British Home Children

If you follow me on social media, you may know that I have been working with Lanarkshire Family History Society to arrange & host a range of Virtual Webinars for their members.


The Virtual Webinar for June featured a presentation by Christine Woodcock of Genealogy Tours of Scotland entitled ‘On the back of babes’


Over 100,000 children were sent to Canada from Great Britain Between 1869 & the Great Depression. The idea behind this scheme was to alleviate the number of poor & destitute children who were living in workhouses where they were separated from their families.


These youngsters were transferred from the workhouses to Children's Homes & from there, were sent to Canada to work on farms as indentured servants. The girls worked as domestic servants & the boys as farm labourers. Children as young as 8 years old were sent to work on these farms.


Children's Welfare Department - children in home corner of playroom - WikiCommons

While the vast majority of the sending homes were in England, Scotland had its share as well. In fact, the whole idea of emigrating impoverished children to Canada was the brainchild of two Scottish sisters, Annie MacPherson & Louisa Birt.


Christine provided us with an excellent presentation providing us with an example of one such family who went through this system & even showed us how to research British Home Children using Canadian Sources.


After her talk we spoke with Annette McGarill who has recently published a novel ‘Seek and ye shall find me’ on this topic.


Set in Glasgow in 1878. Annette's Novel tells the story of her great-grandfather's sister, Jane Anderson. Orphaned, she is then put into care with Quarrier's Homes. At the age of 8 she would be sent to Canada to become a domestic servant on a farm. The story deals with the trauma of separation from her siblings and the different paths their lives took.



Christine & I were fortunate enough to read Annette's book before the event & we both highly recommended it.


As someone who normally reads factual books, this type of book was slightly out of my comfort zone. I could not however put it down & felt that in some ways Annette took me on the journey with Jane. Knowing a bit about British Home Children I almost felt the dread for the young girl as the story progressed, I after all knew the fate of a lot of these children but to Jane it was the unknown.


Annette McGarill’s Book ‘Seek and Ye Shall Find me’ is available via Waterstones

WH Smith Glasgow, on Kindle or by emailing albionpublications@gmail.com


The virtual event saw much interaction & questions, if you missed this event, then you can catch up on YouTube via this link


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