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‘Be so Good as to Remember Where This Child Goes to’: Poor but not Hopeless

  • Tanya Evans

Abstract

Before approaching parish officers, lying-in hospital authorities and the General Committee of the Foundling Hospital for charity, lone mothers tended to exhaust other possibilities first by asking their employers, family, friends and acquaintances to help them.3 Many petitioners had several options that they might and did explore before calling upon hospital and parish relief. We have already seen how many people also used the Foundling Hospital, as well as the parish and other hospitals, as a temporary expedient during times of particular hardship.4 Historians have few opportunities to glimpse the poor’s strategies of survival but the material also shows us that informal support was as much if not more significant in the lives of the poor than institutional relief. Indeed it is important to acknowledge that most unmarried mothers did not enjoy the benefits of the parish and London’s charitable institutions and the details of their lives are usually beyond the limits of the historian’s gaze. This chapter uses the sources already discussed as well as the petitions for reclaiming children out of the Foundling Hospital to delineate the means by which lone mothers explored their options and negotiated the limited power at their disposal in order to support their children and to reclaim them from the Foundling Hospital once they could afford to.

Keywords

Character Reference Unmarried Mother Lone Mother Proper Object Illegitimate Child 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    D. Defoe, Moll Flanders (London, 1989 [1722]), p. 181.Google Scholar
  2. 17.
    R. Trumbach, Sex and the Gender Revolution, Heterosexuality and the Third Gender in Enlightenment London, (London, 1998), p. 281.Google Scholar
  3. 18.
    P. Earle, The Making of the English Middle Class: Business, Society and Family Life in London 1660–1730 (London, 1989), p. 218Google Scholar
  4. 75.
    F. Prochaska, The Voluntary Impulse: Philanthropy in Modern Britain (London, 1988), pp. xiii-xivGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Tanya Evans 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanya Evans

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