Mr. Arthur Mortlock Sleight B.A. (1857-1939)

Photo:Mr Arthur Mortlock Sleight

Mr Arthur Mortlock Sleight

Silent Times

Second Head Master of the Brighton Institution

By Geoffrey Eagling

Arthur was born on 19 September 1857 at the Brighton Institution for the Deaf & Dumb premises, Eastern Road, Kemp Town, and was the youngest son of the four children of the Yorkshire parents, William (1818-1912), the first headmaster, and Sarah (1819-1885), the second Matron at the Institution. In the same year, Arthur was baptised on 11 November 1857 at Chapel Royal in North Street which was on the other side of the Old Steine in Brighton. He was named after his father’s acquaintance, the Captain Mortlock and he was probably a Godfather to him.

Although his home was at the Brighton Institution, little is known about his childhood but it is understood that he mixed with the deaf children in the after school hours and at the weekends. In the later years, all of his brother and sisters were proficient in sign language and finger spellings.

Arthur entered Brighton College in January 1869, which was opposite the Institution. He left the College at 19 after gaining qualifications in several subjects, which enabled him to gain sufficient entry for Clare College in Cambridge in 1876. He received his Bachelor of Art degree three years later and from there, he was employed as an Assistant Master at Merchiston Castle School, a private boarding school for boys in Edinburgh from 1879 to 1883. 

There is no evidence that he visited two deaf schools in Edinburgh, namely Donaldson’s Hospital and Henderson Row School. Later, he was a House Residential Master at a high class school for boys at Canon Girdestone’s Preparatory School in Sunningdale in Berkshire but only taught the pupils for one year.

Arthur returned to Brighton in 1884 to assist his father, who was 66 years old at the time. The following year he received a Teaching Diploma from The College of Teachers of the Deaf.  Other than his post as a teacher, he was elected as the first Treasurer for the British Deaf & Dumb Association (BDDA) and served as one of the Executive Committees from 1890 to 1895, along with his brother who was the first President of the Association, which was formed in 1890. Arthur was also a member of The National College of Teachers of the Deaf (NCTD) Executive Committee and was a Treasurer for many years at St. Mark’s Church, Eastern Road. The pupils of the Institution joined the congregations at St. Mark’s every Sunday. Arthur’s father was a Warden of this church.

He married a Welsh girl, Ada Campbell Price, on 6 Aug 1896 at Chepstow and set up their new home at no.7 Walpole Terrace, a short walking distance from the Institution. They bore four children, namely Winifred (b. 1897), Maurice (b. 1899), Kenneth (b. 1901) and Olive (b. 1904).

He was an Assistant Master at BIDD from 1884 to 1911, before he took the role of his 93 years old father as the Institution's second headmaster. William Sleight was the headmaster of the Institution for an astonished 70 years but died the following year. Arthur‘s family home may have moved from Walpole Terrace to the Institution at this time. When Arthur's father passed away, he assumed his position as the Head Master, until he retired at the age of 65 in 1922. He died leaving his widow and children on 16 December 1939 at the age of 82 years old in Stone, Kent.

This page was added on 05/05/2010.
Comments about this page

Very interested to read all this. Ada Sleight (nee Price) was my father's aunt. I knew Olive Sleight well and being her only surviving relative in UK when she died in 1990, I cleared up her affairs and have all the family papers. I knew about her brother Maurice and sister Winifred, but certainly not about a fourth child Kenneth (b 1901). I would be most interested to know your sources. Looking forward to hearing from you.

By Neil Price
On 11/10/2011

Ada Campbell Price was my grandfather's sister. She was was born at Hampton Middlesex of an English father and a Scottish mother. She was married in Gloucestershire and died in London. Not Welsh at all. Otherwise a most interesting (and enlightening) article for reference within our own family history. Thank you.

By Ian Price
On 11/10/2011

Dear Neil, I am delighting to hear from you regarding Ada Sleight. I have done a great deal of work into the Sleight families about a decade ago and have written at least four different articles for the Deaf History Journals. I can easily send you these copies including a Sleight family tree chart should you need it to expand your family history. I would be glad to discus with you further so please contact me using this email address: geoff.eagling@mouchel.com I look forward to hearing from you. Best wishes, Geoffrey

By Geoffrey Eagling
On 12/10/2011

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