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Scotland – List of Residential Deaf Schools in the 19th Century and the Drysdale School

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 14 September 2012

From our ancient library record cards, which probably date from the late 1940s and may well have been the work of Mrs Oxley, we have gleaned the following information (all quotations from the cards, including question marks where they were unsure). Because of time constraints I will not fill out details of all of the schools now, but pick out Dundee:

Scottish Residential Deaf Schools in Order of Opening:

1760 Braidwood’s Academy at Dumbiedykes moved 1783 to London

No Deaf education from 1783-1799 that we know of.

1799 Johnson’s School in Canongate, Edinburgh

1810 Edinburgh Deaf School

1819 Glasgow Deaf School

1819 Aberdeen Deaf School

1846 Dundee Deaf School.

“A small Deaf School was known to exist in a flat in Nethergate as early as 1845 or before, Mr Barlow tells us, although the actual date of its foundation and name of teacher is unknown. A local Deaf man with his hearing wife Mr and Mrs Drysdale, rented a house in Meadow Street and opened it as a Deaf School on March 9th 1846, it being a combined Day and Boarding School. Its maintenance was assured by fees, subscriptionsand donations and in 1848, it was moved to Sunnyside House, and in 1870 the Drysdales built the well known Institution on Dudhope Bank, Lochee Rd. The tenants became owners and paid the fees for the poor Deaf and Dumb to be educated. Mr Drysdale died in 1880 and was succeeded by Mr J. Barland, a deaf man, who had been educated at Swansea Deaf School, and was an assistant there for 16 years. The house was then purchased and governed by the Directors. He in his turn was succeeded by Mr Hansell, the son of the Rev.W.J. Hansell, Chaplain to Edinburgh Deaf. Mr Hansell was Head for several years up to 192- and was followed by ? who was succeeded by Mrs ? in 1946.”

Another card has the following, “Drysdale’s day School for Deaf Children. This was founded about 1830 and known to be under Mr Drysdale in 1839, although it was thought to be in the Leith district and probably founded by the late M.R. Burns who did some pioneer Deaf educational Day School work previous to his labours in Aberdeen, Bristol and London.”

We can add that Drysdale was a pupil, later assistant teacher, at the Edinburgh Institution. With his wife, (referred to in the Dundee Institution minute books as Mrs Susan Drummond or Drysdale (nee Pattison), who was also an assistant at the Edinburgh Institution), he founded the Dundee Institution. When he died in April 1880, his wife died only a few weeks later, bequeathing the Institution buildings to the Association. As was said above, J.Barland, one of his pupils, became the Governor/Superintendent ‘immediately afterwards’ (Ephphatha, 1896) with Miss Montgomery as Matron. Mr Barland tendered his resignation in Feb 1902, to take effect in August 1902.

Mr Barland has acted as Superintendent and teacher for over 22 years, and during that time has discharged his dutied with great ability. The directors would like to take this opportunity of thanking Mr Barland for his long and faithful services. [School report for year ended 31st May 1902]

Robert Hansell from Bristol became headmaster and Mrs Hansell became Matron, replacing Miss Close who had been Matron and assistant teacher since c.1894. [See the references at the bottom of the page for further details].

1850 Donaldson’s Hospital – joint Hearing and Deaf School

Below we see the minutes for the meeting of the 30th of April 1880 where they discussed the legacy. Note that someone has put a red mark next to the section that mentions Mrs Drummond or Drysdale. Perhaps she was widowed before she married Drysdale? Click onto the picture for a larger image.

Dundee minutes 1880

If there is any information here that you think is incorrect please let us know and we will update accordingly.

Branson, J. and Miller, D., Damned for their difference : the cultural construction of deaf people as disabled : a sociological history. Gallaudet University Press,   c2002

Brief history (written on its 50th Jubilee). British Deaf-Mute, 1896, 5, 180.

Brief history of the Institution. Annual report, 1930, pp. 2-3.

The Dundee Institution’s minute books for 1866-1891, 1894-1905, and 1905-1928, RNID Library.

Historical notes of our institutions. XVIII. Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, Dundee. Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1894, 3, 263-264.