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Britain's Child Migration - Organisers

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  • John Clavell Mansel-Playdell (1817 - 1902)
    Cambridge University Alumni, 1261-1900 Name: John Clavell. Mansel [post Mansel-Pleydell] College: ST JOHN'S Entered: Michs. 1835 Died: 1902 Adm. pens. at ST JOHN'S, Feb. 13, 1835. [Eld...
  • Alexander Balfour, of Liverpool (1824 - 1886)
    Alexander Balfour was a Scottish merchant and founder of the Liverpool shipping company Balfour Williamson. Balfour ran the Liverpool side of the business, while his partners worked in Chile. Balfour...
  • Dr. George C Cossar (1880 - 1942)
    Dr. George C Cossar was the originator of schemes for improving the position of slum lads of Glasgow. He was one of the outstanding figures in philanthropic work in Glasgow. who devoted much of his tim...
  • Vere Henry Louis Foster (1819 - 1900)
    Vere Foster ~Founder Irish Female Emigration Fund.~ Vere Henry Louis Foster was one of the greatest Irishmen ever. He was born in Copenhagen on April 25, 1819, while his father, a member of the I...
  • Henry Willett (1823 - 1903)
    Henry Willett born Catt (1823-1903) was a founding father of Brighton Museum. He was a wealthy collector of paintings, porcelain, rocks and fossils, especially those of the Brighton area. He wanted his...

Britain's Child Migration -


The practice of sending poor or orphaned children to British colonies, to help alleviate the shortage of labour, began in England in 1618, with the rounding-up and transportation of 100 vagrant children to the Virginia Colony.

Before the second half of the twentieth century, the Home Children programme was seen as a way to move impoverished children to a "better life" in Australia, Canada and elsewhere, also providing good "white stock" to former colonies.

In total 130,000 children were sent from the UK to Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and Australia.

Child emigration was undertaken by religious and charitable organisations. One of the earliest of these being the Children's Friend Society established in 1830 (see 1 below), which sent out its first party of child migrants to Australia in 1832. In 1844 the Ragged School Movement began, and sent out 150 children to New South Wales in 1849. In 1850 Parliament legalised Poor Law Guardians to fund emigration of children to the colonies.

The object of this project is to list individual people who worked towards improving the lot of destitute and poverty stricken children in Britain.

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Other individuals of interest

  • Andrew Doyle, a senior inspector commissioned by the Local Government board in 1874 to report back on the schemes for emigration of workhouse children to Canada, with particular concern expressed about the schemes operated by Maria Rye and Annie MacPherson. Following his critical report, the Local Government Board stopped the emigration of children from workhouses in March 1875, a decision that forced Maria Rye to suspend sending out more children for two years.
  • Margaret Humphreys 1986 set up the Child Migrant Trust to assist former child migrants to reunite with their families.
  • Charles Mair of Winnipeg - assisted George Bogue Smart.
  • George Bogue Smart, born in Brockville, Ontario, became the first and only person to hold the position of Inspector of British Immigrant Children and Receiving Homes on 13 May 1864. Hired in June 1899 to assist the immigration agent at Halifax and to accompany new arrivals to the west. He retired in 1933.

Opponents to the emigration of Childen

  • Alfred F Jury
  • Daniel J O' Donoghue


  • The Children's Aid Society founded in 1853 in New York sent out orphans from New York by "orphan train" to the farming states of the mid-west at Kansas, Ohio, Michigan and Iowa.
  • The Children's Friend Society - Cape of Good Hope and Swan River Colony in Australia. Canada
  • Church of England Waifs and Strays Society - Canada, Australia and Southern Rhodesia
  • Clerkenwell Emigration Society
  • Liverpool Sheltering Homes
  • Middlemore Homes - Canada
  • National Children's Homes and Orphanages was founded by the Methodist Reverend Thomas Bowman Stephenson, Francis Horner and Alfred Mager, 1869. Canada, Australia and New Zealand
  • Nugent Society Care Homes Canada and USA (Founded by Father James Nugent)
  • Revival Refuge and Home of Industry, Spitalfields, London (Founded by Annie Parlane MacPherson)
  • The Sisters of Providence received “Home Children” brought from England by Mrs. Lacy of the Catholic Protection Society of Liverpool from May 1888 to September 1891.

Managers of the Distribution Homes
// this project is in History Link