The Protestant Orphan Society became a social bridge that linked together throughout the Church of Ireland the humble poor and the wealthy and the great. This book examines the work of the Protestant Orphan Society in Dublin (DPOS) against the background of over a century of political, religious and social upheaval from Catholic emancipation, the Great Famine, social reforms to Independence. It first identifies the founders and supporters of the DPOS and their motivation for doing so. It asks why the Church of Ireland invested in the children of the church at this time. The book then analyses the Society's development, the grounds for support of private versus public poor relief for Protestant widows and children and stresses the crucial role that women played in the Societies' work. It examines the child welfare system implemented by the DPOS, and the extent to which its policies were forward thinking and child and family centred. The opposing views of the extensive social service carried out by PO Societies and the meaning of the charity for the Church of Ireland laity, particularly women, are explored. The book further examines applicant profiles, widows' reduced circumstances and health, attitudes to children's health, and bereavement and the attendant emotional effects. Using individual case histories the chapter examines applicant case histories which include Sean O'Casey's sister.
At a time when only rudimentary elements of a 'Poor Law' were in place, the Dublin Protestant Orphan Society (DPOS) embarked on a period of expansion through the foundation of parish auxiliaries. Protestant societies and associations were founded in the 1830s during a period of continued economic depression to preserve a Protestant presence in Ireland. Though an extensive public poor relief measure, the Poor Law was intended to stigmatise pauperism. Opponents of the Irish Poor Law included the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Richard Whately, who believed the measure did not fit the Irish context. Charges of 'souperism' had largely overshadowed the good work of many Church of Ireland ministers and their families, some of whom died through concerted efforts to alleviate the suffering of others. The Poor Law Amendment Act, 1847, provided outdoor relief and also placed the burden of poor relief on local ratepayers.
This chapter examines the development of the Protestant Orphan Society in Dublin (DPOS) ethos, governing rules and policies with respect to eligibility, benefits for widows, children's health, and apprenticeship. This examination of the DPOS is to determine the extent to which the system could be deemed child and family oriented. References are made to the policies of early local PO Societies such as Limerick and Tipperary. The DPOS served respectable Protestant families and imposed rigid application procedures to deter 'undeserving' applicants. The DPOS provided children with long or short-term care as required by widows who could reclaim their children when they so wished. This reclamation was allowed as long as the committee was satisfied that it was in the children's best interests. The DPOS recommended that infants remain with their mothers, where possible, until they had finished teething as convulsions during dentition were a common cause of infant mortality.
In 1928 at the centenary meeting of the Dublin Protestant Orphan Society (DPOS), Revd Canon Thompson remarked that it would be the job of the 'future historian', 'to estimate the social influence of the work done by the Protestant Orphan Society'. From its foundation, the DPOS was a highly significant vehicle for moral reform. As the parent body, it was more important than the later local PO Societies. It was responsible for the development of the boarding-out system and the implementation of imperative safeguards, which were adopted and modified to suit local needs. The DPOS system became the template for the Presbyterian Orphan Society, which was founded in 1866 and the Methodist Orphan Society formed in 1870. In the twentieth century, the DPOS and PO Societies provided widows with targeted assistance.
This chapter examines the difficult period of bereavement and the effects of such upheaval for children. During this period, the chain of circumstances led widows to seek relief from Protestant Orphan (PO) Societies, which by 1870 had a presence in every county in Ireland. The book assesses the boarding-out environment in which children were placed and considers the Dublin POS as a case study to establish whether the system was as effective in practice as in theory. The DPOS, local superintendents, the nurses with whom the children were placed, and surviving kin were jointly responsible for the maintenance of the orphans' health and the provision of medical care. DPOS orphans were visited unannounced once in summer and once in winter by committee members, and supervised in their local parish by parochial clergymen and their wives, as well as the community at large.
This chapter discusses the marked shift in Dublin Protestant Orphan Societies (DPOS) policies, its changing role, and the parallels between PO Societies and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). Through case history analysis, the chapter examines the ways in which bereaved families, including Irish playwright Sean O'Casey's sister, were assisted by the Society in the twentieth century and identifies the benefits of its policy changes for widows and children. The chapter also analyses the children's transition from dependence to independent adulthood, evidence which serves as a barometer of the Society's success in the twentieth century. The DPOS and local PO Societies regularly refused applications due to insufficient funds. As the DPOS, and local PO Societies, increasingly left children with their mothers rather than place them with nurses in the country, widows became directly responsible for their children's health and medical care.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book examines the pioneering work and social service legacy of the Protestant Orphan Society in Dublin (DPOS). It examines the legacy of DPOS against the background of over a century of political, religious and social upheaval from Catholic emancipation, the Great Famine, and social reforms to Independence. The book identifies the founders and supporters of the DPOS and their motivation for doing so. It also examines the child welfare system implemented by the DPOS and the extent to which its policies were forward thinking and child and family centred. The book highlights the opposing views of the extensive social service carried out by Protestant Orphan (PO) Societies and the meaning of the charity for the Church of Ireland laity, particularly women.
Evangelicalism inspired renewed religious purpose, individualism, a missionary impulse and moral and social reform through philanthropy and education. This chapter identifies the people behind the Protestant Orphan Society in Dublin (DPOS), both lay and religious, and examines the source of the founders' motivation given by the broader social, religious and political milieu. It highlights the challenge to secure adequate funding and uncovers unanticipated divisions between committee members of the fledgling charity. The Incorporated Society for Promoting English Protestant Schools in Ireland was founded in February 1733. The Charter Schools were intended for the education of poor Roman Catholics and 'the meanest Protestants' in 'useful skills and habits of industry' with the aim of both social and religious reformation. The committee members who left the DPOS founded a separate orphan society which they named the Charitable Protestant Orphan Union.
This chapter examines the two directly opposing views of Protestant Orphan Societies (POS) which emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century. At one end of the spectrum of opinion were Archbishop Cullen and Margaret Aylward who investigated the charity on the grounds of suspected proselytism. At the other end of the spectrum were social reformers who regarded the POS boarding-out scheme as an ideal child welfare model worthy of imitation. Cullen called for unity among Catholic bishops against Irish Church Missions (ICM) missionary progress in the west of Ireland. The Charitable Protestant Orphan Union (CPOU) had a clear purpose, 'to preserve the Protestantism of the orphans of mixed marriages'. POS, which continued to support 'the family system' as opposed to the placement of orphans in workhouses, met a specific demand for relief from the lower middle class who invested in their children's futures by subscribing to the charity.
This chapter examines the social service carried out by Protestant Orphan Society in Dublin (DPOS) committee members and Church of Ireland women and identifies distinguished figures from Douglas Hyde to Dr Ella Webb who lent the Society their support. Church of Ireland women contributed consistently, generously and unobtrusively to PO Societies in their vital roles as nurses and matrons, collectors and fundraisers. Despite Charles Stewart Parnell's and Isaac Butt's prominence in the Home Rule Movement in the nineteenth century, home rule was opposed by most members of the Church of Ireland. The dwindling Protestant population had many knock-on effects for a charity such as the DPOS, one of which was the decline in funding. The Protestant Orphan Society of Ireland was a symbol of Protestant vitality and resilience that bound together 'all sorts and conditions' with one common goal, preservation.