ondon’s Foundling Hospital, established in 1739, was England’s first children’s charity. A basket on its door allowed infants to be deposited anonymously, although mothers could attach an identifying keepsake, such as a scrap of material. From the age of 14, the children were found places as servants or apprentices.
Later London institutions included the Female Orphan Asylum (1758), the St Pancras Female Orphanage (1776) and the London Orphan Asylum (1813). Admission was usually by periodic ballot of each charity’s subscribers and restricted to children born in wedlock and in good physical particular disabilities. Many of these institutions later sold off their increasingly hemmed-in city premises and relocated to the countryside.