Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Bromley Poor Law Union Children Boarded out

Under an agreement between Bromley Historic Collections and Kent Online Parish Clerks from October 2016 I will be collecting for online publication on the Kent Online Parish Clerks website information about both children boarded out and where possible their foster parents.
This involves research in a variety of sources but is principally involved with two volumes of minutes of the Bromley Guardians Committee for boarded out children and  an 1894 handbook for lady Visitors attributed to Robert Gordon Mullen Clerk to the boarding out Committee.
In assembling a database of children referred to in Committee meetings and their foster parent name and parish or district I hope to guide the searcher to relevant pages of Committee minutes but also enable research to be undertaken on each parish within the union to enable a social history of the parishes to be attempted. Boarded out children attended local schools and school reports to the Committee are discussed each quarter; the funding provided to local school Boards is also revealed. The District Medical Officers reports to each meeting are also informative about child health and development.
The Committee records open in 1885 with an all male Commitee; however the inclusion of a female Committee member leads to the Bromley Union transforming the way in which children are boarded out and in 1893 the Committee unanimously recommends that a provisional Committee of Lady Visitors to Boarded out children in various parishes be formed.
The minutes record correspondence with the Local Goverment Board the approval of the Lady Visitors Commitee and the membership of approved visitors for each parish or district.
One feature of the cumulative mention of each child is a career in both entering the Workhouse foster care leaving school and entering employment. It is possible to see to some extent lives after 16 years of age and I have felt it important to include census references where possible to follow careers at work beyond the scope of the original Poor Law Union records of the individual.
This companion blog to the process will also attempt to illustrate themes to the work and an understanding of the boarded out children in the overall population of children in the Union Workhouse.
As in the case of the Bromley Union Lunatic registers transcripts undertaken in 2015 the role of both Lady Visitors and Relieving Officers are useful in forming a history of the development of the role of Social Work practice in the 20th century. When in 1894 lady Visitors began to fulfill their visits and reports the Union provided a printed Handbook advising of the duties and procedures that they were requested to make and the frequency of visits and arrangement of after care for children when the board of Guardians ceased to have financial responsibity. A copy of the booklet is held at Bromley Historic Collections handbook for boarding out Committee and visitors We are fortunate the Bromley (Kent) has  preserved Workhouse and Union record survivals with such detail. In the family historian's imperative to create family trees such record sources can be overlooked or neglected. It is hoped that this work will bring to life a social history of the period and the signifacnce played by Women locally in the provision and superintendence of homes within the limits of the Bromley Union for orphan and deserted children working also a five mile radius after care visit approved by the Local Government Board.
I hope in future blogs to offer a commentary  about the influential work of the first female member of the Committee who preceded by some years the election of a woman to serve as a Councillor in Bromley and whose work until her death in 1903 shaped the development of foster care for years to come.
Purely from the perspective of One Place Study as a Parish Online Clerk for Downe in Kent the records are valuable in identifying foster carers within the village and the support of villagers to maintain children in the village on the sudden death of a valued foster mother and children in the local school is moving. This is echoed in other parishes in the records.

© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2013-2016