The Duty of Poor Mothers in Eighteenth-Century London

  • Tanya Evans


On 14 September 1757, five-day-old William Green was brought by his parents to the Foundling Hospital for ‘exposed and deserted young children’ in London. He was dressed in a cloth shirt, a fine diaper waistcoat and wrapped in a new flannel blanket with a napkin, embroidered with the initials EB, possibly his mother’s or father’s, pinned under his chin. When they handed him over to the Foundling’s porter, they also passed a note and a piece of copper to be kept as a token of their affection. The letter read

For neither want of affection nor honesty of intention but from an absolute disability of providing for it, to the care and instruction of the Hospital, under the direction of divine provedence, the Anxious parents particularly the fond mother, afflicted to be torn thus from her beloved Child, Commits and Earnestly recommends her tender babe, wishing she was so happy as to be in a capacity of discharging the duty of a good mother towards it…


Poor Woman Surrogate Motherhood Unmarried Mother Lone Mother Parental Affection 
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© Tanya Evans 2005

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  • Tanya Evans

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