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Thomas Braidwood


1715 - 1806

Pioneer in the education of deaf children. Born in Covington (South Lanarkshire), Braidwood was educated at the University of Edinburgh. He began teaching mathematics but, in 1760, founded the world's first school for the deaf, through contact with Alexander Shirreff, a wealthy merchant whose son Charles was a deaf-mute. Charles Shirreff became Braidwood's first pupil and was taught to speak. The school grew to 20 pupils by 1780 and was the model for all of the early British institutions of its kind. It achieved fame, being visited by Dr. Samuel Johnson in 1773 and was mentioned in Sir Walter Scott's novel The Heart of Midlothian. In 1783, Braidwood relocated his school to London, paid for by King George III.

His pupils included Francis Mackenzie (Lord Seaforth; 1754 - 1815) who became a Member of Parliament and Governor of Barbados, and John Philp Wood (d.1838), the antiquarian and author.

Braidwood died in Hackney (London). The district of Dumbiedykes in Edinburgh took its name from his school and a plaque on Dumbiedykes Road was unveiled in 2015 to commemorate the achievement.


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