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Abandonment

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London A Mother Depositing Her Child at the Foundling Hospital in Paris, O'Neil, c1855

© The Foundling Museum used with permission

This page includes the stories of those women whose lives were touched by abandonment. You can access the stories by clicking on the women's names below.

As we research, people disappear from the records. There can be many reasons, one being that they were abandoned, a large percentage of those people were women and children. Women were expected to conform to social expectations. A married woman may think that she was secure but her husband could leave her, or die, meaning that she would be abandoned and left without any support, perhaps with young children to care for and support; there being no state assistance or handouts apart from the workhouse. 

 

Ill health or mental illness could lead to women being abandoned.  Single women who found themselves pregnant would be ostracized or would even leave their family of their own volition, in order to avoid bringing shame onto their loved ones. Their last resort, as employers were reluctant to take on unmarried mothers, was the workhouse when they could often be in poor health, hungry and exhausted.

 

Children born outside wedlock could be abandoned and left if they were lucky to family members, the church or The Foundling Hospital to be looked after. They were regarded as “non people”. Some women who found refuge in the workhouse may abandon their illegitimate children there and leave to make a better life for themselves. Even children of married couples were at risk of abandonment, particularly if the family was so poor that they were unable to support them.

 

Here are some resources to help with this topic:

 

The Foundling Museum

Sarah Ann Atkinson c.1852-? from Leeds, Yorkshire - Abandonment, Domestic Abuse, Lawbreaking, Poverty, Prostitution, Leeds Girls' Industrial School. Sarah's story is part of the document, giving details of the girls from Leeds Industrial School, for whom little could be found. 2 minute read.

Margaret Conway c.1864-? from Cardiff, Glamorganshire – Abandonment, Alcoholism, Lawbreaking, Poverty, St. Joseph’s Inebriate Reformatory. 4 minute read.

Eliza Margaret Fearn 1860-1879 from Mexborough, Yorkshire - Abandonment, Lawbreaking, No Descendants, Poverty, Leeds Girls' Industrial School. 8 minute read.

Annie Foley, later Annie Norris aka Ellen Norris 1852-1907 from Somers Town, Middlesex – Abandonment, Alcoholism, Lawbreaking, Mental Health, St. Joseph’s Inebriate Reformatory. 3 minute read.

Isabella Hutton, later Isabella Wilson 1851-1894 from Hull, Yorkshire - Abandonment, Lawbreaking, Poverty, Leeds Girls' Industrial School. 5 minute read.

Emma Lockwood, later Emma Adams 1855-1928 from Hunslet, Yorkshire - Abandonment, Lawbreaking, Poverty, Leeds Girls’ Industrial School. 7 minute read.

Margaret Lynch, later Margaret Colgrove 1871-? from Ireland – Abandonment, Alcoholism, Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty, St. Joseph’s Inebriate Reformatory. 4 minute read.

Julia Mahoney, later Julia Loveridge 1897-1968 from Bermondsey, Surrey - Abandonment, Disability, Domestic Abuse, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 11 minute read. Please note that this story contains an account of domestic abuse.

Harriet Malthouse 1856-? from Leeds, Yorkshire – Abandonment, Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty, Leeds Industrial School. 3 minute read.

Mary McCutcheon c.1854-? from Leeds, Yorkshire - Abandonment, Lawbreaking, Poverty, Leeds Girls' Industrial School. Mary's story is part of the document, giving details of the girls from Leeds Industrial School, for whom little could be found. 2 minute read.

Agnes Eliza McGovern, later Agnes Eliza Griffin 1887-1978 from North Wootton, Somerset – Abandonment, Women at Work, Grange School of Housewifery. 4 minute read.

Mary McLoughlin, late Mary Horsley c.1853-1919 from Sligo, Ireland – Abandonment, Alcoholism, Lawbreaking, St. Joseph’s Inebriate Reformatory. 2 minute read.

Rosalind Emily Miles, later Rosalind Emily Appleyard, aka Emily Rosalind Appleyard, aka Grace Emily Appleyard 1855-1902 from Birchington, Kent – Abandonment, Alcoholism, Lawbreaking, St. Joseph’s Inebriate Reformatory. 12 minute read.

Eliza Ann Thrasher 1847-1905 from Northampton, Northamptonshire - Abandonment, Alcoholism, Poverty. Warning, this story involves child abuse. 8 minute read.

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