In Coram’s Voices Through Time: The Story of Care programme, we digitised 23% of our vast Foundling Hospital Archive. The digitised records reveal many links between the Hospital and Hoxton. Here are some of them.

In April 1774, unmarried mother Mary Young petitioned the Foundling Hospital to accept her baby son. She gave as her character reference Mrs Darlington of 3 Beeches Row, Hoxton, for whom she had worked as a servant for over a year. On the strength of Mrs Darlington’s good reference, Mary was invited to Ballot Day, but she drew a black ball from the bag and was turned away. At the next Ballot Day, on 6 July, she drew a white ball and her son passed the health check. The Hospital admitted him the same day and renamed him George Ross (no. 16921). Sadly, George died three months later.

Elizabeth Tooth was homeless and malnourished when she gave birth on the street in 1775. Her son, Frederick Handel (no. 17021), suffered serious mental disabilities from his poor start in life. The Foundling Hospital admitted him and paid for his care at external institutions for many years, unable to manage his difficult behavior on site as he grew older. Frederick spent the last years of his life, 1806-09, at Hoxton House, one of mental asylums in the Hoxton area.

In 1855, Emily Whitby was living with her mother at 37 Aske Street, Hoxton, earning money through dressmaking and needlework. When she became pregnant by a medical assistant, he ended the relationship. Their twins were born in July 1856 and admitted into the Foundling Hospital in September. Amelia Inglis (no. 20694) died in 1859. Remarkably, in 1870, George Inglis (no. 20693) was apprenticed to chair carver William Francis, of 1 Mortimer Place, Whitmore Road, Hoxton.

Other Foundling boys were apprenticed around Hoxton to masters including a cabinet maker, ivory carver, twistmaker, oil and colour man, pawnbroker, tin plate worker, and hardwareman. Between the 1840s and the 1860s, John Branch, a boot and shoe maker of 13 Gopsall Street, Hoxton Old Town, had six apprentices: Joseph Chambers (no. 19815), Jacob Bryant (no. 20023), James Davis (no. 20146), William Barwell (no. 20298), George Russell (no. 20371), and William Dundas (no. 20500).

Typically, girls were apprenticed in ‘household business’, what we call domestic service. In 1795, 14-year-olds Mary Hall (no. 17664) and Elizabeth Christopher (no. 17685) began working for the Browns of Ivy Place. In the 1830s, Judith Edmunds (no. 19178) lived and worked at 14 Brudenell Place, the house of a surgeon, while Mary Mercer (no. 19366) was at 51 Old Glaster Street, the house of a silversmith.

Many addresses in the apprenticeship registers in our archive are no longer found on a map of the Hoxton area. Pitfield Street still exists, however, and there in 1768, Judith Wenman (no. 4786) was apprenticed to a trade, learning mantua making (dressmaking) from master Francis Miles.