Hidden Lives Revealed. A virtual archive - children in care 1881-1981 * Image of handwritten text

Case 4172

Case number: 4172
Application year: 1893




Year of birth: 1888
Home: Foster Care; St Deniol's Home For Boys, Arthog


This case relates to two brothers, H. and G. Their father had died in 1891, but their mother was still living. The person making the application to the Waifs and Strays' Society stated that the boys' father had been "too weak in character to remain teetotal, though he would keep from drinking for 2 or 3 months at a time". He had been a "nightsoilman" [this unpleasant work involved emptying cesspits] and as the work was so nauseating there was always a great deal of drink around to help the men cope. This obviously meant that temptation was placed before him regularly. The mother had occasionally drunk too much but at the time of the application had been a teetotaller for two years. It was hoped the boys would be helped by the Society so that their mother might take a situation and "earn herself a good name, for she had just had an illegitimate child". She might later be able to make a home for her children or at least contribute to their support. The children's grandmother was interested in their welfare; she had brought up the eldest girl and had recently taken in the eldest boy. She hoped to be able to help with H. and G. later. Two other girls were in a Home run by the sister of the lady making the application. The NSPCC were involved in the case and in 1893 both H. and G. were in their Liverpool Home.

The Society agreed to take on this case and the brothers were kept together all the time they were in its care. They were initially boarded out with foster parents in Cheshire. In October 1900 it was reported that H. was working as an errand boy after school and giving his foster mother 3/- 6d a week. The Society felt that in these circumstances the foster mother should be content with a lower rate of payment than she currently received for the maintenance of the boys; then they decided that it would be best if the children were transferred to a Training Home. It was decided to remove both the boys from the foster mother's care because, in addition to H. giving her the money he earned, it was believed that she did not treat them very well.

On 29 November 1900 H. and G. were transferred to St Deniol's Home, Arthog, Dolgellau, Wales. In March 1901 it was felt that the boys were growing too old to continue to be maintained by the Society and enquiries were made about the possibility of them being returned to the care of their mother and stepfather. Their mother had married again and had a new young family. Her husband was a good workman, he was a "brick setter" by trade, but he had abused alcohol in the past and although he claimed to have become a teetotaller, it was not certain that he would be able to keep from drinking. When drunk he was like a "wild thing" and it was feared that he might turn on his stepchildren. The family were also very poor. There was a suggestion that the boys might be apprenticed to their stepfather, but it was hoped to leave them in the Home for a little while to see how things worked out for the family. At the end of March the boys' family decided that they should return home as soon as possible. As their mother was just about to have another baby the children were discharged initially to the care of their grandmother who was to look after them for 6 or 8 weeks until their mother was in a better position to receive them.

Keywords: Alcohol abuse; Employment; Foster care; Grandparents; Illegitimacy; Poverty; Siblings; Stepparents; Welfare organisations

Items: 1. Application to Waifs and Strays' Society for G. 18 November 1893
2. Application to Waifs and Strays' Society for H. 18 November 1893
3. Copy of application for G. 18 November 1893
4. Certified copy of H's entry of birth 16 December 1896
5. Certified copy of G's entry of birth 16 December 1896
6. Letter from Mrs B. about the boys' foster mother 19 May 1897
7. Letter from Revd Edward Rudolf requesting details of arrangements made for the children with a reply from Mrs B. written on the bottom 31 May and 1 June 1897
8. Letter from Mrs H. about H. working and giving his foster mother money 13 October 1900
9. Copy letter from Revd Edward Rudolf responding to the above letter 17 October 1900
10. Letter from Mrs H. suggesting both the boys leave their foster mother's care 21 October 1900
11. Copy letter from Revd Edward Rudolf to Mrs H. agreeing to remove the children 23 October 1900
12. Copy letter from Revd Edward Rudolf to St Deniol's Home requesting they take H. and G. 24 October 1900
13. Letter from Mr Davies of St Deniol's Home accepting the boys 27 October 1900
14. Copy letter to Mrs H. telling her that the boys will be transferred to St Deniol's Home 29 October 1900
15. Letter to Mr Davies about arrangements for H. and G's reception 29 October 1900
16. Letter from Mrs H. asking if the boys may stay with their foster mother until the end of the month 3 November 1900
17. Letter from Mrs H. giving the date the boys are to leave their foster mother and travel to the Home 23 November 1900
18. Copy letter from Revd Edward Rudolf acknowledging the above letter 24 November 1900
19. Letter from St Deniol's Home acknowledging the boys' arrival 3 December 1900
20. Note of names and addresses of some of H. and G's relations
21. Letter from Mrs B. about the home circumstances of H. and G's mother and stepfather 11 March 1901
22. Copy letter from Revd Edward Rudolf suggesting the boys are returned home 12 March 1901
23. Card from Mrs B. asking for time to consider 13 March 1901
24. Letter from Mrs B. asking if the boys could remain in the Home a little longer 15 March 1901
25. Copy letter from Revd Edward Rudolf responding to Mrs B's suggestion 18 March 1901
26. Letter from Mrs B. saying that the family had decided to have the boys home immediately 27 March 1901
27. Copy letter from Revd Edward Rudolf about arrangements for discharging the boys to their grandmother's care 28 March 1901
28. Telegram from Mrs B. about travel arrangements 29 March 1901
29. Copy letter from Revd Edward Rudolf responding to the telegram 29 March 1901
30. Copy letter to St Deniol's Home about the boys' travel arrangements 29 March 1901

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