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August 19, 2011

Foundling Swatches: Bits of Cloth Tell a Sad Story

The Foundling Hospital in London England was founded in 1741 by the Thomas Coram for the education and care of deserted children. 

The first children were admitted to the Foundling Hospital on 25 March 1741. Often mothers or fathers placed a distinguishing token on their child in hopes of reuniting with their child one day. These were often marked coins, trinkets, pieces of cotton or ribbon, verses written on scraps of paper. The child's clothes were carefully recorded in notebooks by hospital staff and many of the swatches of cloth were carefully pinned to the page for that child.

Foundling Swatches has  published photos of some of the poignant cloth tokens and scraps of paper attached to different children. Please take a look. The photos include:

An embroidered sampler left with a boy named William Porter, admitted 1759 and died 1760.

 Patchwork  embroidered with a heart and cut in half. Left with a boy admitted in 1767. He was named Benjamin Twirl by the Foundling Hospital. His mother Sara Bender reclaimed him in 1775.

Threadbare linen ‘flowered all over with playing cards’ left with a boy in 1759. He was named Joseph Floyd by the Foundling Hospital. He was apprenticed in 1769.

A boy  admitted 1759 wearing ‘checkt stuff’  named Mentor Lesange by the Foundling Hospital. In 1770, he was apprenticed to a farmer named Hercules Durham. 

A girl 14 days old wearing ‘yellow satten flowered’  admitted in 1759 and given the name Lucy Locket.

A girl  admitted  in 1758 with heart cut from red woolen cloth pinned to her cap. She was named Isabel Crane

A flowered silver ribbon with a paper note sewn into it attached to a boy admitted in  1756

You can search for records of Orphanages and Almshouses on Olive Tree Genealogy. They are a treasure trove of information for genealogists.


Nancy said...

How wonderful and sad, tender and poignant, all at the same time. Thanks for directing us to this post.

Rebecca said...

Wow...that made me tear up. I had no idea.