William Moody was a deaf boy, and the son of Joseph Moody. Joseph was born circa 1816 in Willoughbridge, Staffordshire. His father, William senior, was at various times a gamekeeper or a butcher. The name sometimes appears as Moodey. He married Phebe or Phoebe Large in 1840, and they had two sons, William born in 1841 and Thomas born in 1843. Sadly she died in 1845. The eldest son, William, was either born deaf or lost his hearing in childhood. Losing his mother when he was four must have been critical in his development. I suspect that his father did not have any idea as to how he should deal with his son’s hearing loss. In June 1846 he married for a second time to Louise or Louisa Thorman, also the daughter of a gamekeeper (see online records at www.ancestry.co.uk). In 1863 Joseph was in prison for three months, according to research by a descendant (ibid), and in 1871 he was in the workhouse. He died in an asylum in Prestwich, Scotland, in 1885.
My eye was drawn to this article from 1849 about the son, William Moody. The same article, or versions thereof, appeared in several newspapers that week. The story is interesting for many reasons. It shows how young Deaf people in the 19th century, even living in central Manchester, where there was a very good deaf school, fell through the gaps in the system, such as it was, and how difficult it was for a parent to know what to do with such a child. It also illustrates the importance of education, and supporting parents and children who have physical or emotional problems, to prevent them becoming a problem and a burden to society. The story comes from the heart of Manchester;
Extensive Destruction of Property by an Idiot Boy
On Friday morning, William Moody, an idiot boy, apparently about seven or eight years old, and who is both deaf and dumb, was brought before the magistrates at the Borough Court, in order that some arrangements might be made for his future safe keeping.
Mr Superintendent Sawley stated that on the previous day the boy had contrived to get into the premises of Mr. John Barber, engraver to calico printers, Back Water-street, and, the men being absent, he had by means of a hammer almost wholly destroyed three or four engraved copper rollers, of the value of about £40; he had also broken and damaged a number of the punches and other tools, used fin engraving the rollers. The boy’s father was a cab proprietor, living in Atherton’s Court, Young-street.
The father, who was present, said he had four children; he had made application to the relieving officers to take some steps to confine the boy, and he was willing to pay whatever might be necessary for his support in an asylum.
Mr. Sawley said he had several times sent for the father with regard to the boy, who appeared to be allowed to run about the streets uncared for. When he was brought to the office on the previous day, he was as black as a sweep, and had no other covering but a sort of gown made of calico. He had kept him in the office during the night; but the father had on one or two previous occasions told him (Mr. Sawley) that he was unable to take care of the boy.
Mr Brownsworth, one of the relieving officers, was in court; and after some conversation, Mr. Maude directed the at the boy should be at once taken to the office of the guardians, and some arrangements made for his being taken care of in future. (Hull Packet and East Riding Times)
The Manchester Times version of the story, see below, adds Mr. Brownsworth had pulled the boy out of the canal on one occasion. What became of William, for whom we can only feel sympathy, I am not sure. I could not find him in our – incomplete – annual reports of the Old Trafford school, where pupils are listed by name. In 1851, it would appear that he was in the workhouse in Manchester, New Bridge Street (though he is not marked as ‘deaf’ there, I am confidant it is this William Moody). Perhaps he died young, perhaps he got some help, but I rather suspect not. He would have been very difficult to take in hand by the time he was eight, having been allowed to become a ‘feral’ child.
If you can track William after that, please leave a comment below.
Manchester Times (Manchester, England), Wednesday, June 6, 1849; Issue 62.
The Morning Post (London, England), Thursday, June 07, 1849; pg. 8; Issue 23557
The Blackburn Standard (Blackburn, England), Wednesday, June 13, 1849; Issue 752
The Hull Packet and East Riding Times (Hull, England), Friday, June 8, 1849
1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 573; Book: 7; Civil Parish: Manchester; County: Lancashire; Enumeration District: 14; Folio: 25; Page: 3; Line: 9; GSU roll: 438725
1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2227; Folio: 205; Page: 4
1851 Census – William junior – Class: HO107; Piece: 2229; Folio: 834; Page: 14
1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 2892; Folio: 26; Page: 46; GSU roll: 543046
1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 3974; Folio: 130; Page: 22; GSU roll: 846087
Manchester marriages Reference Number GB127.M403/6/3/19
The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Lunacy Patients Admission Registers; Class: MH 94; Piece: 27
UPDATED: Apologies for my atrocious typing – I managed 6 typos in the above blog, now corrected I hope!?