The first deaf person to be a juror


A chara, – I was delighted to read Mary Carolan’s article on the “historic” serving of the first deaf person as a juror in the trial courts (Home News, December 18th).

It may interest your readers to know that the Leinster Express newspaper scooped The Irish Times 174 years ago, publishing a similarly headlined article on December 17th, 1843 about the first deaf juror in Irish, and indeed British, legal history.

The occasion was an inquest held near Banagher by the Offaly county coroner, James Dillon, into the sudden death of a boy at a local forge. The first deaf juror, John Pearson, who worked nearby as a cabinet maker, had been a pupil at Ireland’s first school for deaf children, the Claremont Institution. The jury found that the deceased “died by the visitation of God”.

A detailed account of how John Pearson communicated by writing with the coroner is given by Rachel Pollard in her 2006 book The Avenue and the context of child death inquests in Offaly in the 1840s is provided by Lisa Shortall in the forthcoming book Offaly Heritage 10. – Is mise,


Clontarf, Dublin 3.