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“his client was terribly afflicted, and totally unable give any evidence except by Signs” – alleged assault on Emma Conway of Dosthill, 1893

Hugh Dominic WStiles23 August 2019

This is a story touching on the life of Emma Conway, a Deaf girl, who was briefly in the news for all the wrong reasons, before sinking again into obscurity.

She was born in Staffordshire, at Brownhill(s), Wallsall in 1869, but the family moved to Dosthill, near Tamworth.  Her father, Isaac, worked as a labourer, and two brothers were miners.  She also had at least two sisters.  Emma was born deaf, and probably had no education in any formal way.  The 1881 census does not say she was a scholar, when she was thirteen.  Her sister, Eliza, was married and lived close by.  She probably had no contact with other Deaf people, and would therefore have grown up isolated from any possibility of learning either sign language or finger-spelling, though the latter would of course only be useful to someone who could read, and we might guess that she could not.  The family and friends must have coped with ‘home signing’ which is often found where a single child is deaf within a speaking community.  Her story illustrates the importance of language in obtaining justice.

Herbert Baylis, was a Fazeley born butcher’s assistant, son of Francis Baylis, a local butcher.  (Note that his name was consistently spelt ‘Bayliss’ below).

The case emerges in local newspapers.  On the morning of the 7th of March, a Tuesday, Herbert Baylis, then 18, allegedly ‘feloniously’ assaulted Emma (Coventry Evening TelegraphWednesday 22 March 1893). The Lichfield Mercury for Friday 24th March 1893, expands the story.  They tell us that Baylis was “summoned by Eliza Holiday to answer a charge of indecently assaulting Emma Conway, a deaf and dumb girl, at Dosthill, on the 7th inst.” Eliza being a sister of Emma.  Mr. E. Argyle, who defended, objected initially, as “the offence was alleged to have taken place in Warwickshire, and proceedings had been taken in Staffordshire.”  Argyle also objected “that the information was not laid upon oath, but by the girl’s sister. He did not deny that defendant went to the house, but asserted that he had a perfect answer to the charge. A summons had been issued for which there was not a shallow of foundation support it.”  Here we see the problem of language, on which the case was to hinge.

In reply to the Bench, complainant’s sister said the girl did not know the deaf & dumb alphabet. She understood what her sister meant by the motions she made.

—Mr. Argyle objected to the sister interpreting the evidence ; it should done by a sworn interpreter.

—After consideration by the Bench, Mr. Argyle said in any case he would have to ask for an adjournment, as his witnesses were not present. He was only instructed that morning, just before coming to the Court. Mr. Argyle added that should strongly object to the sister acting as interpreter.

—The Bench said she could ask someone else to do so. (Lichfield Mercury)

Consequently, the case was adjourned for a fortnight.  It is hardly surprising that the defence should object as the sister was hardly unbiased, and I suppose home sign is not a true language, though it is a form of communication.

The Tamworth Herald – for Saturday the 8th of April 1893, continues the story, calling it “An Extraordinary Case.”

Mr. R. Nevill appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. E. Argyle defended. The case was heard at the last fortnightly sessions, and was adjourned order that someone might be obtained to interpret the girl’s evidence.

—Mr. Nevill said his client was terribly afflicted, and totally unable give any evidence except by Signs. The offence was alleged to have occurred in the forenoon about ten. Mrs Sarah Woods, neighbour who had known the girl for the last five or six years would interpret her evidence.

—At Mr Argyle’s request all the witnesses except Mrs. Wood and Mrs. Holiday, were ordered by the Bench to leave the Court until called.

—Mr. Argyle said the case was the most difficult he had ever known. The girl was not acquainted with the deaf and dumb alphabet.

—Mrs. Wood was then sworn, and said she was the wife of John Wood, miner. She bad known the girl Conway for four and half years, and could understand from her signs what she meant.

—Emma Conway was through the interpreter next sworn, and kissed the book. According to the interpreter the girl conveyed by her signs that the defendant came into the house, and followed her into the parlour, where the assault complained of was alleged to have taken place.

—Agnes Aucott (11), [an error for Allcott] residing with her parents at Dosthill, said defendant drove to Conway’s house.  She heard him ask Conway where someone lived.  Witness then informed defendant that the girl was deaf and dumb, and he asked whether Conway’s mother was alive, and she replied in the negative.  He also asked whether the girl had a sister and brother, and she said yes, adding that the brother had gone to work.  She saw the defendant follow the girl Conway down the passage towards her house, and she afterwards went and told Mrs. Holiday.

— Cross-examined : She had often seen the defendant, but had not spoken to him before.  He came to Dosthill twice a week.  She saw the defendant with the tobacco pipe produced in his hand. She did not hear him asking the girl for a match ; but she saw him show her a penny.  The penny was not a match box. Between her seeing the defendant follow Conway down the passage and her telling Mrs. Holiday, she heard the barking of the dog which is kept as a protection to Conway.  She heard no screaming.

—Eliza Holiday, wife of Joseph Holiday, miner, Balfour’s buildings, Dosthill, said she was a sister of Emma Conway, and lived next door but one to her.  In consequence of what the previous witness told her she went to her sister’s house.  She went in the back door, and saw the defendant pushing against the parlour door.  She asked him what he wanted and he gave no answer.  The dog which was chained up in one corner of the house was savagely barking, and she could hear the sound some crying.  She again asked the defendant what he wanted, and he said “a match.”  She told him that she hoped he would not be caught there again.  Afterwards, defendant used a threatening expression to her, and at that moment he had a knife in his hand.  After getting defendant out of the house she went in and found Conway crying, and in consequence of what the girl made her understand, she took out a summons against the defendant next morning.

—Cross-examined : She had never dealt with the defendant, but she owed something to defendant’s father, and she thought that when the bills were put right she would owe only 6d.  There was some ill-feeling over the matter.  She did not go to Mrs. Cook and say that defendant had “struck my poor sister.”  When she accused defendant twenty minutes afterwards of committing an assault upon her sister, defendant said that if she did not take care he would have her locked up for making such an accusation.

— [During this witness’s cross-examination the persons occupying the gallery gave vent to some laughter, whereupon the chairman threatened that the gallery would be cleared if any further expression of feeling were made.]

— Emma Simpson, wife of George Simpson, miner, and living next door Conway’s house, said in the forenoon of the day in question she heard noises from the next house as of someone screaming, and also of dog barking.  She sent her daughter to Conway’s to see what was the matter.

—Cross-examined : She owed to defendant’s father.

—This was all the evidence for the prosecution.

—Mr. Argyle submitted that there was no case against the defendant such any grand jury would entertain.

—The Chairman held that there was a case for the defendant to answer.

—Mr. Argyle said he would therefore advise his defendant to reserve his defence.  After a consultation with the defendant, and the defendant’s father, Mr. Argyle said he still held that there was not shadow of a case against the defendant, and he could not recede from the position he had taken up.  There was no corroboration of the evidence. The case would have to go for trial unless their worships decided to dismiss it.

—The Chairman said the Bench would have to send the case for trial to the Quarter Sessions.

—Defendant was allowed bail in the sum of £50, his father giving the necessary sureties.

The defence was trying to imply that the witnesses had an interest in seeing Baylis lose the case.  As to the nature of the alleged assault, it is typically opaque

The case came before a grand jury – used in England  and Wales until the 1930s – at the end of June.  The Leamington Spa Courier for Saturday the 1st of July, 1893, said that the grand jury was told that,

The most difficult case they would have to deal with was a charge of assault upon a deaf and dumb girl who had not been instructed in the deaf and dumb alphabet.  The only means of understanding her was by signs and gesticulations, and none but some of her neighbours could tell what she meant.  He would advise them to be very careful with the case, and, unless they were satisfied that the petty jury were likely to understand the case, it would be safer to throw out the bill.

That is exactly what happened, as we read in the Alcester Chronicle for Saturday the 1st of July, 1893, which reports that that Baylis was acquitted –

The prosecutrix, who is deaf and dumb, did not appear to understand the nature of an oath, and the case was accordingly dismissed, no evidence being tendered.  The magistrates promised get the girl into deaf and dumb asylum.

I am not sure that the magistrates understood what ‘deaf asylums’ were. She was not a child, so unless they were going to get someone to help teach her as an adult, say from one of the Midland missions, I am not sure what they were expecting. She would have been worse off in a workhouse, and it seems that her family were looking out for her and caring for her.  Additionally as we have said, the finger-alphabet is useless without an understanding of spelling, so unless Emma could read, which does not seem likely, the only sensible thing would have been for her to be taught sign language.

Baylis seems to have died in Lewisham in 1933.*

In 1911 Emma was living with her older sister, Catherine, and her husband James Besant, a carter, at 23 Paddock Lane, Walsall.  She died in 1946, never having married.

Coventry Evening TelegraphWednesday 22 March 1893 – other newspapers as quoted a

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 2915; Folio: 122; Page: 48; GSU roll: 836406

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 2775; Folio: 17; Page: 28; GSU roll: 1341664

1891 Census – Emma –  Class: RG12; Piece: 2211; Folio: 64; Page: 7

1891 Census – Eliza –  Class: RG12; Piece: 2211; Folio: 64; Page: 8

1891 Census – Bayliss – Class: RG12; Piece: 2211; Folio: 23; Page: 9

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 17169; Schedule Number: 20

1929 – Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 909

*There is another Herbert Baylis who was born in India who some family history researchers seem to have confused with this Herbert Baylis.  His father was

Theophilus Ledbook Baylis

James William Arthur Sturdee, R.A.D.D. Chaplain to the Deaf, Deptford – “As an interpreter he was valuable”

Hugh Dominic WStiles10 May 2019

Born in Deptford, Kent, in 1846, and son of James Sturdee, a tailor, and his wife Maria, James William Arthur Sturdee (1846-1910) was educated at Dartford Grammar School (which Gilby has, probably erroneously, as Deptford Grammar School). “By some means he came into contact with the Rev. S. Smith, and on his advice went to the Institution at Newcastle-on-Tyne, where he learned to teach the deaf for a space, and returned to London later, where he became a student missionary to the deaf, attending lectures at King’s College, and was ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Rochester in 1876.” (Gilby, 1910)

In 1875, the Kentish Mercury for Saturday 5th of June, 1875, relates a Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb meeting, in which a lecture was interpreted by Sturdee.  The lecture was by Mr. T. Brain on “The Manners and Customs of the East.”

Mr. STURDEE said after such an admirable lecture, it was not necessary for him to say much to them, but he was in duty bound to thank the assembly for the interest they were taking in his work amongst the poor afflicted people in their midst. Had it not been for the sign language, many present would have gone any perfectly ignorant of the nature of the lecture, but now they were perfectly acquainted with all that had been said by the lecturer, and in consequence would be able to read their Bibles with greater attention (applause). There were over 50 deaf and dumb persons in that neighbourhood, and he was afraid when be went to Woolwich and other places he would find many more who had not been brought under the influence of the Association.

It seems however, that the congregation found Sturdee unsatisfactory because he was, at least early on, rather poor at signing.  He was then at some point dismissed by the Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb, then later re-employed.  Gilby does not say that, and gives Sturdee some credit at least in the Ephphatha obituary:

The erection of the little Church of St. Barnabas was due to his energies, and as a Freemason he found his connections of-much use in raising the funds. The foundation-stone of St. Bamabas’ was laid by W. J. Evelyn, Esq., the donor of the site, on May 13th, 1882 and the church was opened on St. Barnabas’ Day, June, 1883

Gilby only mentions the Rev. Sturdee four times in his incomplete memoir, and then only in passing.  He says in 1888,

I left London on April 30th for my third and last term at Durham, breaking the journey this time at Birmingham in order to see the Edgbaston Institution for deaf children.  Mr. Edward Townsend, the Head Master, was already known to me.  Our friendship was to last many years.  I lunched with Canon Owen Vicar of St. George’s, Edgbaston.  (He is now Dean of Ripon).  Very soon after this he became Chairman of our Committee in London.  He told me he was doing all he could to get me licensed to St. Saviour’s the following Christmas.  I was surprised, knowing there was another Chaplain, the Rev. J.W.A. Sturdee, of Deptford, much older than myself. (p.80)

In 1892 Sturdee was offered the living of Compton Dundon, in Somerset.  The Silent World, says he left London for health reasons, but perhaps he felt he had been passed over.  Later, in 1898, he moved on to the large parish of St. David’s Church, Edgbaston, Birmingham.  He died in Edgbaston in February 1910.

The Silent World says, “As an interpreter he was valuable, and was always a welcome preacher at the Birmingham Adult Deaf Mission Hall.”

John Lyons of Bristol University kindly sent me the following, which I reproduce in full.  Many thanks to him.

Sturdee is a very interesting, if rather peripheral, figure. He tried to become Chaplain at St Saviour’s in 1888 as Charles Rhind’s replacement. He was asked to demonstrate his signing ability in front of around 50 deaf people—“a good proportion from Deptford”, where he was chaplain—along with another candidate, a Mr Hill.

Sturdee’s signing abilities had long been questioned, had led to him being let go by the Association after the appointment of William Stainer in the early 1870s, before returning, first as a shared missionary between East End and South East and then as full-time missionary for the Greenwich and Deptford Auxiliary.  So even though this was taking place after some dozen or so years working in South East London, Sturdee still had to prove his skills.

A special Trustees meeting on Feb 14th 1888 received a report drawn up by Mr Bather, Mr Davidson, Mr Bright Lucas, and Mr Salmond about the event which had taken place that afternoon. The materials selected were the general confession, the collect for Ash Wednesday and the Gospel for that day.  Sturdee went first.

“He spelled through the General Confession. He says it has been his practice always to do so because he expects the congregation to join in it. The other prayer and the gospel he signed, and he then gave a short address or sermon. His spelling is distinct enough but there is no fluency in it – every word and letter is spelt alike without variation of tone or emphasis. He succeeded best in his address.”

Hill followed but struggled to convince the audience he had the relevant skills.

When audience comments were solicited, “several said Mr Sturdee was a good hard working man but no one distinctly stood up for his signs or spelling.”

It was proposed at the event that a temporary appointment be made or that the Association wait for Gilby.  If pushed, the sub-committee recommendation would be for Sturdee.  But instead Stainer was appointed as a temporary chaplain under the direction of the local parish vicar, J W. Ayre.  Sturdee, pushed out by Stainer and later by Gilby and with his skills still deemed inadequate, eventually moved into a hearing ministry in Somerset.

His brother was a professional photographer, who worked for the Daily Mirror in his later career.

Kentish Mercury for Saturday 5th of June, 1875

Gilby, F.W.G., Death of J.W.A. Sturdee, Ephphatha, 1910, p. 78

The Late Rev. J.W.A. Sturdee, The Silent World, 1910, vol. 2, p.32

Thanks to Norma McGilp @DeafHeritageUK, and Sarah Crofts, for additional information.

WEDDING PARTY AT A BRIDE’S CREMATION – 1933

Hugh Dominic WStiles16 April 2019

Doris Florence Morgan was born in Acton on the 13th of August, 1906, daughter of a ‘glove cleaner’ (later a dry cleaner) Henry Morgan, and his wife, Florence.  The 1911 census, at which time they were living at 34 Goldsmith Road, Acton, tells us she was ‘deaf and dumb from birth.’  George William Munday was born in 1905, son a Albert (a cabman) and Annie Isabella.  The 1911 census tells us that he was ‘deaf and dumb from 1 year.’  The two were married in April, 1933.

This story is simply told as all I have apart from this information, what I have is two newspaper clippings with Selwyn Oxley’s inimitable scrawl, which tell the sad story:

WEDDING PARTY AT A BRIDE’S CREMATION
Forty people who were guests at the wedding, ten days ago, of a London deaf and dumb girl, will reassemble on Saturday at Golders Green, N.W., when the young bride is to be cremated—in her bridal gown.

The girl, Doris Morgan, of Mansell-road, Acton, W., married George Mundy, of Hendon, N.W., also a deaf mute.

After a short honeymoon at Hastings, they returned to their new home last Saturday. On Sunday she was taken ill and became unconscious. She died next morning without recovering consciousness.

“She was a bright girl, strong and capable at her work,” said her father last night. “She was the last person one would have thought would meet with so sudden a death.” (Daily Herald, 20/4/1933)

A second report says –

Wedding March at a Funeral
DEAF AND DUMB BRIDE CREMATED IN WEDDING DRESS
Mendelssohn’s Wedding March was played by the organist and the funeral service was translated into the deaf and dumb language at the cremation at Golders Green to-day of Mrs. Doris Florence Munday, aged 26, of Mansell-road, Acton, W., the deaf and dumb bride who died nine days after her marriage.

Her husband, who is also deaf and dumb, attended the service with friends who were at the wedding. The dead woman was cremated in her bridal clothes in a white coffin.

The Rev. Herbert Trundle, chaplain of the Crematorium, read the service aloud which was interpreted in the deaf and dumb language by the Rev. H. M. Ainger, assistant chaplain to the Royal Society of the Deaf and Dumb, who officiated at the wedding of the couple a fortnight ago. (Evening Standard, 21/4/1933)

1911 Census (Morgan) – Class: RG14; Piece: 6958; Schedule Number: 493

1911 Census (Munday) – Class: RG14; Piece: 7109; Schedule Number: 286

The Origin of Israeli Sign Language & Deaf Education in Israel

Hugh Dominic WStiles29 March 2019

According to Meir and Sandler’s 2008 book, A Language in Space: the Story of Israeli Sign Language (p.185), we know nothing of the signs used by deaf people, Jewish or Arabic, in the late Ottoman period in Jerusalem.  Persecution in Europe in the 1930s saw immigration into British mandated Palestine, and an early Deaf immigrant was Moshe Bamberger, who arrived in Jerusalem in 1935 (ibid).  A ‘Jewish School for Deaf Mutes’ had been established there in November, 1932, with the backing of a Jewish man from Shanghai who had lost his hearing, and a teacher from the Jewish Deaf School in Berlin was appointed as head.

The Jewish school for the deaf, which has the major part in the education of the deaf in Palestine, was called into being mainly by the efforts of the otologist, Dr. Marcus Salzberger, who soon after his settling in Palestine (1923) conceived the plan to establish such a school. As funds were necessary for such an undertaking, the carrying out of plan took several years. He found in Miss Jessie Samter of Rechowoth, near Tel-Aviv, a valuable aid who succeeded in procuring some funds from America. To manage the school they found an instructor who professed to have had training in Poland to teach the deaf. Under these auspices there was opened in 1930 in Tel-Aviv the first Jewish school for the deaf in Palestine, an enterprise which lasted for two years. In the year 1929 there died in Shanghai one Leone A. Levy, who at the age of thirty had become deaf. He left his fortune to the Alliance Israélite Universelle with the request that a school for the deaf be established in a Jewish center. Dr. Salzberger went to Paris and prevailed upon Professor Sylvain Levy, the then president of the Alliance, to found the school in Jerusalem under the direction of a specialist in the education of the deaf from Germany, the present director. It was opened in November 1932 with two pupils. (Höxter, p.118-9)

The influence of German sign Language (DSL) was important on the development of Israeli sign Language.  Bamberger met two other Deaf people in Jerusalem, Aryeh Zuckerman, who had also been a pupil at the Berlin School at Weissensee, and a local man, Yehezkel Sella, and they formed the nucleus of the Jewish deaf community in Jerusalem (Meir and Sandler, p.186).  Although the Jerusalem school was oralist at first, it seems that when they could the children naturally used sign language (ibid p.198).  With contributions from immigrants from different places in Europe and native Deaf people, Israeli sign language had a mixed origin, which makes it interesting as a subject for linguists to study.

We have a document from 1969 by J. Shunary, attached below, which is a brief history of the formation of Israeli sign Language.  One of the sources was Zillah Farkash.  Neither of those people is mentioned in the index of Meir and Sandler, so perhaps they did not have this document.  Shunary says,

it is very difficult to determine which of the original German signs did in fact displace local signs, and which were rejected by the local deaf population as being unsuitable.  (For example, one source claims that the signs “not good,” “Jew,” and. “English” were discarded.)  Usually the Germen signs, described by one veteran as highly flexible and refined, were accepted as being in accordance with the character of locally used signs. It in therefore probable that there was a process of mutual interaction between local and imported signs, with a resulting trend towards increased refinement and stylization [sic] of newly created signs.

At the end of the 1930’s and in the early 1940’s members of the deaf association customarily met on the Tel Aviv seashore and in a certain cafe on the main road, or in private homes. Although many were illiterate or poorly informed and were not able to obtain much information from the usual channels, this lack did not prevent them from playing important roles in the forming society. The home of three members served as a central meeting place. A central social role was also played by another member, a tailor of limited means. Although illiterate, he was an outstandingly warm host and his house was always crowded with visitors. Another focal meeting place was the home of “Educated” Egyptian-born brother and sister who had recently immigrated from France. Conversation at meetings concerned everyday affairs, work, current events, films they had seen, jokes mimed by a few members with considerable pantomimic talent and a good sense of humor, and naturally, plain gossip too. News items were related to those who were illiterate by the “Educated.” At that time group games as they are played. today were not the custom. However, the Europeans used to invent sketches, and programs were performed for special occasions, religious festivals, etc. A member who was hard of hearing served for some time as producer of these sketches. (Shunary, p.2)

There was also a French Convent School,  St. Vincent, of which Höxter says, “In the convent school, deaf, blind and crippled children are under the care and instruction of French nuns. The number of deaf children and the method of instruction are unknown to the writer of this paper, as no visitors are admitted to this convent school.” (p.117)

The third school, was that run by Mary F. Chapman who I have written about with regard to her mission work in Ceylon and Burma.  I will come back to that school in a future post.

A Pioneer again goes pioneering. Further work for the deaf and dumb in Palestine. British Deaf Times 1931, p.75

Höxter, Richard, The Deaf and Provision for Their Education in Palestine. American Annals of the Deaf Vol. 82, No. 2 (March, 1937), pp. 117-121

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

Meir, Irit, and Sandler, Wendy, (2008) A Language in Space: the Story of Israeli Sign Language. Chapter 11, The History of the Deaf Community in Israel p.185-216

Shunary, J., (1969), Social Background of the Israeli Sign Language

Merry Yule to all – from Finlands Dövstum-förbund 1918

Hugh Dominic WStiles21 December 2018

In 1909 the Finlands Dövstum-förbund produced the first of their special ‘Jul’ – ‘Yule’ – editions.  This was a Swedish language journal.  Finland has a large Swedish population, having been a part of Sweden for hundreds of years. Below is the cover from 1918, & below that an article on the sign counting system used, from the 1909 issue.  It was developed partly from foreign example, by the first teacher of the Deaf in Finland, himself deaf, Carl Oscar Malm (1826-63).

I hope to write about him at greater length next year.  If the fates allow!
Dövstummas Jul 1909-29

Deaf Chess Player, Missioner, & Teacher, Leigh Hossell (1867-1907) -“to get the best out of, and make the most of, life notwithstanding affliction”

Hugh Dominic WStiles30 November 2018

Leigh Hossell (1867-1907) was one of at least ten children born to John Hossell and his wife Ann.  His father was a fellmonger, a dealer in hides, particularly sheepskin.  This illustration of a Fellmonger is from T. J. Watson’s 1857 book, An Illustrated Vocabulary for the use of the Deaf and Dumb, published by the S.P.C.K.

He told friends that while his parents thought he had lost his hearing at the age of four by an ‘attack of sunstroke,’ he thought that he was born deaf (BDM, 1894).  He did “not remember ever having been able to hear and speak, and his friends appear to have no recollection of having heard him speak at any time” (ibid). However, in his obituary it was said that later “he recovered the power of speech to some extent” (BDT, 1907).  We may well wonder if his parents were correct, but perhaps this speech was as a result of his education.  When he was seven (around 1874) Leigh became a private pupil of Mr. Hopper, at the Edgbaston School, Birmingham.

Up to the age of fifteen he received his education by the silent system. It was whilst at the Birmingham school that Mr. Hossell first took a liking to the fascinating game of chess, to which he has devoted much time and attention ever since. (BDM)

When Hopper died, his parents placed him as a private pupil with Mr. Bessant at Manchester, who taught him using the oral system.

On the completion of his education he was appointed pupil teacher at the Old Trafford Schools for the Deaf, Manchester, and is at the present time a teacher at these schools.
As Mr. Hossell owes his education to both systems, we thought his opinion as to which he considered the best would prove of interest to our readers. In answer to our questions, Mr. Hossell said :— “Until I obtained a knowledge of the oral system I naturally thought the silent one the best possible means of instructing the deaf, but since then I have come to feel that all the deaf who can be taught to speak and lip-read should have that great advantage. At home I am able to make myself entirely intelligible by speech, and can follow very well all that is said to me by my friends and relations by lip-reading. When travelling and shopping, too, I find my speech of real assistance. I should indeed be sorry not to be able to speak and lip-read now. At the same time I feel that the silent system must be retained for some of the deaf, but I should like to see them use spelling more freely than they do, in place of signs.” (BDM)

Hossell represented the Droitwich Workman’s Club at chess, and was good enough to play Joseph Blackburne, “the Black Death”, and English champion, “whom he won a game from, about two years ago” which would mean around 1904/5 (BDM).  He was a keen sportsman, particularly with lawn tennis and croquet (BDT).

Hossell was a lay helper at the Grosvenor Street Institute for the Deaf, Manchester, and for a while was Missioner to the Deaf in Oxford, before he left to go into business (BDT).  Quite what the business was his obituary fails to tell us, but one brother was a solicitor so the family was not poor.

His funeral was held on October the 29th, 1907 at Handsworth Parish Church, in the town where he was born, by the Rev. R. R. Needham.

His obituary says, he “was in some respects a remarkable young man, considering his limitations.”  I suppose he means his deafness, but who can say.  He was

widely known and unversally esteemed, he endeared himself to all who knew him by his gracious manner and amiable disposition.  His private character was exemplary, and his personality was a most inyteresting one; in fact his career was a notable example of what can be done by the Deaf and Dumb in order to get the best out of, and make the most of, life notwithstanding affliction. […]  He could ill be spared and will be sadly missed.

Mr L. Hossell, (our Chess Editor), British Deaf Mute, 1894, Vol. 4, November, p.3

Obituary: Mr. Leigh Hossell, British Deaf Times, 1907, vol. 4 p.280

Montgomery County Times and Shropshire and Mid-Wales AdvertiserSaturday 12 December 1896 – (chess problem set by Leigh Hossell)

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 2972; Folio: 27; Page: 47; GSU roll: 838862

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 2835; Folio: 125; Page: 16; GSU roll: 1341679

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 3160; Folio: 168; Page: 4

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2796; Folio: 24; Page: 40

A Chronological Survey of Measures Affecting the Deaf Person Especially in Great Britain to the early 1960s

Hugh Dominic WStiles24 August 2018

Finding some more older documents that I thought might be of interest, and lacking time for anything more original, we supply the following ‘chronology’ of Deaf history.  It may be that there are better versions of this elsewhere, and there are no sources given in the form of articles or books, but this might be a starting point for research.  For example, I have no idea what the evidence is for the first statement.  If I had to guess I would say this dates from the early 60s, perhaps 1964.  I hope to revisit this page to update its ‘note’ style and add some supporting information where possible, though I will leave it where it ends in the 60s.

1. First legal bases for education of deaf person during Jewish and Roman Times.

2. Beginnings of modern education in Spain; Ponce de Leon (1520-1584), Bonet and his book in 1620.

3. Development of two basic and apparently conflicting educational philosophies for deaf children established in Europe; de l’Epee (1712-1789) with sign language, and Heinicke (1729-1790) with oral education, in Paris and Leipzig respectively.

4. British work: Bulwer and his books “Chirologia” (1644) & “Philocophus” (1648) Wallis and Holder as first teachers, but not without considerable acrimony between them.  Braidwood and his family with their school, first in Edinburgh, then in London at Hackney, being the first organised program set up for deaf children. First public deaf “asylum” at Bermondsey by Watson, nephew of Braidwood (1792).

5. Growth of “asylums”: acceptance of fee paying of “parlour” pupils, proper medical attention, free meals, children admitted as early as 7 or 8 years onwards, but many at 13 or more, charitable background.

6. Scott in 1844 wrote “The deaf and dumb, their position in society, and their principles of their education considered.” Great emphasis on early parental training.

7. Donaldson’s Hospital opened in Edinburgh, 1850, with equal intake of hearing and deaf pupils of both sexes.

8. First nursery school in world for deaf  infants set up in Great Britain at Manchester 1860.  Ceased in 1884 because of need to provide additional space for education of older deaf children.

9. Development of missions for deaf adults. Glasgow 1827, Edinburgh 1835, Manchester 1850, others mostly in north of England in industrial areas.  In 1840 deaf adults in London set up a deaf church which in time became the R.A.A.D.D. (Rooyal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb).  A free interchange of teachers and missioners became possible because of the frequent use of manual modes of communication in schools, thus first principal of Manchester nursery school formerly was Superintendent of Manchester Mission.  Missions at Derby and Preston responsible for formation of schools there in 1875’s and 1890’s respectively.

10. Milan Congress of 1880 – the 2nd International Conference of Teachers of the Deaf where very important resolutions affecting the “oral” education of deaf children were passed.

11. The Royal Commission of 1886-89 on the Blind, the Deaf, etc.

12. Development of “oral” v. “manual” controversy, first among teachers.  It spread to missioners when the original hopes of “oral” supporters were not always successful.  The introduction of examination requirements by the Association for the Oral Instruction of the Deaf & Dumb 1872; the Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf and for the diffusion of the German System 1877; the College of Teachers of the Deaf and Dumb 1885.  These diplomas were not recognised by the Board of Education till 1909, and then only after the three bodies came together in 1908 to form the “Joint Examination Board for Teachers of the Deaf” with a single diploma.

13. National Association of Teachers of the Deaf formed in 1895 as professional body and started Teacher of the Deaf in 1902 as its organ. The National College of Teachers of the Deaf formed in 1918 by merging the National Association of Teachers of the Deaf into the College of Teachers of the Deaf.  The Scottish Department of Education has however never recognised the College’s Diploma.

14. Formation of British Deaf and Dumb Association in 1890 to protest against the absence of deaf witnesses at Royal Commission.  It sent a petition to the King in 1902 with 2,671 signatures asking for the combined system of education.

15. Legislation: First educational work was financed by Poor Laws – money raised from local rates, from 1834 onwards.  Compulsory education was enforcable for hearing children in 1876.  Compulsory education for deaf children in Scotland with “Education of Blind and Deaf Mute Children (Scotland) Act” 1890, and in England with the “Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act” 1893.  In the English Act, a deaf child was educated from its 7th to 16th birthday while a hearing child was educated from its 5th to 10th birthday (extended to 12 in 1900, and to 14 in 1921). Age for deaf child lowered to 5th birthday in 1937.  Permissive to educate as from 2nd birthday from 1920 onwards, and provision made for higher education in the 1902 Act but these clauses very seldom used.

16. Preparation for life in the community: The N.I.D. undertook inquiry for on the “Industrial conditions of the deaf and dumb.”  There were unsatisfactory findings despite the establishment of trade schools in Manchester in 1905 for boys and in 1923 for girls.  Eichholz prepared “A Study of the Deaf 1930-32.”  Clark and Crowden for the N.I D. and Department of Industrial Psychology prepared a survey on “Employment for the deaf in the United Kingdom” in 1939.  The results of all these surveys were considered very disturbing.

17. Donaldson’s Hospital ceased unusual Neducation scheme in 1938. From 1850 to 1938, a total of 3,185 children of whom 1,403 deaf, were educated there.

18. Awareness of the value of residual hearing (when present): efforts by physicians in the 18th C. to cure deafness.  Work of surgeons in the 19th C. to treat deafness but necessarily restricted to outer and middle ears. Work of Itard in Paris, and Urbanschitsch in Vienna who in early 1890’s developed methodical hearing exercises.  The collaboration of medical man and headmaster at Glasgow Institution in 1890 where Dr. Kerr Love found less than 10% pupils totally deaf, and over 25% heard loud speech. Establishment of partially deaf  classes from 1908 onwards.  The development of electrical and radio engineering in early 20th C. but application restricted to use in classroom only (cumbersome and inefficient equipment).

19. Medical Research Council set up in 1926 to supervise research On physiology of hearing. In addition to other work, M.R.C. encouraged the team work of the Ewings and T.S. Littler in the Department of Education of Deaf in Manchester (founded 1920).  The M.R.C. opened a clinic there in 1934 for the “study and relief of deafness.”  By 1935 use of group hearing aids was recommended for children in schools for deaf.

20. Strained relations between teachers and doctors on educational policies for children with defective hearing, especially between 1910 and 1925.

21. Committee of Inquiry into problems of “medical, educational and social aspects of… children suffering from defects not amounting to total deafness” Report published in 1938 and contained educational classification with Grades I, IIa, IIb, and III which are still used by certain authorities although essentially outdated.

22. Outbreak of hostilities in 1939 between various countries caused the cessation of work on deaf problems, apart from preliminary research in readiness for development of the MEDRESCO hearing aid for the new National Health Service (1948).

23. Considerable postwar legislative changes affecting the deaf person. See Table A.

24. Various important postwar reports on educational, psychological and social aspects of deaf person in United Kingdom. See Table B.

25. Great multiplicity of organisations involved specifically with the deaf person in Great Britain. See Table C.

26. Development of research units on problems of deafness:

(a) The Otological Research Unit, National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, London under Dr. Hallpike,

(b) The Wernher Research Unit on Deafness, King’s College Hospital Medical School London under Dr. T.S. Littler which ceased in 1965,

(c) Audiology Unit, Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, London under the late Miss Edith Whetnall F.R.C.S.

(d) The Audiology Unit, Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading under Dr. K.P. Murphy.

In addition, there was research at the Department of Audiology and Education of the Deaf in Manchester.

27. Development of new categories of workers with deaf people.  In addition to traditional three categories of doctors, teachers and welfare workers, now there were psychologists, medical officers, audiology technicians, speech therapists, health visitors and school supervisors with special courses on deafness for each of them.

28. Development of electrical apparatus for hearing and speech, either as individual or group hearing aids or as visual aids.  Scanty British literature on education of deaf children, particularly on development of language.  A new training centre for teachers of deaf children opened in London in 1965.

29. Modification of educational philosophies in Great Britain.  Before the Second War, the emphasis was on “oral” techniques with a strong minority for “manual” techniques and a gradual realisation of value of “aural”techniques.  After the Second War there was a shift of emphasis from “oral techniques” to “aural techniques” in most schools or units.  A minority group now asked for “combined” rather than “manual” techniques, and becoming more vocal.  The B.D.D.A. sent a petition in 1954 with 5,000 signatures for the “combined” techniques to the Ministry of Education.  Increasing awareness of special problems of the small group of very deaf children, especially if with additional handicaps.  Weaknesses in present “oral” and “aural” techniques was more openly admitted.

30. Persisting attitudes towards the deaf person. Use of the term “deaf and dumb.”  The term “dumb” is synonymous with “not so quick on uptake” or mental deficiency in the U.S.A. and that usage was brought over to Great Britain.  Defective speech and limited vocabulary aggravated the situation.  For the term “hard of hearing,” no precise definition is possible. The introduction of the terms “Deaf” and “Partially Hearing” categories of deaf child, but the prevalent tendency for members of the public still to call them “deaf and dumb.”  See Table D

31. Present trends to watch: Units attached to ordinary schools, decline in residential schools, absence of vocational training or guidance in schools, greater emphasis on electrical amplifying apparatus for use at school or at home, ambiguity in educational and social status of “Partially hearing” pupil in community, the continued lack of closer co-operation between organisations or workers with or for the deaf person.

TABLE A
POSTWAR LEGISLATION WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE DEAF PERSON

(a) Disabled Persons (Employment) Acts, 1944 & 1958.

(b) Education Act, 1944.

(c) National Health Service Act, 1946.

(d) National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946.

(e) Employment and Training Act, 1948.

(f) National Assistance Act, 1948.

TABLE B
SELECT LIST OF PUDLICATIONS WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE EDUCATIONAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL OR SOCIAL ASPECTS OF THE DEAF PERSON.

(a) 1945 Voluntary Organisations for the welfare of the deaf (IN Voluntary social services (their place in the modern state) Edited by Bourdillon, Methuen, London, 1945).  This chapter written by J.D. Evans.

(b) 1950 Pupils who are defective in hearing, HMSO, Edinburgh.

(c) 1954 The training and supply of teachers of handicapped pupils, HMSO, London

(d) 1956 The Piercy Report, HMSO, London.

(e) 1957 Care of the deaf, by J.B. Perry Robinson for the Deaf Children’s Society, London.

(f) 1958 The deaf school leaver in Northern England, by R.R. Drewry, mimeographed, Nuffield Foundation.

(g) 1959 The Younghusband Report, HMSO, London.

(h) 1960 Certain social and psychological difficulties facing the deaf person in the English community, by Pierre Gorman, Ph.D. Thesis Cambridge University.  1963 A report on a survey of deaf children who have been transferred from special schools or units to ordinary schools, HMSO, London. Also Annual Reports of the Department of Education and Ministry of Health. The “Health of the School Child” by the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Education contains much valuable information.

TABLE C
ORGANISATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE DEAF PERSON (together with date of formation of original body)

(a) 1880 British Deaf and Dumb Association (now British Deaf Association)

(b) Early Council of Church Missioners to the Deaf and Dumb. 1900s

(c) 1911 National Institute for the Deaf (now Action on Hearing Loss)

(d) 1917 National College of Teachers of the Deaf.

(e) 1922 Central Advisory Council for the Spiritual Care of the Deaf and Dumb.

(f) 1928 Deaf Welfare Examination Board.

(g) 1943 British Association of Otolaryngologists.

(h) 1944 National Deaf Children’s Society.

(i) 1947 British Association for the Hard of Hearing.

(j) 1949 Association of Non Maintained Schools for the Deaf.

(k) 1950 Society of Audiology Technicians.

(l) 1952 National Council of Missioners and Welfare Officers to the Deaf.

(m) 1954 Association for Experiment in Deaf Education.

(n) 1958 Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists.

(o) 1959 Society of Teachers of the Deaf.

(p) 1959 Commonwealth Society for the Deaf.

TABLE D
CATEGORIES OF CHILDREN WITH DEFECTIVE HEARING CONSIDERED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AS REQUIRING SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL TREATMENT.

“DEAF PUPILS” are defined as “pupils who have no hearing or whose hearing is so defective that they require education by methods used for deaf pupils without naturally acquired speech or language.” (Definition unchanged since 1945).

“PARTIALLY DEAF PUPILS” were defined in 1945 as “pupils whose hearing is so defective that they require for their education special arrangements or facilities but not all the educational methods used for deaf pupils”. In 1953, this definition was changed to “pupils who have some naturally acquired speech and language, but whose hearing is so defective that they require for their education special arrangements or facilities although not necessarily all the educational methods used for deaf pupils”. In 1962, the term “partially deaf pupils” was changed to “partially hearing pupils” without any change in the definition itself.

Harry Wellington White, oralist “When I went to Manchester… the tone of the institution was undoubtedly sign…. it was like a fever lurking about”

Hugh Dominic WStiles17 August 2018

Harry Wellington White was born in October, 1854, son of Wellington White, a ‘quartermaster of militia,’ born in Tipperary, and his wife Anne, from Kildare. The oldest sister was born Van Diemen’s Land, then a brother was born in Dover, a second brother was born in Lancashire, and his younger brother in Hampshire, so presumably the father was being sent around the empire for his work.

Harry White began working as a clerk, presumably when he left school. He was employed as a clerk in the offices of the Great Western , at General Manager’s office at Paddington in November, 1876. He remained an employee there until February, 1879, when he resigned.  He would then be aged a little over 24, and we might suppose that it was then, or shortly after, that he enrolled as a trainee teacher of the deaf at the Ealing ‘Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf and for the Diffusion of the German System.’  He took a two and a half year course there, and qualified in 1881 in the same cohort as Mary Smart, and was it seems the only male teacher to qualify there, which seems extraordinary.  I seem to recall reading somewhere that there were far fewer me interested in becoming teachers in the latter years of the 19th century.  Previously I think male teachers had often gone into teaching as pupils who became teachers, then learnt on the job in deaf schools, but this would require research to confirm.

Having qualified, he was appointed Vice-Principal under Arthur Kinsey.  He was sent out from Ealing as an acolyte, and Benjamin St. John Ackers who lead the society as Honorary Secretary, wrote in the annual report for 1884 (p.10) –

Somewhat earlier in the year your Honorary Secretary attended the Annual Meeting of the Manchester Schools for the Deaf and Dumb, as a subscriber to that Institution, where it will be remembered Mr. H. W. White, our late Vice-Principal, was engaged in the work of training the teachers employed there, to carry on the German System.  Mr. White had represented to your Society that certain changes in the arrangements of the Manchester Institution were absolutely necessary for the ultimate success of the work.  Your Honorary Secretary’s attendance, upon the occasion referred to, was to urge the adoption of these proposed changes upon the Manchester Committee, and also the further engagement of Mr. White for another twelve months ; this latter proposition, we are sorry to learn, has, from want of funds, not been accepted.  The period of Mr. White’s engagement with your Society having expired, we were in strong hopes of seeing him at the head of some British Institution, carrying on successfully the work for which he has been trained.  About this time the Head Mastership of the West of England Institution, at Exeter, fell vacant, and Mr. White was at once advised to apply for the post, but he did not feel at liberty to do so.  Shortly afterwards a similar vacancy occurred at the Liverpool Institution ; again he was urged to apply.  Owing, possibly, to delay in forwarding his application, he was not successful in obtaining the appointment.  Upon the termination of the Society’s agreement with Mr. White an agreement was executed with Mr. Alfred Batchelor to train at the College, and to give his services to the Society in such ways as might be required for their work.

The Manchester Schools Sixtieth Annual Report for 1884 (we have not got the 1883 Report) tells us that “the arrangement referred to in the last Annual Report as having been made with Mr. White, Vice-Principal of the Ealing College, is being brought to a satisfactory termination ; and it is gratifying to your Committee to find that the Oral Classes, as organised by their Head Master, [W.S. Bessant] are working so nearly upon the lines laid down by Mr. White in his lectures, that very little alteration in them has been rendered necessary. (Annual Report, 1884, p.6).

It seems Ackers was, however, rather disappointed with White.  He wanted to expand the oralist approach by getting his man into a big school.  Perhaps White felt that running a private school would be more rewarding.  In October, 1884, White published a booklet with W.H. Allen, publishers, Speech for the Dumb. The Education of the Deaf and Dumb on the “Pure Oral” System.  He laid out the oralist approach, and concluded with an appendix on ‘Hints for the management of a deaf child.’  This included ‘Do not allow him to shuffle his feet when walking.’  Interestingly, one of our regular visitors tells me that she was told the same thing at school – perhaps this was part of the long legacy of the Ealing College?  In the introduction to that essay, when he was living at 3, Blenheim Terrace, Old Trafford, Manchester, he says, (p.v) that “I am desirous of opening a small private and select school for deaf children of the higher classes, at Bowden, Cheshire.”  Of course he adds, needlessly, “signs and the manual alphabet being rigidly excluded.”

I am not sure if that school got going, as by July 1885 he was offering lip reading lessons and his address was 4 Osman Road, West Kensington Park.  Not long after, we find numerous advertisements for White’s private deaf school, at 115 Holland Road, Kensington, in The Times and London Evening Standard (see British Newspaper Archive), as well as mentions in The Lancet (by February 1886).  He was, that same year one of the witnesses for The Royal Commission on the Blind, the Deaf and the Dumb (1889).  (We have the full text, and electronic access through Parliamentary Papers database.)  He was asked about his time at Manchester on Thursday the 18th of March, 1886.  You may recall that Ackers was on the commission, so I do not think it would be unfair to say that there was already an oralist bias –

7969. When you first went there was that the commencement of the change ? — No, they had endeavored to introduce the system, and I suppose it would be
maintained that they had introduced it. Of course one is very delicate upon a matter of that kind; there are certain susceptibilities to consider; I think they claimed that they introduced the system; but I went there to assist them to carry it on to probably a higher pitch, and farther extent.

7970. Do you claim that you made great progress is the teaching of the teachers there ? — Undoubtedly.

7971. And also the pupils themselves ? —  Certainly.  Of course my individual efforts could not have shown very great results in the children except through the teachers that I trained.  I could not be expected to teach 160 children, nor would my results be very much in twelve months; but I think that, taking class and class with the teacher that was attached to it, the whole tone of the training showed itself clearly in the education of the children.

Further on he says (paragraph 8007),

When I went to Manchester, of course the tone of the institution was undoubtedly sign.  From the point of view of a pure oral teacher it was like a fever lurking about (that is a rather strong way of putting it), and it wanted removing before you could expect to do anything with the children on the opposite system.

8008. You mean tho fever of the sign system ? — From our point of view, though that is rather a strong way of putting it; but it certainly was very infections. The new children and the children taught on the oral system were very prone to fall into the ways of those who had a system of signs around them.  The consequence was that I saw it rapidly running through the whole institution.  In six weeks or two months the children who had newly entered were as full of signs as thosewho had been there for six years, though probably not knowing so many signs.  The only hope of introducing the pure oral system would have been the removal of the whole of those sign children, and that is what I advocated.  I wrote a letter to tho committee and advocated the taking of a new house somewhere in the neighbourhood for the purpose; but they said that they could not possibly do it, that the expense was more than they could meet, and that things would have to go on as they were going on.

[…]

8059. Do you think that the time will ever come when the sign and manual systems will disappear altogether ?  — I see no reason why they should not.

8060. Do you think there is every reason why they should ?—At present there are very few reasons why they should.  If the Government take the matter up and grant assistance to the work, I see every reason why the sign system should be stamped out, and the oral system entirely established in its place.

In both the 1861 and 1871 census records, Harry White was living at home with his parents in 7 Hackney Terrace, Cassland Road. He moved with them at some point after that, to 3 Poplar Grove, Hammersmith.  In January 1891 he married Emma Parrell, at St Mary Magdalene, Peckham, and at that time he was described as a teacher on his marriage certifiate, but in the 1891 census a ‘Teacher of the Deaf’.  In both the 1901 and the 1911 censuses, they were recorded as living in 13 Sinclair Gardens, Hammersmith.

After some years he seems to have turned away from being purely a teacher of the deaf, though he may well have still had deaf pupils, for he describes himself as ‘Speech Specialist’ in both 1901 and 1911 census returns.  He wrote a few other short items, one we have, The Mechanism of Speech (1897), and a book we do not have, Hearing by Sight (18-?) which is held in Aberdeen University, possibly a unique copy.

I cannot say anything of his later carreer, but that he had three children, one son who attended Cambridge university (Harry Coxwell White), and that he died in 1940.

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Collection: Great Western Railway Company: Staff Records; Class: RAIL264; Piece: 6

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 332; Folio: 73; Page: 58; GSU roll: 818902

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 60; Folio: 19; Page: 32; GSU roll: 1341013

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 39; Folio: 182; Page: 34

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 50; Folio: 21; Page: 33

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 255

The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Oct 21, 1885; pg. 2; Issue 31583.

The Standard (London, England), Tuesday, July 14, 1885; pg. 8; Issue 19032

“Notwithstanding the importance attached to gesture-language by the teachers of the Combined Method, they do not teach it” – Zenas Westervelt

Hugh Dominic WStiles6 July 2018

We have a small collection of original annual reports for various United States Deaf Institutions from the 19th century.  There is for example a run for the Clarke School from the first report in 1867 all the way to 1961.  There are some shorter runs and odd volumes or single reports.  Here we have the Rochester, Western New York Institution for Deaf Mutes, Thirteenth Annual Report for 1890.

At that time the principal was Zenas Freeman Westervelt (1849-1918).  Born in Columbus, Ohio, Westervelt‘s New York born mother mother Martha Freeman was matron of the Ohio Institution, and he grew up there, so we must suppose he was very familiar with sign language – or gesture as he calls it.  He became a teacher of the Deaf in the Maryland School (1871-3), before moving to the New York Institution (1873-5) (American Annals of the Deaf, 1918 p.226).  In New York he was one of “five bright young teachers under Dr. Isaac Peet, who later became principals or superintendents and of whom Dr. Westervelt was the last survivor” (ibid.).

Westervelt had been gathering names of Deaf children in western New York state who were not in school, and Mrs. Gilman Perkins, who had a Deaf daughter Carolyn, and asked Westervelt to start a school there (1872).

He chose to use the manual alphabet, spelling English, as the medium of instruction –

to the exclusion of the sign language […] thus placing the pupils in a constant environment of the English language.  He was also an advocate of oral teaching. (ibid. p.227).

In the thirteenth Annual Report for the school, Westervelt wrote an article called The American Vernacular Method (p.43-60) as he termed it.  He discusses what he calls The American Combined Method, and how it used –

the language of gesture, and the idea of the idea of the combination is that through this medium the attempt shall be made to teach English composition and reading, dactylology, speech and speech-reading on the lips, and aural apprehension.[…]

Notwithstanding the importance attached to gesture-language by the teachers of the Combined Method, they do not teach it; that is, there is no systematic instruction looking to the mastery of the language by the little deaf child.  The teachers, however, use it to the little ones, expecting them to understand; the older pupils use it with the same confidence that the children will learn its meaning through use, as it is the vernacular of the Combined-Method schools. […] One not familiar with the work of the profession might be justified in asking,: at what grade in the Combined-Method schools is the limit (p.47-8)

He develops his argument, and I cannot do justice to it so include the whole of this, the first of two articles (1890 and 1891?).  I suppose the second part is in the following annual report – unfortunately we do not have that.

His relationship with sign language is complex.  He does not appear to have been anti sign language, indeed he call it “ingenius [sic],” and says of De l’Epee that “What he accomplished was giving to the deaf signs for ideas, words, which they could readily use and comprehend” (ibid. p.48-9).  Yet he says gesture is more restrictive in expression and vocabulary, and that (p.52) “No books have been written in gesture.”  Further on, he says-

Yet when the educated gesturer is compared with the deaf mute as he was before the invention of the gesture-language of De l’Epee, the incalculable good that it has accomplished  is manifest.  Under the circumstances which prevailed during the early years of deaf mute instruction, when those admitted to the schools were adults or fully grown youths, and the time allowed at institutions was but four years, there was doubtless need of gesture language.

It seems clear that he did not mean oral education – “the following summary of the reasons which have led me to oppose the “Combined Method,” which teaches through “signs,” also the “German Method,” which teaches through speech” (p.45).  What he wanted was for Deaf children to acquire English and an ability to read and write English using the manual alphabet – finger spelling – later called the Rochester Method.  “It were better for every child who is to spend his life among the American people that he should be brought up an American and not a foreigner.”  He wanted Deaf children to fit into American life and language as immigrants did – or at least as some did if you read the footnotes in his article (see page 60 particularly).

Presumably in that second part he explains his attitude to the “German Method,” and then his system.  There must be copies of all these reports in U.S. libraries.  Perhaps if someone comes across it they could scan it and make it available online.

From 1892 passport records we know Westervelt had at that time brown hair, an aquiline nose, grey eyes, a square chin, and was 5′ 8″ tall.  He was twice married, firstly in 1875 to Mary H. Nodine (died 1893) then in 1898 to Adelia C. Fay, whose son Edmund he adopted.  He died of heart failure on 17th of February, 1918.

As to how anyone could have lip-read him with that beard, we cannot hazard a guess.

Obituary, American Annals of the Deaf, 1918 Vol.53 (2) p.226-7

Padden, C. and Gunsauls, D.C., How the Alphabet Came to Be Used in a Sign Language. Sign Language Studies vol.4 (1) 2003

Westervelt, Z.F., The American Vernacular method, (p.43-60) in Thirteenth Annual Report of the Western New York Institution for Deaf Mutes, 1890

1860 Census – Year: 1860; Census Place: Columbus Ward 3, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: M653_964; Page: 127; Family History Library Film: 803964

1900 Census – Year: 1900; Census Place: Rochester Ward 17, Monroe, New York; Page: 1; Enumeration District: 0137

1910 Census – Year: 1910; Census Place: Rochester Ward 17, Monroe, New York; Roll: T624_992; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0159; FHL microfilm: 1375005

Passport Records – National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 396; Volume #: Roll 396 – 24 Jun 1892-29 Jun 1892

Silent Drill by Signs – a Scout Sign System from 1934

Hugh Dominic WStiles16 February 2018

Written in 1934 or 1935 by Martin Baker, who was Assistant County Commissioner for the Training of Scouters in Birminmgham, Silent Drill by Signs tells us that,

There is a fascination in Drill by Signs, a sense of good-will, cheeriness and scout atmosphere which is not to be found in Sergeant-Major’s methods.

Those participating experience an increased alertness, and can attain by the Sign method a smartness hitherto impossible, and this without domineering or bullying.

The idea of using Signs for drill is not new- some of the signs are as old as the hills; it is in the method of use that the new feature lies, and it will be found to make all the difference between perfect performance and chaos.

Although Drill by Signs has been taught on the Wood Badge Courses sincve the very beginning of Training, it has not become the onl;y scouty way of moving scouts, because the method lacked one essential of any good drill, an adequate warning.

The Sign given not only showed the Scouts what was required, but it was also the signal to do it!  Hence the brightest moved first, and there was no unanimity of movement, which is the soul of smart drill.

The method here described was first used as a camp-fire item at Oslo, during the “Calgaric Cruise” in the Baltic.  A team of twelve Scouters volunyteered to be drilled by this method, and the success of the attempt prompted others to take it up.  I therefore offer it to Scouters and Guuiders generally as a new and successful method which I believe will prove worth trying.

The Signs I have suggested are a mixture of those taught at Gilwell, American Indian Sign Language, and some made up on the spur of the moment, usually good common sense, descriptive of the required action where possible.

Other Signs may be invented as desired, but keep them simple, and if possible descriptive.

It is interesting to compare the sign used for ‘form line,’ with the Indian sign for ‘soldiers’ in Ernest Thomas Seton‘s 1918 book, Sign Talk.  In the scout version, Baker has the hands held high to be seen more clearly.  Seton was a pioneer of the Boy Scouts of America.  That book was in turn heavily influenced by the U.S. general, Hugh L. Scott, who had learnt Indian signs from a Kiowa, I-See-O.  Click on the images for a larger size.
We have a copy of Seton’s book that is heavily annotated by Paget.

I think our copy of Silent Drill is pretty rare.