Story of a children's charity

On 25 March 1741, the first children entered the Foundling Hospital. Their mothers brought them to the Hospital to be cared for, in the hope that they would one day see them again.

Painting of the Foundling HospitalThe new Foundling pupils were baptised and given a new name. Children born out of wedlock suffered huge prejudice in their lives, and it was thought that a completely new start would give them the best chance of a good life.

Real life stories

Children like Thomas, the second boy to be named after Thomas Coram, who was later apprenticed to the Sea Service and returned to visit the Hospital in later life.

Or Anne, who was brought to the Foundling Hospital after her father was convicted for stealing coal, sending the family into destitution. Like other mothers who brought their children to the Hospital, Anne’s mother left a token so that Anne could be identified if she ever came back to reclaim her. Sadly, records show she was not able to return to collect her daughter.

For children like John Brownlow, the Foundling Hospital provided the chance of a better life. After growing up in the care of the Hospital, he became a clerk in the secretary’s office in 1814. He rose through the ranks, becoming Treasurer’s Clerk and later Foundling Hospital Secretary in 1849 with a salary of £460 a year. When he retired after 58 years of service, the governors praised his "benevolent and charitable" life in which he “devoted himself to the discharge of his duties with an energy and zeal beyond all praise and to the great advantage of the Hospital".

John’s daughter, Emma Brownlow, became a successful artist, and paid tribute to the Hospital in her paintings, which can be viewed at the Foundling Museum today.

Discover the fascinating stories of our early governors, friends and famous supporters.

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