Stories of the Lost Children

Herbert Morand

The Middlemore Annual Reports include photographs of some children from 1896 onwards. One of the earliest children to feature in this way was Herbert Morand.  His father, Eugene, was French and his step-mother English. They lived at 134A Belgrave Road and there were six children in the family.

Herbert , aged either 11 or 13, was described in some detail: 

“Undersized. Very morbidly shy, turns his face to the wall when spoken to and hangs his head to one side. Stand sideways. Pale lustreless eyes.

The problem was that Herbert “will not go to school. Stops out a fortnight at a time. Picks up food from the gutter. Very obstinate and peculiar.” The cause of his difficulties was apparently the mother who drank heavily during his pregnancy. Evidence was also supplied by a neighbour who knew the family 10 years previously when they were living in Yardley and the children were starving and neglected. The mother used to go out and lock the children up.  The boy lay too weak to move with limbs like sticks.  The assessment was “possibly a frightful check from mother’s cruelty.”

So Herbert was admitted to the Homes in September 1895, but he was not emigrated.  Instead he was “given up to his father.”

Percy Reginald Mitchell

Percy was admitted to the Homes in 1898. He is described like this: “Oval features dark brown eyes, large drooping eyelids, light brown hair, ragged unkempt appearance no boots or stockings”

His father was said to be in London but he had a sister who worked at Marston’s Red Lion Inn. The Application Book reports:

“This boy has lived with Mrs Keeley who co habited with a man they call the Major but Mrs Keeley is not his mother”

in 1899 at the age of 14 Percy was emigrated to New Brunswick, Canada.

Some years later , in 1907, he visited Mr Jackson at Fredericton and was said to be ” a gentlemanly young fellow” Then in 1909 he wrote to Mr Jackson form Boston, Massachusetts, asking about his mother.

Dear Sir Mr Jackson,

I received your most welcome letter and was awful glad to hear from you and get word from my old country you know I always stick up for my old country.  I see you sent me Mrs Kealey’s address but I got in ahead of you but I didn’t think she was in poor circumstances.  I wrote to her, you know I always thought she was my mother and I don’t no any other yet, will you please try and find my mother for me.  Mrs Keely knows but she won’t tell me.  I wont to find out about my life, it is only right that I should you know cause I always looked to Mrs Kealy as my mother, allways liked her and will try to help her out a little, I can’t much you know but every little helps, that’s enough about that now.  I am driving (team here now?) at $15 a week that is a bout 3 pound that is pretty good wages but things is pretty high.”

Lost Children Stories