When General Charles Gordon lived at Gravesend in the 1860s, he turned himself into a child rescuer. This book contributes to understandings of both contemporary child welfare practices and the complex dynamics of empire. It analyses the construction and transmission of nineteenth-century British child rescue ideology. The book aims to explain the mentality which allowed the child removal policy to flourish. The disseminated publications by four influential English child rescue organisations: Dr. Barnardo's (DBH), the National Children's Homes (NCH), the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society (WSS) and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), are discussed. The gospel of child rescue was a discursive creation, the impact of which would be felt for generations to come. The body of the child was placed within a familiar environment, rendered threatening by the new social, religious and moral meanings ascribed to it. Ontario's 1888 Children's Protection Act required local authorities to assume maintenance costs of wards and facilitated the use of foster care. Changing trends in publishing have created an opportunity for the survivors of out-of-home care to tell their stories. The book shows how the vulnerable body of the child at risk came to be reconstituted as central to the survival of nation, race and empire. The shocking testimony that official enquiries into the treatment of children in out-of-home 'care' held in Britain, Ireland, Australia and Canada imply that there was no guarantee that the rescued child would be protected from further harm.
child rescue organisations, founded in the
second half of the nineteenth century: Dr Barnardo’s ( DBH ), the National Children’s Homes ( NCH ), the ChurchofEnglandWaifsandStraysSociety ( WSS ) and the National Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Children ( NSPCC ).
Rather than entering into the long-running debate as to whether they
were primarily humanitarian agencies or agents of social control, or
the ChurchofEnglandWaifsandStraysSociety (CEWSS, now the
Children’s Society).8 Doing so shows both the constant changes for
these children and the wide use of fostering and irregular adoption.
This work is not a study of adoption per se, but will overlap to
some extent with recent works on the subject. Secrecy was vital but
also almost impossible to sustain, given the legal framework of this
period. My work, then, agrees with that of Deborah Cohen, especially on the complicated interaction between secrecy and shame
for illegitimate children, ‘adopted
Up Poor: Home, School, and Street in London,
1870–1914 (London: Rivers Oram Press, 1996), p. 93.
6 H. Barnett, ‘The young women in our workhouses’, MacMillan’s
Magazine 40 (1879), 136.
Illegitimacy in English law and society, 1860–1930
7 Illustrated Police News (16 January 1897), p. 8.
8 ChurchofEnglandWaifsandStraysSociety (CEWSS) Case Records,
www.hiddenlives.org, Case #1399; see also Children’s Society Archives
(hereafter CSA), Bermondsey, CS043, 1888–94.
9 The Times (14 April 1920), p. 5.
10 Frost, Living in Sin, pp. 148–68; ‘Neither fish nor
The ‘pathology’ of childhood in late nineteenth-century London
the ChurchofEnglandWaifsandStraysSociety provide rich source material to better understand how pathologised children were cared for by philanthropic institutions in the late nineteenth century. The Society was founded by Edward Rudolf in 1881 and offered residential childcare to families facing poverty-induced crises. Alongside Dr Stephenson's Homes (founded in 1868) and Dr Barnardo's Homes (founded in 1870), it was one of the major voluntary organisations of the period that made up a mosaic of welfare options which were developing for children in the late
(London: Church of England Waifs & Strays Society, Kennington,
1922 ), pp.
1–2; J.J.B., ‘By highway and byway. VII. - after
office hours’, OWS , XIV: 333
Anne Allen and Arthur Morton, This Is Your Child
estimate’, ND , XXVIII: 236
Wagner, Barnardo , pp. 191–2.
Edward de M. Rudolf, The First Forty Years: A Chronicle of the
1881–1920 (London: Church of England Waifs
the Children’s Act of 1908 and with the consent of the Home
Secretary, removed children from unfit parents; and benevolent
enterprises and philanthropic institutions – known as emigration
societies. The agents of the latter two categories were: the National
Children’s Home; the ChurchofEnglandWaifsandStraysSociety,
Roman Catholic Rescue Societies; the Fegan Homes; Dr Barnardo