Young Immigrants to Canada

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Children's Friend Society

The Children's Friend Society was probably the first organization to bring child emigrants to Canada. Founded in 1830 under the name of The Society for the Suppression of Juvenile Vagrancy, the society hoped to train children between 8 and 16 years of age in agriculture or other trades with the hopes of obtaining work for them.

Captain Edward Pelham Brenton, the founder of the society, opened the Brenton Juvenile Asylum in Hackney Wick. There were about 10 acres of land attached to the asylum and it was here that the boys were trained in agriculture.

The girl's home was called the Royal Victoria Asylum, after the young Princess Victoria. It was located at Chiswick and was founded by Lady Murray and her daughter the Hon. Miss Amelia Murray. It was managed by Mrs. Rebecca Bourhill. Domestic training was provided for the girls with the idea of placing them in service.

By 1832 the society found they could not obtain enough positions for the children in England. At this time they sent the first party of children to the Cape of Good Hope. As time went on children were also sent to the Swan River Colony in Australia. In August of 1833 the first party of children was sent to Canada. The following year three more groups arrived. Six groups of children came in 1835 and four groups in 1836. The emigration ceased at this point due to the rebellion in Upper Canada.

As many as 230 children arrived in Canada through the auspicious of the Children's Friend Society. They were placed, many as domestics, agricultural workers, or apprentices, in parts of Ontario and some parts of New Brunswick.


Some records for this organization can be found at the British Library. A collection called the Hardwicke Papers, found in the Gloucestershire Record Office, Clarence Row, Alvin Street, Gloucester GL1 3DW, also has information on this Society. A recent 1993 publication called The Children's Friend Society, by Geoff Blackburn, does contain the names of many of the children brought to various places by the Society. This book can be obtained from Access Press, P.O. Box 132, Northbridge, Western Australia. The book is a limited edition and you will have to contact the publisher to see if copies are still available and to obtain a price.

I have been given permission Geoff Blackburn, author of the book The Children's Friend Society, to make the names of the children available online. I will be working on this list for all of the children sent to Canada, the Cape, and Australia. For the moment, however, here is the list of children to Canada. The list gives the name of the child, ON what vessel, and to whom apprenticed, with notes or other information added if available.

Atkinson, Williamon Eleutheria, general servant to Mr. Thomas Bains of Toronto
Baiman, Williamon Eleutheria, farm servant to Edw. L. Potts of Victoria, Toronto
Baker, Mary Annon Toronto, house maid to Edward Noble storekeeper of Kingston
Ball, Charleson Concord, store servant to Howard & Thompson, merchants
Baugh, Mary Annon Toronto, house maid to Daniel McDonald, lockmaster at Isthmus Redsau Canal(sic)
Bendall, Henryon Hinde, apprenticed to a carpenter named Foss(Forss?) (Author of The Children's Friend Society states records show these boys were nephews of a milk-woman, Mrs. Taylor. Mrs. Taylor received a letter dated December 5, 1836 from Stanley, N.B. They arrived on June 4, they said, "we are happy, we are not exactly settled yet, for our master's house is not finished, but we are to be apprenticed to a carpenter, Mr. Foss. Give our love to Capt. Thickness, tell him we thank him for sending us to this fine country, whee there is plenty to do if people will work."
Bendall, Markon Hinde, apprenticed to a carpenter named Foss(Forss?). See above.
Birkin, Henryon Eleutheria, general servant to Samuel R. Jarvis of Toronto
Brady, Thomason Concord, groom and house servant to Major Frost of Quebec
Burling, Johnon Concord, tanner to Mr. Richardson of Quebec
Byfield, Edwardon Eleutheria, farm servant to J. Guardhouse of Etiobrooke(sic)
Byfield, Williamon Active, servant to T. McKay, M.P. and miller of Bytown
Chapman, Thomason Eleutheria, general servant to Hugh Carfrae of Toronto
Charlton, Wmon Eleutheria, farm servant to Capt. McLean of Scarborough
Claridge, Benjaminon Active, house servant to T. Burrows, surveyor of Kingston Mills
Cooper, Elizaon Toronto, house maid to Thomas Scobell, Deputy Assistant Commissary General at Kingston
Croley, Anneon Toronto, nurse maid to Rev. David Robertson of Montreal
Curtis, Roberton Concord, store servant to Messrs Porteus and Co., Laprairie, near Montreal
Davies, Henryon Concord, farm servant to Mr. Murray near Quebec
Dobbin, Henryon Active, farm servant to Colonel Covert of Coburg
Dobbin, Johnon Active, farm servant to R.P. Boucher of Coburg
Douglas, Roberton Active, house servant to G.M. Boswell, Barrister of Coburg
Doyle, Mary Annon Toronto, house maid to Captain T.J. Vanbaerle of Niagara
Eastman, Williamon Concord, store and house servant to M. Howard of Montreal
Foord, Josephb. 1821 - to Mr. Brown at Montreal, November 1835. Joseph wrote to his mother on November 2, 1835 to say he was doing well and liked the country very well.
Foot, Edwinb. 1823 - on Hinde apprenticed to Hon G.F. Street at Stanley, August 1836. Edwin wrote his mother August 9, 1836 to tell her he was in good health. They arrived in St. John's New Brunswick on June 4, he said. He goes on to say Stanley is 37 miles in the woods from Fredericton.
Gerrell, Peteron Eleutheria, apprenticed to M. Daly bookbinder of Toronto
Gill, Jameson Eleutheria, domestic to John Powell of Toronto
Hanham, Phillipon Concord, groom and house servant to Mr. E. Peel of Sorel near Montreal
Hardaway, Georgeon Eleutheria, domestic to M. Ridout of Toronto
Harvey, Johnon Hinde, apprenticed to Mr. Foss(Forss?) of Stanley (see letters in The Times, May 14, 1839, p. 6). This lad was placed in the St. James's Workhouse on the death of his father. He was taken in by the Children's Friend Society and sent to New Brunswick and apprenticed to Mr. Sergeant Edward Peck, Fredericton, N.B. Mrs. White, of 33 James St., Manchester Square, his mother, was seeking information about her son.
Hawkins, ?ran away (see Potter, Henry)
Henley, Sarahon Toronto, house servant to John Plant Bower, of Kingston
Hunter, ?farm servant (see Potter, Henry)
Israel, Wynn Clanon Toronto, house maid to John B. Merchant near Kingston
Issacs, Thomasb. 1821 - to Halifax October 1835. Thomas wrote to Mr. J.C. Forss of the Juvenile Asylum at Hackney. The letter was dated October 1, 1835.
James, Annon Toronto, nurse maid to Mr. J. Orrok of Montreal (Mr Orrok was the Montreal Agent for the Society.)
Jerrel, Henryon Eleutheria, general servant to Joseph Talbot of Toronto
Johnson, Williamon Eleutheria, farm servant to Wm. Stennett of Toronto
Johnston, Williamon Active, farm servant to Mr. Gibbons, saddler of Coburg
Judge, Alfredon Hinde, apprenticed to Foss(Forss?) maybe but returned to England 1838
Keogh, Margareton Toronto, nursery maid to George Garth a plumber of Montreal
Lake, Louisaon Toronto, house maid to Lieut. J. Harper, R.N. of Kingston
Layton, Josephon George Canning, apprenticed to Mr. Edward Ward of Halifax as a printer
Madden, Mary Anneon Toronto, house maid to Joshua Pelton, Treasurer of English Church at Montreal
Mason, Jameson Englishman, to Mr. Oliver Phelps of Saint Catherines near Niagara in June 1836
May, Edwinon Concord, store servant to M. Hossack, Grocer of Quebec
May, Frederickon Concord, farm servant to M. Hossack near Quebec
May, Ellen Susanon Toronto, house maid to Mrs Elizabeth Thompson, proprietor of Upper Canada Herald at Kingston
Mercier, Alfredon Active, house servant to J.F. Cunynghame of Carellon, Ottawa
Mercier, AnnVon Toronto, house maid to William Lang of Montreal
Mitchell, Georgeon Eleutheria, general servant to Robert B. Sullivan of Toronto. George was in St. Clement Dane's Workhouse and was taken by the Children's Friend Society in 1834. He is said to read and write well and was good with figures.
Morris, Johnon Concord, house servant to Mr. E.H. Bowen, Barrister of Quebec
Mullins, Henriettaon Toronto, nurse maid to Wilson McDonald, Barrister of Montreal
Nelson, Janeon Concord, servant to Mr. Orrok, Secretary
Nownes, Geo. Wm.on Concord, saddler to Mr. Coyle near Quebec
Oldham, Edwardon Concord, groom and house servant to Dr. Mount, of Pointe Clair
Parry, Thomason Concord, house servant to Mr. Yarwood of Quebec, Agent American Land Co.
Pethers, Annon Toronto, house servant to Major William Logie of Napanee
Plunket, Thomason Concord, house servant to Mr. Phillips near Quebec, Inspector of Flour
Potter, Henryca 1835, to Mr. Cormack, then Mr. Dunkin at Campbell, N.B. Henry wrote home in November of 1835 saying, "I am in good health, thanks to the Lord, and I hope this will find you so. According to your request, I write to inform you that I like this place well, and Mr. Dunkin is a good master. After a passage of six weeks and four days, we landed all in good health, at Chatham, about ninety miles below this place, and walked up". Henry goes on to talk about the crops and the weather. He also mentions "Hawkins" and says he has run away but that "Hunter" is a farm servant and "Thomas" is a blacksmith's servant.
Preece, William on Eleutheria, general servant to Capt. Fitzgerald of Toronto
Pryor, Carolineon Toronto, nursery maid to Thomas Goodurn, grocer of Montreal
Riggier, Thomas on Eleutheria, farm servant to Wm. Stennett of Toronto
Ross, Richardon Concord, house servant to Mr. Hoog of Quebec, Bording-house
Shaw, Mary Annon Toronto, nurse maid to D. Madden, Dry Goods Store, Montreal
Shurety, Thomason Concord, house servant to Dr. E.W. Carter, Sorel
Silverthorn, Williamon Active, house servant to Thomas Scobell, Deputy Assistant Commissioner General of Kingston
Smith, Jesse onActive, house servant to Rev. Thomas B. Fuller of Toronto
Stacey, Williamon Active, farm servant to Captain Boswell of Coburg
Stephens, Helenon Toronto, house maid to Mr. J.G. Playler, clerk in pay office at Bytown, Kingston(sic)
Sturch, Henryon Eleutheria, farm servant to Benj. Thorne of Thornhill
Sweeney, Mary Annon Toronto, to John Baird of Montreal
Sweeney, Roberton Englishman, to Mr. Oliver Phelps of Saint Catherines, June 1836
Thomas, ?apprenticed as blacksmith (see Potter, Henry)
Thompson, Edwardon Eleutheria, farm servant to Rev. W. King of Nelson
Thurlow, Williamon Active, house servant to Major W. Logie of Kingston
Turner, Henryon Concord, tailor to Mr. Marshall near Quebec
Tye, Goerge(sic)on Eleutheria, general servant to A. Com. Genl. Foote of Toronto
Uniker, Williamon Englishman, to Mr. Thomas F. Parke of Colchester, June 1836
Warren, John on Eleutheria, general servant to Grant Powell of Toronto
Wells, Williamon Eleutheria, general servant to Capt. McLean of Scarborough
Whitcomb, Williamon Concord, farm servant to D. McDonald of Quebec
White, Thomason Concord, house servant to Mr. R. Symes near Quebec
Wilshire, Henryon Active, house servant to G.G. Boswell, Merchant of Coburg
Wilshire, Williamon Active, farm servant to Captain McDonald of Coburg
Winteringham, Anneon Toronto, nursery maid to Captain E. Webb, R.N. of County Sherbrooke
Winteringham, Esteron Toronto, house maid to T. Blackadder, Book-keeper of Montreal
Wright, Henry ca 1835, to Mr. G. Rickard of St Katherine, Soranee(sic). Mrs. J.E. Wright in The Times, May 7, 1839, p.7, made application to find her son who, she says, was sent to Canada 4 years before.
Yorke, Williamon Eleutheria, general servant to W.B. Jarvis of Toronto
Young, Williamon Concord, house servant to Mr. J. Davidson near Quebec, Crown Land Office

Some annual reports and letters for this organization exist and can be found in the British Library, Public Record Office, Goldsmith Library in London, and in the Hardwicke Papers located in the Gloucestershire Record Office (item D3549 box 12b marked "Brenton - Early Pamphlets").

If any one has additional information on any of these children please contact me.

UWInfo | Young Immigrants | 19th Century Immigration | Genealogy | Local History

© Marjorie P. Kohli, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 1996-2010
Last updated: October 26, 2010, and maintained by Marj Kohli