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James Herbert Roxburgh, Deaf Hero, 1923 – connecting the dots…

Hugh Dominic WStiles20 September 2019

James Herbert Roxburgh was born in December 1898, probably in Dublin.  According to his marriage certificate, his father, also James, was a ‘painter [or perhaps printer] traveller’.  He may be the James Roxburgh who attended the Claremont Institution and was there in the 1911 census, with an unknown girl called Roxburgh who was aged 10 and possibly a sister.   The 1901 Irish census has James, a Scottish printer manager, and Salvation Army member, with a son William Roxburgh aged seven who was deaf.  William sadly died in 1907, aged 13.  Another son, Bertie, who was two, is I believe, James Herbert.  His deafness may not yet have been apparent.  They probably abbreviated Herbert to Bertie as the father was also called James.  That could explain why I am unable to find his birth record.  The girl on the Claremont census was almost certainly Bertie’s younger sister, Dorothy Emma Roxburgh, who was aged six months in the 1901 census.  Dorothy was recorded as living with her mother, and her brother Ronald, in the 1939 register, at 4 Charnwood Grove, West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England, and she died in Bath in 1984.*

James Herbert emerges from obscurity into a fleeting moment of fame, not far from the spot where the River Fleet enters the Thames.

In 1923 he was working on the photographic staff of Boots, Stamford Street, London.  On August the 25th, he was returning from work at about 12.30 pm, when he saw a crowd of people staring down at the river by Blackfriars Bridge.  When he reached there he saw a boy struggling in the water.  Pausing only to remove his hat and coat, he dived in, and got his left arm under the boy’s armpits, raising him up.  He swam back to the steps, where he proceeded to resuscitate the unconscious boy.

The rescue was entirely unassisted, and the tide was running up very strongly at the time.

Although another man failed to reach the lad before he had been brought ashore, he assisted in the effort to revive him, which was successful, and the seven-year-old boy (son of an ex-soldier) was taken home by his parents. The rescue was witnessed from the Bridge by five of the rescuer’s fellow-workers, whose evidence and full particulars have been forwarded to the Royal Humane Society. (British Deaf Times)

There are steps on each side of the south end of Blackfriars Bridge – it could have been from either of those that he made his rescue.  It is nice for us that in Selwyn Oxley’s photo collection, there is a reproduction of the Royal Humane Society’s award.
You may be interested to note that James Roxburgh is the third Deaf swimming hero I have written about on the blog, and there are others.

James was recorded as working as a ‘photographic copyist’ in the 1939 national register.

In 1931 James married Estelle K Maclean.  Estelle was the daughter of a Scottish born Concertina Tuner (a very specific job!), James Maclean.  In 1911 he had been married to his wife Jane for twenty-four years, so I suppose he moved to London in the 1880s, and they had four children.  Estelle and her brother Gordon James Maclean (1889-1964), a cabinet maker, were both ‘deaf from birth’ according to the 1911 census, at which time the family lived at 23 Ashburnham  Grove, Greenwich.  In 1919 Gordon married Annie Florence Harvey (1897-1957) who was also Deaf from aged two, and who lived with her family at The Cottage, Hythe Road, Willesden Junction.

James and Estelle retired to Torbay, where he died in 1986, and she died in 1988.

If you can add anything more about the lives of these four related Deaf people, please do below.

Deaf man’s brave act: a Thames rescue. British Deaf Times, 1923, 20 (239/240), 105.

Lyons, Minna, Who are the heroes?  Characteristics of people who rescue others.  Journal of Cultural and Evolutionary Psychology, 3 (2005)3– 4, 239–248

Roxburgh –

Marriage 1931 – Reference Number: p78/pau1/007

1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/405I

Maclean –

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 533; Folio: 156; Page: 50

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 2680

Harvey –

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 224

*Thanks to Norma McGilp for spotting James and Estelle’s death records, and for digging out additional family links.

 

“Dummy” the deaf so-called ‘witch’ of Sible Hedingham

Hugh Dominic WStiles2 August 2019

The village of Sible Hedingham was once known as the birthplace of the condottiero Sir John Hawkwood, but after a trial in 1864, it became known for an assault on a deaf ‘witch’ who shortly after died of his injuries.  It is therefore one of the last ‘witchcraft’ cases in Britain.

We do not know the name of the deaf man – he was locally, unimaginatively, called ‘Dummy’ (circa 1780-1863), but his real name is unknown and possibly now unknowable.  He was supposedly from France, and had lived in mud hovel locally for seven or eight years.  Before that, some newspapers reported that he was in Braintree.  Locally it seems he was known as someone people went to for ‘divination’ or fortune telling, and from papers gathered in his hut by the police, we can recognize the syntax and sounds of Essex dialect –

“Her husband have left her manny years and she want to know weather he is dead or alive.” “What was the reeson my sun do not right ? i meen that solger.” “Do you charge any more ?” The answer to this question was doubtless satisfactory, for this momentous question was then put: “Shall I ever marry ?” Love letters from girls to their sweethearts were also found with “Shall I marry ?” and “How many children shall I have ?” written in pencil on them. The most business-like of all the notes was the next one, “Did you say we kild your dog ? If you do I will send for the policeman.” Nor were his patrons altogether confined to the lower orders. One letter states that the lady was “comen herself on Mundy to see yoo, and she gave you oll them things and the shillin.” In the hovel were found, besides between 400 and 500 walking sticks, a quantity of umbrellas, some French books, a number of tin boxes, some foreign coins, chiefly of the. French Empire, and about a ton of rubbish which it was found impossible to classify in the inventory that was taken. The most definite ideas about the man have been suggested by the following questions which were found written seriatim on a scrap of paper. “Were you born at Paris ?” “The name of the town where you were born ?” “When was your tongue cut out ?” “Le nom de votre ville ?” The answers were no doubt made by signs. (Times of September 24th, 1863)

This shows how widespread folk beliefs were in the late 19th century, in an area that was infamous for Matthew Hopkins and witchcraft trials in previous centuries.

Emma Smith, thirty-six, and Samuel Stammers, twenty-eight, were taken to court for leading a mob in an assault on the poor old man, which led to his death the next day.  The old man was accustomed to visit

the village of Ridgewell, a few miles distant from Hedingham, and there made the acquaintance of the prisoner Smith, at the beer-house of her husband. It seems that on the occasion of one of these visits to Ridgewell, the poor old man wanted to sleep at the prisoner’s house, and on her refusing to allow him to do so, he stroked his walking-stick, and used other threatening signs to her as signifying his displeasure at her refusal; and although he could neither hear nor speak he had no difficulty in understanding and making himself understood, and some of these signs accompanied by violent gestures were looked upon with considerable awe. Soon after this expression of the old man’s displeasure, the prisoner Emma Smith became ill and disordered, and was reduced to a low, nervous condition, and at once expressed her conviction that she had been bewitched by old Dummey, and that she would never recover till she had induced him to remove the spell from her, and made several applications to him for that purpose, as it would seem, without effect. At last, and while labouring under great mental and nervous excitement she went from her home at Ridgewell to Sible Hedingharn on the evening of the 3rd of August, 1863, and met old Dummey at the Swan public house, which is situated about a quarter of a mile from Dummey’s hut. They remained there together for some hours, she endeavouring to persuade him to go to Ridgewell with her and sleep in her house, and offering him three sovereigns to do so. Dummey, however, refused to go, and drew his fingers across his throat, implying that he was afraid of having his throat cut. As soon as it became known in the town that a woman from Ridgewell, who had been bewitched by old Dummey, was at the Swan, a great number of villagers flocked to see her, and the Swan soon became a scene of riot and confusion, and the old man was pulled and danced about, falling once or twice violently to the ground. The prisoner Smith still continued to urge the old man to go home with her, repeating that she would give him three sovereigns, and would treat him well, and that she had been in a bad state for nine or ten months, and that she was bewitched. After the closing of the Swan the parties adjourned outside, and the prisoner Smith was seen standing by the side of Dummey, declaring that he should go home with her. She then tore the old man’s coat, struck him several times over the arms and shoulders with his stick, and kicked him and dragged him down to a little brook which runs across the road, and down a lane near the Swan; and was proved to have said to him, “You old devil, you served me out, and now I’ll serve you out.” Smith then shoved him into the brook, and when he was getting out the other side she went round over a little bridge, and the other prisoner, Stammers, went through the brook, and they both pushed him back into the brook. (Reynolds’s Newspaper – Sunday 13 March 1864)


The old man was found the next day in his hut by Mr. Fowke, a local Poor Law guardian, shivering in his wet clothes.  “The post mortem examination showed that the lungs and kidneys were much disorganized, the pericardium adhering to the heart, and a “suffusion of lymph on the membrane of the brain, indicating recent inflammatory action, and the witness gave it as his opinion that he died from the disease of the kidneys, produced by the immersion in the water, and the sleeping in his wet clothes, and in this opinion the witness was corroborated by another medical man who attended the post mortem examination.” (Reynolds’s Newspaper – Sunday 13 March 1864)

At the March Assizes at Chelmsford, the two were found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced by Lord Chief Justice Earl to six months’ imprisonment.  Samuel Stammers presumably lost his business – he had employed 4 people as a builder, according to the 1861 census, and though he had a daughter in 1868, she died that same year.  He himself lived only until 1869.  Emma Smith, I have not found, so I do not know what happened to her.  The whole sorry tale illustrates how ignorant people can be with regard to those who they cannot understand.

Some in the village were thoroughly appalled that their name was besmirched by a mob.  In the Essex Standard, for Friday 25th March, 1864, there is a letter that was sent to the Times by the Rector

I hope that in justice to myself and other residents within the parish of Sible Hedingham, you will kindly insert a few remarks with reference to the case of man-slaughter tried at the last Chelmsford Assizes, and reported in the columns of your widely-circulated journal. Too much commendation cannot possibly be bestowed on Mr. Fowke for the pains which he has taken in bringing to punishment the perpetrators of so wanton an attack upon a poor and afflicted old man ; but, at the same time, it would be most unfair that an impression (certainly erroneous) should get abroad that there were not many other persons in the parish who regarded with horror and detestation the gross outrage committed on the night of the 3rd of August. I therefore feel called upon to assure the public, through the columns of your newspaper, that a subscription will be entered into among the parishioners whereby the expenses of this trial will be defrayed. Furthermore, perhaps I shall be only justified in adding that as soon as I had learnt of the treatment which the poor old man had received I hastened to the spot, that I spent the greater part of the afternoon in administering to him consolation, that I went myself to the surgeon to see whether I should be justified in having the sufferer removed to the Union, that I then procured the cart for him and saw him placed in it, and, moreover, that, with the assistance of the superintendent of police, I went to every house in the village where I thought I might gain sufficient information to lead to a warrant being issued against the aggressors in this most disgraceful affair. As Mr. Fowke had heard of the attack early in the morning and had been with the poor old man previously to my arrival, and, like a good Samaritan, administered comfort to him ; and as he had, moreover, in the capacity of guardian, sent for the superintendent of police, we thought it advisable, after due consideration, that the summons should be issued in bis name; but at the same time there is scarcely a man in the parish who will not, I believe, readily come forward to prevent the burden of the expense falling upon his shoulders. May I add one word more? In spite of the stigma which has been cast on the parish of Sible Hedingham from the publication of so unfortunate a catastrophe, I fearlessly challenge any person unprejudiced and capable of judging to visit the poor in their cottages, to inspect the schools within the place, and to observe the general tone of the parish, and I do not hesitate for a moment to pronounce an opinion that such a person will arrive at the conclusion that, in regard to intelligence, civility, and general good conduct, the much-maligned inhabitants of Sible Hedingham are considerably above, rather than below, the average. During the eight years that poor old ‘ Dummy ‘ resided in this place he was treated with the greatest kindness, both by the rich and the poor, and nothing ever occurred to cause the slightest apprehension that his end would have been so tragical.

Punch had this satirical poem, printed again in the Brecon Reporter and South Wales General Advertiser for Saturday 10th October, 1863

The Serfs of Castle Hedingham.

Ye wives of Castle Hedingham, ye matrons, and maids,
Who follow in such thorough style the wizard finder’s trades;
Your shud’ring countrymen all in tones of loathing say,
The fiends of Castle Hedingham, how horrible are they!

Just like the savage feminines who own Dahomey’s rule,
They show the wild oat fierceness of the Charlotte Corday school;
With hearts that scorn the softness that should female impulse sway,
The fiends of Castle Hedingham, how horrible are they!

Ye men of Castle Hedingham, and ye that represent (?)
The stain on England’s franchise list in British Parliament;
What say you, Major Beresford, of this most Tory trait,
The serfs of Castle Hedingham, how ignorant are they!

Saint Stephen’s could well spare you, and you’d for once of use,
If leaving Tory platitudes, you’d study to produce
A landlord who, Conservative, could yet unblushing say,
The tenantry of Hedingham, how well informed are they!

Presumably he was buried in a pauper’s grave.

[Note – the captions to the photos in Oxley’s hand, he had the wrong information and wrong date.]

Deaths Dec 1863  Unknown, Dummy, Halstead 4a 216

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard – Saturday 26 September 1863 p.4

http://www.foxearth.org.uk/HeadinghamWitchcraftCase.html

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

Hugh Dominic WStiles5 July 2019

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

In 1895 he was interviewed by the British Deaf Times –

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Frederick’s Road, West Ham, Deaf School (1893-1937)

Hugh Dominic WStiles14 June 2019

The Frederick’s Road School, sometimes Frederick Road, was founded in 1893.  It was on what is now known as Mandela Road, north of Custom House, E.16.  It seems to  have closed between 1930 and 1939, from mentions in the NID Handbook, most probably 1938.  It came under the West Ham education committee.

The head teacher in 1913 was Miss Margaret E. Oldfield.  In 1924 she was still there, but by 1930 the head was a Miss Lucy Elizabeth Mullen.  Lucy Elizabeth Septimia Jane Mulllen, was born in Walthamstow on the 11th of December, 1883, and died in Croydon in 1959.  Her father was a teacher, and I have been unable to find her in the 1911 census.  Thanks to Geoff Eagling who tells us that Oldfield trained at Ealing, while Mullen was at Fitzroy Square (see comment below).

The school took children from aged five, with a catchment area of ‘the south-west of the borough, also from part of East Ham and Barking (1913), Clerkenwell to West Ham (1930).  In 1913 ‘accommodation’ (day attendance) was for up to 44, in 1924 20, but back up to 40 in 1930.

In 1913 we are told they used oral and finger-spelling for education, in 1924 and after just ‘oral.’  It probably closed in 1938 when Water Lane School in Stratford also closed, and Miss Mullen became head of the Turnmarsh (now Tunmarsh) Lane School.  The new school took children at five or under, teaching the boys woodwork, metalwork, bookcraft (printing and binding I would suppose) and technical drawing, while girls did cookery, needlework, dressmaking etc, the usual division of labour in that age.  “The school is fitted with cinema, epidiascope and spray baths.”

I am not sure when it ceased to be a Deaf school, but the Turnmarsh Lane School building is still there, and is still a school.  The photograph here is of uncertain date, but probably circa 1920.

NID Handbook, for various years

Bernard Alfred Morrison – “found employment at making telegraph boxes”

Hugh Dominic WStiles7 June 2019

What I have to share about Bernard Alfred Morrison comes from a couple of autobiographical articles written for the British Deaf Times in 1923.  He tells us that he

was born at the coastguard station, Annagassan, Co. Louth, Ireland, on August 5th, 1897, and was baptized by the Presbyterian minister. He lost his hearing and speech through an illness when very young. His father served as coastguard for about six years at Cranefield, Annagassan, and Greenore, after having seen service in the Navy and cruised in Spanish, Chinese, and West Indian waters. In 1901 the family moved to Glasgow, where Mr, Morrison worked as a general labourer for two years. Then Mr. Morrison secured an appointment as caretaker of the old ship, H.M.S. Collingwood, anchored at Colintraive, Kyles of Bute, to which he removed with his family in 1903

It sounds like a great life for a child.  They lived on the old ship for three years, sometimes fishing with from a boat, and at times gathering shellfish on the beach. They had sailing excursions to Rothesay and Ormidale, and a steamboat journey to Rothesay every Thursday.

Visitors came in boats to see the ship and were shown over by Mr. Morrison; there had been six old ships at first, but now the Collingwood was the only one stationed there. Bernard’s eldest brother had joined the Navy in Ireland and was serving on H.M.S. Hampshire, when he contracted inflammation of the lungs and died in July, 1907. At the same time Bernard’s little sister died of an accident. Brother and sister were buried in the churchyard in the wood by the shore at Colintraive, Bernard helping his father to dig the grave.

H.M.S. Collingwood was consigned to the shipbreakers about this time, and Bernard’s father was transferred to another old ship, H.M.S Alexandra, but soon she also was condemned, and was towed round the coast via Liverpool and the Isle of Wight to London in December, 1908, to be broken up.

Bernard was sent to Donaldson’s Hospital, Edinburgh, in September, 1906,

under Miss Henderson, from whose class he passed to Miss Crockett’s, thence to Miss Rintoul’s. While here he learned lip-reading, drawing and day-modelling. A bad attack of measles sent him to the school hospital, after which he spent a month at convalescent homes at Davidson’s Mains and Mumps. His parents now living in London, he joined them there, saying farewell to Donaldson’s on April 8th, 1909, and travelling from Edinburgh to London under the care of the guard, to be met by his parents at Euston.

Being too old for the day school at Randall Place, he was sent to the Homerton Residential School in January, 1910, learning first from Mr. Taylor and then from Miss Chappell. Here he learned carpentry, wood-carving and French-polishing, and on Sundays attended Sunday School and the confirmation class. As first prize-winner in the examination he was transferred, together with John Allen, who was second, to Anerley School for the Deaf, Easter, 1912, the two attending as day scholars and being placed in the seventh class. Here he continued his carpentry, wood-carving and French-polishing, eventually again corning out first in examination.

On leaving Anerley School, Bernard was assisted by Mr. Bassett to find work at Messrs. Jones and Ffulbert’s piano factory, Brixton, where he stayed for seven months making piano legs and trays, leaving because he was set on piecework.

Meanwhile, a year before he left Anerley, he had come across St. Barnabas’ Church for the Deaf and Dumb, Deptford, during a walk (Sept. 26th, 1912), and became a regular attendant, attending also the Woolwich services. He was confirmed at the Bishop’s private chapel at Sydenham, Nov. 23rd, 1912.

When he left the piano factory, Bernard Morrison received four letters from the After-Care Association for Blind, Deaf and Crippled Children, and presently was apprenticed for four years to Messrs. Smith and Co., Woolwich, as a joiner. This occupation, however, proving too dangerous, he left in April, 1914, and eventually found work with Messrs. Parker, of Peckham, at making window-frames, doors, etc., staying with this firm for nearly a year.

It is interesting to see how he was moved to different schools, though I do not suppose his experience was typical.  The “After-Care Association for Blind, Deaf and Crippled Children” was a voluntary organisation that worked with the London County Council and included an L.C.C. person on its board, while it had some funding from the Ministry of Labour and from donations, and they used the money to help defray travel costs, pay for tools and boots to help a school-leaver get into work.  the earliest note I have found of this organisation is from the National Bureau’s handbook of 1913 – “After-Care Association for Blind, Deaf, and Crippled Children Apply to Miss Skinner, 91, Parliament Chambers, Great Smith Street, S.W.”

In July, 1915, Morrison took up war-work at Woolwich, “being accustomed to machinery and careful in its use” but this ended after eighteen months. He then did similar work with Messrs. Wheater and Sons, managing drilling and cutting machines, then after leaving that firm, Morrison

was helped by Mr. Pearson, the Government work-seeker, to a job at Woolwich Dockyard as leather-maker; he proved, however, too late for this job, so went back to Peckham and found employment at making telegraph boxes. After five years he is still working at Peckham.

Morrison has been a member of the B.D.D.A. for three years, and attends the bi-monthly meetings. When the war broke out he joined the C.E.M.S.

The remainder of Bernard Morrison’s articles is a listing of places he had visited; in 1919 “at Whitsuntide, he went to Margate by the ” Royal Sovereign ” steamer, and in the course of his four-days’ holiday saw the Institution for tho Deaf at Margate, and visited two deaf men at Ramsgate”; that same year “he visited Pett Scout Camp to see Joe Barnett with hearing scouts; went for a long walk to Battle to see the castle; viewed Hastings Castle and a German submarine, and returned to London with the scouts safe and sound.”

He was well acquainted with people in the deaf community, and with missioners to the Deaf, like the Rev. A. W. Blaxall and the Rev. F. W. G. Gilby.

His mother died on 29th January, 1921, and his father,

on 1st May 1922, met with an accident at work, and had to be taken to the Seamen’s Hospital, but has recovered. His youngest brother joined the Army on 16th June, 1919, and after training at Grantham for the Machine-gun Corps, was transferred to Chatham, and thence to Co. Cork ; then was transferred from the M.G. Corps to Army Reserve, and is now at Folkestone.

I was not able to find Bernard definitively in the www.ancestry.co.uk website, but from what Norma McGilp found it seems likely that he ended up living in an institution in south London.  Whether he really have mental health issues or was just put there as he was an inconvenience to others, we cannot say.  At least for a time he seems to have mixed with the London Deaf community, as I found him in several photos with other people.

Bernard Alfred Morrison, Edited by G.F. British Deaf Times, 1923. vol. 20, p.4-5, & 24-5 

Report of the Committee of Inquiry Into Problems Relating to Children with Defective Hearing, HMSO, 1938

 

Holcroft’s “Deaf & Dumb; or The Orphan Protected” 1819

Hugh Dominic WStiles21 September 2018

Thomas Holcroft was born in Orange Court, Leicester fields on December 22nd, 1744, son of a shoemaker (see introductory remarks to the play, p.ii).  He was employed by a Mr Vernon riding his horses at Newmarket, but the continued to work in his father’s trade and educate himself in music and painting.  In his mid-twenties his interest was captured by the theatre.  In 1802 (according to the date on the cast list) he produced an adaptation of Bouilly’s 1799 play, L’Abbé de L’Épée.  A previous blog noted the prose version of this story – Harancour Place; or the Orphan Protected.  It is, we are told in the introductory note (perhaps by Oxberry I wonder), “a sort of sentimental pantomime, exquisitely happy in the construction of the fable and tender in the sympathy it inspire; and may be considered as a practical test how far situation and feeling alone will go to the production of the most powerfulb and even refined dramatic effect, without the help of poetry or impassioned dialogue.” (p.i)

The story involves the boy Thomas, educated by l’Epée, (spoiler alert) who is really Julio, Count of Harcour.  In the original French version, the Deaf boy uses gestures.  “These gestures do not replicate the sign language de l’Épée taught to his students, but neither are they conventional theatrical gestures. They are instead a hybrid: a theatrical gesture rendered so as to appear to replicate the manual language of the deaf as well as a transformation of de l’Épée’s manual language for the deaf into gestures that would work on a large stage” (McDonagh).  Holcroft’s version seems to have the boy – played by Miss De Camp in the original – doing something more akin to pantomime – as we see here, “Theodore makes signs with the utmost rapidity” but it is hard to know exactly how that would have worked in the production (p.9).

On page 33 of the Holcroft version, Theodore writes the answer to a question,

“In your opinion, who is the greatest genius that France has ever produced ?”.

Madame F. “Ay – what does he say to that?”

Marianne reads, “Science would decide for D’Alembert, and Nature say, Buffon; Wit and Taste present Voltaire; and sentiment pleads for Rousseau; but Genius and Humanity cry out for De l’Epee; and him I call the best and greatest of human creatures.” (Marianne drops the paper and retires to the chair in tears. Theodore throws himself into De l’Epee’s arms. M. Franval and Franval look at each other in astonishment.

Mrs Kemble, pictured here, was the first Julio/Theodore in the English production.

Holcroft, Thomas, Deaf and dumb: or, The orphan protected: : an historical drama in five acts. Performed by Their Majesties servants of the Theatre Royal, in Drury-Lane. Taken from the French of M. Bouilly; and adapted to the English stage. (1819)

McDonagh, Patrick THE MUTE’S VOICE: THE DRAMATIC TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE MUTE AND DEAF-MUTE IN EARLY-NINETEENTH-CENTURY FRANCE.  Criticism; Detroit Vol. 55, Iss. 4,  (Fall 2013): 655-675

 

“Oh – Ted – this seems like a beautiful dream!” she enunciated. “Hope – and Cheer! A friendly Magazine of Interest For The Deaf, And Conducted By The Deaf”

Hugh Dominic WStiles29 June 2018

In an untidily amateurishly stitched together collection of programmes and oddments for the Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb in our collection*, there lies a curious mimeographed magazine, called – with the title in inverted commas – “Hope – and Cheer!”  It continues with the sub-heading, ‘A friendly Magazine of Interest For The Deaf, And Conducted By The Deaf.’  It was edited by Tom Kelsall and Alice Christina Burnett (1874-1961).  It assures us it was produced by Deaf people, so we must accept that Kelsall and Burnett were deaf, although Alice is not described as such in any census I could see.  As we have discussed before though, that could be for a number of reasons, for example because someone else (her husband or father) filled in the form, or because she did not think it was a disability, or perhaps she was not profoundly deaf.

Alice was born in Edinburgh, on the 19th of September, 1874, daughter of Alice Stuart and George Burnett, who was Lord Lyon King of Arms.  A living relative of his was also a Herald.  In 1881 they lived at 21 Walker Street, Edinburgh.  In 1902 she married Louis Holloway, and in 1911 they were living on a private income, in Oxford Villas, Ryde, on the Isle of Wight.

As an aside, it is very curious that Louis, born in Southampton, was living on his own means in 1901, with his father who was a bricklayer’s labourer.  Louis was 26 – how did he make his money, and how did he meet and woo Alice?

I have not been able to pin down Alice’s fellow editor, Tom Kelsall, who had been seriously ill, delaying this second edition of “Hope – and Cheer!” that came out in June-July, whatever year.  Logic suggests they were quite familiar with each other from some social situation, and had had ample time to discuss this magazine before starting it.  The content suggests it was a wartime production.  I do not suppose it lasted very long.  There is a rather maudlin tale written by Alice, called The lonely man and the lonely girl, that tells us how a Deaf girl starts a correspondence with a soldier, and it all ends happily –

He held out his arms to her.
And she went to them.
“Oh – Ted – this seems like a beautiful dream!” she enunciated.
He seemed so strong, so kind, so good to trust in!
“It is – the dream of my life, but it’s quite real,” he answered on his fingers – “Before my leave is over, then?”
She nodded shyly.

There is a paragraph, with ‘Our Monthly Problem – Whether you would rather be Deaf, of Blind.’  I recall having seen this sort of item before, even in old copies of British Deaf Times.

Cutliffe Hyne dwells upon the doom of deafness.  Sir Arthur Pearson declares deafness to be worse than blindness, and Sir Ferederick Milner agrees with him.  Mr. Wilson of the National Hostels for Deafened Soldiers and Sailors, on the contrary , say, “I would rather be deaf, dumb, and have two wooden legs, and only one arm, than be blind.”  What is your opinion? and why?  We award a prize of 3/- for the best letter, of within 200 words, on this subject.

Alice also offers handwriting analysis under the name ‘Grapho.’

“Hope – and Cheer!” contains some adverts. One from a widow, Mrs Margaret Chubb (1854-1950), formerly Jenkins, was offering rooms to rent in Penzance.  She was Deaf from Smallpox, aged 3 according to the 1911 census, when she was living at the same address with her son.  Her husband, who she married in 1888, was Richard Chubb (1852-?), a tailor from Devonshire.  Richard had also been ‘deaf and dumb’ and attended the Institution for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb at Walcot, Bath, where we find him in 1861, aged nine.

Finally, there is an advert from Samuel Driver of Leeds for ‘agents’ to run ‘Chocolate Clubs’ which I assume were along the lines of Christmas clubs.  If I have identified the correct Samuel, born in Keighley in 1888, he was not deaf – but his mechanic father Thomas Driver (1859-?) was, as was also their lodger, Eliza Dunn (b.ca.1868), who worked as a ‘Worsted Rover’.  Thomas, son of a mechanic Wilkinson Driver, was deaf from childhood and had already been identified as such aged two.

How did these people find out about “Hope – and Cheer!”?  How did Alice Holloway/Burnett and Tom Kelsall meet, and how did they distribute the magazine?  How long did it survive?  Are other copies in existence, or it this unique?  As with the previous post, we can see that exploring one trivial thing can open a world of forgotten connections.  There are plenty of further avenues to explore with this disparate collection of people.

Click images for a larger size.

If you can identify Kelsall please leave a comment.

*They were bound by L.Burroughs, ‘deaf and dumb’ in July, 1922.

UPDATE – [2/7/18] a relative by marriage of Alice adds this information – “In the 1939 Register Ref: RG101/2650C/005/18 Alice and Louis are living at 53 Argyll Street, Ryde, I.O.W. Her Birthdate is confirmed as 19 Sep 1874 and his given as 17? Feb 1880. Her occupation is given as “W V S Red Cross Hospital Supply Service” and his as “Private Means” Her Death was registered aged 86 Q1 1961 vol 6b page 1093 Isle of Wight His death registered Q3 1973 Isle of Wight. His Birth date given as 14 Feb 1880.”

Alice Burnett

1881 Scottish Census – Parish: St George; ED: 91; Page: 4; Line: 1; Roll: cssct1881_283

1901 Scottish Census – Parish: Edinburgh St George; ED: 1; Page: 9; Line: 21; Roll: CSSCT1901_363

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 5721; Schedule Number: 122

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

Margaret Chubb

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1857; Folio: 74; Page: 11 – with Richard Chubb

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 14071; Schedule Number: 173

1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6699A

Richard Chubb

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 1690; Folio: 53; Page: 5; GSU roll: 542851

Thomas Driver

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 3227; Folio: 45; Page: 37; GSU roll: 543099

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 4076; Folio: 174; Page: 28

Louis Holloway

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 1079; Folio: 7; Page: 5

Three Deaf Ladies of Liverpool, “respected and loved by all who know them”

Hugh Dominic WStiles26 June 2018

In The British Deaf Times for January-February 1921 has this charming picture of three deaf ladies.  The paper of this issue, and some from late in the war, was acidic in quality, and has deteriorated seriously in the last few years as it has been well-thumbed by users.  This volume really needs restoration – that involves sandwiching those pages within some opaque material, but that makes pages less clear.  An ideal solution would be proper digitisation.

All three were “deaf and dumb, and have been from birth.”  The lady in the centre is Miss Mary.E.Walker (her initials were M.A.E. or perhaps M.E.A.).  She was born on January the 1st 1836 in Leeds.  The article tells us she was deaf from birth, but the censuses omit that information.  She was a ‘lady visitor to the deaf,’ by which we must suppose she worked with local missioners, visited Deaf people in her community, and presumably prayed with them.  I suppose it was a sort of community support worker role.  At any rate, she did that for thirty-five years, presumably able to support herself ‘by her own means’ as the census says, having a wealthy family background.

Margaret C. Hawkins on the left, was born in 1841.  She died in 1923.  She was also a ‘lady visitor,’ connected to the Liverpool Society.  In the 1881 census, where she is recorded as deaf and dumb, she was a teacher, living at a convalescent home for children at Black Moss Lane, Maghull, Lancashire.

On the right, Miss Mary Housman was born in Liverpool in January 1844.  By 1901 she was living with Margaret in 76 Rosebery Street, Toxteth.  Looking at it on Street-view now shows that it is long gone.  It would once have been neat back-to-back housing, and their neighbours in 1901 were in occupations such as clerks, chemists, a police sargeant, and a stevedore, whereas most of the housing left is run-down, and the remaining terrace of once pretty houses looks as if it is condemned.  Interestingly, the two ladies, both described as ‘deaf and dumb from childhood,’ had two other Deaf lodgers, Robert Fletcher Housman (1846-1921) who was her brother, and Anne (Annie) Jackson, b.1844.  The Housman family was from Skerton,Lancashire, their parents, Robert Fletcher and Agnes were ‘landed proprietors.’  Robert junior was described as deaf in the 1861 census but his sister as deaf and dumb.

Anne Jackson was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire.  She was a servant working for Housman and Hawkins in 1891, but by 1911 is described as living with them under her own means.  In 1891 they were in 24 Jermyn Street,  which is not too far from their later home in Rosebery Street.  Margaret Hawkins was described as a ‘lady Visitor’ which the enumerator has misunderstood as meaning she was not head of the household, and ‘Deaf and dumb from birth.’  The other members of the household are described as ‘Deaf and dumb.’  As well as Mary Housman as a boarder and the servant Annie Jackson, there was also an Eliza Jane Hudson, b.1852 in Carnarvon, as a boarder, and Mary Rigby, b.ca.1840 in Liverpool.
In 1871 Rigby was living with her widowed mother, in Slater Street.  She was ‘Deaf from Fever’ which explains why she was not marked as deaf on earlier censuses.

By 1911 the three were living together at 14 Hatherley Street, Liverpool, the next street down from Rosebery Street.  A certain P.H. Morris, b.ca. 1874, in St. Helen’s, ‘Deaf from born,’ is there as a boarder.  I tried looking for a female P.H. Morris to no avail, but there is a Philip Hornby Morris who was born in the right place and was the right age to fit.  As the age column has been altered – the usual 1911 census error where people did not read the form before filling it in – I wonder if our deaf P.H. Morris is him… I am open to correction!

In 1921 when the article was written, they lived together at Prenton, Birkenhead, all three being, we are told, ‘staunch churchwomen.’  The were, we are assured, “respected and loved by all who know them.”  They were part of a network of Deaf people, and we might assume there were other boarders and visitors from the Deaf community in the north west in the intervening years not covered by the censuses.  It would make an interesting project to follow the lives of all these peoplewith some sort of social network analysis.

An Appreciation.  The British Deaf Times 1921 p.8

Miss Walker

1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 1346; Book: 4; Civil Parish: Leeds; County: Yorkshire; Enumeration District: 4; Folio: 26; Page: 2; Line: 10; GSU roll: 464289

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 3357; Folio: 123; Page: 31; GSU roll: 543119 – Headingly with her sister Elizabeth

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3463; Folio: 39; Page: 2 – Poulton Bare and Torrisholme, Lancs. as a visitor in a lodging house.

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 4914; Folio: 78; Page: 21

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 22266

Miss Housman

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2272; Folio: 106; Page: 56; GSU roll: 87299

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 3156; Folio: 62; Page: 21; GSU roll: 543088

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2936; Folio: 54; Page: 41

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3438; Folio: 41; Page: 21

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 22266

Miss Hawkins

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3744; Folio: 99; Page: 10; GSU roll: 1341896

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2936; Folio: 54; Page: 41

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3438; Folio: 41; Page: 21

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 22266

Miss Rigby

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3775; Folio: 46; Page: 33; GSU roll: 841888

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3651; Folio: 39; Page: 17; GSU roll: 1341875

Hon. Venetia Marjorie Mabel Baring, 1890-1937 – “Deafness and Happiness”

Hugh Dominic WStiles22 December 2017

Venetia Marjorie Mabel Baring was a daughter of Francis Denzil Edward Baring, 5th Baron Ashburton.  In 1930 she wrote a booklet Deafness and Happiness, our copy being the 1935 reprint.  It was published by A.R. Mowbray, who produced religious and devotional books.  It is on vey good quality paper.  According to the short introduction by “A.F. Bishop of London” who seems to be Arthur Foley Winnington-Ingram, she was “afflicted in the heyday of her youth with almost total deafness” (p.iii).  Her photographic portrait is in the National Portrai Gallery collection, and a drawing of her is in the Royal Collection.

She was born in London in 1890.  She wrote her book with the encouragement of Winnington-Ingram.  Below is a page from the book which gives a flavour of its religious polemic.  It is certainly of interest to anyone who is fascinated by attitudes to deafness and how they have or have not changed over the years.

In 1936, Arthur Story wrote a letter to the BMJ about deafness.  Venetia Baring wrote a respose, echoing his words and developing her own ideas about deafness:

The helplessness of medical science where deafness is concerned is incontestable, and, as it is not of itself a menace to life, research into causes has suffered on financial grounds in comparison with other diseases. The complete lack of official understanding of deafness was painfully illustrated in the great war, when it was necessary for a few public-spirited individuals like the late Sir Frederick Milner to fight for the rights of deafened ex-Service men.  There are certainly signs that the medical profession is becoming increasingly alive to the fact that the monster is hydra-headed and that there are few mental and physical disorders to which it does not prove an open door unless intelligently handled.

From the last line of this letter we learn that she was “not born deaf, had acute hearing up to 19, and used no “aids” to nearly 30″ (ibid).

She died aged only 47 on the 15th of July, 1937, having suffered from serious illness before then.  Indeed, she added a chapter to the second edition of her book on ‘The Power and Use of Pain.’  “Science is working for the abolition of suffering; but it will never succeed, because, while sin exists, pain is inevitable and can even be a vital factor in the development of human personality.” (p.37)   She was clearly someone who had experienced pain and tried to work her own way through it.

It would be interesting to find out more about her.

Peerage.com

Baring, Venetia, The Deaf and the Blind Br Med J 1936; 1 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.3934.1134 (Published 30 May 1936)

“No one can conceive the agony, the unutterable sorrow I was plunged into” – Charles H. Hassall, ‘herbalist’

Hugh Dominic WStiles8 December 2017

The herbalist ‘doctor’, Charles H. Hassall F.S.Sc. was born in Stoke in 1848, and in his youth he lived with his grandfather, who was himself a herbalist.  As a boy Charles lost both his sight to some inflammation, and his hearing in his left ear, and partly lost hearing in his right ear.  The interview in The British Deaf-Mute does not tell us if it was known exactly what caused that, but at any rate it was not permanent and he eventually regained hearing in his right ear, and his vision.

Abraham quotes a pamphlet by Hassall on ‘Care of the Eyes’ where he explains his loss of sight:

A physician was consulted who professed to know all about it and prescribed accordingly, with the result that soon the inflammation rapidly spread to the other eye, still he continued to see and proscribe until I was completely dark-blind as it is called.  He then very coolly gave up the case as hopeless, so I was to be blind through all my earthly life for all he seemed to know or care.  No one can conceive the agony, the unutterable sorrow I was plunged into – an earnest, energetic mind just beginning to enquire and expand suddenly checked and held back in chains of darkness.

[…] I then consulted another Doctor.  This gentleman had weak and sore eyes and felt for me; he soon opened the closed pupils so that I could see like the man whose eyes Jesus opened and said that he could “see men as trees walking.” (p.188-9)

Abraham tells us that some twenty-seven or twenty-eight years earlier, Hassall “had the rare and happy experience of being able to restore the speech of a young girl, with a a mixture of oils and various other ingredients.

He went to work for a Dr. Garner in Staffordshire, but to the disappointment of the doctor, Hassall was determined to follow the herbalist path rather than what he termed the allopathic (p.189).  ‘”Well Hassall,” said the Doctor after one of his argumentative conversations, “seeing that you are determined to make a name as a herbalist I would advise you to get a case or two and demonstrate your theories.’

Abraham gives him the title of ‘doctor’ and says Hassall ‘had obtained many diplomas’ including The General Council of Safe Medicine Limited (Incorporated), London; The National Association of Herbalists of Great Britain; The Society of United Medical Herbalists of Great Britain; The British School of Eclectic Medicine; The British Association of Eclectics and Medical Botanists; The Medical Herbalist Defence Union Limited; The International Association of Medical Herbalists (p.189).  One of these must be The National Institute of Medical Herbalists and it would be interesting to see if there are any archival records of him.  The proliferation of diplomas and claim to use the title ‘doctor’ smacks of a desperation for legitimacy, but today we might term him a quack.

He moved to Farnworth, Bolton, in 1881, which is probably where Earnest Abraham met him, when Abraham was a missioner there.  He expanded his premises from 78 Peel Street to include 76 and 80.  By 1911 he called himself a ‘Pharmacy Proprietor’ on the census, rather than ‘herbalist.  Hassall died in Bolton in 1923.

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3093; Folio: 88; Page: 25; GSU roll: 6098203

1911 Census -Class: RG14; Piece: 23256

E.J.D.A. [Ernest Abraham], Charles H. Hassall, The British Deaf Mute, 1895-6, Volume 5 p.188-9

[I contemplated whether or not I should write about Hassall, but as Ernest Abraham interviewed for The British Deaf-Mute I think we can cover him, and though his hearing loss was partial he is an interesting example of nin-standard 19th century medicine.]