Thursday, 15 December 2016

Younger children at the charity

In the early days of the charity’s formation, the committee helped mainly older boys. It is likely they were the most visible and more likely to be seen sleeping out on the city streets. Looking at the first admission book all boys admitted were aged between 10 and 16. At that time of life the charity deemed boys who had been brought up on the street not easy to manage and a decision was made to take them younger, to try and have a more positive influence. This resulted, in 1875, with the creation of the first Orphan Home. Originally on Johnson Street, these catered for younger children and were much smaller in size than the main Central Refuge on Francis Street. 

Orphan’s Homes, George Street, 1904

It is fairly unusual, throughout the Victorian era however, to find many children admitted to the charity under the age of 5. Whether this was a deliberate policy of the charity or whether most parents were reluctant to admit a child so young is unknown, but there was a noticeable absence of toddlers at the Manchester homes, unless they were brought in as part of a family unit.

Therefore the entry for a seventeenth month old in 1883 to the orphan homes is fairly unusual. This is especially the case, as the child was admitted alone. Edward was recorded as being a year and 5 months when he came to live at one of the orphan homes on George Street on 23rd November 1883. A few months later on the 27 February 1884, he was baptised at a Wesleyan Chapel by the charity.

Edward with other young children

His admission entry has no named father and a mother known a ‘Yorkshire Liz’. His father was reputed to be a ‘Barnsley man of fair position’. He was admitted to the charity after the death of his mother and was living in Acton Street at a so called ‘bad house’. After 14 years with the charity Edward left to take up a position with Kendal Milne and Company in October 1897.

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