Source:Stephen Constantine, Lancaster University
Between 1618 and 1967 perhaps as many as 150,000 children, mainly in the care of poor law guardians or philanthropic organisations, were sent overseas unaccompanied by a parent to begin new lives in British colonies. Most of them were between the ages of eight and fourteen, though some were younger, especially if they left with an older sibling. During the first couple of centuries, children were being sent as indentured servants to Virginia and other American colonies, some as convicted criminals, and others were later transported to the penal colonies in Australia. However, the emigration of children in need rather than children in prison mainly took place between the 1860s and the 1950s. A few went to New Zealand, Southern Rhodesia and the Cape, but most went to Canada – probably as many as 90,000 between 1869 and the 1920s. A further 6-7,000 were despatched to Australia in the 20th century, half of them after 1945.
For many other philanthropic enterprises, child migration was an attractive welfare option to be considered alongside continuing care in their refuge homes in the UK or fostering or adoption.While the charities raised huge amounts of money themselves to finance child migration and other activities, a partnership with public authorities was also secured.
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