From 1869, child migrants known as 'Home Children’ were sent via migrant organisations from Britain to its imperial dominions of Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. More than 150,000 orphaned or poverty-stricken children were sent to the settler colonies. Around 7,000 children were sent to Australia from Britain as part of the 'Home Children’ emigration policy that lasted until 1967. The largest number of migrants – over 100,000 – was sent to Canada between 1869 and the early 1930s. This article explores how family historians can find out more about these child migrants, from their origins in the UK to their new lives in Canada.
How did you first become interested in family history? A couple of things came together, that placed me on this incredible path. I lost my in-laws quite suddenly and that set me on a journey of thinking about all the family history questions we had failed to ask. Secondly, I made the decision to become a stay-at-home mom; this allowed me some free time to take up a couple of hobbies, one being writing and the other genealogy. That was 10 years ago.
We do not need to imagine what the tunnels of the Metropolitan Railway were like as a growing number of steam locomotives poured through them from every direction since, once the initial enthusiasm for underground railway travel had waned, a number of contemporaries recorded their experiences of travelling through the dark, steaming, smoking tunnels. A letter to The Times described a journey in 1879:
For centuries mistresses or ‘kept women’ have sauntered through life as symbols of power, pleasure and freedom. The women were, and often still are, viliﬁed by and kept separate from ’traditional’ society. But once a discerning gentlemen was under their spell, they lived a secret life of luxury and comfort and endless independence.
Family history is of course a discipline, requiring proper research skills and methodologies to be learned and a knowledge of specific archives to be learned over time. The fact remains, though, that sometimes it’s serendipity which can advance our research when a brick wall seems insurmountable.
Dorset will forever be associated with the writings of Thomas Hardy, whose novels evoke an essentially rural way of life, changing little even with the coming of the railways in his era. The county has traditionally had few large population centres – the major town of Bournemouth only joined the county from Hampshire in 1974
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