Pre-deaf historical facts
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Famous Deaf People
Pre-deaf conscious historical facts:

According to Natural History, the first deaf person recorded was Quintus Pedius a noted painter during the 1st century AD, named after his grandfather, a Roman Consul Quintus Pedius. Quintus Pedius was born deaf.

Holy Bible KJ in Mark 7:32-37. “And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech;” who was cured by Jesus the Christ ca 33 AD.

The emperor of Rome, Hadrian who inherited fame for building the Hadrian Wall in Brittany 76 to 138 AD, had to cup his ears to hear orders repeated because of hard hearingness as recorded in contemporary court descriptions.

Jean le Sourd; 1250 - 1306, a monk in the Dominican order, became deaf in his early years. At fifty he successfully completed a masters degree and was famed for his work in theology, philosophy and political science.

King James I and Queen Jane Beaufort of Scotland's daughter Princess Joanna (1426 – 1486) was born deaf and in public used sign talk even though in that era it was seemed to be improper. She was married to the 4th Lord Dalkeith and Earl of Morton, James Douglas in 1457. Her simulacrum at St. Nicolas Buccleauch Parish Church, Dalkeith, by Edinburgh in the Morton Monument tomb2 is presumed the oldest representation of a deaf person as sculpture.
Teresa de Cartagena, whose grandfather was a rabbi and compelled to convert by the Spanish Inquisition, was born into a family of scholars and intellectuals. After her grandfather's conversions, he became the bishop of Cartagena in Castile, a small kingdom in Spain. She became deaf during puerility. She studied at the University of Salamanca and entered a nunnery in 1453 where she wrote “Grove of the Infirm” and “Wonders at the Works of God” two of her more famous works. It is believed she is the 1st women, who's books in the tongue, Castilian Spanish, were published (3).

Roelof Huysman wrote a book around the middle to late 15th Century about his efforts to teach a child that was deaf, to communicate by writing and by speech. The book “De inventione dialectia” - the invented dialect, was published in 1538.

Joachim du Bellay. 4 during the middle of the 16th Century become a noted French poet of the Renaissance, known for his work in monolingualizing the modern French language in “The Defense and Illustration of the French Language (1549)” and famous love sonnets, lost his hearing in puerility.
Pierre de Ronsard 5, claimed to be one of the most famed poets of all French, lost most of his hearing ability at 16, presumably by meningitis. Even now, 4 centuries later, his sonnets still are recognized by most French as of the best litterateur in France.
Pedro Ponce de Leon was commissioned in the middle 16th century by the Marquis of Berlanga, Juan de Velasco in Spain, to educate his deaf sons Fransico de Tobar, the eldest and heir to his title, and his younger brother Pedro. The two sons are claimed to be the earliest deaf recorded to receive formal tutoring 6. The reason for this education was to circumvent the laws of the land preventing disabled people to inherit title's.
Edward Bone, born deaf, and his deaf friend John Kemp, in Cornwall, England, were signing energetically in sign talk as recorded by Richard Carew 7. during the latter 16th & early 17th centuries. According to this record the master of Edward was able to understand this form of sign talk and could give intelligent instructions to Edward the same way. It is claimed by some that the birth of BSL (British Sign Language) occurred here.
Hendrick Barentzoon Avercamp, alias Hendrik van Kampen and de Stomme (mute) van Kampen as he was commonly referred to, was born deaf (1585) in Amsterdam, Holland. He was noted for landscape paintings in oil of which "Winterlandschaft mit Eisbelustiging" is the most extraordinary piece of art exhibit in the Dresden Gallery. Other paintings are to be seen in galleries in Antwerpen, Berlin and Rotterdam and some private collections favored de Stomme van Kampen.
A record from Daniel Defoe, The Life and Adventures of Duncan Campbell, notes the deaf daughter of Loggin (not named presumably for chastity reasons) in the 17th century as extraordinary. It was in the era prior to any deaf educational establishment in Britain, and Defoe fails to tell if she was born deaf and in what manner she was educated. What made him noticed her in this manuscript was her intelligence and good humor "a miracle of wit and good nature" 8. She had an excellent mind, could effortlessly do lip reading and her speech where clear and distinctive, abilities then believed not possible for the deaf.
Authorities believed it in the past that intermarriage where undesired, and such unions where discouraged, however one man by his dauntlessness during the English Civil War overcome the autocracy of society. He was born deaf and was known as "Dumd Dyott". John Dyott is claimed to have killed Lord Brooke, the commanding general of the Puritans in the battle for Lichfield, England on the 2nd of March 1643. He was highly commended for his marksmanship and hailed as a hero by the opposing force. After the Civil War, he wedded Katherine, a deaf woman and probably is the first recorded intermarriage where both parties were deaf.
Some indication of hereditary deafness in families comes to mind in the account of Luis de Velasco 8. (1610-1664). He was related to Juan de Velasco, the Marquis of Berlanga, mentioned here above, whose seven children were said to be deaf. Juan Pablo Bonet tutored Luis. Luis rewarded his efforts by accomplishing brilliant lip reading. More amazing, he was able to repeat by clear and distinctive speech what he was able to lip read, including foreign speech. These records and the fact that the de Velasco nobility had the means and the motivation, to broke through conventions and perceptions of society, being forced to do so by the regulations of the day and the wish to exist in the manner they were accustomed to, contributed enormously to normalizing relations in future, relative to the Deaf in Society.
The first recorded will written by a deaf person was in 1672 by Baronet, Sir John Gaudy, Bart of Norfolk, England. He and is younger deaf brother, Framlingham Gaudy, tutored it is claimed by John Cressner, communicated by sign talk.
The first invention of alphabet in finger sign (tactile) was recorded by John Bulwer in 1648. He described the stilted use of the finger joints by a deaf Master Babington from Burntwood, England to converse skillfully to the extend that complex ideas could be exchanged between him and his wife.
In La Fleche, France was born deaf, Joseph Sauver (1653 – 1716). Not with standing his disability to hear, he later was commissioned as Royal Professor of Mathematics as well as Inspector of Engineers by the French court. Because of his deafness, he was also interested in music and effected the science of physical properties of sound.
The first recorded deaf physicist and inventor was Guillame Amontons (1663 – 1705). He devised the hygrometer, an instrument for measuring the relative humidity of the atmosphere. Later he was invited to be part of the esteemed French Royal Academy of Science.
A graduate from Trinity College, Ireland, the esteemed writer and clergy man, Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745) was born from British parentage. After the onset of extreme hard of hearingness, presumed to be Meniere's syndrome - French otologist who first described a form of vertigo now known as Meniere's disease and identified the semicircular canals as the site of the lesion (1799-1862), he moved to England around 1689 he was appointed as assistant to handle correspondence and clerical work for the statesman, Sir William Temple until 1699. During this appointment (1695) he became accomplished in social relationships involving political authority and wrote articles, usually taking a partisan stand on public issues. In 1699 he was ordained as a minister of the Anglican Church in Ireland and later the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. Author of the books "Gulliver' Travels" published in 1726 and "A modest proposal" published in 1729 however he was famed for his witty essay's used to convey insults or scorn, not discarding himself. In this trend his poem "On his own deafness" tells it all.
The first recorded deaf teacher to the Deaf, Etienne Defaye (1669 – 1749) from Amiens, France was born deaf. Since age five he was tutored at Abbaye de St Jean and later, was the teacher at the Abby, to convey his knowledge to deaf students. It is reported that he used sign talk.
Benjamin Ferrers (1668 – 1732) "the father of deaf art" was so labeled by Peter Jackson. He was a portraitist from the court of chancery and probable the designer of caricature.




Natural History – Pliny the Elder's Book, 35 Chapter


Deaf Lives, p.153.


The Writings of Teresa de Cartagena, Rochester, NY: D.S. Brewer, 1998


Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences, p.98-101.


Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences, p.304-306.


Notable Deaf Persons, p.102-103.


A Survey of Cornwall by Richard Carew (1555 – 1620)


American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb, v.1 n.3, April 1848, p.184.


Notable Deaf Persons, p.102-103.