British Home Children

As many of you know I am in search of Willie Beaton, my great grandfather. Well at least I’m in search of who his real parents were. One thing that I really don’t know is  whether Willie was a orphan or if he was a British Home Child.

British Home Children were children, many of whom were orphans or from very poor families in England,  that were sent to Canada or Australia to work in service.  This went on from 1869 to 1930 and at the time it was purported to give the children a better life but at times that didn’t turn out to be the case.   Between the period of 1869 to 1930 over 100,000 children came to Canada.

Sometimes I wonder if Willie and his sister; Annie may have been Home Children. In the case of Willie;  in the 1881 and 1891 census his place of birth is listed as Ontario and he always put Kingston or Pittsburgh Township, Ontario as his place of birth. But sometimes I wonder if that’s the true as his sister; Annie,  who was raised by the Batten family lived in Barriefield, Ontario but on the census was always listed as being born in England. That would all work  if I knew who was the older child but although Annie is fairly consistent in her date of birth Willie isn’t.  I think I have something like five different dates of birth for him and I’ve even thought the two of them might be twins… I think that Willie had all those different dates of birth because he just didn’t know when he was born. Also many children who were British Home Children went through their entire life not letting anyone know that they were, British Home Children, sometimes no even their own children.

While watching WDYTYA – the British version,  I saw this episode of Lesley Sharp,  which after finding out that her mother had an affair with a married man,  goes on to trace her father’s side of the family only to find that her great grandfather had taken in two Barnardo Children in England.  I found it interesting as it looked at the Home Children from both side of the pond.

Comments are closed.