Friday, June 29, 2012

Foundlings - 1700s to the 21st Century

London's Foundling Museum tells the tale of the 25,000 children who passed through the Foundling Hospital between its foundation by Thomas Coram in 1739, and it's closure in 1954. Foundlings were often given surnames that related to the place where they were found, such as Chappell or Bridge, and a Google search for 'foundlings surnames' reveals that similar naming patterns occur in other countries.

If you're having trouble finding your ancestor's parents, it's worth considering whether he or she may have been a foundling?

I imagine that, like me, you thought that foundlings were a thing of the past. But I recently learned that in Germany there are today around 200 places (Babyklappen, or baby hatches) where desperate mothers can leave their babies - the first opened in 2000 in Hamburg. Most of the abandoned babies (and there have been about one thousand so far) will never know who their parents were. How sad.

Happy Searching,

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