have visited me, every year since: and being old acquaintances, have now thought fit to come together.

It seems to have begun when he was twenty, according to the autobiographical notes in Forster’s biography (p.27),  but there, there is a footnote inserted that says Swift had added, “in 1690.”  The word ‘hours’ in the letter to Henrietta Howard may be an error for, or misreading of, ‘years,’ or it could be he had forgotten precisely when it happenened.

At first he self-medicated – on the 16th of November, 1708, he wrote “Brandy for giddiness, 2s.”

Bucknill (p.495-6) quotes Swift’s ‘Journal to Stella’ for October 1710: “This morning, sitting in my bed, I had a fit of giddiness; the room turned round for about a minute and then it went off leaving me sickish, but not very.  I saw Dr. Cockburn to-day, and he promises to send me the pills that did me good last year; and likewise has promised me an oil for my ears, that he has been making for that ailment for somebody else.”  The diagnosis seems to be that he had Ménière’s disease (see Bucknill and Bewley).

Some years after the letter, several newspapers published a poem that Swift had written about his illness, both in Latin and in English (Grub Street Journal, Thursday, November 14, 1734; Issue 255), although the version with the answers seems to be later –

Vertiginosus, inops, surdus, male gratus amicis;
Non campana sonans, tonitru non ab Jove missum,
Quod mage mirandum, saltem si credere fas est,
Non clamosa meas mulier jam percutit aures.

DOCTOR: Deaf, giddy, helpless, left alone.
ANSWER: Except the first, the fault’s your own.
DOCTOR: To all my friends a burden grown.
ANSWER: Because to few you will be shewn.
Give them good wine, and meat to stuff,
You may have company enough.
DOCTOR: No more I hear my church’s bell,
Than if it rang out for my knell.
ANSWER: Then write and read, ’twill do as well.
DOCTOR: At thunder now no more I start,
Than at the rumbling of a cart.
ANSWER: Think then of thunder when you fart.
DOCTOR: Nay, what’s incredible, alack!
No more I hear a woman’s clack.
ANSWER: A woman’s clack, if I have skill,
Sounds somewhat like a throwster’s mill;
But louder than a bell, or thunder:
That does, I own, increase my wonder.

Although he lived to a good age, Swift’s final few years seem to have found him the victim of what Bewley calls, ‘terminal dementia’ (p.604).
Bewley, Thomas, The health of Jonathan Swift.  J. R. Soc. Med. 1998;91 :602-605

Bucknill JC. Dean Swift’s disease. Brain 1881;4:493-506

Forster, John, The Life of Jonathan Swift, Volume 1

The Works of the English Poets. With Prefaces, Biographical and …, Volume 40

“Edmond Searle, lately deceased, was so famous at curing all sorts of Deafness” – the Searls of Pye Corner & their Rival, Graves Overton

Hugh Dominic WStiles23 March 2018

Last year while searching for something completely different, I came across the name Margaret Searl or Searle, around 1700, in Smithfield, London.  She has a brief mention in the excellent book by C.J.S. Thompson, The Quacks of Old London (Barnes and Noble, 1993).  She was the last of her family it seems, who had carried out a business near Pye Corner, which is where the Great Fire of London ended. What we can glean from advertisements of the time, on Bills that survive and in contemporary newspapers, is that her father Edmund or Edmond, together with his nephew we must assume, Samuel, set up in business from at least 1668, ‘curing deafness.’  The first record I have come across for Edmund, is his burial on the 7th of July, 1695, at St. Sepulchre’s Church, Holborn, which is opposite the Old Bailey.  His son, Samuel, was buried in the same church on the 17th of December, 1699.

Unfortunately for Samuel’s widow Margaret, who was I assume his cousin, a former servant or apprentice of Edmund’s, Graves Overton, gave out that Margaret was dead, and that he had the secret of the deafness cure [I reproduce the text with the orthography of the original] –

WHereas Mr. Edmond Searle, lately deceased, was so famous at curing all sorts of Deafness, this is therefore to Advertise all Persons that Graves Overton, his only Servant , lives at the Hand and Ear in Pye Corner, alias Gilt-spur-street, near Newgate, where he performs the same Cures by his Masters secret Method. There being now, none of his Masters Family living but himself, that performs the said Cure. (Friday the 1st. of March, 1700, Old Bailey Records)

Another advertisement says, “Graves Overton, who Cures Deafness and is the only Surviving Servant of Mr. Edmund Searle, who was famous in that art, lives at the Hand and Ear in Pye Corner, next Giltspur Street.” (May 29, 1701)

He must have had the first advertisement for a while in 1700, as a month before that, this riposte appeared in The Post Boy (Issue 753) refering to ‘The [Old Bailey] Sessions paper’ –

This ding-dong of rivalry must have gone on for a while.  Here is the text of one of Margaret’s bills which survive –

Margaret Searl, Wife to the late Samuel Searl, Famous for Relieving and Curing deafness, Depending on any External Obstruction Of the Organ of the Ear; Who had Practised This art above Thirty Eight Years past, and Communicated the Secret to me only, who Practis’d it with him, in his Life time, for many Years, after the same Way and Method. Still living in Pye-Corner, over-against the Golden Ball, by West-Smithfield, London; (though it is Reported that I was Dead, by some Pretenders to deceive the World) where I am ready, upon any Occasion of that Nature, to serve such as apply themselves to me: Being the Surviver of my Father Edmund Searl, and late Husband Samuel Searl. Whereas several Servants of my Father Edmund Searl, have put out Bills for Curing of deafness. This is to Certifie, That neither my Father, or Husband, ever Instructed, or Communicated this Secret to any of their Servants, or any Apprentice whatsoever. (1706, 18th Century Collections Online)

When Overton’s daughter Mary was baptised, on 17/12/1693-1694, he was living with his wife Rebecca on Snow Hill, just around the corner, and they were still there when his son John was born in 1696.  Overton had married Rebecca Walserd in Temple Church, on the 25th of November, 1692.  Overton died in 1704, and was buried at St. Sepulchre’s on the 4th of March.

Poor Margaret Searl – the quacks multiplied, as they tend to, and it seems Overton was not her only rival, for in The Post Boy for January 16th, 1701, we read (with spellings accurately rendered),

WHereas Graves Overton does put out Bil’s for Curing of Deafness; This is to certify all People, that Mr. Edmund Searl declared before his death, that he never did instruct him in that Art, especially being a Turn-over to him, nor any other of his Apprentices that were bound to him, if they would have given Two hundred Pounds down, as can be Attested by several Persons. Neither did Mr. Samuel Searl ever instruct Thomas Lamb, his Brother-in-Law in Curing of Deafness, nor any thing but a Barber’s Trade, nor any other Person but his Wife, who (being the Survivor of those two famous Men) lives still at the Old House in Pye-Corner, who practis’d with her late Husband Samuel Searl in his Life-time, and now does after the same Way and Method with good success.

From this then we learn the not surprising fact that the Searls (also sometimes ‘Serle’) were barbers, the trade with which surgeons in England had a close association for 200 years.  I wonder if he had any association with St. Bartholomew’s Hospital which is right opposite Pye Corner.  At any rate, it is perhaps unfair to call them quacks as their deafness ‘cures’ were probably harmless, while a doctor of the time was far more likely to kill you.

Margaret Searl[e] was buried in St. Sepulchre’s on the 29th of March, 1709/10, and what became of the ‘cure’ we can only guess!

London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Church of England Parish Registers, 1538-1812; Reference Number: P69/SEP/A/001/MS07219/003

Post Boy (1695) (London, England), February 3, 1700 – February 6, 1700; Issue 753.

Post Boy (1695) (London, England), March 12, 1700 – March 14, 1700; Issue 769.

Post Man and the Historical Account (London, England), September 24, 1700 – September 26, 1700

Post Boy (1695) (London, England), January 14, 1701 – January 16, 1701; Issue 901.

Post Boy (1695) (London, England), May 27, 1701 – May 29, 1701; Issue 940

Title: Samuel Searl, famous for relieving and curing deafness, depending on any external obstruction of the organ of the ear; Date: 1680-1689 Reel position: Tract Supplement / E8:1[75]

Title: Margaret Searl, wife to the late Samuel Searl, famous for relieving and curing deafness, … Date: 1706 Reel position: Tract Supplement / E8:2[59]

“Deafness, like gutta serena, is sometimes produced by inordinate seminal discharges” Antoine Saissy 1756-1822

Hugh Dominic WStiles22 September 2017

Saissy FrenchBorn on the 2nd of February 1756, in Mougins, near Grasse in Provence, Jean Antoine Saissy had originally intended to become a planter, but coming across some medical books, he determined on a medical career, travelling to Paris to study (Montain, p.8ff).  He was then twenty two years old, with only a village education, combined with his own book-learning (ibid.p.9).  From 1777 to 1782 he studied under various famous professors, including Chopart and Pelletan.  He went on to serve as a physician and surgeon major with the Compagnie royale d’Afrique on the Barbary coast.  He attended to a child of the ‘Dey of Constantinople’ (possibly an error for Bey of Constantin?), who wanted him to stay.  Saissy however, returned to France, and in 1789 (the English version says 1798 which seems to be an error) defended his thesis on inoculation for small pox before the ‘Chirugical College of Lyons,’ and became a Doctor of Medicine with the University of Valence.  He married the daughter of M. Thenance, a doctor who had invented some obstetric forceps, and devoted himself to that area of medicine for a time.  In 1810 he wrote an essay on Croup, one of the first to do so.

He seems to have been a polymath, in 1811 presenting at the Institut de France a ‘memoir’ on the extraction of light by the condensation of gas.  Quite what that means I am not sure.  He also worked on a study of hibernation, with dormice and marmots (ibid p.12 -13).

It was not until the last twelve years of his life that he devoted himself to diseases of the ear.  Weir and Mudry tell us that Saissy was “the first person to propose introducing a piece of catgut into an artificial perforation of the tympanic membrane to avoid its closure.”

In his introduction to deafness, he repeats this curious form of treatment;

A Bavarian bath-keeper, mentioned by Sckinkius,* devised a singular method of curing deafness.  He plunged the patient into a warm bath, to produce turgescence in the little veins which run behind the ear.  When these were sufficiently apparent he opened them with the point of a lancet and drew a considerable quantity of blood, to the great relief of the patients on whom he practised the evacuation.  This remedy may have some success in cases of sanguineous plethora of the organ of hearing. (p.24-5)

As his 4th of 15 listed causes of deafness, Saissy says

Deafness, like gutta serena, is sometimes produced by inordinate seminal discharges.  Sylvaticus cites a remarkable instance of deafness supervening upon excessive indulgence in venereal pleasures. (p.21)

In other words, it makes you deaf as well as blind!  I suppose that he is not thinking of veneral disease, which can have those effects.

Saissy died on the 5th of March, 1822.  He seems to have been rather forgotten but is deserving of better treatment than I have space or time to give him here.

head section LaissyAbove, the only illustration in his book, a section of the head showing it is a vertical section.

As an addendum, it is interesting to note the protection of copyright notice given by the U.S.A. in the front of the English translation from Maryland.

US copyright*Schenkius, a Swiss doctor (1530-98)

Saissy, J.A., Essai sur les maladies de l’oreille interne.  Paris, (1827) [first published in a briefer essay in 1819]

Saissy, Antoine, An Essay on the Diseases of the Internal Ear.  Baltimore, (translated, 1829)

Montain, Biographic Notice, in An Essay on the Diseases of the Internal Ear, p.9-15. 

Mudry, Albert.  The tympanostomy tube: An ingenious invention of the mid 19th century.  International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology Volume 77, Issue 2, February 2013, p. 153-157

Weir, Neil, & Mudry, Albert.  Otorhinolaryngology, An Illustrated History, 2013.

 

“The patient bore the operation with great fortitude” – Lochland Shiel’s facial exostosis

Hugh Dominic WStiles28 April 2017

In Guy’s Hospital Reports for September 1836, there is an article, “Cases of exostosis of the bones of the face, disease of the cranium, and fractures of the frontal and parietal bones requiring operation, by Mr. Morgan.”   Mr. John Morgan was a pupil of Sir Astley Cooper.  Plarr’s lives of the Fellows, tells us that Morgan “showed an intense interest in natural history, and began to stuff birds and small animals almost as soon as he could use a knife and his fingers.”   We also discover there, that he dissected an elephant named ‘Chum,’ took an awful lot of snuff, and was one of the founders of the Zoological Gardens in Regent’s Park, now London Zoo.  His brother-in-law William Gosse who was a surgeon and was related to Philip Henry Gosse, emigrated to Australia.

The case we are looking at, Case 1. Exostosis of the Bones of the of the Face, (the notes taken by Mr. Collin), covers an unfortunate Irish labourer, Lochland Shiel, admitted on the 1st of August, 1835 (Guy’s Hospital Reports, p.403-6).  At the time he was 24 years of age.  Shiel told the doctors that until he was fifteen he had good health, when he noted a small tumor in his right nostril.  He was told by ‘a medical man’ that it was ‘of no consequence.’  However, as we can see in the plate, after nine years it had grown greatly, distorting his face,

the right nostril being enormously expanded and closed by the enlargement of the tumor, which, from its size, completely concealed the eye on that side, and extended downwards into the mouth, being there connected with the palatine and alveolar processes of the right superior maxillary bone; projecting also forwards, so as to press the lip beyond the teeth, to the extent of two inches.  The bones apparently implicated in the disease were the ossa nasi, superior maxillary bone, vomer, and the inferior turbinated and malar bones.
[…]
The poor fellow, when admitted, complained of no pain; and I could not find that his sufferings had given him much inconvenience, during the whole of his disease.The general health appeared good; but he was greatly emaciated, more, I believe, from want of proper food, than from the constitutional effects of his disorder.

Deciding that the tumor was common exostosis, an opinion in which Morgan was supported by Sir Astley Cooper and Dr. Hodgkin, he “removed the morbid excrescence” on the 6th of November.  He first made an incision over the right nostril, to ascertain that it was indeed exostosis.

A semilunar incision was then made, extending over the nostril, from the internal angle of the right eye to the centre of the the upper lip.  A similar incision was made on the outer side, commencing at the angle of the eye, and joining with the other, at the lip.  The integuments were then dissected from around the tumor, , and a metacarpal saw was used for its removal; and as it was of a spongy texture, it offered little resistance to the instrument.  No great quantity of blood was lost during the operation , the exostosis not being very vascular; and it was only found necessary to secure one  vessel, a superficial branch of the transverse facial.  all further disposition to haemorrhage was easily restrained by pressure.

After the tumor had been thus removed, the integuments were brought together by an uninterrupted suture; a dossil of lint was placed over the wound, and confined by adhesive plaster; and over all, a light bread-and-water poultice was applied.

The patient bore the operation with great fortitude; and said afterwards, that he suffered but little pain, excepting when the first incision was made.
[…]
Up to the the present time, the patient has been going on well; all discharge from the face has almost entirely ceased: hardly any exfoliation  of bone has taken place; his general health is restored.  The present appearance of his face is correctly represented in the accompanying plate.  (Guy’s Hospital Reports, 1836)

Shiel

Unfortunately I cannot locate any record of Lochland Shiel on family history records or census returns, though a Locklin Sheels married a Margaret Boyle in Newcastle-under-Lyme on the 22nd of December, 1834.  That might be him.  It could be that he was missed, it could be he spent time in Ireland, or it could be that his name has been wrongly transcribed. If you have any ideas about where in Ireland he was from, or any family, do contribute in the comments.  In the spring of 1842 Shiel died in Birmingham.

We have been unable to learn the particulars of the termination of the case. It may, however, be observed, that his death did not take place til nearly seven years after the operation; so it may fairly be said to have been prolonged by it for nearly that period. It is, however, impossible to look at the cast taken after death without marvelling that life could have been prolonged to such a period. The growth appears to have been simply enormous — larger indeed than the head itself. (Guy’s Hospital Reports, 1842)

I have been unable to find a death record for anyone of his name. Someone must have dissected his remains to make a cast of the tumor – and presumably, his skull. Below is the cast that shows the tumor.  As you can see, it had grown enormously in the following years.  The dotted line points to the tiny space through which Shiel ingested food.

Skull ShielGuy’s Hospital Reports, No 2, September 1836 p. 403-6

Guy’s Hospital Reports, No 15, October 1842 p. 491

A System of surgery v. 3, 1882, p.259

[minor updates 15/10.2018]

 

 

Voice trainer, Emil Behnke, “as accurate as Huxley and as fascinating as Faraday”

Hugh Dominic WStiles17 February 2017

BehnkeEmil Behnke (1836-1892) was born in Stettin, the son of a merchant, but became a naturalized British subject.  From around 1860 he began to study the voice, and “the physiological aspects of singing and speaking” (People, Places, and Things).  He sang baritone with an opera company, before moving to England in 1865 (Musical Herald, 1892).  He was one of the foremost voice trainers of the mid to late 19th century, in fact his obituary in The Times practically attributes the foundation of a new discipline to him:

At the age of 30 he began to lecture on “the Mechanism of the voice” under the auspices of such physiological experts as Professors Sharpey, Burdon Sanderson, M’Kendrick, and Struthers, and speedily had engagements at the foremost musical and scientific societies of the country.  So ingenious were his illustrative models and so successful was he in the application of scientific principles to the practical work of the teaching of singing, and more particularly to the restoration of voices impaired by false training, that he may be said to have established an entirely new profession, and he was universally accepted as a leading authority on all matters relating to the voice.  He was consulted by many eminent teachers of singing and worked in co-operation with leading medical specialists.

Behnke was co-author with Lennox Browne of The Child’s Voice  (1885), and Voice Song and Speech (1883).  Lennox Browne was a founder of the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, our present home, and a leading ENT surgeon.  Interestingly, The Child’s Voice, was dedicated to Sir John Stainer the musician and composer, who was of course the brother of our old friend, the Rev. William Stainer, teacher of the Deaf.  I wonder if there were connections between William Stainer and Lennox Browne or Behnke.

According to Rachel Holmes, in her biography of Eleanor Marx, Eleanor Marx: a life (2014, p.158), she says that along with John Hullah, Behnke taught the theatrical couple Hermann and Jane Elizabeth Vezin.  As a teacher and lecturer he was, according to People, Places, and Things, “as accurate as Huxley and as fascinating as Faraday.”  He had a deep knowledge of vocal physiology and anatomy, and the same article says that he was invited to lecture at UCL by Burdon Sanderson and Sharpey, and that “Professor Foster put his theatre at Behnke’s disposal.”

Behnke held ‘concerts’ or as he preferred to say, ‘open rehearsals’ using the tonic sol-fa method of singing’ that was invented in Norwich by Sarah Glover and pioneered by John Curwen, who had been a student at UCL, and whose son, music publisher John Spencer Curwen, wrote Behnke’s obituary.  The Curwen’s knew Behnke from tonic sol-fa conventions.

One former school pupil of Behnke’s said, “he saved me from being an utter cad” (The Musical Herald, Nov 1, 1892).

There is a charming reminiscence of him in The Musical Herald (1898) by ‘E.D.’:

I was a little girl at a boarding-house in Weymouth when I became the pupil of Herr Behnke.  He was not then the noted voice specialist that he afterwards became, but a dark-haired young man fresh from Germany, who had been engaged to give drawing, French, and piano lessons at Miss S—–‘s school.  Although he had been in England, I believe, only a few weeks, his English was well-nigh perfect.
[…]

“Never mind the notes,” he would say, when I was over-anxious lest my fingers should drop on the wrong keys; “Never mind the notes, keep time!

John S. Curwen, who clearly held him in very high regard, said, “He stood halfway between the doctor and the singing master” (p.293).  He died in Ostend on a holiday, when he was trying to recuperate from the illness that dogged his last years.  His friend Lennox Browne even crossed over to see if there was anything he could do to help, but Behnke died on the 17th of September, 1892, at the age of only 56 (Curwen, p.291).

His wife and his daughter Kate Emil-Behnke continued his teaching legacy, and both wrote books and updated his books.  There is much more interesting to say about the three of them, beyond the scope of this item.

The Mechanism of the Human VoiceCurwen, J Spencer. The Musical Herald; London 535, (Oct 1, 1892): 291-294

THE LATE EMIL BEHNKE.The Musical Herald; London 536 (Nov 1, 1892): 351-351.

Some Reminiscences of Emil Behnke. E D. The Musical Herald; London 598(Jan 1, 1898): 22-22.

People, Places, and Things. Hearth and Home (London, England), Thursday, October 13, 1892; pg. 716; Issue 74

The Times 19th of September 1892, p. 9

1871 Census (Curwen family) – Class: RG10; Piece: 1629; Folio: 11; Page: 13; GSU roll: 829938

[Picture from the obituary in The Musical Herald.]

The early NID Technical Department, Dennis B. Fry and Péter B. Dénes of UCL

Hugh Dominic WStiles23 December 2016

UCL has had an association with the RNID/Action on Hearing Loss Library since the early 1990s when the library moved into the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital alongside the then Institute of Laryngology Library.  However there is a much older association between UCL and what was then the NID.

Giant hearing Aid War time developments in electronics ushered in an era when mass hearing aids would be small enough to be convenient to carry around, and cheap enough for the state to introduce the Medresco hearing aid supplied by the new NHS from 1948.  The previous year the transistor had been unveiled by Bell labs in the US, an invention that would change the world.

For many years the NID had been concerned over the quality of hearing aids and they way they were marketed to the public.  They worked with manufacturers and suppliers to create an agreement whereby the supplier made no claims about curing deafness, as had often been the case with quack sellers, and broadly to not bully clients into buying unwanted devices.  They also created an approved list of suppliers who signed up to the agreement.  This was a slightly tortuous process, and for those interested a visit to the library to read NID minutes would be essential.  The list is attached here: NID approved list

Anechoic ChamberIn 1947 The NID set up a technical department, at the behest of the Medical Committee (Annual Report, 1947 p.9).  At the time they were in 105 Gower Street, and did not have facilities, so initially UCL helped out, and Dennis Butler Fry (1907-84) led the efforts to establish testing to show the ‘technical characteristics and qualities of the various hearing aids’ which were available, and then publish this scientific information to the public (Denes & Fry p.304).

Fry was born on the 3rd of November, 1907, in Stockbridge, Hampshire, son of Fred Cornelius Fry and Jane Ann Butler.

After five years of teaching French, first at Tewkesbury Grammar School and then at Kilburn Grammar School, in 1934 he was appointed Assistant Lecturer in Phonetics at University College London, where he also became Superintendent of the Phonetics Laboratory in 1937.  In 1938 he was promoted to Lecturer in Experimental Phonetics. In 1948, the year after the award of his Ph.D. degree, he became Reader in Experimental Phonetics.  From 1958 until his retirement in 1975, he was Professor of Experimental Phonetics, the first one to hold the title in Britain. (Obituary for Dennis Butler Fry, Arthur S. Abramson

The 1947 annual report records that with the co-operation of Sir David Pye, UCL provost and mechanical engineer who worked on jet engines during the war, they were setting up a special sound-proof room, and that technical staff would be trained at the college, all under the supervision of Fry.  Fry had served in the RAF during the war, at the Acoustics Research Laboratory, Central Medical Establishment, at Kelvin House, 24-32 Cleveland Street, London.  Together with his colleague Péter B. Dénes (1920-96), a Hungarian phonetician who became a British citizen, but spent much of his later working life in the USA.  The books of Fry and Dénes (usually written Denes) on phonetics are still in use today.  Fry founded the journal Speech and Language in 1958. He wrote two books with Edith Whetnall (they are pictured together below), The Deaf Child, and Learning to Hear.

Denes had left Hungary in the 1930s and studied first at Manchester, before moving to UCL where he worked with Fry.  In 1961 he went to the USA on the Queen Mary to work at the Bell Labs (1996 obituary, see link below).  In his obituary, Michael Noll says,

Although Hungarian by birth, Peter was very much British by citizenship and personality. His knowledge of European history and views on events in America led to many lively discussions with his many friends and colleagues. Peter chose to remain a subject of the Queen of England, but he also chose to live in the United States.

The room in the basement of 105 was eventually fitted out for technical testing, along with the anechoic chamber.  In those days the road traffic would not have been as bad as now, and I suspect it would not have been possible to use it today, because of vibrations.  The first technician seems to have been Mr W.J. Markwick, who is mentioned in the 1950 annual report (p.33).  The Technical department became one of the most important areas for the NID in the following decade.

I am sure this would be an interesting area for research.  Denes and Fry were both interesting people who made significant contributions to speech and language research.

Fry Whetnall

Denes, P. and Fry, D.B. An Introduction to the NID Technical Research Laboratory

NID Annual Reports

Abramson, Arthur S. Obituary for Dennis Butler Fry. Speech Communication Volume 3, Issue 2, August 1984, Pages 167-168

http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/fry-obit.htm

Noll, Michael, Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 100, No. 4, Pt. 1, October 1996, p.1916 http://asa.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1121/1.417840

Acoustic instrument makers in the Strand, acoustic ‘throne’ myths, & Frederick Charles Rein & Son

Hugh Dominic WStiles11 November 2016

Forgive the long nature of this blog post – I considered dividing it into three as it is the length of an essay, but in the end have left it as one, divided into three sections.

THE REIN FAMILY BUSINESS

Frederick Charles Rein was born in Leipzig, Saxony around 1812/13, a son of Frederick Charles Rein, who was described as a merchant on his son’s marriage record. 1813 was a momentous time in Saxony, which was the scene that October of the Battle of the Nations. Wagner was born in the city the same year.  At some time around 1834/5 Rein moved to England, where he set up as an instrument maker. His naturalization papers in June 1855 (to be found on the National Archive*) say that he had been resident for over twenty years (but we may suppose less than twenty-one as otherwise he would have made that clear). Whether he undertook an apprenticeship as an instrument maker in Saxony or in London would be interesting to know.  He married Susanna(h) Payne of Wendover, whose father was a farmer or agricultural labourer (depending on the year of the census).  By 1851 Rein was an exhibitor and medallist at the Great Exhibition. In addition to the acoustic instruments – ear trumpets and variations on that theme – Rein also made a “Continual stream enema reservoir” and “several kinds of aperitive vases and enemas”.  Perhaps these items share properties with the acoustic instruments. He also made ‘lactatory’ devices – breast pumps. These were advertised in contemporary newspapers, accessible via online databases.

Acoustic chairsBerger’s The Hearing Aid: its Operation and Development (1970, p.7), says Rein began making non-electric hearing aids in London no later than 1800, a claim repeated by others in an internet meme, presumably on his authority.  Max Goldstein’s book Problems of the Deaf (1933) has a picture of Rein’s ‘acoustic chair’ saying it was made in 1830. It is not called a ‘throne’.  Our copy was donated to the library by Leslie V. K.-Rein in 1933 – of whom more anon. The claim is also usually repeated, without original evidence, that the ‘throne’ was made for King João VI of Portugal and Brazil (John VI in English) who was, we are told, deaf, or at least suffered from increasing hearing loss as he aged, and who died in 1826.  Goldstein makes no mention of that. I cannot find any contemporary evidence in English that the king was deaf.  There are many pages on the web that repeat the story, without solid proof. All the evidence I have found seems to come back to Berger.**  It is unlikely that Rein made this ‘throne’ for João, unless Rein’s ‘merchant’ father was in fact an acoustic instrument maker who came to England. The chair was undoubtedly made by Rein, but later in the century.  Goldstein has a picture of a speaking tube that he says was dated 1805 by ‘Rein & Son’, but this must be a misreading of the date which is most likely 1855 or 1865 by which time his son, Frederick Charles junior was working with him, as we can see from the name of the business in advertisements.

If Rein took over an existing business in the Strand, where the earliest record I can find of him is at 340 in 1841 on his son’s birth certificate for 22nd November, it may have been that of A.F. Hemming, an ‘elastical surgical instrument maker,’ who was at that address according to an advert in Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle (Sunday 1st November, 1840).

Rein’s 1843 advertisement in The Age (Sunday, March 5th 1843, p.1; Issue 62) says that he was an “INVENTER [sic] and MAKER of the NEW ACOUSTIC INSTRUMENTS to H.R.H. the DUKE of SUSSEX, 340, STRAND, (nearly opposite Somerset House)”.   (The Strand has been renumbered since Kinsgsway was built.)   The Duke was Queen Victoria’s uncle. Unfortunately the Duke died a few weeks after this advertisement appeared. Rein quotes in full an encomium from Justice Patteson of 33, Bedford Square, dated June 21st, 1841, which means he must have been making and selling acoustic instruments by that date.  I have however failed to find him in the June 1841 census, which is notorious for its poor transcription.  In 1842, he was mentioned as an aurist, among other tradesman in the Strand, having a gas light, lit with the letters ‘P.W.’ to celebrate the christening of the Prince of Wales.

If there was a Rein making hearing devices before circa 1835 when Frederick came to London, I cannot find any reference to that.  Why advertise making a device for a Royal Duke, rather than a king? If anyone can find evidence for any Rein in any acoustic related business in London before this, perhaps by referring to trade directories or rate books, please point this out in the space for comments.

One witness to Rein’s marriage was a James Aloys Muhlhauser.  At first I could not find any record of him in the ancestry.co.uk databases, and I wondered if he left England before 1841.  However I have since found a marriage record for him with Sophia Cronin, a widow, on 11/12/1837 at Saint Martin In The Fields.  There is one possible Muhlhauser in the newspapers, who was one of the Germans who their fellow countryman J.H. Garnier appealed to the Lord Mayor on behalf of in 1836.  They had moved to Switzerland and then were expelled as being rather too liberal in their political views, even though not directly involved in politics (see The Morning Post, Wednesday, August 24, 1836; Issue 20503).  That Muhlhauser was living in Goodman’s Fields.  This is a speculation – if it is the same Muhlhauser, is it possible that Rein knew him before he came to England – perhaps having resided in Switzerland as well?  Note that Rein’s wife Susannah was resident in Wentworth Street, Aldgate, and they were married at St. Mary’s Whitechapel, which is not far from there. It would be interesting to see if the Rein family appears in any German archives.

The Victorian church of St. John the Baptist, Enderby, has part of the Rein pulpit speaking system surviving, according to Pevsner.  It sounds like the device that Rein patented in 1867 in The GazetteBy the 1880s the shop was described as a Paradise for the Deaf (The Era, Saturday, July 9, 1887; Issue 2546).  Rein’s work was clearly well regarded by otologists.  In The Diseases of the Ear, their Nature, Diagnosis and Treatment (1868, p.417), Joseph Toynbee says, “The most useful of this class of instruments are the small cornets made by Mr. Rein, which are connected by a spring passing over the head, that serves to hold them in the ears”, while William Wilde in Practical Observations on Aural Surgery and the Nature and Treatment of Diseases of the Ear (1853, p.435) says, “Mr. Rein, an instrument-maker in the Strand, London, has given much attention to the subject, and made many improvements therein.”

SOME OTHER ACOUSTIC DEVICE BUSINESSES IN THE STRAND IN THE 1830/40s

Aurist/surgeon John Harrison Curtis, regarded by Toynbee as a quack, was active through the early years of the century, and founder of the Royal Dispensary for the Diseases of the Ear, seems to have been influential in the design of acoustic instruments.  He discusses the types available and some he designed in A Treatise on the Physiology and Pathology of the Ear (1817).  The adjacent picture illustrates some of these.  Curtis designed an acoustic chair in the early years of the centuryAcoustic instruments – see in the picture above to the right of the later Rein chair.  The relevant section from the 5th edition of his book is here – A Treatise on the Ear 5th edition. According to the sixth edition of that book (1836, p.181), Curtis had his devices made by J. & S. Maw, of 11 Aldersgate Street.***

It appears that this chair inspired Rein to make his, though they are different in design.  Curtis tells us that a model of his chair was on display in the National Gallery of Practical Science, Adelaide Street, Lowther Arcade which was in the Strand, along with his various hearing trumpets and artificial ears, and ‘a metal cast of the Internal Ear’ (A Treatise on the Physiology and Pathology of the Ear 6th edition, 1836).  It seems likely that this display was influential on Rein and the other acoustic instrument makers in the Strand area.

Other acoustic instrument makers (if that is not too specific a term for people who sold a variety of things, including ‘medical’ devices) of the late 1830s and 1840s, predating Rein, include the aurist William Wright, whose “Gong Metal Ear Trumpets” were manufactured and sold by L.H. Baugh at 199 The Strand, from at least 1832 to 1835. He wrote in On the Varieties of Deafness and Diseases of the Ear (1829, p.276), “the adaptation of an ivory ear-piece to a small bugle-horn, which I have directed to be made, appears to answer the purpose better than any other, and I believe the person to whom I gave the pattern, makes and sells a great number of them”.

To Persons Afflicted with Deafness. – L.H. Baugh, successor to S. Shepherd, 199, Strand, London, continues to manufacture the celebrated GONG METAL EAR TRUMPETS, and other ACOUSTIC INSTRUMENTS, so much approved of by the most eminent Surgeon-Aurists.  These Instruments are universally admitted to be the most efficacious ever invented for the assistance of persons afflicted with deafness.  The Trumpet is a handsome instrument, elegantly formed and finished, and may be carried in the pocket without the slightest inconvenience.  Also the newly invented Ear Cap, which may be worn under a lady’s cap or bonnet without being perceived (The Morning Post, Monday, February 13, 1832; pg. [1]; Issue 19088).

Alfonso William Webster, who patented his otaphone in 1836 and was advertising it in the papers within weeks, available from 102 New Bond Street, then premises at 12 Chapel Street, Bedford Row, Holborn (The Standard, Thursday, April 07, 1836; pg. [1]; Issue 2781).  He wrote A new and familiar treatise on the structure of the ear, and on deafness (1836) which we unfortunately do not have.  He also wrote On the Principles of Sound; their application in the construction of public buildings, particularly to the New Houses of Parliament, etc (1840) , which is held in UCL Special Collections.  The last date I can see for the ‘otophone’ [sic] being advertised is The Morning Chronicle, Wednesday, January 9, 1839; Issue 21573.  It is possible this Alphonsus Webster was married to a lady called Ann and had at least one daughter, Eliza, born 1815, and a son Septimus, born 1830 (see the IGI).  I cannot find Webster in the 1841 census. Perhaps he died around that time, which may explain why he no longer advertised.

S. & B. Solomons of Albemarle Street, “Opticians and Aurists to their Majesties the King and Queen of Hanover” – they add, “No connexion [sic] with persons of the same name” – and, a person of the same name, Mr E. Solomons of 36 Old Bond Street, “Optician, Patentee of the Amber Spectacles,” who “respectfully informs the public that he has effected a vast improvement in VOICE CONDUCTORS, for aiding and permanently relieving all CASES of DEAFNESS.  They are acknowledged to be far superior to any hitherto offered, do not require to be held, and are formed on a scale so small as to be scarcely visible.” etc… (The Age, Sunday Oct 4th, 1838 p.320).  Next to this advertisement is one for Dr James Scott‘s establishment at 369 The Strand, under his ‘superintendent’ William B. Pine, offering the Soniferon, a sort of table based ear trumpet that “stands on a pillar like a lamp,” and Dr Scott’s Ear Cornets, “invaluable to those individuals whose whose deafness does not require so powerful an instrument as large as Soniferon.”  In 1836 Scott was not at that address it seems, from an advert in 1836, but that they were being manufactured under Scott’s supervision by Savory and Co., ‘chemists and medical instrument makers’ (Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, Sunday, October 30, 1836).  That changed to ‘Scott and Co.’ in March 1837, or ‘Scott, Savory and Co.’ in some adverts, and not long after they must have dissolved their arrangement.  Savory had other premises in New Bond Street.  In 1837 Scott was advertising ‘Voice Conductors’ (The Age, Sunday, May 28, 1837; pg. 176).  

Scott was born in 1789 in Calne, Wiltshire.  He may have been from relatively humble origins but I have not traced his whole career: there is probably more to discover.  He certainly married before 1819 when his daughter Emmaline or Emmeline was born.  In 1822, he was a supposed inventor of a stomach pump.  It seems to have caused some controversy in The Lancet (p.52, 1824).  His double action bidet pump, lavement, cornets and soniferon can be seen in A companion to the medicine chest, and compendium of domestic medicine (1840) by John Savory – see the picture above.  His son Montagu Scott was a solicitor and his son was Percy Montagu Scott, a naval gunnery expert, who was a student at UCL.  Whether there is a connection there with his grandfather’s pumps we may never know.

William Blackmore Pine was born on the 4th of August 1812 in Tovil near Maidstone.  He was the son of John Pine and his wife Rebecca, nee Carberry.  His parents were non-conformists, his birth being registered as such in London in 1829.  In 1844 he married an Irish girl, Louisa Hawkins, in Lambeth.  He was the front for Scott’s business for many years but eventually he emigrated to Australia.  Pine designed hearing instrument himself, with this rather attractive flower cornet from 1849.  One page in The Times (Tuesday, Jul 02, 1850; pg. 11; Issue 20530), has adverts for Pine’s cornet, Rein’s auricles, and S. and B. Solomons’s “organic vibrator an extraordinarily powerful, small, newly invented instrument for deafness, entirely different from all others, to surpass anything of the kind that has been, or probably ever can be, produced” (ibid).

From “the Quack Doctor” pages by medical historian Caroline Rance, I discovered Scott had an embarrassing and tragic episode when a boy was fished out of the Thames at Waterloo Bridge and brought to his house. He said to them, “Be off with you – take it to Charing Cross Hospital” (Medical TimesJuly, 1844, p.308-9).  “It” –  the boy – died.  Scott declined to appear at the inquest, sending a ‘medical man’ Mr. Pine.  As you will see, the Medical Times questioned Scott’s medical background, asking “Who is Dr Scott?  He is no member of the London College”.  It can be no coincidence that not long afterwards, the letter appeared from Heidelberg, assuring British readers that they were a genuine medical school, though that some were purporting to have degrees from them when that was not true.  These clippings from The Medical Times of August the 20th, 1844, p.391-2, illustrate the problem of guaranteeing that a medical degree was genuine.  Scott had obtained his from Heidelberg in 1833.  Obtaining a place in a British Medical School may not have been easy without the ‘right’ background, so perhaps studying abroad was a serious option for clever students with little family wealth.  There were a number of James Scotts around in the 1840s in central London, but it seems that our Scott is one and the same.  He seems to have known John Snow, of Cholera fame, and to have hosted a medical meeting of the Westminster Medical Society at his premises, on least on one occasion.

A FAMILY TRAGEDY

Rein continued his business until his death in 1896, employing a brother-in-law Michael Payne, and later a nephew Cornelius Payne.  Rein’s son, the third Frederick Charles, does not seem to have been terribly happy.  He married Mary Aleyna Winter in 1867, but of their two children, the first girl died aged two, and the second Nelly Maud (or Nellie Maud) never married.  He seems to have used the name Charles. There are two unfortunate stories to be found about him, which point the way to his end.  The first is from April 1893:

FROM THE DOCK TO THE JURY BOX
Frederick Charles Rein, living in the Strand, was charged with being drunk and disorderly.  The case was last on the list, but it was heard first as the prisoner was anxious to get away, he being one of the jurymen engaged at the Law Courts. – Police-Constable 461 E stated that at 7 o’clock on Thursday evening prisoner was having an altercation with a match boy in the Strand. He was very drunk, made a great noise, and refused to go away.  Prisoner denied being drunk, but said he was excited owing to a dispute with his father. – He was fined ten shillings (Daily News, Saturday, April 22, 1893; Issue 14682).

A second incident occurred in December 1894. Under what the The Dundee Courier & Argus uncharitably calls A CHRISTMASTIDE PHILANTHROPIST, but The Standard just WESTMINSTER, the following appears:

Frederick Carden, 54, describing himself as a carriage trimmer and refusing his address, was charged with robbing Mr. Frederick Rein at the Victoria Station of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway. – Prosecutor resides at Landwednock, Sutton, in the County of Surrey.  His recollection of what occurred was of a rather hazy description, but said that he had some notion whilst sitting on the railway station platform that the Prisoner, professing to be a “well-disposed person who would see him home,” gave him a quantity of rum, which he (Mr. Rein) was fool enough to drink. – The story from this point was continued by Detective-sergeant Osborn, who noticed the couple on the seat together, and doubted the philanthropic intention of the Prisoner.  Concealed in a railway brake the detective watched and saw the Prisoner make three attempts to get the Prosecutor’s umbrella from between his knees, which were crossed.  Failing to pull it away, Prisoner undid the Prosecutor’s waistcoat and took out his gold watch, which he failed to easily detach.  Mr. Rein seemed to rouse himself a bit during this operation, but the Prisoner gave him some more rum after himself pretending to drink.  With the last lot of spirits Prosecutor seemed quite overcome.  Prisoner lent [sic] over him and was clearing his pockets when Witness rushed out and seized him. Mr. Rein’s gloves were at the time in the Prisoner’s trouser pockets. – The Detective’s evidence was corroborated to a large extent by a telegraph clerk, and Osborn said that a remand would enable other witnesses to attend. – Prisoner said it was all a mistake through a good-natured act.  He got acquainted with the Prosecutor early in the evening in the Strand and being Christmas time accepted his invitation to have a drink.  Mr. Rein also treated a boot black.  Prosecutor asked him (Prisoner) to see him safe home, and after various stoppages they got to Victoria.  On the way the gentleman gave money to policemen for treats, and at Victoria he was very liberal with refreshment to the officials.  He (Prisoner) during the whole evening carried Mr. Rein’s parcel and his gloves.  After a long sleep in the lavatory, which resulted in the loss of his train, Prosecutor sat down on one of the station seats, and rum was brought to him because he complained of feeling chilly. – Mr. De Rutzen remanded the Prisoner in custody (The Standard, Tuesday, December 25, 1894; pg. 6; Issue 21990).

One can only imagine the conflict between father and son.  Frederick senior died on 1st March 1896 of diabetes, senile decay, and exhaustion, his nephew Cornelius being present.  His wife inherited £814 9d net.  She probably sold the business fairly soon, to the Optician who worked in the shop next door, Charles Kahn.  Frederick junior retired, but died on 20th April, 1900 in Wendover, home of the Payne family, of “chronic Alcoholism, 2 years, influenza and bronchitis, 21 days”.  He cannot have left his wife and daughter with much, for in 1911 they were living in Newton Abbott, Devon, working as respectively a dressmaker and a daily governess.LVK Rein signature

Kahn kept the trading name of F.C. Rein and Son, and curiously, his son Leslie Victor Kahn was eventually to adopt the surname Rein himself.  He was clearly technically adept, learning about electronics and writing a letter to Wireless World in 1932 (p.525-6), that is an appeal for what we would now call professional audiologists, and saying that he had then ten years experience working with audiometers and had invented two.  He died in 1956, and in 1963 or thereabouts, the business was, we are told in various books, taken over by Amplivox.  It was only under Kahn that the claim that Rein was ‘est. 1800’ first appears in adverts, based on what evidence, if any, we cannot say.  I suspect that Leslie Kahn Rein passed that on to Goldstein on one of the trips to America that the Kahn family website mentions in the link above.

Here is a picture from The New Acoustics by N.W. McLachlan, OUP 1936, and it was published courtesy of Captain L.V.K. Rein, who we might suppose is the gentleman.  Note that his subject or customer is seated in the acoustic chair.

I try to support claims as far as possible, but please point out any errors you find.  Where people make unsupported claims, or claims with secondary evidence or non-contemporary evidence, be a little sceptical.  Never take it as read – check the sources of claims, particularly if they seem implausible.  This blog grew far beyond what I had intended, and much was written and researched in my own time.  It is not intended as a ‘finished’ history, rather as a stimulus to others to discover more.

REIN family

https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/2:1:MP5KY5G

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 861; Folio: 32; Page: 18; GSU roll: 542712

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 334; Folio: 87; Page: 1; GSU roll: 1341072

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 544; Folio: 108; Page: 64; GSU roll: 6095654

The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Jan 26, 1842; pg. 3; Issue 17890 [accessed 11/4/2018]

Other references

Berger, Kenneth W., The Hearing Aid (1970)

John Bull (London, England), Saturday, May 22, 1841; pg. 243; Issue 1,067.

Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle (London, England), Sunday, October 30, 1836.

Goldstein, Max, Problems of the Deaf (1933)

Neil Weir, ‘Curtis, John Harrison (1778–1860)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2007 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/57673, accessed 8 Nov 2016]

Weir, Neil, and Mudry, Albert, Otorhinolaryngology: An Illustrated History, 2013.

The references were supplemented by G.R.O. certificates for Rein family members, and wills from the probate archive online, as well as searches of online newspapers and the ancestry.co.uk website. 

*Many thanks, as ever, to Norma McGilp of @DeafHeritage for pointing me towards the naturalization papers.  Rein’s naturalization papers are supported by four people.  One, Edward Henry Rudderforth was a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.  There are almost no details of him in Plarr’s Lives of the Fellows.  He was involved in the extraordinary life of Mrs Weldon.  Another was George Huntly Gordon, who worked for the Stationery Office.

**I have asked Brazilian audiologist friends if they can find anything on King John VI and will update if there is contemporary evidence forthcoming.  Even if we suppose Rein’s father made acoustic instruments, for which we have no evidence, his son, our Frederick, was born in Saxony in 1813, so his father would have to have returned there, had a family that lived apart from him, returned to London, made the throne, and his son only to have joined him in England as an adult, then not had a company name as Rein & Son until decades later.

*** See more on Maw (!) here- http://collectionsonline.nmsi.ac.uk/detail.php?type=related&kv=105380&t=people

[Minor edits 22/2/17, line added 11/4/2018, Picture of Rein added 9/8/2018]

[More added on Muhlhauser 12/10/2018]