Child migration records

This guide was last updated in 2012

Lesley’s episode also touched on another aspect of child fostering and care – the policy of child migration.

Although its earliest origins go back as far as the 17th century, it became more widespread from the mid-19th century, after the changes brought about by the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 (the Board of Guardians were now permitted to send children abroad) and carried up until the 1960s. It is estimated that between 1922 and 1967 about 150,000 children were resettled in Canada and Australasia.

Many charities and philanthropic organisations were also involved in resettling children. At the time it was seen as a benevolent practice offering underprivileged children a new start in their lives. It had the support of the British and host nations’ governments.

In the episode, one of the fostered children, George Maybury, was resettled by Dr Barnado’s in Canada. Further details about Dr Barnado’s involvement can be found by clicking here.

If your ancestor’s migration was organised by the Board of Guardians there may be a record among their minutes, held at the local repository. The Child Migrants Trust,, was established in 1987 with the aim of helping those affected by child migration by providing counselling and helping migrants trace their roots.

Sara Khan is the lead genealogist on the Who Do You Think You Are? BBC TV series

Adoption records prior to 1927
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