“One obstruction Sir Francis Baring had to contend with from his earliest days—an incurable deafness” the merchant banker, Sir Francis Baring
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 January 2020
I was interested to discover, that the famous merchant banker, Sir Francis Baring (1740-1810), was deaf, or ‘partly deaf’.
At Lee, Kent, aged 74, Sir Francis Baring, bart. one of the Directors of the East India Company, and formerly M.P. for Taunton. He was of a Devonshire family; came to London early in life, and studied mercantile affairs, if we mistake not, in the house of Boehm. His talents were of a very superior cast, and highly improved by reading. Few men understood the real interests of trade better ; and it may surely be added, few men ever arrived at the highest rank and honour of commercial life with more unsullied integrity. At his death, he was unquestionably the first merchant in Europe; first in knowledge and talents, and first in character and opulence. His name was known and respected in every commercial quarter of the globe; and by the East India Company, and other public trading bodies, he was consulted as a man of consummate knowledge and inflexible honour. Throughout his long and respectable life, he acted on those steady principles which seldom fail to raise men to opulence and credit, although they may not always enable them to shine with such superior lustre. One obstruction Sir Francis Baring had to contend with from his earliest days—an incurable deafness. By the usual helps, however, he contrived that this should very little impede this communications; and both in Parliament, and as chairman of the East India Company, his opinion was so highly valued that every pains was taken to prevent the subject in debate from suffering by his infirmity. His private, as well as public life, if faithfully delineated would form a most instructive lesson to the mercantile world; and a lesson particularly necessary at a time when so many seem to forget or despise the genuine attributes of an English merchant, and aspire at sudden and unsubstantial wealth and credit, by the paltry speculations of mere fraud and low cunning. On the contrary, the soundest principles and truest policy laid the foundation of Sir Francis Baring’s fortune and character, and guided him in all his transactions. In future annals, he will rank with the illustrious names of Gresham, Firmin, and Barnard, men who have formed the English character, and to whom English commerce is indebted for its superiority. (my emphasis) (Obituary, in the Gentleman’s Magazine, LXXX, 1810, II, p 293)
The great portraitist, Thomas Lawrence, cleverly represented Baring’s deafness in his group painting of Baring, his brother, and Francis Wall, from 1806/7, where the three men are in discussion and Francis has his left hand up to the side of his face, as if to cup his ear. In his biography of Lawrence, Sir Thomas Lawrence: The Artist (2005), Michael Levey says, “He clearly felt no inhibition about being so depicted, and both he and Lawrence may have recalled that one of Reynold’s self portraits similarly showed him as deaf.” The following page is from the Life and Correspondence of Sir Thomas Lawrence by D.E. Williams –
In his memoirs, the business man Vincent Nolte, wrote,
He had become somewhat feeble, and very deaf, when I first got personally acquainted with him. (Fifty Years in Both Hemispheres, p.158)
I have struggled to find additional sources as to his deafness, most seemingly going back to this obituary or another version of it, as newspapers often reprinted articles from other papers in full with no credit. Unless someone can point to a contemporary source in his lifetime, such as a letter for example, we will have no idea of the extent of his deafness or its cause. If you know of any additional sources for his deafness, please add a comment below. As with so many areas connected with things I come across in writing these pages, it is deserving of far more research than I can give it.
Thanks to the Baring Archive for this reference, from Anecdotal Reminiscences of Distinguished Literary and Political Characters by Leigh Cliffe –
Sir FRANCIS BARING was a person of vast importance in the commercial world, and of some influence in the House of Commons of which he was an opposition member; he was the particular friend of Lords Lansdowne and Ashburton, Colonel Barry, Jekyll and many other names well known to the world, and was, though troubled with an inveterate deafness, which prevented his hearing even common conversation without the assistance of a pair of ear trumpets, constant in his attendance at St Stephens, whenever any question of interest was before the house.
I did come across this anecdote, in The New Monthly Belle Assemblée: A Magazine of Literature and Fashion, Volumes 10-11, p.308 –
The late Sir Francis Baring, father to the present Lord Ashburton, was very deaf, and on one occasion, the bells being out of order at his residence, a man was sent to arrange them properly, and he, having completed his task, requested Lady Baring to try them. Like most fine ladies who dislike to be troubled about trifling concerns, she asked him somewhat angrily why he could not try them himself, when he pleaded excessive deafness as an excuse.
There is a recent book, Disability and Colonialism: (Dis)encounters and Anxious Intersectionalities (2015), edited by Karen Soldatic and Shaun Grech, that may be of interest. It has a chapter by Esme Cleall on ‘Orientalising deafness: race and disability in imperial Britain,’ that mentions Baring, who made a considerable amount of money in the slave trade, and via the East India Company.
It may interest you to know that Francis Baring is a 5 x greats grandfather of Prince William, through a daughter of his grandson, Edward Baring, 1st Baron Revelstoke.
Orbell, J. (2009, May 21). Baring, Sir Francis, first baronet (1740–1810), merchant and merchant banker. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 17 Jan. 2020, from https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-1382
The Hampshire Archives have some documents that may be of interest – 92M95/NP3/1/1 contains a birthday memorial written for him as a child and 92M95/NP3/9/5 is a news cutting dated 1805 entitled ‘Interesting anecdotes of living characters – Sir Francis Baring Bart’
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 January 2020
Early newspapers and magazines for and by the Deaf were usually short-lived. One problem was that Deaf people were spread out, but also magazines and papers were of varied quality, would not appeal to everyone, and were expensive to produce. The Rev. F.W.G. Gilby’s earliest attempt at religious ‘journalism’ was –
1885-87 THE HERALD This was written out by hand, and I think produced as a mimeograph process. It is not particularly useful for Deaf history, as it is more interested in sermonising and religion than people.
It was followed after a few years by –
1892—93 OUR QUARTERLY PAPER Also produced by Gilby.
1894 OUR MONTHLY CHURCH MESSENGER TO THE DEAF This was edited by Rev. F.W.G. Gilby, Mr A. Macdonald Cuttell and Mr W.W. Adamson.
1897 Mr A. Macdonald Cuttell became sole editor.
1899 It amalgamated with THE BRITISH DEAF MONTHLY
* * * *
1909 Rev. F.W.G. Gilby edited EPHPHATHA – This included the R.A.D.D. circular OUR NOTICE BOARD as an insert, or was itself inserted onto ONB, and became the R.A.D.D. magazine. In turn, other missions would continue to use Ephphatha with their own local mission news as an insert or wrap-around.
1948 EPHPHATHA re-started in a new series, but in 1959 it ended.
Leonard Darwin – “If I had to write this again I should in Chapt XIII paint a more lurid picture.” His personal copy of ‘What is Eugenics?’
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 January 2020
Being interested in Charles Darwin and his family, and also interested in his son Leonard, a few years ago I borrowed a copy of one of Leonard Darwin’s books from the UCL library store, What is Eugenics? (1928). The cover is rather tatty, well worn – the spine long gone. Inside the front cover of this small, slim volume (88 pages), is a book plate, pictured here –
The book was one of those intended to replace UCL copies destroyed by bombing early in the war, as we see from the book plate. Then comes a quotation from Rutilius Namatianus, a 5th century Gallo-Roman poet, “Ordo renascendi est crescere posse malis” – roughly translated as “the essence of renewal is the ability to grow from your calamities.”
The book was donated by the Eugenics Society, in March 1944. Eugenics was a term coined by Sir Francis Galton, who was a cousin of Charles Darwin.
Turning to the short introduction, I saw a pencilled note, in Leonard Darwin’s hand. It refers to the chapter entitled, “THE DETERIORATION OF OUR BREED” – “If I had to write this again I should in Chapt XIII paint a more lurid picture.”
Leonard Darwin was the only one of Darwin’s sons not to have some sort of a science background. He joined the army, was for a short time an MP, and strongly supported the eugenics movement in Britain and internationally. At that time, eugenics was far from being a fringe belief, nor was it confined to people with right wing politics. Many of the views expressed in this book would have been widely held by educated people, particularly from the better off classes no doubt.
Throughout the book there are minor corrections that presumably were intended for a possible future edition. He also has in the last page, a calculation of the number of copies sold, 2,130 in the first two years of publication, 1,800 in 1933, then numbers dropping, but down to 181 sales in 1938. Interestingly,I wonder if the spurt in sales in 1933 was related to the election of Adolf Hitler, and the Nazi laws to allow for eugenic sterilization in May 1933.
The Chapters are as follows – the scans do not exactly correspond to the page numbers so the start of the next chapter may be with the previous scan. To see the pdf, having clicked on the link, then click on the grey pdf icon.
I. DOMESTIC ANIMALS wie 1-5 Cover, Contents & Introduction, & Ch 1
Attention to breed—Unconscious and conscious selection — Breeds of dogs, cattle, etc. — The farmer’s knowledge.
II. MAN’S ANCESTORS wie 4-15 Ch 2 & Ch 3
Improvements in mankind—Evolution and development, parallel processes — Struggle for existence —Natural selection.
III. OUR SURROUNDINGS
Acquired differences—Mutilations—Effects of education—Social contact—Large families and poverty.
IV. HEREDITARY QUALITIES wie 16-25 Ch 4, Ch 5, & start of Ch 6
Differences in mind and body at birth—Twins—Qualities of descendants—Regression to the mean.
V. EUGENIC METHODS
Stockyard methods—Overcrowding—Murder—Compulsory marriage—Birth rate, not death rate—Risks inevitable.
VI. THE MEN WE WANT wie 26-35 end of Ch 6, Ch 7, & start of Ch 8
Elimination of defectives—Supermen—Inferior castes — Men judged by performance— Equality never obtainable.
VII. INFERIOR STOCKS
Elimination of unfit—Compulsion or persuasion—Rare diseases—Insanity—Epilepsy—Consumption—Doctors’ advice.
VIII. BIRTH CONTROL wie 36-43 end of Ch 8, & Ch9
Checks on population—Family limitation—Continence—Contraception—Effects on health and morals —Dual campaign.
Nature of operation—Not as punishment—Not compulsory — Promiscuous intercourse — Rapidity of results—Californian experiences.
X. FEEBLE-MINDEDNESS wie 44-55 Ch 10 & 11
Numbers— Causes — Heredity— Segregation— Guardianship—Sterilization—Marriage—Mental Deficiency Acts.
XI. THE HABITUAL CRIMINAL
Causes—Removal of children—Feeble-minded criminals — Reformatories — Training — Imprisonment —Segregation—Sterilization.
The Unfit—Taxation—Private charity—The inferior —Social contagion—Output of goods—The employ-able—The unemployed.
XIII. THE DETERIORATION OF OUR BREED wie 62-67 Ch 13
Differential birth rate — Multiplication of poorer classes—Effects produced—Conditions new—Decay of ancient civilisations.
XIV. EUGENICS IN THE FUTURE wie 68-73 Ch 14
Elimination of the inferior—Public assistance—Right to parenthood—Warnings as to size of family.
XV. BIGGER FAMILIES IN GOOD STOCKS wie 74-79 Ch 15
Small families—Character and wages—Morals and patriotism—Luxury—Ambition—Children’s welfare—Highly educated women.
XVI. FINANCIAL AIDS TO PARENTHOOD wie 78-83 Ch 16
Larger families, their causes and how to promote them—Family allowances—Income tax—Salaries—Scholarships.
XVII. SELECTION IN MARRIAGE wie 84-88 Ch 17
Benefits and disadvantages—Opportunities for meeting—Marriage with good stock—Cousin marriages—Medical certificates.
Interestingly, neither Leonard Darwin, nor Francis Galton, had offspring. Leonard Darwin died in 1943, and I suppose left his books to the Eugenics Society. Leonard Darwin had a long correspondence with the evolutionary biologist, R.A. Fisher that has been digitised – you can see that here – https://digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/handle/2440/3860
The book is now with UCL Special Collections.
You can read about Deaf people and eugenics, in Deaf People in Hitler’s Europe, edited by Donna F. Ryan and John S. Schuchman, Gallaudet University Press, 2002.
I have mentioned eugenics before in the blog – see the item ‘Breeders of the Deaf’.
This blog was edited on 9th of March and a few lines were removed that expressed a heavily qualified opinion.
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 20 December 2019
Wishing everyone a Merry Yule & happy 2020! This is from the Finland Swedish Deaf magazine, Dövstummas Jul.
“Jordan’s waves are rolling At thy palsied feet” Ebenezer Chalmers, Teacher of the Deaf in Scotland, Ireland & Australia (1823-81)
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 December 2019
Ebenezer Chalmers (1823?-1881) was a Scottish teacher of the deaf, born in Edinburgh in 1823 (or perhaps a little earlier). He worked under the famous Teacher of the Deaf Robert Kinniburgh for 9 years in Edinburgh, according to his essay, Remarks on the Deaf and Dumb, 1849. That would suggest that he started as a pupil-teacher, in other words, a boy-teacher (circa 1838 perhaps, depending on when he was born). The 1841 Scottish census says that he was 20, and that could be accurate, however it may have been rounded up as we find quite often in the 1841 census. It seems that he left the school when Kinniburgh retired (1847) – maybe he was forced out, perhaps he saw another opportunity. I am not clear where he was working from then until 1851, but that year he was at Sandyknowe, Smailholm, near Kelso, probably as a private teacher, in the house of James Hewett (Heweit), a “Farmer Of 600 Acres.” I wonder if it was his two younger children who were deaf, as they were living together and both unmarried many years later (see 1891 Census).
At this time, the Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb was looking for missionaries to work with the deaf of London, as we can see from this note, written by the Secretary Mr Charles Bird, on a copy of the laws of the Association in November 1854. Presumably this was sent to potential candidates for the post(s).
On December the 13th of December, 1854, Ebenezer wrote from ‘Sandy Knowe,’ Kelso, to Major Butts of the Association (later RADD), accepting a position as a missionary in London, to start on February 1st, 1855. He did start, being the very first missioner, and made a report for the Association summarised in the Annual Report here, dated the 30th of April – Association Report 1855. However, he did not last long. In the RADD materials at the London Metropolitan Archives, there is a resignation letter dated the 27th of June, 1855, written at 4, Bloomfield Terrace, Pimlico. “I am under deep obligations for your various expressions of kindness towards me since I came to London” and “I have, from a sense of duty, been led to take this step” – but what sense of duty encouraged him to resign?
He was later assistant head at the Institution for Deaf Mutes in Belfast, but I am not sure exactly when, as we have incomplete reports. It would seem he went from London to Belfast, and applied by letter on the 25th of September, 1856, for a job with the Association as Principal of a proposed Infants School, but we may assume that came to nothing. We may speculate that he was not settled happily in Belfast at that time. Perhaps he stayed there until 1869, or maybe returned to Scotland – if you know please contribute below. It is possible that he advertised and worked as a private teacher.
On the 2nd of December, 1869, be sailed on the Asia from Glasgow, bound for Hobson’s Bay in Australia, arriving on the 23rd of April, 1870. Form newspaper reports below, we gather that he was employed for a while as a teacher in the Victorian Institution, Prahan, Melbourne. The Deaf man who founded the school was Frederic John Rose (1831-1920) who had emigrated to Australia in 1852. Rose had been a pupil in the Old Kent Road Asylum. Shortly after Chalmers arrived, he must have approached Rose, unless he had contacted him before he left Scotland. According to a card index of Selwyn Oxley’s in the library, one of Kinniburgh’s sons or grandsons emigrated to Australia in 1849, but I am not clear which and whether the move was permanent. If it was, that person might have been a contact or an example for Chalmers, although it was twenty years later.
Curiously, the ship’s manifest says Chalmers was Irish, rather than from Edinburgh.
This advertisement appeared in an Australian local paper in June 1870 –
EBENEZER CHALMERS, for 30 years teacher of the Deaf and Dumb In Great Britain, and late head assistant In theInstitution for Deaf Mutes, Belfast, Ireland, is anxious to procure private TUITIONS! Apply to F. J. Rose, Esq., Victorian Institution, Prahran. (The Argus, Sat 25 Jun 1870, Page 1 )
THE DYING MUTE.
Silent child of sorrow,
All thy pains are o’er,
Thine, a bright to-morrow
On Emmanuel’s shore.
Lowly now thou liest
On thy couch of death,
Welcome ! from the Highest,
With expiring breath.
Jordan’s waves are rolling
At thy palsied feet,
But ONE stands consoling,
Ready thee to meet.
Deaf, and sight receding,
What is this I see ?
Moving fingers pleading,
” Jesus died for me !”
Now the scene is closing,
Angel throngs are nigh –
In their arms reposing,
Wafted to the sky.
Prahran, Aug. 5. Teacher of the Deaf and Dumb
This next poem shows his Presbyterian religious views –
There is a gem above all gems
Which darkness cannot screen,
It shines in glowing brilliancy
When all gems are unseen.
This princess of the jewel world
Has deck’d the brow of kings,
And sparkled on fair lily hands
And diadems of queens.
Hidden till cut – this peerless gem
Lies buried out of sight,
Like spirits that most nobly shine
In dark affliction’s night.
But there’s a gem that’s brighter far
Than diamonds of earth,
Eternal in its principles
‘Twas heaven that gave it birth.
This Diamond is the WORD OF GOD,
Its rays can pierce the soul;
Destined to shed its matchless rays
With power from pole to ‘pole.’
Its God-given rays for long were hid,
And darkness had its reign,
But Truth eternal rose from dust
In glory, once again.
* * *
A monk sat in his lonely cell,
This diamond on his shelf,
He swept the dust of ages off
He read it for himself.
Its rays pierced grand good Luther’s soul,
And darkness wing’d its way,
And heaven and earth hail’d with delight
Blest “REFORMATION” Day.
Oh! may this diamond shed its light,
‘ O’er earth’s remotest bound,
Then sects shall fade like dying mist
And Paradise be found.
EBENEZER CHALMERS, T.D D. (The Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian Sat 4 Nov 1871 Page 8 )
Things began to go wrong for Chalmers, presumably as he could not get sufficient money to have somewhere to stay. The complex story of alcohol and homelessness is a vicious circle, that the local papers describe best –
A man named Ebenezer Chalmers, a teacher, aged 51, living at Prahran, was yesterday afternoon admitted into the Alfred Hospital, suffering from a fracture of the right leg, the result of a fall whilst walking up Chapel street. He was immediately attended to by Dr Cooke, and is progressing favourably. (The Argus, Thu 31 Dec 1874 p.5)
POLICE CASES.- Ebenezer Chalmers was remanded for a week on the charge of having no lawful visible means of support. (The Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian Sat 21 Oct 1876 Page 3 )
POLICE CASES. Henry Mores was fined 5s for being drunk and disorderly, and Ebenezer Chalmers was sent to gaol for three months on the charge of being an idle and disorderly person. (The Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian Sat 10 Aug 1878 Page 5 )
Ebenezer Chalmer, a man who is said to have once occupied a high position and is only a few days out of gaol was charged with being idle and disorderly. The man was found wandering about the street and was arrested. He was sent to gaol for three months. (The Argus, Tue 25 Feb 1879 , p.7)
MINOR OFFENCES. -Ebenezer Chalmers, who was only out of gaol for a week, was found by Constable O’Connor on Sunday morning last lying in Chapel-street, totally incapable of taking care of himself. The Bench considered, it would be to the benefit, of the unfortunate fellow to send him back again to Pentridge, which they accordingly did for twelve months. (The Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian Sat 6 Dec 1879 Page 5 )
A sad instance of the degrading effects of intemperance was brought under the notice of the Prahran, Bench on Monday, when a once respectable man, named Ebenezer Chalmers, was charged with being Idle and disorderly. It seems that but a short time since the unfortunate man occupied a respectable position, and was engaged as a teacher at the Deaf and Dumb Institution, but owing to his intemperate habits, he was dismissed from that post, and gradually reduced himself to his present position. Constable O’Connor found Chalmers in Commercial road in a most wretched condition, and removed him to the lock-up. The Bench sentenced the prisoner to twelve months’ imprisonment. (Weekly Times Sat 6 Dec 1879 Page 18 )
A painful instance of demoralisation was presented at the Prahran Court on 5th Dec, when a man named Ebenezer Chalmers, who at one time held the position of teacher at the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, was brought up, by Sergeant Parkinson, charged with being an idle and disorderly person. He was a well educated man, possessing the university degree of LL.D. Having given way to drink, he had gradually fallen into the most miserable condition. He was sent to gaol for twelve months. (Illustrated Australian News Fri 31 Dec 1880 Page 246 )
GEELONG. (From our own correspondent.) Tuesday Evening. A magisterial inquiry was held to-day by Mr. Pardey, J P , on the body of Ebenezer Chalmers, 58 years of age, a teacher, who was admitted from tho Melbourne Gaol six months since whilst undergoing a sentence of 12 month’s imprisonment for vagrancy, and had been ailing since. Dr. Mackin deposed that death was caused by debility and dropsy, and the magistrate found accordingly. (The Argus, Wed 20 Jul 1881, p. 7)
From a detailed description of Ebenezer in the Victoria Police Gazette 1879 (AU7103-1879) we know he had a ‘fresh’ complexion, auburn to grey hair, and blue eyes (the police record below in the references said his eyes were grey). We can never know what led him to his demise and the sad end of his life.
Bound with The Blind Deaf & Dumb, & some Yorkshire Institution Reports: Remarks on the Deaf and Dumb, 1849
Newspaper reports (also see links above for further reference)
Family History records
Series: VPRS 7666; Series Title: Inward Overseas Passenger Lists (British Ports) (via www.ancestry.co.uk)
1851 Scottish Census – Parish: Smailholm; ED: 3; Page: 7; Line: 16; Roll: CSSCT1851_203; Year: 1851
1891 Census Parish: Smailholm; ED: 3; Page: 4; Line: 10; Roll: CSSCT1891_388
Australian Prison Record 41717*
RADD records – LMA 4172/A/10 001*
*all thanks to Norma McGilp @DeafHeritageUK, who waves her magic historical sources wand!
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 December 2019
I thought it might be interesting to share a list of the pupils at the Ulster Institution in 1881, Deaf and Blind.
Ulster Society for Promoting the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, and the Blind, Belfast –
1837-1845, 1847, 1849, 1850, 1854, 1858 (incomplete), 1859 (incomplete), 1872, 1881, 1918, 1919, 1960
‘I said to her, “The child’s head is cut off.” I have seen her several times since, and she still insists that the head came off.’ Esther Dyson 1807-1869
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 29 November 2019
William Dyson (baptised 1804) and his sister Esther, were born in Ecclesfield, Yorkshire, and were both Deaf. They were children of Isaac and Hannah Dyson, and Esther was the youngest of eight. I do not know the fates of all the children, but one of the newspapers said that they had no parents or siblings surviving in 1831, though there were other Dysons still in the village. I came across Esther’s story in the newspaper archive, and it is a sorry tale of neglect. I will leave it to the papers to tell the story.
CHILD MURDER. Sheffield, Sept. 30.
Some excitement has been occasioned in Sheffield and the neighbourhood for the last two days, in consequence of the discovery of child murder, young woman, 23 years of age, at a village called Ecclesfield, on the road to Leeds from Sheffield. The accused person is Esther Dyson, a deaf and dumb girl, working at a thread-mill at that place, girl of exceeding good appearance, and remarkably shrewd and cunning.
On Thursday, a respectable body of men assembled at the house of Mr. Ashton, the Black Bull Inn, in Ecclesfield, near Sheffield, before Mr. B. Badge, coroner for that district of Yorkshire, on view of the body of the child, when the following evidence was adduced -Ellen Greaves, the wife Thomas Greaves, of Ecclesfield, in the county York, file-cutter, deposed – I knew Esther Dyson, single woman, who is about 23 years of age; she is deaf and dumb ; I live next door to her, and she lives with her brother, who is also deaf and dumb. Three or four months ago I challenged her with being in the family way, but she denied it; she has sufficient knowledge, in my opinion, to know what is right or wrong, and I can make her understand by signs what I mean. About a month ago I again challenged her with being with child, and she seemed angry with me, and she told me signs that it was some stuff that she had applied inwardly and outwardly to her throat, which had made her body swell. I made signs to her to begin and make some clothes for her child, at the same time showing her my infant, but she seemed to blow it away, making signs showing that she was not with child; I was in the habit of seeing Esther Dyson daily. On Friday last, the 24th ult., I saw her about twelve o’clock, at her own house-door, and she appeared quite big in the family way ; I did not see her again till about nine o’clock on Saturday morning, when she was washing the house-floor, and she seemed pale, languid, and weak. On Saturday morning last, about nine o’clock, I motioned her to know how she was; she then had a flannel tied round her neck. She motioned to that she had thrown up a large substance, and it had settled her body. About three o’clock on Sunday last, the 20th inst., I went to her house, and her brother motioned me that his sister was in bed very sick, but I did not go up stairs. About four o’clock on the same day, she appeared poorly and weak, and I desired her brother make her some tea, and I stopped till she took it. I left about five o’clock Sunday afternoon. From her altered appearance I have doubt she had been delivered of a child.
Hannah Butcher corroborated the above evidence, and said, that from her observation, as a married woman, she believed the prisoner had been delivered of a child on the Friday.
William Graham examined.- I am a blacksmith. I know the prisoner, and think her intelligent. On Saturday night last, 20th inst., at about 8 o’clock, I was returning home to Ecclesfield from Wortley, and I met the prisoner in Lee-lane, in Ecclesfield township, with something wrapped before her apron. She was on a footpath leading from Ecclesfield to Wortley and about 600 yards from the Cotton-mill Dam, where the body of female child has been found. She having passed, I met H. Woodhouse, and he asked me if it was not the dumb girl whom I had met ? and I said yes, it was.
Fanny Guest, a gentleman’s servant, who had been in conversation with Woodhouse, deposed to her having also seen the dumb girl pass her, with something under her apron.
James Henderson, overlooker of the thread-mill belonging to Mr. Barlow, knows the prisoner and her brother, who is also deaf and dumb. They have worked in the mill 11 years. Is satisfied that the dumb girl is capable of distinguishing right from wrong. On Sunday last witness went to Wm. Dyson, the dumb man’s house, and he willingly gave me his keys to examine the boxes belonging to him. I saw nothing suspicious in his room. I then examined the prisoner’s room, and I found blood on the chamber floor, and blood partially wiped off the floor. The wall was also sprinkled with blood. I withdrew the curtain of her chamber window, and observed marks of blood on the window bottom. I opened a hand-box, and found two aprons and a skirt, on which appeared as if a substance had been laid upon them, the blood having run through the skirt. The prisoner came up stairs, and, by signs, desired me to come away, and not search. Being convinced that something wrong had been done, I sent for the vestry clark, and in his presence searched the prisoner’s box, and found several articles, from which it was evident that they belonged to person who had been delivered of a child. On Monday last, about an hour after the child had been found in the dam, it was brought to the Ecclesfield workhouse, and laid down she blamed him? She then satisfied me that he had no-thing to do with it, but that she had done it herself .She told her brother in my presence that she did not throw the child into the dam. She merely laid it in. I conceive the prisoner to be a shrewd, clever woman.
Ann Briggs examined – I am the wife of Thomas Briggs, cutler of Ecclesfield. The piece of green cloth produced by Wm. Shaw, the constable, and in which the child was found, is part of a sofa cover belonging to Wm. Dyson, prisoner’s brother ; I took the body of the child out the cloth, and then to the workhouse ; I also, at the same time, took the head of the child also found in the dam, out of a separate piece of green cloth, which also belonged the sofa alluded to. I have practised as midwife for upwards of 20 years, and it is my opinion that the head of the child had been cut off by some dull instrument. Mr. Thomas Yeardley, who has a dumb child of his own gave me some books, which are published for the purpose of instructing deaf and dumb children; for up- wards of 12 months I instructed the prisoner in signs and learning her the dumb alphabet, and she obtained that instruction that I am convinced she can understand me ; she is of very quick apprehension. Monday last I went to the prisoner, and asked her to explain the manner to me how she was delivered of her child. I said to her, “The child’s head is cut off.” I have seen her several times since, and she still insists that the head came off. On reproving her with throwing it into the dam, she showed that she had, not thrown in it, but had laid it in pretty and nice.
James Machin deposed that, in consequence of information given him Sunday night, he went to the prisoner’s house, and found it in the state described by the other witnesses. I, assisted by W. Shaw, the constable of Ecclesfield, searched the dam, and pulled out the headless body of a fine full-grown infant – a female. This witness went on to corroborate the testimony of Henderson and Greaves, as to the appearance, in the prisoner’s bed-room.
Sarah Ingham deposed – l am the governess of the Ecclesfield workhouse. I went to the house of Dyson, and received from Henderson certain articles wrapped in bundle; they were saturated with blood. The articles produced are the same, and have been in my care ever since. I examined the breasts of the prisoner, and found a deal milk in them. She told the same story to the manner in which the head came off, she did the other witnesses. I produced a knife to her, and showed signs that she bad cut the head off. But she threw herself on one side, and shunned the idea.
Wm. Shaw, the constable of Ecclesfield, confirmed the testimony of Machin.
Mr. Wm. Jackson, lecturer on anatomy, stated that on the 27th day of September last he examined Esther Dyson the prisoner, and she had every appearance of having been recently delivered. He was decidedly of opinion, from the examination, that the head of the child had not been torn or screwed off by the mother. He had had no doubt, from the particular examination of the body of the deceased, and from the appearance that it exhibited on that examination, that the child was born alive.
Mr. Joseph Campbell, surgeon, having also examined both the woman and the child, fully corroborated Mr. Jackson’s testimony.
The coroner having summed up,
The jury retired, and in few minutes returned with verdict of Wilful Murder against Esther Dyson.
The coroner then issued a warrant for the unfortunate woman’s committal to York Castle, to take her trial the ensuing Lent Assizes. (London Evening Standard – Saturday, 2nd October, 1830)
It would be interesting to trace Yeardley’s child, and work out which book she or he was taught with – I would suggest Watson’s as used in the Old Kent Road Asylum. No one seems interested in who the father might have been – no doubt there was plenty of speculation locally. How much Esther knew of what society deems right and wrong, we can only guess.
Six months later, the case was decided in the Assizes.
FRIDAY, March 25. CHARGE OF MURDER.
ESTHER DYSON was this morning placed at the bar, charged with the wilful murder of her female bastard child, at Ecclesfield, near Rotherham, on the 24th of Sept, last.
In consequence of the prisoner labouring under the infirmity of having been born deaf and dumb, the greatest interest was excited, and the galleries were crowded on the opening of Court.
The prisoner is 26 years of age, but does not appear so old. She is rather tall, and of slender make. She has light hair and complexion, and of rather a pleasing and pensive cast of feature. She was dressed in a coloured silk bonnet, a light calico printed dress, and a red cloth cloak. She had the appearance of a respectable female in the lower walks of life.
The Clerk of the Arraigns having read over the indictment, which contained four counts, in which the charge was differently stated, put the question, “Guilty or Not Guilty,” to which, in consequence of her infirmity, she made no answer.
The Jury was then impanelled, pro forma, to try whether she stood mute of malice, or from the act of God.
James Henderson was then sworn, who deposed that he communicate ideas to her by signs. He was then sworn to interpret the various questions to the prisoner.
In reply to a question from the judge, the witness stated In reply to a question from the judge, the witness stated that the prisoner had no counsel – that she had no father, mother or relative, except a brother, who was himself deaf and dumb.
His Lordship said she must have counsel, and at his request Sir Gregory Lewin undertook to conduct the defence. years, endeavoured to make the prisoner understand, by signs, that she might object to any of the gentlemen of the Jury, but he failed to make her comprehend the Jury, but he failed to make her comprehend the nature of the question.
The Jury returned a verdict “that the prisoner was not sane.”
The Judge then directed her to be remanded, and every proper means taken to instruct her. In a previous part of the proceedings, the Judge said he should reserve the point tor the consideration of the Judges, whether she should be tried upon the charge, or confined during the King’s pleasure. (York Herald – Saturday, 26th of March 1831)
Esther seems to have lived out her life in the asylum, dying in 1869, and was buried on the 23rd of March 1869, at the Parish of Stanley, York, England. William died, I think, in 1875.
We should recall that at this time you could be hanged for robbery and assault – that was the fate of three young men at the same assizes – Turner, Twibell and Priestley-
“Lord have mercy upon your souls.” During the passing of the sentence, Turner wept bitterly ; and, at the conclusion, exclaimed ” Oh, dear.” Twibell also sobs, and cried out – Oh, Lord spare our lives.” (ibid)
…so I think she was fortunate.
It really is not my intention to continually add lurid stories of death here, but that was life at the time. This tale is another one that points to the sad way many Deaf people in the past were unsupported, though it also shows that 19th century society was not without compassion, and how, despite their faults, the Institutions (schools and missions) could reduce this from happening as often, by giving children the ability to communicate and belong to a community.
Incidentally, Sir George Lewin came to an unfortunate end after getting into financial trouble.
1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 1271; Book: 10; Civil Parish: Wakefield; County: Yorkshire; Enumeration District: West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum Yorkshire; Folio: 51; Page: 16; Line: 10; GSU roll: 464241
England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 Class: HO 27; Piece: 42; Page: 403
England, Select Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991
Deaths, 1875, March –
1871 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 2335; Folio: 241; Page: 21; GSU roll: 87581-87582
Yorkshire CCLXXXVIII.8 (Ecclesfield; Sheffield)
Surveyed: 1890, Published: 1892
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 22 November 2019
Harry Edgar Collcutt was born in Oxford in 1861, and lost his hearing aged two according to the 1911 census. His father Henry was then a college servant, later a butler. The family clearly fell on hard times, as we see in the short card pictured and transcribed here –
Harry E. Collcutt, Aged nine years,
Resident at Henley-on-Thames, is a Candidate for Admission into the above Asylum. His mother is paralysed; his father is broken in health; four young children are dependent upon these afflicted parents. The Votes and active interest of Subscribers are most earnestly requested in aid of this pressing case of urgent need, for the January, 1870, and subsequent Elections, by the following :—
Rev. Dr. PLUMPTRE, Master of University College, Oxford.
Rev. Dr. SYMONDS, Warden of Wadham College, Oxford.
Rev. Dr. OGILVIE, Canon of Christ Church, Oxford.
Dr. ACLAND, Regius Professor of Medicine, Oxford.
Professor WALL, Balliol College, Oxford.
Professor JOWETT, Balliol College, Oxford.
Rev. A. M. W. CHRISTOPHER, Rector of St. Aldate’s, Oxford.
Rev. T. A. NASH, Rector of St. Philip’s, Heigham, Norwich.
Rev. B. S. FYNCH, Rector of St. Paul’s, Deptford.
T. COMBE, Esq., M.A., University. Press, Oxford.
Alderman T. RANDALL, Oxford. (uncle of the above?)
G. C. HITCHINGS, Surgeon, Oxford.
Proxies will be received by the Rev. A. M. W. CHRISTOPHER, Park Town ; and Mr. J. T. K. CASTELL, 4, St. John’s Terrace, St. Giles’, Oxford. (uncle of the above?)
Harry was indeed a successful candidate, and we see that he was at the Old Kent Road Asylum in the 1871 census. I am not clear what happened to his father, but he was living as a lodger with various people, being a gamekeeper at Caversham in 1881, and ended up in 1891 as a gardener, not with the family. Harry trained as a cabinet maker. He died in 1927.
In 1893 Harry married London-born Louisa Charlotte Catherine Allchin (1866-1933). Louisa was Deaf from about 5 years old, according to the 1911 census. Her father was a rent collector. She attended the Margate School, and you can see her there on the 1881 census.
In 1903, a party of Deaf from Reading visited Oxford, and Harry was mentioned –
OXFORD DIOCESAN CHURCH MISSION THE DEAF AND DUMB.
The combined excursion of the Reading and Oxford members in connection with the above mission took place on Saturday, the 8th inst,, and was fortunately favoured with fine weather. About fifty from Reading arrived in Oxford at 8.35 a.m., and were conducted to Christ Church College, where they ware received by Mrs. Spooner (secretary) and Mrs. Biggs, the latter of whom explained that Dr. Biggs would have been present had he not been called upon to deliver a lecture at the University Extension Summer Meeting now being held. The party were shown over the chief features of the College—the kitchen, the dining-hall, the Cathedral, etc.—by Mr. Francis, the head verger, his explanatory remarks being interpreted by Mrs. Spooner. Next they walked through Christ Church Meadows and Botanic Gardens to Magdalen College, where Mr. Francis again acted cicerone, and caused the chapel opened specially for them to see. Later, they proceeded up the famous High-street to the Sheldonian Theatre, where they were joined by some fifty more members from Oxford and vicinity. The whole party then drove off in five brakes, accompanied the Missioner (Mr. George Mackenzie) for the old-world village of Woodstock. After luncheon they went into the fine demesne of Blenheim, and were shown many objects of interest in the park and gardens the Secretary to the Duke of Marlborough. A return drive by a different route brought the people to New College in Oxford, where they ware photographed and then entertained totea by the Warden and Mrs. Spooner. There were numerous friends the Mission present, the Rev. A. Negus, Miss A. Randall, Miss Miss Barnby, Miss Steedman, and others. The Warden (Canon Spooner) spoke few words of welcome, which were interpreted the deaf and dumb language by Mrs. Spooner. A vote of thanks to the Warden and Mrs. Spooner was moved by Mr. G. Mackenzie (the Missioner), who said this was the most successful ex- cursion ever held in connection with the Mission. Mr. Radbone seconded, and asked Mrs. Spooner to accept a framed photograph of this gathering, subscribed for the majority of the people, as a memento and a slight mark of their appreciation. Mr. H. Collcutt supported, remarking that the sea of happy and smiling faces he saw in front of him testified to the all-round enjoyment. He also took the opportunity, being Oxonian, add a word of welcome to the Reading friends. The vote was carried by acclamation. The Warden and Mis. Spooner briefly responded, expressing the pleasure it had given them to entertain the visitors. Mr. C. Leavey (Reading) also spoke a few grateful words on behalf of the Reading visitors. Before dispering homewards the party were taken over New College. It may be mentioned that the deaf and dumb in Reading are increasing numbers, and that consequently they feel the want of a small and central institute where they can hold meetings of various kinds, and where the work of the Mission can carried on. (Reading Mercury – Saturday 22nd August, 1903)
The Rev. and Mrs Spooner, are the famous Oxford Spooners. Mrs Frances Spooner was the founder of the Oxford Diocesan Council for the Deaf. After her, her daughter Rosemary was deeply involved in the mission, and also learnt sign language.
I wonder if that photograph is still to be found somewhere?
1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 754; Folio: 64; Page: 10; GSU roll: 824725
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 986; Folio: 132; Page: 3; GSU roll: 1341234
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1055; Folio: 14; Page: 22
1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 601; Folio: 113; Page: 8; GSU roll: 818907
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 1502; Folio: 80; Page: 13; GSU roll: 1341363
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1168; Folio: 27; Page: 19
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 1384; Folio: 134; Page: 2
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 8132; Schedule Number: 270
ARRET DU CONSEIL D’ÉTAT Concernant l’éducation et l’enseignement des Sourds et Muets: Order of the Council of State concerning the education & teaching of the Deaf & Mute
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 21 November 2019
A memorable day in French Deaf History… translation below.
Concernant l’éducation et l’enseignement des Sourds et Muets.
Du 21 Novembre 1778. Extrait des Registres du Conseil d’État.
LE ROI étant instruit du zèle & du désintéressement avec lequel le sieur Abbé de l’Épée s’ai dévoué depuis plusieurs années à l’instruction des Sourds & Muets de naissance, & dei succès presque incroyable de sa méthode, Sa Majesté auroit cru devoir prendre sous sa protection un établissement aussi utile & en assurer la perpetuité; Elle auroit résolu en conséquence d’y destiner une portion des biens que les monasteres des Célestins, situés dans le diocise de Paris, & dont la Congrégation ne doit plus avoir lieu, conformément aux Lettres patentes du 5 avril dernier, tiennent de la libéralité des Rois ses prédécesseurs; pour y parvenir, de charger les Commissaires établis pour l’exécution de l’arrêt du Conseil du 23 mai 1766, de lui proposer les moyens qu’ils estimeront les plus, convenables pour le succès de ses vues. Maiscomme l’examen de ces différens moyens & leur exécution pourroient exiger des délais & qu’on ne peut prendre des mesures trop promptes pour venir au secours de ceux qui font assligés d’une infirmité mer sâcheure & former des Instituteurs capables de perpétuer une méthode aussi intéressante pour l’humanité Sa Majesté a jugé convenable de commettre particulièrement deux lesdits Commissaires pour veiller de concert avec les autres, à tout ce qui peut préparer & accélérer ledit établissement, même de les autoriser à employer provisoirement à cet effet les fourmes qu’ils jugeront nécessaires à les faire acquitter sur la partie libre des biens que Sa Majesté entend un jour y être destinée. A quoi voulant pourvoir: Oui le rapport & tout considéré; LE Roi ÉTANT EN SON CONSEIL, a ordonné & ordonne, que par les sieurs Commissaires établis pour l’exécution de l’arrêt du 23 mai 1766, concernant les Ordres réguliers, sera incessamment procédé à l’examen des moyens les plus propres pour former dans la ville de Paris un établissement d’éducation d’enseignement pour les Sourds & Muets de naissance des deux sexes, & proposé à Sa Majesté tels Statuts & Règremens appartiendra, tant pour la fondation , que pour le gouvernement & direction dudit établissement; & en attendant qu’Elle y ait pourvu définitivement, ordonne Sa Majesté que sur la portion libre des biens que les monastères des Célestins situés dans le diocese de Paris, tenaient de la libéralité des Rois ses prédecesseurs, il sera, sur les ordres du sieur Taboureau, Conseiller d’État, & du sieur Évêque de Rodés, que Sa Majesté a commis & commet pour veiller particulièrement à tout ce qui peut accélerer & préparer ledit établissement, payé & délivré par les sieurs Bollioud de Sainte-Julien, Commis à la régie desdits biens, par les arrêts des 29 mars & 6 juillet 1776, les sommes qui seront par eux jugées nécessaires, soit pour ta subiessiance & entretien des Sourds & Muets qui seraient sans fortune, soit en général pour toutes les dépenses préparatoires dudit établissement, desquelles sommes il sera, par lesdits sieurs de Saint-Julien, rendu un compte séparé dans la forme à eux prescrite par lesdits arrêts; quoi saisant, ils en seront bien & valablement quittes & déchargés.
FAIT au Conceil d’État du Roi, Sa Majesté y étant, tenu à Versailles le vingt-un novembre mil sept’cent soixante-dix-huit. Signé MULOT.
The King being informed of the zeal and disinterestedness with which the Abbé de l’Épée devoted himself for several years to the education of the deaf and dumb by birth, and of the almost incredible success of his method, his majesty would have thought it his duty to take under his protection an institution so useful and to ensure its perpetuity; It would have resolved accordingly to destine a portion of the goods that the monasteries of Celestins, located in the diocese of Paris, & whose Congregation no longer must take place, in accordance with the Letters Patent of April 5, hold the liberality of Kings his predecessors; in order to do so, to instruct the Commissioners established for the execution of the Council’s decision of May 23, 1766, to propose to him the means which they consider the most suitable for the success of his views. But as the examination of these different means and their execution might require delays, and measures can not be taken too quickly to come to the rescue of those who suffer from a crippling infirmity and to train teachers capable of perpetuating a method. As important to humanity, His Majesty has judged it appropriate to commit particularly two of the said Commissioners to watch together with the others, all that can prepare and accelerate the said establishment, even to authorize them to use provisionally for this purpose the they will judge it necessary to have them paid on the free part of the property which His Majesty intends to be destined for it one day. What does it mean to provide: Yes the report & all considered; THE KING BEING IN HIS COUNCIL, has ordered and orders, that by the Sieurs Commissaires established for the execution of the decree of May 23, 1766, concerning the regular Orders, will be proceeded without delay to the examination of the most suitable means to form in the city of Paris, a school of education for the deaf and dumb of birth of both sexes, and proposed to His Majesty such statutes and regulations will belong, both for the foundation, and for the government and direction of the establishment; and while waiting for it to be definitively settled, orders His Majesty that on the free portion of the property which the monasteries of the Celestines situated in the diocese of Paris, held from the liberality of Kings his predecessors, he will be, at the orders of the Lord Taboureau, Councilor of State, and of the Bishop of Rodés, whom his Majesty has committed to pay particular attention to all that may speed up and prepare the said establishment, paid for and delivered by the Sieurs Bollioud de Sainte-Julien, manager of the property, by the judgments of the 29th of March and the 6th of July, 1776, the sums which shall be deemed necessary for them, either for your subsistence and maintenance of the deaf and dumb, who would be without fortune, or, in general, for all the preparatory expenses of that establishment, of which he is, by the said sisters of St. Julian, rendered a separate account in the form prescribed to them by the said judgments; what is striking, they will be well and validly quit & discharged.
GIVEN at the Council of State of the King, His Majesty being held at Versailles this twenty-first day of November, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight.
The original is in our collection, in a frame.
Corrections to the translation below, or email me!
“the trouble… starting through one of them brushing some water on to the other’s coal” – Deaf Derbyshire Dress Maker, Sarah (H)annice Sneap, née Grainger,1871-1955
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 14 November 2019
Sarah Grainger was born on the 11th of January, 1871, in Stoneyford (a small place right on the railway line that seems to have disappeared from modern maps), Loscoe, Derbyshire, and her birth registered as Sarah Hannice Grainger. Her parents were Frances and Samuel Grainger, and her father worked in a colliery as an engine driver. She attended the Derby School under Dr. William R. Roe, and in the beautifully produced quarterly magazine for the school, Our Deaf and Dumb for September 1895, her photograph appears with a column that was, I imagine, written by Roe.
Our friend, when a pupil here, showed no special aptitude in any particular line, but a cheerful willingness to do whatever she was called upon to undertake, and to ‘do it well.’ This, after all, is a very good trait in anyone’s character, and reminds us of a leading statesman, who, on being reminded by a fellow-statesman that he used to be only a boot-black, replied, Didn’t I black the boots well r That’s the point, to do well’ all we undertake, and then success is sure to follow, as in the case of our friend, who is now in business for herself as a dressmaker, and, we are told, ‘has a nice little connexion.’ When travelling once, a lady told us she thought our old pupil improved both in lip-reading and speech.’ This is encouraging to us, and no doubt is a great aid to our friend in speaking on business matters to her customers.
We know she has had many obstacles in her way, and are glad of it. Yes, the true value of a difficulty has never yet been estimated. It is a real stimulus. It is like a ladder set up that one may climb. It is a tacit invitation to command the outlook. It is the open door of opportunity. It is the intimation to look within and discover one’s latent powers, and use them. Very few come up to their highest measure of success. Some fail through timidity or lack of nerve ; they are unwilling to take the risks incident to life, and fail through fear in venturing on ordinary duties ; they lack the pluck necessary to success in life. Others fail through imprudence, lack of discretion, care, or sound judgment. ‘They over-estimate the future, build air-castles, venture beyond their depth, fail, and fall. A still greater number fail through lack of application and perseverance. They begin with good resolves, but soon get tired of that and want a change, thinking they can do much better at something else, and, alas ! move aimlessly from one thing to another without any set purpose in view. No one has a right to live aimlessly, for no one has a right to abandon reason and self-control, and consent to be a mere waif, drifting hither and thither like chaff before the wind. Whether deaf or hearing we are endowed with reason, conscience, and will, in order that we may both become and do that which is noble and beneficent. Let us remember that we live in a busy world, where the idle and lazy do not count in the plan of campaign ; and let every girl now within the walls of our Institution—yea, and those who have left us, too—remember the good old text, ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.’
In 1905 Sarah married a Deaf man from Ilkeston, who was ten years younger, a labourer and coal hewer called John Henry Sneap (1881-1936). Sneap was possibly the same person who was recorded as having an accident in the Derby Daily Telegraph for Friday 31st of May, 1935 –
John Sneap (60), miner, of Marehay was admitted to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary to-day with a severely injured right leg. He is employed by the Butterley Co., and was caught by a fall of bind in the Marehay pit.
If that is him, it may have contributed to his death the following year, as he died in 1936.
Just as I thought I had finished writing this, I discovered that Sarah was another Deaf person who made it into the local press, in an unfortunate minor case. This is from the Mansfield Reporter for Friday, the 23rd of November, 1917, adjacent to stories about cauliflower thefts and damaging turnips –
DEAF AND DUMB WOMAN IN COURT.
Two Selston women aired their grievances before the magistrates, the trouble apparently starting through one of them brushing some water on to the other’s coal. The complainant was Elias Jane Swain, and she said that a week ago last Tuesday the defendant Sarah A. Sneap, who is deaf and dumb, and who had the assistance of her brother-in-law as interpreter, struck her on the face with a yard brush, and when she put her hand up to defend herself she got a second blow on the arm.
—When this was explained to defendant through the deaf and dumb alphabet, she stated, through the same means, that complainant struck her first, and that she then acted in self defence.—The brother-in-law: She can’t hear or speak, but she has instincts, and she knows that complainant has made game of her, and has put her fists into her face.
—Defendant: I have not done such a thing.
—Complainant’s little boy said defendant struck the first blow, and then his mother took the brush away from her, and struck her with it.
—The Bench dismissed the case.
—The brother-in-law asked for some form of protection for Mrs. Sneap, but was told she must take proceedings with this end in view.
We learn from this that John Sneap’s brother could presumably sign, though it is always difficult to be sure whether someone is only using the ‘finger alphabet’ or is properly interpreting with sign language, as local reporters would possibly not have been clear as to the difference.
Sarah lived on in Basford, closer to Nottingham, and died in 1955. Her death merited a notice in the Ripley and Heanor News and Ilkeston Division Free Press for Friday, the 6th of January, 1956 –
BRINSLEY RESIDENT’S DEATH.
The death occurred on Wednesday of last week of Mrs. Sarah Annice Sneap, of 37, Plain Spot, New Brinsley, at the ago of 84 years. Although deaf and dumb, Mrs. Sneap led very active life, and was well-known locally for her dressmaking abilities, which she carried on until prevented by her declining years.
The funeral took place at St. James’ Church. Brinsley, and was conducted by the Rev. F. H. Newbery on Saturday last. Mrs. Daff, sister of deceased, was unable to attend.
The chief mourners were: Mr. and Mrs G. Grainger, Mr. and Mrs. R. V. Daff, Mr. and Mrs. H. Reynolds, Mr. and Mrs. A. Daff, Mr. and Mrs. I. Daff. Mr. B. Eley, Mrs. Clarke, Mrs. Mellors, Mrs. Williamson, nephews and nieces; Mr. L. Moore and Mrs. Ayre, cousins; Mr. W. Rockley, friend; Mr. Fox (Deaf and Dumb Institute secretary); Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Chamberlain, friends.
Floral tributes were sent all the above; also Annice. Mabel and family; Mr. and Mrs. Rockley and Shirley; Mr. and Mrs. Purdy; Mr. and Mrs. Riley and Kit; Mrs. Andrews; Friends and Neighbours of Plain Spot and Frances Street.
Sarah Annice Grainger, Our Deaf and Dumb, September 1895, Vol. 2 no. 2 p. 25
1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 3320; Folio: 40; Page: 6; GSU roll: 1341791
1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 2658; Folio: 32; Page: 3
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3143; Folio: 51; Page: 41
1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6254C
1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 3150; Folio: 72; Page: 28
1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 20357
Derby Daily Telegraph – Friday 31 May 1935