Posted by Kristie Wells on September 8, 2016 in In The Community

From the early 1860s up to the 1970s, children who were institutionalized in ‘Homes’ across the United Kingdom were sent to countries across the British Empire (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa) to work on farms and as domestic help. 

The majority of the up to 120,000 British Home children sent to Canada arrived between 1869 and 1939. Mostly, they ranged in age from four to fifteen. After the beginning of the Second World War, the child emigrant scheme came to an end in Canada for the most part. However, children were still being sent to Australia into the 1970s.

British Home Children at the Stratford Home in the Canada, Photographic Albums of Settlement (1892-1917):
British Home Children at the Stratford Home in the Canada, Photographic Albums of Settlement (1892-1917):

More than ten percent of the Canadian population descend from a British Home Child, although many are still unaware of this part of their background.

Karen Mahoney and Sandra Joyce discuss the work they do at British Home Child Group International, which includes providing free research, genealogical tips and reuniting families of British Home Children world-wide.

To learn more about the history of British Home Children, please visit their website here.

Kristie Wells

Kristie is Ancestry's former Head of Global Social Media and Online Customer Engagement.


  1. Jeanette Lodge

    I have 2 generations of family that we British Home Children my grandfather William John Woodman Bradford and his brother Arthur James Woodman Bradford do not know what happened to their sister Ivy Lilian Woodman Bradford but my grandfather was sent to Canada his brother to a baker in Upton On Severn

  2. Jeanette Lodge

    My grandfather was also put into care and served on the training ships and in the merchant navy his sisters were put into service as maids

  3. Lila Paige George

    My grandmother Eliza Preston was a British Home Child . She was taken from her mother also Eliza Preston in 1898 while living on the streets of London . She was placed in St. James work house then admitted to Barnardo homes in Ilford Essex England. In 1902 she was sent to Canada, she was eight years old at the time . She spent the next 10 years in 13 different homes throughout Ontario Canada as a servant . She left Barnardo’s care in 1912 at 18 years old and married my grandfather and moved to Alexandria Bay New York where they settled and had a family . Finally in 2015 after 13 years of searching I have finally found her family in England . She died never knowing who her family was or knowing whenher birthday was . After leaving England she never saw her mother again .

  4. Janice Murray

    My dad Kenneth Jones was a home child taken from Burmingham England by Earnest Davis sent to Canada Farebridge Farm school on Vancouver Island. He was 8 years old. He had 5 siblings two grew up together and three were given are taken away.

  5. Dawn Sheppard

    My paternal grandmother was a BHC with Barnardo’s. Her mother died in 1899 and her father passed in 1903. She was “adopted” by an uncle and his wife, who seven years later decided they weren’t able to care for a quiet, sometimes sullen little 14 year-old who was apprenticing as a dressmaker. Strange reason to kick her out. They contacted Barnardo’s and signed away their custodial rights for a bonus, the amount which I have not yet determined. My grandmother was taken from Swansea, Wales to the Barnardo Children’s Village in London and a while later was sent to Liverpool to board a ship to Canada. She arrived in Port of Quebec August 1910, going on to The Barnardo Home at Hazelbrae, near Peterborough, Ontario. She worked as a housemaid in a private home near there for at least a year. Some time after 1911 she went on to work in Toronto, then married in Toronto in 1919 to a Toronto-born war veteran. No one in the family was aware of my grandmother’s BHC status, nor even the existence of BHC, until I discovered my grandmother’s name on a ship’s register through Library and Archives Canada in 1997. My father was able to obtain records from Barnardo’s in England, which began our investigation process. It is still ongoing. I have my grandmother’s elder siblings’ descendants to locate, hopefully sooner than later, since I’m 70 and no one else in my family wants to take this on now that our parents have passed.

  6. Seb De Carss

    It is a good year for child migrant stolen children from Britian ,
    I was in the Felon Child convict prison from 1965 to 1975, Springhill school in Ripon Uk.
    Good British stock appedix4 1948 to 1974.
    A child migrant survivor..
    Sebastian De Carss, British.

  7. catherine doyle

    My grandmother and her 2 brothers were HomeChildren from Liverpool sent to Canada.My grandmother was 14 when she arrived in Arthur,Ontario and worked as a mother’s helper to a family that she claimed treated her well.She married a Canadian ,they emmigrated to the USA ,had a large family and today there are hundreds of us descended from that plucky girl.

  8. Dawne Dawe

    My grandfather Thomas Smith 1901 Liverpool, was sent to Canada from Liverpool approx 1908 to 1911 he never knew his parents, he did not even know his birth date. I have been searching for the past 10 years, trying to piece together his past, but i am no further now than i was when i started. However i can trace him in Canada on 1916 and 1921 census, eventually he came to England and settled in Bristol in the west country and married my lovely grandmother and went on to have 3 children of his own. He went to his grave with the secrets and information i need to unlock this family mystery. So very sad that the 3rd generation of his family still grieve and feel sad that we do not know who are the descendants from his family.

  9. Madeleine brustmeyer

    I’ve searched UK and Australian records to no avail to find a Sophia Ann Brustmeyer . She just ‘appeared’ in birth record in Sydney in 1873 when her illegitimate daughter was born, and in 1876 in Sydney when she married a Richard Williams in Sydney. I Can follow more of her and children after that, but CANNOT find her in 1850 or 1860 or 1870 England Census. Or in any shipping records to Australia. Her Marriage certificate says she’s born in St. John’s Wood London, which I believe as all Brustmeyers were born in that Marylebone area. Any suggestions on where to look further. Thanks

  10. Maria Salas

    Soy Maria lee salas ando buscando a mi mamá banda Lee ALLBROOK Y LA CONOSCO QUIERO CONOCER LA

  11. Dale Nichols

    My grandfather and his sister were sent to Canada in 1902 and 1904. They were sent with the Bristol Emigration Society. They had lost both parents and had been in different orphanages and homes. It has been hard to find out exactly where they were because records were destroyed by the WW2 bombings. My grandfather worked on several farms where he was treated very badly. He eventually came to the United States where he settled. He spoke very little of his life and was old before he found out who his parents were and he real birth date.

  12. Judy Atkinson

    My maternal grandparents were each sent by Quarriers to Eastern Ontario. Mary Moncur on the Siberian, June 13, 1885 to the Marchmont home and Thomas Forrest Auld on the Siberian, March 15, 1889 to Brockville. They were sent to farm placements; Mary near Ottawa and Thomas to Wolfe Island. They met somehow, became friends, married, operated a dairy farm and had 10 children the youngest being my mother.

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