Captain Coram’s solution was to petition the king for a charter to create a foundling hospital that would be supported by subscriptions. But at first this met with no success. He found it impossible to gain the backing of anyone influential enough, and there was opposition to the idea because of attitudes to illegitimacy.
Undaunted, and inspired by the role of French women in caring for foundlings in Paris, Coram decided to ask English noblewomen to lend weight to his petition and gain the interest of influential men along the way.
In this he triumphed. Not only did ’21 inspiring women’ sign a petition, he also won the support of many aristocratic and influential men who, along with the ladies of quality and distinction, helped turn the establishment of a hospital for foundlings into a fashionable cause.
Finally, on 17 October 1739, King George II signed a royal charter. Governors were quickly appointed from those who had donated to the cause, and the work of the Foundling Hospital could begin.