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UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries


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


“Resisting intemperate habits” – York Deaf and Dumb Mission football club

H Dominic W Stiles3 February 2012

York City F.C. was founded in 1908 as an amateur side, eventually becoming professional. However the team folded in 1917, probably because of the pressures of the war. This photograph from the collection of Selwyn Oxley is however the team from the Deaf Mission in York, playing on the York City ground in January 1916. (Click onto the photo for a larger resolution). It looks to me as if they were using a municipal ground at the time – but if you know better do tell us.

We do not have many records of the mission but it was founded in 1884 at a meeting in York’s Guildhall. It was originally known as The York and District Christian Mission to the Deaf and Dumb. In the words of the first annual report – not produced until 1902-3, early on it had “a chequered existence”, before being reconstituted with the input of the ‘Deaf Mute’ Mr. M.I. Stewart Fry in 1901. These sorts of Christian mission to the Deaf were widespread in the late 19th century as we have noted in earlier items. The objects were usually very similar, in this case,

“the religious instruction of the Deaf and Dumb; to see as far as possible to the educational wants of Deaf-Mute children; to help the Deaf to bear patiently their daily burden; to encourage them in resisting intemperate habits; to help the needy; to find work for the unemployed; and to minister to the sick. In short to do to the Deaf and Dumb what the churches and various charitable agencies do for those who can hear and speak.”

The relationship between sport and the Christian missions was strong, with the Victorian idea of ‘muscular Christianity’ (though curiously St. Paul said “bodily exercise profiteth little” 1 Timothy 4:8). The photocopy we have of the first report was owned by Fry (see his picture in the article on the National Deaf Club), who left in 1903 to go to London. He has added a hand-written note in the copy, dated 1937, that he went to work at another firm “as a litho artist”. What became of the York Mission in the long term I am not sure. Some missions mutated, some will have folded, some still exist.

The York and District Christian Mission to the Deaf and Dumb, Annual Reports.

A founder of the National Deaf and Dumb Society

H Dominic W Stiles13 January 2012

James Paul,  (1848-1918) was born in Cardross in Dumbartonshire. As was so common until comparatively recent times, his deafness was a result of Scarlet Fever when he was five. At the age of 8 or 9 (the accounts differ) he became a pupil at the Glasgow Institution for the Deaf. Inspired by Kinniburgh’s work in Edinburgh, the Glasgow Society for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb had been founded at a public meeting on 14th January 1819.  He was a student there for seven years and the Principal Duncan Anderson said he was “one of the brightest of a clever band of scholars” (see his Obituary). It was common in the 19th and 20th centuries for Deaf children to be placed as apprentices or workers in trades wherever possible, with the idea of making them self reliant and Paul was apprenticed to a bookbinder. His talents were not satisfied by this however and he became involved in the Deaf community as an organiser and leader, and one way he expressed this was by founding the National Deaf and Dumb Society in 1879.

Religious work was central to many of the 19th century Deaf organisations, and the National Deaf and Dumb Society had the aim “to plant and maintain Missions and provide Missionaries to the Deaf and Dumb.” Although the society seems to got off to a good start, with a committee in 1882 including George Healey of Liverpool ( Missioner to the Deaf, at the Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society from its inception in 1864, he was also Hon. Treasurer to the BDDA ), the Rev. Rhind (see a previous post) and the Rev. W. Stainer (chaplain to the Royal Association in aid of the Deaf and Dumb, St Saviour’s, Oxford Street and brother of the composer), after founding missions at Stockton-on-Tees and Ayrshire, it seems to have eventually folded, but I am not sure exactly when (if you have that information do let us know and we will update this).

Paul became superintendent of the Ayrshire Mission to the Deaf and Dumb upon its foundation in 1881 and through his efforts they obtained a building as their headquarters in 1894. They sheltered and trained yound Deaf women, but it was, accoding to his obituary,  “to the spiritual side of his work that he attached the greatest importance.” He spent the remainder of his life at the Ayrshire Mission, and his son was a missioner at the Victoria Mission to the Deaf and Dumb on Melbourne.

James Paul from The British Deaf Mute, 1895

British Deaf-Mute, 1895, 5, 42-43. (photo)

Semi-Jubilee celebration of the Ayrshire Mission: presentation to the Missioner. British Deaf Times, 1906, 3(29), 113-116.

Obituary. British Deaf Times, 1918, 15, 64.

National Deaf and Dumb Society, Annual report 1882-3 .