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Watson, Joseph (DNB00)


WATSON, JOSEPH (1765?–1829), teacher of the deaf and dumb, born in 1765 or at the end of 1764, was educated at Hackney in the school of Thomas Braidwood [q. v.] Under the influence of his master he resolved in 1784 'to embrace the instruction of the deaf and dumb as a profession.' On the foundation of the asylum for the deaf and dumb in Kent Road, through the efforts of John Townsend [q. v.], Watson assisted by counsel and advice, and on its completion was appointed headmaster. He continued in this office for the remainder of his life, rendering important services by his personal instruction and by his writings on the subject. The well-known French teacher the abbé Sicard was much interested in his methods, and for some time corresponded with him concerning the management of the Kent Road asylum. His system was founded on that of Thomas Braidwood, with some developments and improvements. He died at the asylum on 23 Nov. 1829, and was buried at Bermondsey. He was the author of:

  1. 'Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb; or a View of the Means by which they may be Taught to Speak and Understand a Language,' London, 1810, 2 vols. 8vo.
  2. 'A First Reading Book for Deaf and Dumb Children,' London, 1826, 12mo.
  3. 'A Selection of Verbs and Adjectives, with some other Parts of Speech,' London, 1826, 12mo.

His son, Alexander Watson (1815?–1865), born in 1815 or the beginning of 1816, was educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1837 and M.A. in 1840. Proceeding to Durham University, he passed as a licentiate of theology. He was ordained as curate of St Andrew's, Ancoats, Manchester; in 1840 he took charge of St. John's, Cheltenham, where he established excellent schools; and in 1855 became vicar of St. Mary Church-with-Coffinswell, Devonshire. Removing to the rectory of Bridestow and Sourton in 1855, he borrowed money which led to the sequestration of the living and to his quitting it at the end of two years for the incumbency of Bedford Chapel, Bloomsbury, London. Being involved in a chancery suit concerning the chapel, he became insolvent. During 1863-4 he assisted John Charles Chambers at St. Mary's, Soho, and in 1864 took charge of Middleton-on-the-Wolds, near Beverley. He died at Middleton on 1 Feb. 1865.

His writings are numerous, but of ephemeral interest. The most important are:

  1. 'Sermons on Doctrine, Discipline, and Practice,' London, 1843, 8vo.
  2. 'The Devout Churchman, or Daily Meditations,' London, 1847, 2 vols. 12mo.

Watson also took part in editing ' Practical Sermons by Dignitaries and other Clergymen of the United Church of England and Ireland,' 1845-6, 3 vols., and was sole editor of 'Sermons for Sundays, Festivals, and Fasts,' 1st ser., London, 1845, 1 vol. 8vo; 2nd ser. 1846, 3 vols.; 3rd ser. 1847, 1 vol. (Gent. Mag. 1865, i. 518; Guardian, 15 Feb. 1865).

[Gent. Mag. 1822 i. 305, 1830 i. 183; Pantheon of the Age, 1828.]

E. I. C.