Ancestry UK

The Children's Aid Society, London, England

The Children's Aid Society, originally known as The Metropolitan Refuge Fund, was formed in 1856. Its objects were "the rescue, maintenance and proper training of destitute and neglected children of all ages and both sexes" and its work extended throughout the United Kingdom. The Society received considerable support from the Reformatory and Refuge Union and effectively operated as a subsidiary of that organisation. (The London-based Society should not be confused with a separate but similarly named organisation based in Canada.)

The Society employed two Boys' Beadles to search out and investigate the circumstances of waifs and strays, and to find homes for them. The Beadles provided assistance to boys and girls found wandering in the streets, or who were otherwise destitute and neglected. Four Rescue Officers were also employed to watch for evidence of children being used for immoral purposes, and to rescue these and others "from the haunt of vice and misery". By 1890, it was reckoned that over 7,000 destitute and neglected children had been provided for.

Like many other childcare organisations, the Society was involved in the emigration of children to Canada. By 1890, the Society had its own receiving home at Winnipeg.

For much of its history, the Society did not run its own homes but passed children on to other organisations. In the 1930s, however, the Society began to operate a small number of its own residential homes.

The Society ceased operation in around 1966 and was absorbed by the Barnardo's organisation.

A separate page gives a list of Children's Aid Society establishments.


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  • The Children's Aid Society: its work and its aims. (1938)
  • None noted at present.