Caring and leading – women of the Foundling Hospital past and present

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we invite you to join us for a free online Coram Society event focusing on women who worked for the Foundling Hospital. These include the nurses who played such an important part in caring for the foundlings immediately after their admission and up to the age of five, and some of the inspectors who supervised the nurses.


A/FH/A/6/1/13/8/86, a letter from inspector John Heaviside to the hospital governors, recommending Mary Piper as a ‘particularly carefull’ nurse, 6 January 1760

About the online event

Dr Kate Gibson will tell us what her research in the Coram Foundling Hospital archive reveals about the nurses (who were not medically trained but more like the foster carers of today), how their work was valued, and the meaning of ‘care’ in the 18th century.

Carol Harris, Coram’s social historian, will introduce some of the women who took on the role of inspector in the early years of the Foundling Hospital: some titled and wealthy, like Lady Betty Germain and her niece Lady Vere; others, like Jane Hogarth, foster mothers themselves, and neighbours to the women they inspected.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions and Dr Carol Homden CBE, Group Chief Executive of Coram, will reflect on recent developments in the care system and the role of women in leadership at Coram.

Dr Kate Gibson is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Manchester working on the history of fostering and adoption in Britain from 1700 to 1839. Her first book, Illegitimacy, Family and Stigma in England, 1660-1834, was published by Oxford University Press in 2022.


28 March