During the 18th Century, over 1,000 babies per year were abandoned. The Foundling Hospital’s mission was thus to provide a safe haven for these children who would otherwise die either in the hands of their poor mothers, starvation, or harsh weather conditions. Thomas Coram, the founder of the hospital, petitioned to the queen for 20 years to get funding for such a ministry. Needless to say, he was granted funding and also had friends in high places to help.
Typically mothers who could not care for their children would bring their babies here, and be put into a lottery to determine if their babies would be taken in. Basically there were three colored balls in a box that determined a child’s fate. One color, meant you were in (unless your child was diseased), another meant you went on the waiting list, the other meant you were denied. The amount of work they did was remarkable—I cannot list it all here. But, there was education and employment involved, parts of life these children would have otherwise been denied. If you ever make it to London and have about an hour, I’d say it’s worth visiting.