GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2001-01 > 0978557446
From: "bbffrrpp" <>
Subject: [GM-L] COULD YOUR ANCESTOR HAVE BEEN OF THE "BRITISH HOME CHILDREN" ???
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001 16:30:46 -0500
Hello! I'd like to remind people on these two Lists that you should take
some time and educate yourselves on the plight of the British Home Children
and their descendants!
Between 1850 and 1930 (+/-), well over 100,000 orphans and unwanted
children were shipped out of Great Britain! They were shipped to three
different continents, North America, Australia, and South Africa. Most
were shipped to Canada, with a good number of those finding their way to the
They ranged in age from babies, around 3, to Age 18. People in their 20's
could come over ..if there was room on the ship. In some cases, they
Agencies tried to keep siblings together. But, many times siblings were
separated, and sometimes....never to be seen again. This was especially
true when siblings were shipped out to two different continents.
Once the children arrived in North America (for instance), they quite often
did not remain in the home or farm they were initially sent to. Abuse
was prevalent. Another problem was ... names! Many times the younger
children didn't even know their full name. In other cases, the
handwriting on the forms was illegible. Other times, the families who
took these children in ... changed their names. At other times, the
children decided they didn't like their own name, and just ..chose..
another name to use. For the children who were lucky enough to be adopted,
they probably had their names changed at the adoption ceremony.
There were also something called, "the Orphan Trains." Many of the
orphans and unwanted children - both the British Home Children - and orphans
from the East Coast - were put on trains - heading west! All along the
way, the trains would stop, and at each station, an adult would ask the
people standing at the station if any of them wanted to adopt a child. If
someone did, a child was turned over to them - no questions asked!
Most of the children coming to Canada, arrived in either Halifax or Quebec
on the eastern shore of Canada. When all was said and done, many of the
children had eventually made their way - clear across the country - to
the western shores of Canada! And, again, those children who were sent
to the USA ... might have been sent out to the mid-west, or further!
Canada is the country who has given these poor children the designation,
"British Home Children." And, many people in Canada are trying to
"spread the word" about the plight of these children, and their
now....millions of descendants! Books have been written on the subject.
And, there are several web sites devoted to them. The British Home
Children List at RootsWeb is a very active one. And, this subject can be
found at the Yahoo site, as well as others.
If you have an ancestor, who might have lived in the late 1800's or early
1900's, and you absolutely cannot find out ... where they came from, you
might want to go to the web site for the National Archives of Canada.
There you will find a section called ArchiviaNet, where you can do a search
for your surname.
Both of my great-grandparents were British Home Children. There were four
Lewis siblings and five Corkill siblings who all got shipped to Halifax, NS,
in 1874. As far as I know, most of these nine children remained in Nova
Scotia, at least until they married. John Lewis and Mary Corkill married
there in 1879, but around 1881 they migrated to Boston, MA.
John and Mary Lewis had 13 children, and lived in Stoneham, MA, for about 40
years. John Lewis ran the town newspaper there, and was very well-known in
town. But, that doesn't mean it was a happy family. Most of the
British Home Children suffered terribly during part or all of their
childhood, and their experiences had an effect on the entire rest of their
(In 1874, my BHC ancestors were John Lewis and his twin brother, Joseph
Lewis, both 14, Elizabeth Lewis, 9, and Mary Lewis, 7, and then Mary
Corkill, 15, Julia Corkill, 11, Esther Corkill, 7, John Corkill, 5, Robert
Thank you for listening, Betty (near Lowell, MA)