Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Records at Marchmont

We came across a newspaper article in the archive the other day, written by an individual who was ‘investigating the results and prospects of juvenile emigration’. Concentrating on those sent to Marchmont Home, the writer visited 50 boys and girls in the area surrounding Belleville over three weeks.

Outside Marchmont Home

What was particularly interesting about the article was the attention given to the records, which had been created about the children;

“The name of each boy and girl is entered on arrival in the books of the Home, a double page being given to each. On one side are the antecedents of the child, on the opposite side the name of the foster parents or employer and thenceforward the subsequent history and every event in that boy or girl’s life, whether good or bad, is carefully noted.”

“The reports of the visitors, of whom there are three, constantly visiting amongst the children, are preserved, the letters to and from the children and the changes which from time to time have to be made are recorded; so that, except in the extreme case of boys and girls in after life intentionally cutting themselves off from connection with the home, every case is followed up, is regularly visited and reported on, and can be traced for years.”

Report, 1894
Frank, was one such boy who decided he no longer wanted a connection with the charity. He was emigrated to Canada in 1892 at the age of 12. His file contains two reports in 1892 and 1893 after being visited by the charity, stating that he was on a farm with ‘kind, Christian people’. By 1894 however, at the age of 14, after receiving a postcard from the charity, Frank requested that, ‘I do wish for any further connection with the Home. You need not trouble to come and see me. Papers and rubbish in future will be returned’.

Although not directly contacted, two further reports were contained in Frank’s file on his progress. In 1904, at the age of 34, it was reported he had returned to Britain and passed the Edinburgh MRCS. This had been written to the charity by a gentleman who had taken an interest in Frank from a young age and presumably kept in touch.

The charity retains books on all of the young people who were emigrated across to Canada and provides a service to close relatives, who want to discover more about their ancestor. Interested individuals can find out more by contacting the Together Trust.

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