SourceHome Children is a common term used to refer to the child migration scheme founded by Annie Macpherson in 1869, under which more than 100,000 children were sent to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa from the United Kingdom.
History of British child migration:
The practice of sending poor or orphaned children to British settler colonies, to help alleviate the shortage of labour, began in 1618, with the rounding-up and transportation of 100 vagrant children to the Virginia Colony. Labour shortages in the British colonies also encouraged the kidnapping of children for work in the Americas, and large numbers of children were forciblly emigrated, mostly from Scotland. This practice continued until it was exposed in 1757, following a civil action against Aberdeen businessmen and magistrates for their involvement in the trade.
The Children’s Friend Society was founded in London in 1830, as "The Society for the Suppression of Juvenile Vagrancy, through the reformation and emigration of children". The first group of children was sent to the Cape Colony in South Africa and the Swan River Colony in Australia in 1832 and in August 1833, 230 children were shipped to Toronto and New Brunswick, Canada.
The main pioneers of child migration in the nineteenth century were the Scottish Evangelical Christian, Annie McPherson, her sister Louisa Birt, and Londoner, Maria Rye. Whilst working with poor children in London in the late 1860s McPherson was appalled by the child slavery of the matchbox industry and resolved to devote her life to these children. In 1870 she bought a large workshop and turned it into the "Home of Industry", where poor children could work and be fed and educated. She later became convinced that the real solution for these children lay in emigration to a country of opportunity and started an emigration fund. In the first year of the fund's operation, 500 children, trained in the London homes, were shipped to Canada. McPherson opened distribution homes in Canada in the towns of Belleville and Galt in Ontario and persuaded her sister, Louisa, to open a third home in the village of Knowlton, seventy miles from Montreal. This was the beginning of a massive operation which sought to find homes and careers for 14,000 of Britain's needy children.
Maria Rye also worked amongst the poor in London and had arrived in Ontario with 68 chilldren (50 of whom were from Liverpool) some months earlier than McPherson, with the blessing of The Archbishop of Canterbury and The Times newspaper. Rye, who had been placing women emigrants in Canada since 1867, opened her home at Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1869, and by the turn of the century had settled some 5,000 children, mostly girls, in Ontario.
The emigration schemes were not without their critics and there were many rumours of ill-treatment of the children by their employers and of profiteering by the organisers of the schemes, particularly Maria Rye. In 1874 The London Board of Governors decided to send a representative, named Andrew Doyle, to Canada to visit the homes and the children to see how they were faring. Doyle's report praised the women and their staff, especially McPherson, saying that they were inspired by the highest motives, but condemned almost everything else about the enterprise. He said that the attitude of the women in grouping together children from the workhouses, who he said were mostly of good reputation, with street children, who he considered mostly thieves, was naive and had caused nothing but trouble in Canada. He was also critical of the checks made on the children after they were placed with settlers, which in Rye's case were mostly non-existent, and said that:
Because of Miss Rye's carelessness and Miss MvPherson's limited resources, thousands of British children, already in painful circumstances, were cast adrift to be overworked or mistreated by the settlers of early Canada who, were generally honest but often hard taskmasters.
The Canadian House of Commons subsequently set up a select committee to examine Doyle's findings and there was much controversy generated by his report in Britain, but the schemes continued with some changes and were copied in other countries of the British Empire.
In 1909, South African born Kingsley Fairbridge founded the "Society for the Furtherance of Child Emigration to the Colonies" which was later incorporated as the Child Emigration Society. The purpose of the society, which later became the Fairbridge Foundation, was to educate orphaned and neglected children and train them in farming practices at farm schools located throughout the British Empire. Fairbridge emigrated to Australia in 1912, where his ideas received support and encouragement.
According to the British House of Commons Child Migrant's Trust Report, "it is estimated that some 150,000 children were dispatched over a period of 350 years—the earliest recorded child migrants left Britain for the Virginia Colony in 1618, and the process did not finally end until the late 1960s." Though it was widely believed that all of these children were orphans, it is now known that most had living parents, some of whom had no idea what had happened to their children after they were left in care homes, with some led to believe that their children had been adopted somewhere in Britain.
Child emigration was suspended for economic reasons during the Great Depression of the 1930s but was not completely terminated until the 1970s.
As they were compulsorily shipped out of Britain, many of the children were deceived into believing their parents were dead, and that a more abundant life awaited them.
While many children were welcomed into loving homes, some were exploited as cheap agricultural labour. Many of the home children were denied proper shelter and education and were often not allowed to socialize with native children. It was common for home children to run away, sometimes finding a caring family or better working conditions.
The Golden Bridge,is an online exbibition created by IRISS which tells the story of child migration to Canada from Scotland. It includes a collection of photographic images from the 1860s depicting children and staff at different stages of the migration journey as well as Quarriers' Narratives of Fact, annual reports which provide detailed accounts of children migrated to Canada.
I am the granddaughter of a British Home Child. This morning I found a record of her passage from Liverpool to Canada:
Given Name: Victoria
Year of Arrival: 1912
Departure Port: Liverpool
Departure Date: 26 July 1912
Arrival Port: Quebec
Arrival Date: 03 August 1912
Party: Catholic Emigration Association
Destination: Ottawa, Ontario
Comments: 48 girls
Source: Library and Archives Canada/Bibliothèque et Archives CanadaReference: RG76 C 1 a
Type of Record: Passenger Lists/Listes de passagers
It is a humbling experience to be reading about a 13 year old child leaving her world, her family, her life as she knew it, and embarking upon a new life, whatever image of "new life" was painted for her. It is doubly humbling realising that had it not been for my gran crossing the pond, despite the less than stellar circumstances requiring such, I wouldn't even be here today.
Ossi, I really need to thank so much. I owe you a great debt. After our chat last night, I stayed up all night searching for my gran's passage records. It bothered me that I didn't know the exact reason why she came, although I had suspicions of course. I didn't know about Home Children until today. I won't ever know the exact reasons why she was sent here: out of love and the promise of a different (and possibly better) future or out of sheer lack of caring and the inability of her family to provide for her. I'd rather think positively about this of course and think that such was motivated by love. And I don't know how well her Canadian family treated her. But I am reassured that she wasn't alone: she did have brothers here working at the same farm or at least in the same area.
By the way, check out the list of names on the ship manifest:
Surname Given Name Age Sex Ship Year of Arrival
1. HARRINGTON Annie 15 F Corsican 1912
2. McDOWELL Annie 13 F Corsican 1912
3. GARRETT Annie 19 F Corsican 1912
4. HOLMES Annie 13 F Corsican 1912
5. RYAN Catherine 11 F Corsican 1912
6. THOMAS Catherine 13 F Corsican 1912
7. REID Christina 14 F Corsican 1912
8. FEARON Edith 14 F Corsican 1912
9. DUDDIN Elizabeth 15 F Corsican 1912
10. COTTER Elizabeth 17 F Corsican 1912
11. KELLY Elizabeth 11 F Corsican 1912
12. COSTELLO Elizabeth 15 F Corsican 1912
13. McGUINNESS Ellen 11 F Corsican 1912
14. SMITH Ellen 14 F Corsican 1912
15. GLEANON Esther 12 F Corsican 1912
16. HEMMING Florence 29 F Corsican 1912
17. DOWLING Gertrude 12 F Corsican 1912
18. COTTER Isabella 14 F Corsican 1912
19. HIGGINS Julia 13 F Corsican 1912
20. COYLE Margaret 13 F Corsican 1912
21. LATCHFORD Margaret 17 F Corsican 1912
22. HAGAN Margaret 11 F Corsican 1912
23. LOWERY Margaret 13 F Corsican 1912
24. PRINCE Maria 11 F Corsican 1912
25. WEIGHILL Maria 11 F Corsican 1912
26. GOULDING Mary 12 F Corsican 1912
27. BROWN Mary 16 F Corsican 1912
28. AMOS Mary 14 F Corsican 1912
29. JUDGE Mary 13 F Corsican 1912
30. LYONS Mary 13 F Corsican 1912
31. AMOS Mary 14 F Corsican 1912
32. JUDGE Mary 13 F Corsican 1912
33. LYONS Mary 13 F Corsican 1912
34. O'DOWD Mary 11 F Corsican 1912
35. SWEENEY Mary 11 F Corsican 1912
36. KELLSHER Mary 11 F Corsican 1912
37. INGRAM Maud 15 F Corsican 1912
38. HEATON Rose 13 F Corsican 1912
39. BEAKSON Sarah 15 F Corsican 1912
40. CAIN Sarah 11 F Corsican 1912
41. DEVINE Sarah 11 F Corsican 1912
42. DUNN Sarah 13 F Corsican 1912
43. McANDREW Sarah 11 F Corsican 1912
44. McGOWAN Victoria 13 F Corsican 1912
45. HARRINGTON Violet 11 F Corsican 1912
46. BURKE Winifred 13 F Corsican 1912
47. SHERRY Winifred 14 F Corsican 1912
48. BLAKE Winifred 13 F Corsican 1912
It seems that the Costellos and the McGowans stuck together. I'm now suspecting that this Elizabeth Costello might have been my gran's good friend, Mrs Butler. According to family stories, Mrs. Butler was on the ship with her coming across the pond and they were life-long friends.
Anyway, there's some great online stuff out there on this part of England's history for anybody who is interested. I just subscribed to this website today: http://www.britishhomechildren.org/