Foundling Hospital, Barnet, Hertfordshire
In 1762, a branch of London's Foundling Hospital was established at Barnet, Hertfordshire. It was one of several such satellite institutions set up to receive children from the London Hospital which, to fulfil the terms of its government funding, was required to admit any infant that arrived on its doorstep. The other branch Hospitals were located at Ackworth, Aylesbury, Chester, Shrewsbury and Westerham.
The suggestion to open a branch at Barnet came from a local woman, Mrs Prudence West, who had been employed by the Foundling Hospital an a volunteer 'inspector of nurseries' in the area — groups of women who looked after the charity's children in their own homes. West believed that the country air would benefit the children and proposed to the charity's governors that branch Hospital be set up in suitable house should be rented at Monken Hadley, on the outskirts of Chipping Barnet. The idea received a positive response and in November 1762 it was agreed to take a house for £12 per annum and fit it up for the accommodation of 12 or more girls.
Following the withdrawal of government funding for the charity, the branch Hospitals were gradually closed, with Barnet being the first to go. In January 1768 it was ordered that the children should be returned to London and the staff be given notice. The children left the establishment in March.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R OHB. Holdings of Foundling Hospital records include General Registers, Petitions, Baptism Registers, Inspection Books, Nursery Books and Apprenticeship Registers. The LMA have also produced a guide to tracing an individual foundling. Due to the Data Protection Act, registers containing personal information about named individuals remain closed for 110 years.
- Former pupils of the Foundling Hospital and their relatives can request information from closed records by contacting the Adoption and Permanent Families Service at Coram. The Adoption Services at Coram Family also provide a counselling service for anyone who wishes to talk about any aspect of the Foundling Hospitals history that may have affected their lives.
- King, Steven and Gear, Gillian A Caring County?: Social Welfare in Hertfordshire from 1600 (2013, University of Hertfordshire Press)
- Allin, David S. The Early Years of the Foundling Hospital 1739/40-1773 (2010, privately published)
- Brownlow, John The History and Design of the Foundling Hospital: With a Memoir of the Founder (1858)
- Levene, Alysa Childcare, Health and Mortality in the London Foundling Hospital, 1741-1800: 'Left to the Mercy of the World' (2012, MUP)
- McClure, Ruth Coram's Children: London Foundling Hospital in the Eighteenth Century (1981, Yale University Press)
- Nichols, R.H. and Wray, F.A. The History of the Foundling Hospital (1935, OUP)
- Pugh, Gillian London's Forgotten Children: Thomas Coram and the Foundling Hospital (2011, The History Press)
- Sheetz-Nguyen, Jessica A. Victorian Women, Unwed Mothers and the London Foundling Hospital (2012, Continuum)
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.