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Middlemore Children’s Emigration Homes

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Master Barmmie
There is much written concerning child emigration in general from about the period 1920-1960, and the question of orphans, such as Empty Cradles/Oranges and Sunshine, Lost Children of the Empire, Leaving of Liverpool. But as Middlemore’s main involvement was before this period is probably only covered in great detail by Patricia Roberts-Pichette in her book Great Canadian Expectations: The Middlemore Experiance.

At the outset Patricia says...“Neither financial gain nor evangelical fervour motivated Mr. Middlemore, a believing Christian without strong denominational ties. He was driven by altruism to protect children from the criminalizing influences and unhealthy environment of Birmingham’s worst slums and saw his activities as part of Birmingham’s philanthropic support system for the poor. He believed that children would grow up as worthy Canadian citizens, if, with their parents’ permission, they were removed from these unhealthy environments, educated and trained with love and understanding and settled mostly in rural Canada with loving and welcoming Christian families. The Children’s Emigration Homes were not established to relieve poverty: there were other Birmingham organizations to do that. Mr. Middlemore’s intent was to help children who were failed by Birmingham’s existing social support systems, not to compete with or duplicate those that already existed.”

After the obligatory warning not to look at the events from a 21st century standpoint, the clips that have appeared in this thread so far are useful as they give the contemporaneous views.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Anyone interested in Middlemore Homes please note the post on “Child Emigration from Birmingham” by mikejee. “This exhibition might be of interest..”
Saturday 14 – Sunday 22 September: The Lost Children Exhibition
 

Carolann

Journeyman Brummie
I have Ancestors who were sent to Canada from the Middlemore Homes late 1800`s early 1900`s Birmingham Library has all the information on these children,I found a lot about my Ancestors from there,
 

wam

master brummie
As part of Birmingham Heritage week, Balsall Heath History Society will be holding an exhibition at the BMI about the Middlemore homes with some of the case studies taken from their recent lost children project https://www.facebook.com/lostchildrenproject/
The exhibition will run from the 14th to the 22nd and there will be talks from the (canadian) expert on the subject and the daughter of one of the children. I've attached a leaflet for those interested.
 

Attachments

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
As part of Birmingham Heritage week, Balsall Heath History Society will be holding an exhibition at the BMI about the Middlemore homes with some of the case studies taken from their recent lost children project https://www.facebook.com/lostchildrenproject/
The exhibition will run from the 14th to the 22nd and there will be talks from the (canadian) expert on the subject and the daughter of one of the children. I've attached a leaflet for those interested.
Thanks for the information, mikejee had kindly advised us on the “Child Emigration from Birmingham” Thread.

I have some further information that I will post later, which may be interesting to anyone who can attend.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
The flyer that Mike and wam indicate above confirms that “on Saturday 14th at 2.30 pm Dr. Patricia Roberts-Pichette Ph.D will be giving a talk on the Middlemore Homes. The leading expert on the Homes’ history, she will be flying in from Canada specifically for this event.”

Her book is called Great Canadian Expectations: The Middlemore Experiance, and written in 2016. The book gives a very detailed and comprehensive history of the Middlemore Homes from a Canadian as well as a English point of view. I believe that the author does a very good job of trying to lift Middlemore Homes away from what she sees as the dark or negative side of the juvenile emigration movement.......“Amid all the negative criticism of the juvenile immigration movement and despite the positive experiences that may be found in letters written by children from other agencies, the positive experience of Middlemore children stands out.”

However she later adds that JT Middlemore died in 1924 and Paul Cadbury took over the reigns, and soon after...“Thus started an association between The Homes and the Fairbridge Society that lasted into the 1950s. It is interesting to speculate as to whether Sir John Middlemore would have approved of this scheme, as he was very much against the institutionalization of children, that is, children living for a long time in an institution and rarely mixing with children and adults outside the institution.”

In light of her comment above the “dark” side cannot go without mention.

Since the publication of the book the “Child Migation Programmes Investigation,” an independent inquiry into child sex abuse, has been published in March 2018.

Middlemore Homes gets three mentions.

One mention is that documentation was obtained from the Birmingham Library Archives. Another is that in June 1950, Miss Randall (Deputy Secretary of Middlemore Homes) noted “recent unsatisfactory opinions and reports made by English visitors” to the Fairbridge schools in Australia and suggested that such visits should be discouraged. The third informs that a former Middlemore migrant, who was migrated by a Fairbridge Institution, gave evidence to the inquiry.

The reference to the Fairbridge Society raises several questions as it is extensively investigated in the report. The very dark side of the Society is brought out.

From 1926-36, the Homes sent 140 children to Australia and 41 to British Columbia (Fairbridge). Paul Cadbury donated cottages to their Prince of Wales and the Pinjarra farm schools.

The new Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School (British Columbia)... The first party of thirty-five children, including eighteen Middlemore children, arrived in September 1935....The proportion of Middlemore children in the Fairbridge parties dropped dramatically from about 50 percent of the parties before the Second World War to about 20 percent afterwards.....last child went in 1948.....Although juvenile immigration to Canada ended in 1948, it continued to Australia under Fairbridge management, and the Middlemore Emigration Homes’ training program continued for those children.....until 1954
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Birmingham Gazette November 1929...A disturbing revelation?

View attachment 137118
Hansard....
EMIGRATION (DORIS PEARCE).
HC Deb 07 November 1929 vol 231 cc1227-81227
§34. Mr. W. J. BROWN
asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the case of Doris Pearce, aged 10, a girl removed from the custody of unsuitable parents and now in charge of the Middlemore Homes, Birmingham, whom it is proposed to send against her will to Australia, in spite of the fact that her brother is willing to provide a home for her; and whether he will cause steps to be at once taken to prevent the deportation of this child?
§Mr. CLYNES
Yes, Sir. As my hon. Friend knows, I have already made very careful inquiry into the facts of the case. I cannot go fully into the circumstances here but the broad facts are that this girl who is nearly 14 years of age was living under most undesirable conditions, and after the Probation Officer had gone into the matter at the request of the National Society for the Prevention of cruelty to Children she was admitted as a voluntary inmate to the Middlemore Homes with a view to emigration. This arrangement was made with the full con sent and approval of her mother, who is her sole legal guardian and who objects, on grounds which seem to me entitled to respect, to her going to live with her brother as has been suggested. The question of emigration has been postponed for the time being, and if my hon. Friend who has interested himself in the matter can make any alternative suggestion for the girl's welfare, I will under take to see that the whole position is 1228further considered, though I have of course no power to override the wishes of the mother as the girl's legal guardian.
§Mr. BROWN
May I assume that while representations are being made to the Minister, the suspension of the emigration of this girl will be continued?
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
In her book (2016) Great Canadian Expectations: The Middlemore Experience, Patricia Roberts-Pichette puts much emphasis on the fact that JT Middlemore was driven neither by financial gain or evangelical fervour but by altruism, as he was a believing Christian without strong denominational ties. He was driven by altruism, not evangelical religious fervour.

However in her Thesis, Rescue or Bondage, Child Emigration to Canada 1870-1925, G. Searle takes a different view. She describes him as a staunch Baptist.

His father was prosperous Baptist, and his mother Mary brought up as a Baptist. His father gave the land for Wycliffe Chapel, Bristol Street, and the Sunday Schools, opened in 1861. He also contributed to their construction.

On his death in 1924 JT Middlemore left a fortune of over £200,000.
 

wam

master brummie
In her book (2016) Great Canadian Expectations: The Middlemore Experience, Patricia Roberts-Pichette puts much emphasis on the fact that JT Middlemore was driven neither by financial gain or evangelical fervour but by altruism, as he was a believing Christian without strong denominational ties. He was driven by altruism, not evangelical religious fervour.

However in her Thesis, Rescue or Bondage, Child Emigration to Canada 1870-1925, G. Searle takes a different view. She describes him as a staunch Baptist.

His father was prosperous Baptist, and his mother Mary brought up as a Baptist. His father gave the land for Wycliffe Chapel, Bristol Street, and the Sunday Schools, opened in 1861. He also contributed to their construction.

On his death in 1924 JT Middlemore left a fortune of over £200,000.
If there was any thought of evangelism, I would suppose there would have been something to say that the children had to attend Church/Sunday School belonging to that particular denomination. Was there?
 

Janis McCahill

proper brummie kid
If there was any thought of evangelism, I would suppose there would have been something to say that the children had to attend Church/Sunday School belonging to that particular denomination. Was there?
In her book Great Canadian Expectations: The Middlemore Experience (pg 54) , Patricia Roberts-Pichette states that "Saturday was a holiday and on Sundays they attended Sunday School at either the Wycliffe Chapel or St Luke's Church." This is an article from the Birmingham Daily Post 09 November 1872 that describes the children's routine.
 

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Janis McCahill

proper brummie kid
If there was any thought of evangelism, I would suppose there would have been something to say that the children had to attend Church/Sunday School belonging to that particular denomination. Was there?
I thought further about your query and thought about the children's placements. I have researched several dozen Middlemore children so I am only going by what I have found. The children that were placed came from all different Christian backgrounds. Although Patricia says in her book that Roman Catholic children were not taken, my SIL's grgr grandfather came to Canada with Middlemores. He was from an Irish Catholic family. He remained Catholic and raised his family Catholic. The homes where the children were placed in Canada were from several different Christian religions. Most were Church of England, Methodist and Presbyterian. This is an advertisement in Canada seeking homes for the children. Apr 24 1877 Middlemore_children coming to Canada Ottawa Daily 1 8 7 7  A p r  2 4  M i d d l e mo r e  c h i l d r e n  c o mi n g  t o  C a n a d a.jpgCitizen
 

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Master Barmmie
In 1862 there was a permissive Act that empowered the Board of Guardians to send children to schools of their own religion, and by the Poor Law Act of 1866 Guardians were compelled to give up Roman Catholic children from workhouse or District schools to a Catholic school if requested.

This could go some way to explaining why Middlemore did not, as a rule, take Catholic children.There was also a Catholic movement at the time that would cater for Catholic children, in order that they could be brought up in the "faith."
 

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Master Barmmie
The article is written in 1872 when the Home had been open for three months and the first batch will travel in April 1873. The schools listed by the author appear in the Appendix are...

Wycliffe schools which closed 1878/9.
St. Luke's Primary school opened in 1843. (was bombed in 1941.)
Hope St. schools opened 1880.

After 1929 the Homes moved to Selly Oak, and the schools were...
Raddlebarn Lane County Primary School.
St Mary Church of England.

It looks as if in the early days the children would go a short journey to the Wycliffe school of Baptist persuasion, but also some to the Church of England school of St Luke, also close by.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
I thought further about your query and thought about the children's placements. I have researched several dozen Middlemore children so I am only going by what I have found. The children that were placed came from all different Christian backgrounds. Although Patricia says in her book that Roman Catholic children were not taken, my SIL's grgr grandfather came to Canada with Middlemores. He was from an Irish Catholic family. He remained Catholic and raised his family Catholic. The homes where the children were placed in Canada were from several different Christian religions. Most were Church of England, Methodist and Presbyterian. This is an advertisement in Canada seeking homes for the children. Apr 24 1877 Middlemore_children coming to Canada Ottawa Daily View attachment 137948Citizen
The date of 1877 is interesting. The Doyle Report had been released in 1874 after his visit to Canada. He had several reservations about the voyage and placement of children.

Searle in her Rescue or Bondage. A case study of four voluntary Agencies involved in Child Emigration to Canada, 1870-1925, says...

“Middlemore admitting that his work was similar (to Stephenson), denied that it was the same as Rye's to forestall any possible criticism regarding the supervision offered by his Homes.”
 
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Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
JT Middlemore stood for election in 1906 for the Unionists in North Birmingham, and having little
else to recommend him, displayed posters showing Chamberlain and other Unionists riding horses, dressed in khaki, swords drawn and captioned...

I rely confidently on Birmingham men to be true to their own friends, and once more strike a blow for Union, Empire and Reform.

Joseph Chamberlain .....men of North Birmingham, follow the advice of your trusted leader by voting for Middlemore.

From 1890-1914 Nation, Empire and the Birmingham working class. (Michael Blanch)
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Although I couldn’t make it to the Lost Children Exhibition, I have had conversations with the Balsall Heath History Society. Patricia Roberts-Pichette gave a talk on her book “Great Canadian Expectations: The Middlemore Experience,” which has been discussed in previous posts.

But there was also a talk from Patricia Skidmore, also from Canada, about her book; Marjorie, To afraid to Cry: A Home Child Experience. I have read the book and had several exchanges with the author via email.

This book is a contrast, and worth reading if you wish to get an idea of how child emigration affected individuals. Patricia’s mother, Marjorie, was taken at the age of 10, along with two sisters and a brother from Whitley Bay in 1937. She was taken by the Fairbridge Society, processed by Middlemore Homes, and then sent to their Prince of Wales Farm in Vancouver.
 
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