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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

John Taylor Lyon, Missioner to the Deaf in Stockton 1918-26

Hugh Dominic WStiles18 January 2013

John Taylor Lyon became missioner superintendent to the South Durham and Cleveland Mission to the Deaf and Dumb, in 1918.  Based in Stockton-on-Tees, he travelled widely in his area, trying to keep in touch with the local deaf people.  His brief obituary – more of a notice that he had died – gives us little information, but from online records I can say he was 57 when he died, so was born around 1869.  It says, “His conciliatory attitude and spiritual mindedness welded the Mission into one united family, while his never failing tact was always available for settling the slight differences of opinion which are inseparable from all organisations.”

I know he was married, and they had a son, Frank Taylor Lyon, and he was living at 9 West End Terrace, Yarm Road when he died, but I cannot find either of them in the online census record.  If you can, please do comment below.  There may be a record of him in the local mission’s annual reports, or in local archives, however we have hardly anything – only some account sheets from the 1950s.

He died on 1st December, 1926 after some years of ill-health.

Note: While looking for something else my eye was caught by the same name, a J.T. Lyon of Aberdeen, playing as a fullback for Scotland in the second Deaf football international between England and Scotland, on 2nd April 1892.  Is this the same person?  It is!  He was a pupil I have discovered, at Donaldson’s School (from information on our old index cards).  The game, which was played on the West Manchester football ground, had a remarkable 2,500 spectators. The game was 3-2 at half time, then despite fog they came out for the second half and England scored twice again then had a free kick which caused Lyon’s fellow fullback Moodie to storm off. He was persuaded to return and England went on to win 7-2.  Dissent on the sports field is clearly not new!

The Late Mr. J.T. Lyon. British Deaf Times 1927, vol 24 p.11

Updated & extended 15/9/2017 & 19/9

James McLean, Deaf Cardiff City footballer

Hugh Dominic WStiles15 June 2012

Sports are sociable activities that bring people together so it is no surprise that they have featured very strongly in the history of Deaf people in the U.K., as we have noted in previous posts. However there have not been many who have also competed at the highest level. One problem is playing to the whistle.

the perception that an inability to speak or hear clearly automatically causes difficulties for all involved, may well have conspired to deny many talented deaf footballers the opportunities a few others have had. (Atherton, 1999)

A player who did play professional football was James or William MacLean (sometimes given as Mclean) of Cardiff City. There is a very small mention of him in Atherton et.al. (2000),[*] where the information came from his daughter. He played with Cardiff from 1923-6.

Click for a larger size larger size.

This newspaper article, from a photo in the library collection, is typical of its age (1920s) in its tone. They do not know Mclean’s first name and seem amazed that he could learn to speak.

[* Atherton et al give his name as William on one page (58) and James on another (59) and have his surname spelled McLean. I imagine that perhaps he was James William or William James but that his family used a different christian name from that his colleagues used.]

For more on professional Deaf footballers –

Atherton, M, Russell, D. & Turner G.H., Deaf Footballers in the Professional Game, Chapter 6 in Deaf United. Forest Books, 2000

Atherton, M. Kicking down the barriers: Deaf players in professional football. Deaf History Journal, 1999 Vol. 3 (1):21-27

Atherton, M. PLAYING TO THE FLAG: A HISTORY OF DEAF FOOTBALL AND DEAF FOOTBALLERS IN BRITAIN The Sports Historian, No.19,1 (May,1999), pp. 38-60

See also http://www.friendsreunited.co.uk/soccer-football-league-division-one-cardiff-city/Memory/29e20a7b-eb4f-4542-be56-a00b015377b1

 

 

First Deaf Motorist and inventor of the wing mirror, Arthur James Wilson

Hugh Dominic WStiles27 April 2012

WILSON, Arthur James (1858-1945)

A younger version of Wilson appears on a picture in an earlier item on the National Deaf Club.  Here we see him in middle age.  He was born in Camden Town at 43 Arlington St, on 17th of February 1858, the son of a schoolmaster.  Catching scarlet fever aged 12, he became totally deaf.  His education continued at home, and Dimmock tells us that he composed an article at the age of 14 that appeared in A Magazine intended chiefly for the Deaf and Dumb (we have this journal in the library)For a time employed as an engraver, his eyesight not being strong enough Wilson became a journalist.  With the aid of the Rev. Samuel Smith he helped found the National Deaf and Dumb Teetotal Society .

Wilson was a keen cyclist, and organised races and hill climbs in the late 1870s on one of the heavy tricycles then in vogue.  He raced in Ireland, from which came the offer of a position in Dublin on the Irish Cyclist (Dimmock).  Marrying a hearing lady in 1887, he moved back to London as manager for the Pneumatic Tyre Company.

In 1896 Wilson was the first Deaf person to purchase and drive a motor vehicle, and he was reputedly the inventor of the wing mirror.  He became wealthy and was acquainted with the Prince of Wales, getting him interested in cycling, and taught King George V to cycle.  He was an important figure in the development of Deaf Sport in the London region, which led to the establishment of the British Deaf Amateur Sports Association in 1930 (Dimmock).

Wilson was a founder of the Federation of London Deaf Clubs in 1918, and President of the Midland Counties Institutes for the Deaf (later Coventry Institute for the Deaf) as early as 1915 shortly after it was founded.  His business fell into a decline after the Great War and was wound up in 1929.  He died in 1945  in Leamington Spa.

DIMMOCK, A.F. Arthur James Wilson, otherwise Faed, 1858-1945. British Deaf History Society Publications, 1996.

See also annual reports for Coventry & Warwickshire Association for the Deaf.

Wilson and the Hospital Motor Squadron

Wilson’s Benevolent Fund

Mr. Arthur J. Wilson, Ephphatha (First series) 1898 Vol.3 p.113-4

3rd International Deaf Games / Taubstumme Spiele, Nurnberg 1931

Hugh Dominic WStiles9 December 2011

In 1931 the 3rd ‘Silent Games’, or Deaflympics were held in Nurnberg from 21st-24th of August.  The first had been in 1924 in Paris, and the most recent was in 2009 in Taipei http://www.deaflympics.com/games/

The Swedish magazine for the Deaf says there were 6,000 spectators on the last day.

Beautiful Bauhaus style poster of the games from our collection

I can find very little in British sources about the games. The most successful Briton appears to have been Cyril Reynolds. He came 3rd in the 200m, an event he had won in 1928. The British team was lead by the Rev. Vernon Jones, of whom more in a later entry. The British Deaf Times also points out the “Two men from Leeds, one from Sheffield, and one from Barnsley represented Yorkshire in the third Olympiad”.  Many of them  were competing both in field and track sports.

From a Finland Swedish magazine for the Deaf I read that the Polish competitors were turned away at the borders. This was of course in 1931, at the beginnings of Nazi rule. Deaf people were to suffer greatly on the following years.

The British Deaf Times, Vol.28, September-October 1931, p.117

Tidskrift főr Dővstumma utgiven af Finlands Dővstumfőrbund, 1931, No.9, p.71-4

Tidning főr Dővstumma, 1931 No.9, p.91