Foundling Hospital, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
In 1759, a branch of London's Foundling Hospital was inaugurated at Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. It was one of several such satellite establishments set up to receive children from the London institution 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, Barnet, Chester, Shrewsbury and Westerham.
A local committee was formed to manage the Aylesbury Hospital and in May 1759 a house and land at the Crofts, Walton, was purchased from Charles Lowndes for the sum of £450.
In April 1760, the London Committee agreed to send sufficient cloth to Aylesbury 'to clothe 20 boys and stuff for clothing 19 girls'. In November of that year, twenty boys were sent from Aylesbury to Shrewsbury and twenty to Ackworth, to be employed in the manufactories.
In October 1761, it was agreed to spend £80 in fitting up three rooms in the house for use as an infirmary and to construct two additional wards for boys.
The withdrawal of government funding for the charity in 1760 resulted in a fall-off in its admissions and the branch Hospitals were gradually closed. In July 1767, Aylesbury was one of the first to go when it was decreed that its children should be sent to the Hospital in London as soon as possible and that the land and premises at Walton be disposed of. Aylesbury may have been one the earliest closures as its location in an agricultural district made it harder to apprentice the children than at Shrewsbury or Ackworth. In January 1770, the property was sold for £350 to Mr William Edmonds. Very little trace of the building now survives.
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.
- 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)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- 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.