Mumu (1840 -1866) In the 1861 census at the Rectory, Holbrook (Suffolk) in the household of (the absent) Reverend Charles Frederick Childe: Annie J Elwin, aged 21, house servant, born in Africa, deaf & dumb from birth. The Rev Childe (1807-1897) was Principal of the Church Missionary College, Islington from 1839 to 1858 and one of visitors at Holbrook Rectory in the 1861 census was John G Hirsh, Vice-Principal of the Church Missionary College. The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography has various photographs of the Rev Childe including an undated one (122703) of the members of the household. There is a brief account of her life in the Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education for October 1892. The death of Annie J Elwin, aged 26, was registered 1866/Q2 Bath.
Annie Jane Elwin aka Mumu
The photo above shows a detail of a group portrait taken circa 1860 in Epping Forest on a children’s outing organised by the Church Missionary College in Islington, North London.
Several of the photographs taken on the excursion show a Black woman who has been identified as Annie Jane Elwin. In 1846, when she was about five years old, she was rescued from slavery by a ship of the British Navy’s West Africa Squadron and was placed with a school in Sierra Leone run by the Church Missionary Society. Since both her hearing and her speech were severely impaired, she eventually came to the attention of the recently established Blind, Deaf and Dumb Institution in Bath, who in 1853 offered to receive her free of charge. Mumu, as she was then known, was accordingly sent to England, and very soon made rapid progress in her lessons. She was of a very amiable, teachable, and affectionate disposition, and her health, too, was remarkably good. The instruction she gained in a period of about five years was attended with the happiest results. After due preparation, and at her own earnest desire, she was admitted by Baptism into the Christian Church and received the Christian names of Annie Jane Elwin. She was afterwards, for a short time, in service of the Church Missionary College at Islington, but, subsequently, she returned to Bath, and remained in the Institution until her death, which occurred, after a short illness, in May 1866. Certain marks on her forehead proved on inquiry that she was a princess in her own country.’ (Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, October 1892).
From 1839 to 1858 the principal of the Church Missionary College in Islington was Reverend Charles Childe, who in 1858 became the Rector of Holbrook in Suffolk. He was away in Bath on the night the 1861 census was taken, but one of the servants at the Rectory in Holbrook was Annie J. Elwin, born in Africa, ‘deaf and dumb from birth.’ The Institution for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb in Bath had been founded by Reverend Fountain Elwin, hence Annie’s surname. She subsequently returned to Bath, where she died on 16 May 1866.
Inscription on her headstone at Locksbrook Cemetery, Bath:
In Memory of
a deaf and dumb African girl.
She was rescued in child-hood
from a slave vessel and taken
to the Church Missionary School
at Charlotte, Sierra Leone, from
whence she was sent to England for
education and remained 11 years
in the Bath Institute for the
Blind and Deaf and Dumb.
She was baptized Dec 28 1857
and received the Christian names of
Annie Jane Elwin.
After a short illness, she fell
asleep in Jesus. May 16 1866
aged 25 years.
The inscription goes on to mention several other people who are in the same grave, namely George Spear, ‘a blind boy, a native of Cape Palmas, W. Africa,’ Annie Toone, ‘a deaf and dumb pupil in the same institution,’ Eliza Feldwick, who died in 1872, and Mary Emma Pearce, who died in the same year.