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
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
A girl 14 days old wearing ‘yellow
satten flowered’ admitted in 1759 and given the name Lucy
A girl admitted in 1758 with heart cut from red woolen cloth pinned to her
cap. She was named Isabel
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.