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

Case 941

Case number: 941
Application year: 1887




Year of birth: 1974
Home: Olive House Home For Girls, Hemel Hempstead


This case file relates to two sisters, A. and M. Their mother had died of consumption in March 1884. They lived in one room in a house in Woolwich with their 12 year old brother and their father who was an "indigent and worthless man" and who was co-habiting with a single woman. The house was being used as a brothel: two married women, whose husbands were abroad, were living there and working as prostitutes. The children earned a few pence by waiting on the prostitutes and running errands for them. They had also worked in this way for prostitutes who lived in an adjoining house. The children had hardly any clothing and were in a wretched condition. The night before the application was made the woman with whom the father was co-habiting had given birth to a child. The children were the subject of orders made at Woolwich Police Court sending them to the Certified Industrial School at Hemel Hempstead. They were admitted to the Home on 10 March 1887.

In August 1890 the Revd Edward Rudolf wrote requesting that A. be transferred immediately to St Chad's Home for Girls, Far Headingley. This did not happen. On 12 August 1890 A. was transferred to a Marylebone Home, possibly in Blandford Square. It is not clear whether this was one of the Society's Homes: it seems likely that it was not. She went to a situation in Dover with children from the Home. A letter from Hemel Hempstead written on 8 September [1890] records that A. had left her situation and was thought to have gone to her sister in Woolwich. It was hoped to persuade her to go into service in a good house otherwise her future was uncertain and the writer of the letter felt that "if we lose her now we lose her altogether". On 16 September A. was at back in Blandford Square, Marylebone with a Miss Lee who was going to get her a situation. A. is next heard of in June 1894. She was in a Female Mission in Greenwich, pregnant and destitute. She did not know the father of the baby and "her friends were bad". The Committee of the Mission had decided that she must go into the Workhouse, but before this happened it was decided to ask the Waifs and Strays' Society if they could help in any way. The woman who had been living with A's father had just gone into the Workhouse with her children as A's father had left them and it was not thought desirable for A. to be with them. If A. went to the Workhouse it might be the "ruin of her" but she needed financial help for any other course of action. No Home would take a pregnant girl without payment. There is no record of the Society's reply on the file.

M. remained at the Hemel Hempstead Home until she went into service in Harrow on 31 March 1894. On 27 April 1895 she was readmitted to the Home and from subsequent correspondence it appears that she stole money from her employer. There was a dispute lasting some months about the exact amount which was taken, the employer claiming that it was a much greater sum than the girl would admit to. M. was sent out to another situation in Hemel Hempstead on 23 May 1895. In late 1895 M. came back to the Home because she was ill. She was treated in the West Herts Infirmary for a gastric ulcer and it was proposed to send her to a convalescent home at St Leonards on Sea for a change of air. Her employer was concerned about her and was willing to have her back. On 7 March 1896 M. was sent to a farm in Hemel Hempstead but she was removed in April as it was too rough and she had difficulty in getting to Church. It was decided to send her to Bayswater to be a housemaid. On 10 August 1896 M. returned to the Hemel Hempstead Home. There is an undated [1896?] newspaper clipping in the file concerning M's employer who was sentenced to hard labour for acts of gross indecency. He had been convicted in September 1894 for indecently assaulting a young servant girl but had been released from his term of imprisonment by the Home Secretary apparently in consequence of ill health.

Keywords: Abandonment; Abuse; Behaviour; Child labour; Employment; Health; Illegitimacy; Industrial schools; Neglect; News clippings; Poverty; Prostitution; Siblings; Welfare organisations; Workhouses; Clothing; School

Items: 1. Application to Waifs and Strays' Society for A. 22 February 1887
2. Application to Waifs and Strays' Society for M. 22 February 1887
3. Letter from Revd S. returning completed papers 23 February 1887
4. Medical certificate for the 2 girls 23 February 1887
5. Order sending A. to an Industrial School 9 March 1887
6. Order sending M. to an Industrial School 9 March 1887
7. Letter from Revd Edward Rudolf requesting that A. be sent to St Chad's, Far Headingley 12 August [1890]
8. Letter from the Hemel Hempstead Home informing Revd Edward Rudolf that A. had gone to a situation in Dover 14 August 1890
9. Letter from the Hemel Hempstead Home about the possibility of finding a new situation for A. 8 September [1890]
10. Card acknowledging A's arrival at 20 Blandford Square 16 September 1890
11. Letter from the Hemel Hempstead Home requesting a license for a girl who is to go into service in Harrow 26 March 1894
12. Note that M. has gone to a place as a general servant in Harrow [March 1894]
13. Letter from the Female Mission, Greenwich giving details of A's plight 8 June 1894
14. Letter from the Female Mission requesting help for A. 16 June 1894
15. Telegram from Hemel Hempstead Home saying they are full [May 1895?]
16. Telegram from Hemel Hempstead Home about creating a vacancy [May 1895]
17. Letter about M. taking another place as a servant with reference to problems arising while she was at Harrow 17 May 1895
18. Letter from Hemel Hempstead about overcrowding 18 May 1895
19. Card about license for M. 21 May 1895
20. Letter from the Waifs and Strays' Society Solicitor [?] at Lincoln's Inn concerning M's alleged theft from her employers in Harrow 28 August 1895
21. Letter from Lincoln's Inn about M's theft 3 September 1895
22. Letter from Hemel Hempstead about M's theft 6 September 1895
23. Letter from Hemel Hempstead about M's health 14 October 1895
24. Letter from Hemel Hempstead including note of M's health 6 December 1895
25. Letter from Hemel Hempstead about M. signing papers to "avail herself of protection until she is eighteen" 3 February 1896
26. Order under the Industrial Schools Amendment Act 17 February 1896
27. Letter from Beatrice Lockett in Liverpool. This may have been misfiled, it does not seem to belong to this case 29 March 1896
28. Letter from Hemel Hempstead about removing M. from her situation and sending her to Bayswater to be a housemaid 3 April 1896
29. Letter from Hemel Hempstead arranging a meeting with Revd Edward Rudolf at Church House 5 August 1896
30. Receipt for 16/- 9 August 1896
31. Receipt for 16/- paid in lieu of one month' s notice for M. 18 August 1896
32. Cutting from a newspaper recording the conviction of M's employer, Alfred Burnett, for acts of gross indecency [1896?]

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