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Middlemore Children’s Emigration Homes

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
There is a connection between Middlemore Homes (as they became known) and Wycliffe Baptist Chapel in St. Luke's Road, which featured in the epic “Bus location" Thread.

The father of Thomas Middlemore was William Middlemore who died in 1887. He donated to many needed causes.. It was in 1859 that the Wycliffe Baptist Chapel was commenced, the conception and execution of the work was practically his alone. He bought the site and gave a preliminary donation £1,000 to the building fund. He also gave £1,400 towards the site and buildings of new schools in connection with the chapel.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Thank you all.
I actually have been able to discover records to learn of when they travelled out & of what became of them in Canada, etc so help is not needed concerning that. My query is just how they came about becoming children within the Middlemore system.
I have discovered that their parents were drunkards & that their father would often use a belt on them so their home life would have been awful. I now wonder if their plight became known about with the home stepping in offering to take the children in or did the parents quite literally give their children away? I have read various records of how the streets were full of poor children who obviously were seen as being the very type of child who needed the help of the homes but none have referred to exactly how children were taken in by the Middlemore Homes in Birmingham.
Brock, I have uncovered something from 1883 that disturbs me. I would not like to post it in a fashion that might imply that it has a direct relation to your relatives, but the circumstances are very similar, and it is close in a time frame.

So the bottom line, for me, is that JT Middlemore was a JP for Birmingham and Worcestershire. He would be present when children were brought to the Court. Although in this case he doesn’t seem to have been presiding, he has promised a place in the Home to this child. The mother is in Court and pleads that her child is not taken away from her, she has lost three already. The child was sent to the Workhouse for a week so that the mother could consider Mr Middlemore's offer.

This is only one case and therefore can’t be taken as the norm, but nonetheless it seems very callous to send a child so far from home with probably no chance of seeing her mother again.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Another who led to the emigration of many children...Thomas John Barnardo...
Barnardo's was implicated in the scandal of forced child migration, in which children from poor social backgrounds were taken to the former colonies (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa) by churches and charities, without their parents' consent and even under false claims of death. Although this was a legal scheme, favoured by Government and society, in many cases the children suffered harsh life conditions and many also suffered abuse. This practice went on until the 70's. This merited an apology by PM Gordon Brown in 2010.

 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
George Dixon (1820-1898) was a supporter of the Middlemore Emigration Homes as a complement to the role of the Government.

[Out of Birmingham: George Dixon (1820-98) Father of free education, James Dixon]
 

Janis McCahill

proper brummie kid
I have researched several children that were sent by the Middlemore Home. Each family had its own set of unique circumstances for placement of the children. One family I researched sent one boy into care in 1873. They had had 10 children in total - 5 boys and 5 girls. 4 boys and 1 girl died in infancy another girl died as a young mother before they put their last son into care. The parents were extremely poor and both ended up in the workhouse after the boy was sent to Canada (both died there). I believe Middlemore's gave them hope that their child was going to have a better life. Attached is the write up in the paper describing the 2nd group of children going to Canada. Birmingham Daily Post Thu April 30 1874 I wanted to do some research into how the Home changed over the years, information collected etc.. I found this book an excellent resource. I ordered the PDF of the book as it was quite large and didn't want to get into mailing charges. Great Expectations: The Middlemore Experience by Patricia Roberts-Pichette http://globalgenealogy.com/countries/canada/home-children/resources/1012045.htmBirmingham Daily Post thu april 30 1874.jpg
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
If you consult the link provided the following is stated...

“The author concludes that John T. Middlemore’s motivations were truly altruistic and that his organization’s procedures were in accord with the best contemporary social practice. Her book explores government policy changes over the whole period of juvenile immigration and reveals the influence of eugenicists in helping end the juvenile immigration movement in Canada. It is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the movement’s causes and evolution.”

Middlemore homes was one of many institutions that provided children for emigration. Also essential reading would be the book “Empty Cradles” by Margaret Humphreys which deals with the emigration of children from Britain in the 1940s, 1950s, and even into the early 1960s. Her campaign, and setting up the of the Child Migrants Trust, eventually led in 2010, to the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown issuing a public apology in the Commons for the “shameful episode...this failure in the first duty of a nation: to protect its children.”
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Taking the example highlighted from 1873 it suggests that it was the family that placed the child in to care, as opposed to the child being taken from them. As the family ended in the workhouse after the boy was sent to Canada, can it be presumed that they were consulted?

It seems Mr. Middlemore had been questioned about the children in his care. He stressed that the Children's Emigration Homes did not compete with industrial schools, because the children he accepted were inadmissible". It was believed that such children had "an idle, vagrant and criminal life open to them unless somebody intervened.”
 

Janis McCahill

proper brummie kid
Taking the example highlighted from 1873 it suggests that it was the family that placed the child in to care, as opposed to the child being taken from them. As the family ended in the workhouse after the boy was sent to Canada, can it be presumed that they were consulted?
That is a question I cannot answer. The Middlemore paperwork in the early days of the Immigration Homes was sparse. It did not indicate the boy's circumstances in Birmingham only the circumstances once he was placed in Canada. I could only assume by researching the family and the information in the above news article that some families were involved with the placement of their children. It says they gave a "tea" and meeting with the children's friends and relations. There was no indication in the paperwork that the boy or his family kept in touch with each other. As in many cases the descendants of the boy had no idea their gr grandfather was a British Home Child so he must not have ever spoke of it. I have sent the files on the Moore / Moraghan family to The Lost Children Project and they have indicated that the file will be part of their display at their exhibition on September 14th to 22nd. They also have a facebook page and are posting a "case study" of a different BHC each week. Very interesting information. The author of the Middlemore book "Great Expectations" is speaking on the 14th. I wish I could attend but I am in Canada. :)
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
That is a question I cannot answer. The Middlemore paperwork in the early days of the Immigration Homes was sparse. It did not indicate the boy's circumstances in Birmingham only the circumstances once he was placed in Canada. I could only assume by researching the family and the information in the above news article that some families were involved with the placement of their children. It says they gave a "tea" and meeting with the children's friends and relations. There was no indication in the paperwork that the boy or his family kept in touch with each other. As in many cases the descendants of the boy had no idea their gr grandfather was a British Home Child so he must not have ever spoke of it. I have sent the files on the Moore / Moraghan family to The Lost Children Project and they have indicated that the file will be part of their display at their exhibition on September 14th to 22nd. They also have a facebook page and are posting a "case study" of a different BHC each week. Very interesting information. The author of the Middlemore book "Great Expectations" is speaking on the 14th. I wish I could attend but I am in Canada. :)
Very interesting as I had noticed the talk advertised for the Lost Children Project, but had not heard of the book until your mention. I see that the book is from 2016 but not easily obtained. I have read a few reviews of the book, one of which is below...

As mentioned it seems that the author makes a case that the Middlemore Emigration Homes should not be viewed as negatively as other emigration agencies, but emphasises that Middlemore were only responsible for 5% of the emigrants. “All of which sounds as if emigration via the Middlemore Homes was in the best interests of the child, and the book presents numerous success stories to back up its argument. It does refer to a few children who didn't succeed in the new environment and ran away or returned home to the UK. However, I would like to hear a contrasting argument about the Middlemore homes, so I have a balancing set of opinions on which to make a judgement.”

Maybe one of the Forum members may be able to attend? It would certainly be interesting to see how she tackles the other 95% of children. The review by Charlene Elgee, retired library manager, Citizenship & Immigration Canada, includes...
British Home Children—the Latest Word (written Sep 2017)

Through a collaborative effort between British Home Child Group International and Gilles Duceppe, former leader of the Bloc Quebecois and grandson of a British home child, on 15 February, a private member’s motion brought forward by Bloc Québécois MP Luc Thériault was passed in Canada’s House of Commons. The text reads:
That the House recognize the injustice, abuse and suffering endured by the British Home Children as well as the efforts, participation and contribution of these children and their descendants within our communities; and offer its sincere apology to the former British Home Children who are still living and to the descendants of these 100,000 individuals who were shipped from Great Britain to Canada between 1869 and 1948, and torn from their families to serve mainly as cheap labour once they arrived in Canada.
 

Janis McCahill

proper brummie kid
Very interesting as I had noticed the talk advertised for the Lost Children Project, but had not heard of the book until your mention. I see that the book is from 2016 but not easily obtained. I have read a few reviews of the book, one of which is below...

The book can be obtained as a PDF sent to you via email for $14.95 Canadian on the link I provided. That is how I got the book. It is well worth the read. I thought the book was well done and researched. Like any of the immigration schemes, there was good and bad and you cannot paint the experiences of the children with a broad brush. There are some extremely sad stories but there are also some positive stories. When we look back on things that were done in the past it is easy to pass judgement but the living conditions and social circumstances were so different 145 years ago (in the Moore / Moraghan case). The social programs were not available to these people. Some of the BHC groups and researchers only see the negative aspects of these immigration schemes and believe the children would be better off with their family in England. I have seen enough reports of family circumstances (some that even played out in the news of the day) that this is not always true. Maybe if there had been more foster homes in England where the children could have been placed that would have been better but there weren't.

The private member's motion that was brought forward and accepted was great. There are some BHC groups and researchers feel that it fell short and our prime minister needs to make a formal apology. In Ontario, the province I live in, BHC Day was recognized in 2011. In 2018 it was officially recognized across Canada .

"That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize the contributions made by the over 100,000 British Home Children to Canadian Society, their service to our armed forces throughout the twentieth century, the hardships and stigmas that many of them endured, the importance of educating and reflecting upon the story of the British Home Children for future generations by declaring September 28, every year, British Home Child Day in Canada. "
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Did Middlemore take the idea of child emigration from Miss Rye? She had visited Birmingham in 1871 and offered to take 40 children from the Workhouse. She had for 10 years been choosing young middle class women for emigration to Canada and around 1869 seems to have turned her attention to children, maybe under the persuasion of Lord Shaftesbury.

She explained that children are bound to persons until the age 18. Up to 15 they were fed and clothed, from 15-17 not clothed but given 12s per month, and from 17-18 were given 14s per mth. Roman Catholic children not taken.
 

Janis McCahill

proper brummie kid
His ideas may have come from several examples that settled children in Canada before or about the time he did: Miss Rye 1869, Miss MacPherson 1870, Reverend Stephenson 1873. It is said that he did differ from the other organizations because he was not "driven by religious fervour" but altruism. He also took in small groups of children whose parents or guardians were involved. It is said in "Great Expectations" he took in all religions except Catholic but that is not so as the Moore/Moraghan boy was Catholic and remained Catholic for his whole life. (perhaps the parents did not mention his religion). Before the children went to Canada, they lived in the home and received "training" and were sent to school and church outside the home. Pages 41- 44 in the book go into detail on his philosophy and the similarities and differences. This article might be of interest Birmingham Daily Post 09 November 1872 Birmingham Daily Post 09 November 1872 pt 1.jpgBirmingham Daily Post 09 November 1872 pt 2.jpg
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Now this is interesting as we have the appearance of Middlemore and the Wycliffe British Schools in St. Lukes Road. Unfortunately there is no mention of cascading windows.

However it is an example of how one lad appears to have been recruited for emigration and raises several questions.

6282685F-8063-4953-A5C8-C537DD739AD2.jpeg
 

Janis McCahill

proper brummie kid
Now this is interesting as we have the appearance of Middlemore and the Wycliffe British Schools in St. Lukes Road. Unfortunately there is no mention of cascading windows.

However it is an example of how one lad appears to have been recruited for emigration and raises several questions.

View attachment 136494
Middlemore reports in this article some of the problems he has encountered
Birmingham Daily Post 11 February 1875
Birmingham Daily Post 11 February 1875.jpg
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Looking at the first 10 years (c1872-82) of the Middlemore Homes it is difficult to pin down any exact details as to how the children were selected, and indeed Middlemore says that two boys were sent away as the were not of the right class, but what was the right class? Would disabled and weak children be excluded as they would be of less use in Canada?

Middlemore also says Children are only received with their own consent and that of their parents. If they do not like the Home they can return to their parents or friends. However Middlemore also explained the material advantage to the community from the removal of all those children from the circumstances in which they were born. He even calculated the cost of a thief to Birmingham and quantified benefit of the saving.

In post 32 we see that in 1871 Miss Rye had offered to take 40 children from the Birmingham Workhouse, and she also appears in Walsall as reported on 3 AUG 1878. Walsall Guardians consider an offer from Miss Rye to take orphan children above the age of 5 to Canada at the rate of £12 each. She says out of 1000 people sent to Canada 95% are doing well. The Canadian Government had undertaken supervision.

A proposition was made at the Walsall Guardians for a committee of 3 to be set up to select children, and was seconded. An Amendment was put that NO children be sent. The Rev CB Walton, Messrs Halford, Winn and Stanley supported the original motion, maintaining that the children would have a much better chance of success in life in Canada than England. Messrs Green and Griffiths on the other hand supported the amendment, arguing the children ought to be kept in England and sent to District schools, where they would be much better cared for than they would in Canada. The motion was carried by 8 votes, against 4 for the amendment. The Rev CB Walton and Mr Jupp were appointed to select the children.

It shows there was opposition in some quarters but it does seem that orphans are targeted probably as they were not under parental control but under control of the so called Guardians. With hindsight one of the great evils of the child migration period was the number of children who were deliberately told they were orphans when it was known to be incorrect.
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
though the practice of telling children that they were orphans when they were not occurred much more recently, as shown in a recent episode of "Long Lost Family"
 

Janis McCahill

proper brummie kid
Looking at the first 10 years (c1872-82) of the Middlemore Homes it is difficult to pin down any exact details as to how the children were selected, and indeed Middlemore says that two boys were sent away as the were not of the right class, but what was the right class? Would disabled and weak children be excluded as they would be of less use in Canada?

I agree, the organization / administrators judged the suitability of the child to be sent. If the child did not the standards they set, then the child would not be sent. Middlemore did offer some "training" and some children stayed in the "home" longer than others. A disabled or weak child would probably not be eligible to be sent as most children were sent as agricultural labourers or servants.

Our definition of orphan differs from the Victorian definition of orphan. This is a subject that gets discussed a lot in BHC groups. This seems to sum up what I see in many discussions in BHC groups: https://www.123helpme.com/orphans-in-th-century-victorian-england-view.asp?id=154403
""Victorian Definition of “Orphan” When we hear the word “orphan” we imagine a child whose parents have both died tragic deaths. Indeed, there were plenty of these pitiable creatures in Victorian society – the living and working conditions of the poor were so unsanitary and crowded that diseases such as typhus and tuberculosis often spread unchecked, sending many of their victims to the grave (Czarnik, “Living Conditions”). However, children were often considered “orphans” if they had one surviving parent, had been abandoned by their family, or were forced out into the world because of overcrowding at home (Cunningham, “Orphan Texts”). In 1861, it is estimated that 11% of children had lost a father by the age of 10, 11% a mother, and 1% had lost both parents (Czarnik). "
 
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