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Thomas Mundy, A Deaf Hero from Hull

H Dominic W Stiles20 July 2012

MUNDY, Thomas (1845-1914)

Born in Yorkshire at Hunslet,  Leeds, Thomas Mundy lived an anonymous life as most of us do, apart from three particular incidents that put him in the spotlight. He was the father of three (hearing) sons, Thomas Hill Mundy, Robert Norris Mundy and Henry John Mundy, by his wife Mary Ann. Mundy married Mary Ann Prinn, who was herself Deaf, in 1871, but sadly she died aged only 48 in 1896. It may well be possible to discover which school she attended as she seems to have been a Hull lass. Mundy, who was the son of a miller by the name of George Mundy, seems to have not been born deaf (he is not described so in the 1851 census), and we might speculate that it was from illness in his youth that he became deaf.

As a result of his rescue, Thomas was awarded the Royal Humane Society Medal at ceremony in Hull Town Hall, in December 1897, for rescuing woman from drowning, as we see in the British Deaf Monthly below. Mundy also saved the three year old son of Edward Robinson when he fell into the Skidby drain in 1906. Mundy rescued a third person at some point, as we can see on page 13 of the Hull Institutions 1914 annual report. This report says that upon the award for the first rescue, Mundy said with sign language,  “I only did my duty and shall do it again if I see the need for it.”

The full story of his 1897 rescue – click on image for larger size.

Described in the 1881 and 1891 censuses as a ‘pressman’ (or perhaps ‘greaseman’) in an oil mill, despite his heroism Mundy was in the Sculcoates workhouse in 1911 where he is said to have been ‘formerly a general labourer’. (The workhouse was more like the equivalent of being in a hospital in modern times for those who were ill and poor, medical care being so expensive.)

He died in 1914.

A deaf hero. British Deaf Monthly, 1898, 7 (76), 72.

Hull, East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, annual reports in library for 1884, 1910-1918, 1921-1924, 1928, 1933, 1939, 1943-1949,1953-1960.

HULL, EAST YORKSHIRE AND LINCOLNSHIRE INSTITUTION FOR THE DEAF AND DUMB – History. British Deaf-Mute and Deaf Chronicle, 1895, 4, 138.

Rescued from a Hull drain. British Deaf Times, 1906, 3(30), 137.

Researchers in Hull will no doubt know the local archives at the Hull History Centre – they may be worth checking for more information on Mundy and the Hull Institution.