Friday, February 10, 2006
Tokens left by the foundlings' mothers
When mothers left their children at The Foundling Hospital, they also left a small token with which to identify their child. This was used as proof that a mother had left her child at the hospital, rather than having abandoned or killed it. Or, if circumstances changed and families were able to come back to claim their child, the token was used as a means of identification to connect the child with its mother. Children left at the hospital all had to be under one year old so they would have no memory of their parents.
Tokens varied from coins to crosses, beaded bracelets and necklaces, and other pieces of jewellery from the simple to the more precious. There were many items that were heart shaped, and a number of tiny locks and keys. There was one item (which I have drawn) which was a piece of wire shaped like a small ring, with little circles twisted into its circumference. As the children were never told who their real parents were, they never got to see the tokens their mothers had left.