Tucked away inside an old family book was a small notice; LOST Amelia Gregory AGE 6 Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of this child should contact Spa Fields Chapel Finsbury.
What was this notice all about?
- The seething population of London and dense overcrowded housing, in which several families frequently shared just a couple of rooms, created an environment where children spent long hours of each day, out on the street.
- These children became very vunerable and separation from their family was not uncommon.
- Sometimes it was a simple case of a child wandering too far from home and getting lost.
- At other times it had a more sinister undertone with children being removed from the streets to work as slave labour in some sweatshop or even worse.
It became evident to social campaigners and reformers that the matter needed to be addressed.
- In the 1830’s the Gresham Committee formed a charitable trust, under the city of London’s Mercers Company, for restoring lost and found children to their parents.
- Of course some children from poverty stricken homes,were dumped by their parents, in the hope that they would be considered orphaned and be taken care of by the Poor Union
The Gresham Committee provided a notice board for free public use, where notices about lost and found children could be displayed. The first was near the Royal Exchange in the city, outside a medicine shop
- Boards then started to be placed in other parts of London and pre -printed notices and cards started to appear on which details of the child would be entered. These could be collected from nearby shops.
Sometimes the tiniest pieces of ephemera can reveal so much about our family history.
Little Amelia never did appear on any subsequent census
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