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Monday, 24 February 2014

Street Children

Poor children in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were expected to work from an early age – shockingly early to modern eyes (although sadly child labour is still commonplace in many developing countries). 
If you strolled down a street in Georgian or Victorian England, you could hardly fail to notice the many children dressed in rags, and obviously in need of a good meal. Children helped their parents with their work at home (perhaps preparing wool or cotton for the loom), or found work in a factory, or if very poor, sold matches or gingerbread on the streets.   

Very small children were in great demand as chimney sweeps (as it was easy for them to climb chimneys), and unscrupulous parents sold their children to master sweeps for a few pounds. 

Alternatively poor children went to the poorhouse or workhouse for relief.  Children (not necessarily orphans) were often apprenticed by parish officials to ‘learn a trade’, so that they would not be a burden on the parish rates.  
Several charities grew up to look after destitute children, and I’ll look at the work of some of these institutions in my next blog post.

Images from the author’s collection:
‘The Poor Cripple Girl’ selling gingerbread, ‘The Orphans' selling matches, and ‘The Little Chimney Sweep’, from Henry Sharpe Horsley, The Affectionate Parent’s Gift, T.Kelly, 1827.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Bands of Hope

In my recent feature on youth organizations for Who Do You Think You Are? magazine I looked at the societies and organizations for children and young people which grew up during the nineteenth and early twentieth societies: Scouts and Guides, Bands of Hope, the Boys' Brigade, Church Lads' Brigade, etc.
The misuse of alcohol has caused many social evils down the ages, and in the 1830s several temperance societies like the Independent Order of Rechabites sprang up in the UK. Joseph Livesey of Preston was perhaps the greatest spokesman of the movement.‘Seven men of Preston’, including Livesey, signed the pledge (not to drink intoxicating liquors) at Preston on 1 September 1832. 

Preacher Jabez Tunnicliff  founded a temperance society for children and the first Band of Hope meeting was held at the South Parade Baptist Church, Leeds In 1847.  Members signed a pledge book promising to abstain from alcohol, and were given a certificate in return. Bands of Hope provided activities such as games, sports and outings for their child members.
You can use the records of societies like these to research your ancestors' childhood, and there's more in-depth guidance on the location of their archives, and the types of records available, in my latest book for Pen & Sword.
To get you started, the University of Central Lancashire has put digitised images of its temperance collections online here.  
Images from author's collection:
Procession of juvenile abstainers passing the Scott monument at Edinburgh, Illustrated London News, 19 July 1851.
Titles of temperance tracts 1910.
A book review (image below and left) mentions the Lancashire and Cheshire Band of Hope Union's concerts, with music by William Hoyle, at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester.