Ancestry UK

British Asylum for Deaf and Dumb Females, Clapton, London

In May 1851, James Gilliard Simpson and his wife Jane founded the British Asylum for Deaf and Dumb Females. Its aim was to provide such individuals with the education and training by which they could support themselves. The Asylum's first premises were in the Simpsons' then home village of Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire. Shortly after the opening of the Asylum, James died and the inmates were transferred to a house at Stamford Hill, in north-east London. A Mr Sutton then took an interest in the institution and through his influence, aided by Mrs Simpson, it became one of London's leading charities.

In 1857, the Asylum relocated to Eagle House, Homerton. In 1863, the Prince and Princess of Wales became patrons of the institution.

It moved again in 1864, to a large old mansion at 179 Lower Clapton Road, Hackney The Asylum site is shown on the 1895 map below.

British Asylum for Deaf and Dumb Females site, Clapton, c.1895.

British Asylum for Deaf and Dumb Females, Clapton, London, c.1910.

On 2 December 1867, the establishment was authorised to operate as a Certified School, enabling to to receive individuals boarded out by the Poor Law authorities. In 1884, the premises could accommodate up to 50 inmates, aged at least 10 years at their date of admission. In fact, census listings suggest that the great majority of the residents were adults.

In 1890, the aims and admission regulations for the Asylum were stated as follows:

Object.—'To educate the ignorant female mute, to keep up and increase the knowledge of those who have left the different educational institutions throughout the kingdom, and also to teach them such trades as may enable them to earn an honest and independent livelihood by their own exertions and industry to provide a home for the friendless and destitute, who, from age or infirmity, are unable to support themselves; and to endeavour to lead all to the knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ.' Admission.—By election, free for three years, or annual payment. Age for admission by election, under 30 years; by payment, and as a permanent home, any age above 10 years. The payment is £22 a year and clothing. Donors of £5, and subscribers of 10s. have 1 vote; donors of £10, and subscribers of £1 have 2 votes.

Promotional advert for British Asylum for Deaf and Dumb Females, 1890.

By 1917, the institution had been renamed a Home rather than Asylum, By 1920, it had become the British Home for Deaf and Dumb Women.

In 1933, the home was forced to relocate after its site was compulsorily purchased by the local council for a housing development. It then moved to new, purpose-built premises at 26 Clapton Common, designed by A Rubens Cole. In more recent times, the building has been used as a place of learning by the Kollel Congregation Synagogue.


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.

  • Hackney Archives, 2nd floor, Dalston CLR James Library and Hackney Archives, Dalston Square, London E8 3BQ. Has Annual Reports Committee Minutes, Financial Records etc.