Ancestry archive gallery

Search our gallery to see if you're related to one of the first children in care

As Action for Children turns 150 this year, we’ve launched a nationwide search for the descendants of the first children in care. The historic images below, released from our archive, show vulnerable children from Victorian Britain in 1869 through to 1919.

It was a time of widespread poverty - with many of the children sleeping rough, from workhouse families, or disabled. The creation of children’s homes meant that they were fed, cared for, and had somewhere safe to sleep every night. Our search for the families of these children aims to remember their lives, and explore the issues that affect vulnerable children both then and now.

Do you recognise one of the children in the photos below? Email us at [email protected]. Some of our records are incomplete, but we'll share any information we can find in our archives.

Watch what happened when we found the descendants of Sophia Fauguel, Ellen Binks, and Alice, who were admitted to Bonner Road Children’s Home in London in 1872.

The descriptions and images in our gallery are taken directly from our archives - no changes have been made to wording beyond those necessary for clarity.

Thomas_Shields

Thomas Shield, admitted to Bonner Road, London, in 1871

Born 23 October 1861. Father is a tobacco pipe maker, mother is a needlewoman. Was for six years in the Wesleyan Sunday School, grammar place considered. For five years in the day school at the same place. Was for a few weeks employed as an errand boy. His habits are good and regular.

Download image
Edward_Taylor

Edward Taylor (left) called 'Ned', admitted to Bonner Road, London, in 1871

Born about 1857. Father’s name Charles Taylor, who was by occupation a fish porter but died on Sunday morning 24 October 1870. The mother by occupation was home maker but died seven years ago. The boy is legitimate, has helped his father at Billingsgate. Was seven years in a day school but cannot read. Went to Canada 15 May 1873. Farmer, 120 acres to be treated as family, five dollars per month and two months' schooling.

Download image
Mary_Ann_Annett

Mary Ann Annett called 'Annie', admitted to Bonner Road, London, in 1871

Born 2 December 1863 an illegitimate child. Father's name William Sale, by occupation silk dyer, has gone to America. Mother died 28 March 1867. Went to America with father, 1875.

Download image

Annie_Augusta_Barfield

Annie Augusta Barfield called 'Augusta', admitted to Bonner Road, London, in 1871 then Edgworth, Lancashire, in 1876

Admitted 8 June 1871, aged 12 months. Mother pay 11/monthly. Leicester for adoption 15 June 1881, returned not suitable 22 August 1881.

Download image
Edward_Maltby

Edward Maltby, admitted to Bonner Road, London, in 1870

Thirteen years old when admitted, father and mother dead. Left in the charge of a stepmother who constantly ill-treated. He had slept on the streets for several nights. Went to Canada 15 May 1873, engaged by the Rev S Rose, to be employed in the Printing Office and board with Bob Self in the family, Mt Wilson fireman.

Download image
Girl_and_boy_Alverstoke

Alverstoke, Hampshire, 1869 – 1900

Download image

Three_boys_Alverstock

Alverstoke, Hampshire, 1901

Download image
Children_Birmingham

Birmingham 1904 - 1909

Download image
Boy_Birmingham

Birmingham 1882 – 1903

Download image

Boy_2_Birmingham

Birmingham 1882 – 1903

Download image
Boy_3_Birmingham

Birmingham 1882 – 1909

Download image
Boy_4_Birmingham

Birmingham 1882 – 1909

Download image

Boy_5_Birmingham

Birmingham 1882 – 1909

Download image
Children_2_Birmingham

Children's band and choir, Birmingham 1882 – 1903

Download image
Children_3_Birmingham

School class, Birmingham 1882 – 1900

Download image

Boy_6_Birmingham

Birmingham 1882 – 1909

Download image
Boy_7_Birmingham

Birmingham 1882 – 1909

Download image
Three_boys_Birmingham

Hospital ward, Birmingham 1882 – 1909

Download image

Two_boys_Birmingham

Birmingham 1882 – 1909

Download image
Gym_class

Bonner Road, London, 1880 – 1900

Download image
Girl_1

Bonner Road, London

Download image

Girl_2

Bonner Road, London, 1880 – 1890

Download image
Mary_Ann_Leigh

Mary Anne Leigh 1871 - 1880 Bonner Road, London

Download image
Sir_Charles_Lady_Wakefield_Bethnal_Green

Sir Charles and Lady Wakefield visit Bonner Road, London, 1908 – 1911

Find out more

Skipping_1

Bonner Road, London, 1880 – 1890

Download image
Two_boys_and_girl_Sister_Theta_Stormer

Sister Theta Stormer, Bonner Road, London, 1880 – 1890

Download image
Agatha_Johnstone_Ivy_Keeping_Nora_Blake_Cardiff

Agatha Johnstone, Ivy Keeping, Nora Blake, Cardiff, 1912 – 1920

Download image

Constance_Day

Constance Day, Cardiff, 1912 – 1920

Download image
Children_Chipping_Norton_2

Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, 1909

Download image
Girls_Chipping_Norton

Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, 1904

Download image

Chipping_Norton

Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, 1900 - 1910

Download image
Children_Chipping_Norton

Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, 1909

Download image
Master_Charlie_Chipping_Norton

Master Charlie, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, 1904

Download image

Carpenters_Edgworth

Edgworth, Lancashire, 1880 – 1890

Download image
Woodworking_Edgworth

Edgworth, Lancashire, 1912 – 1920

Download image
Billy_Buster

Billy Buster, Harpenden, Hertforshire, 1918

Download image

Boys_Harpenden

Harpenden, Hertfordshire, 1910 – 1920

Download image
white_square

white_square

Britain's come a long way since Victorian times, but even today we're seeing families living in poverty and struggling to feed their children. Support for families is disappearing up and down the country.

Sign our petition asking the government to act now to stop the closure of children's centre services.