Letter written to the editor of The Standard. As follows:
The Standard (London): Friday, October 14, 1887; Issue 19737
Sir, – Hearing there are many doubts expressed regarding the truthfulness of the account which appeared in your columns relative to the above. I, being the daughter of William Rippin therefore mentioned, feel myself justified in asking your kind permission to verify the statements made, and to add a few little matters which may, perhaps, be deemed interesting to your readers.
My father, who was an excellent workman, commenced business at Holbeach but three or four years afterwards caught a severe cold in his eyes, which resulted in amaurosis, and although under treatment of the leading oculists of the day, he became totally and hopelessly blind at twenty-eight years of age. Instead of being crushed by this misfortune, he, by great and untiring energy and perserverance, became one of the cleverest of blind men. His ability to clean and repair clocks, watches, musical instruments, and every article connected with the business was truly marvellous, being able to work as well as before. He could do any repairs required, even turning in verges, &c. The only aid required in taking to pieces and putting together a watch was in unpinning and pinning the hair-spring, which was impossible for a blind man to do, and which was done by my mother, whom he taught to work at the business after his loss of sight. We generally had one hundred watches in the shop for repairs, some of them being brought from a distance of one hundred to two hundred miles. Every watch he knew by the touch, and every customer by his voice. Having been a first-class cricketer, after his loss of sight he played two single-wicket matches, both of which he won. He could play cards, dominoes, bagatelle, was a musician and leader of the Holbeach Brass Band.
He was an intelligent, handsome man, standing five feet ten inches high, and many who saw and conversed with him were unaware that he was blind. His early death Oct. 12th 1857 -just thirty years to-day- was partly attributable to the severe treatment he had received for his eyes. My mother and myself carried on the business at Holbeach until five years ago, and the statements I have made can be vouched for by many people who knew him.
I, am, Sir, your obedient servant, ANNE RIPPIN
11 The Crescent, Spalding, October 12.
Being fascinated by this article, I delved further…
William RIPPON, a watchmaker can be found in the 1851 Census. He is 35, his wife Ann is 39 and daughter Ann is 13. They live in the High Street, Holbeach. William and his wife are born in Spalding and their daughter in Holbeach. The census states ‘Watchmaker and works at his trade‘ (‘works at his trade’ is double underlined). No other occupations on the same page are underlined.
A William RIPPIN is christened 24 August 1815 in Spalding (IGI C031561). William is the child of James Hall RIPPIN and Frances. A marriage takes place between William RIPPON and Ann THORY on 23 November 1836 at Holbeach (IGI M011131). Ann was a widow, aged 26. Witnesses were Ann PARSONS and John TINDALE. Marriage by licence (FreeReg). Ann, the daughter of William, was born 11 May 1837 and christened 17 May 1837 Holbeach (FreeReg).