X Close

UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries


Information on the UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries


Mumu, aka Annie Jane, a deaf slave from Sierra Leone (ca. 1838-66)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 February 2015

In the Quarterly Review of Deaf Mute Education for October 1892, there is an item on the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind, Bath, (an institution connected with the ‘Industrial Home’ that we examined in a previous item).

In 1853, a fifteen year old ‘deaf and dumb’ girl from Sierra Leone called Mumu entered the Bath Institution.  I will let the original article tell the story –

In 1846 she had been rescued by a British Cruiser from a slave ship and placed, with her liberated companions, in the school at Charlotte, established by Government for the purpose of receiving and educating liberated slave girls, and now under the charge of the Church Missionary Society.   On hearing of the case, the committee of the Bath Deaf and Dumb Institution offered to receive this girl free of expense.  Mumu was accordingly sent to England, and very soon made rapid progress in her lessons.  She was of a very amiable, teachable, and affectionate disposition, and her health, too, was remarkably good.  The instruction she gained in a period of about five years was attended with the happiest results.  After due preparation, and at her own earnest desire, she was admitted by Baptism into the Christian Church and received the christian names of Annie Jane.  She then became deeply anxious that her mother should learn the truths of the Gospel and constantly prayed for her.  Her father, who was captured, had been cruelly put to death before his child.  She was afterwards, for a short time, in service of the Church Missionary College at Islington, but, subsequently, she returned to Bath, and remained in the Institution until her death, which occurred, after a short illness, in May, 1866.  She died beloved and regretted by her friends, teachers, and companions.  Her love of the word of God, her simple reliance on her Saviour, and her conscientious endeavours to discharge faithfully the humble duties of her station, evinced that this once heathen girl had become a Christian not only by profession, but also in deed and in truth.  Certain marks on her forehead proved on inquiry that she was a princess in her own country.

The ship that rescued her would have been part of the West Africa Squadron.

In limited time I could not find further mention of her.  It would make a very interesting dissertation for someone to research this more thoroughly – subaltern history.  If you can add anything let us know!

The charity Sound Seekers that lives next door to us in the UCL Ear Institute, has been doing work in Sierra Leone, unfortunately on hold at the time of writing due to Ebola.

UPDATE 16/2/15: Our friend @DeafHeritageUK has pointed out that Mumu appears in the 1861 census as a servant, under her adopted name & having taken the surname of Jane Elwin (see previous post) – living in Suffolk.  I am hoping to follow this up further, and will of course add any new information I discover.

Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind, Bath.  Quarterly Review of Deaf Mute Education October 1892 p.1