Tag: Dublin

Barnado’s Emigrant Children

Thomas Barnardo never intended to settle in England. He set out with grand ambitions to become a missionary in China. As it turned out, however, he found his mission among the destitute and drifting children in the slums of England’s cities.

English: A boy ploughing at Dr. Barnardo's Ind...
A boy ploughing at Dr. Barnardo’s Industrial Farm, Russell, Manitoba, ca. 1900. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thomas was born in Dublin, Ireland on July 4th of 1845. He was the second youngest of the five children born to Abigail and John Michaelis Barnardo. John, a furrier by trade, had emigrated from Hamburg to Dublin in the early 1840s – not long before young Thomas was born. Over the course of two marriages, John fathered seventeen children.
John’s children were well cared for, and young Thomas began his working life as a store clerk. Before long, however, Thomas converted to Evangelical Christianity. He left his employer and spent much of his time preaching in the slums of Dublin.

After a time, Thomas set his mind to becoming a doctor, with the plan of working as a medical missionary with the China Inland Mission. In pursuit of this plan, Thomas moved to England to begin his studies at the London Hospital. He went on to further his studies at colleges in Paris and Edinburg, where he was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Despite his extensive studies, Thomas never earned a doctorate. As he studied in London, he began an evangelical work which made him aware of the plight of homeless, drifting children adrift throughout England’s biggest cities.
Barnardo was a powerful speaker, and brought his concerns to the Missionary Conference in 1867. His speech fell on the receptive ears of Lord Shaftsbury and prominent banker, Robert Barclay. They were moved by the plight of England’s homeless children, and offered to support the establishment of homes for these children. Thanks to their support and encouragement, Thomas gave up his plans to move abroad.

The first of “Dr. Barnardo’s Homes” opened its doors in 1870 at London’s 18 Stepney Causeway.  This first home was the beginning of Barnardo’s life’s work. From this small beginning, his humanitarian reach continued to increase, ever with the goal of feeding, clothing and educating the waifs and strays of England.

English: Dr Barnardo Memorial, Village Holmes,...
Dr Barnardo Memorial, Village Holmes, Barkingside (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The youngest children Barnardo received were “boarded out” to families in rural homes. Older girls were trained in useful occupations and housed in industrial training homes. Boys in their upper teenage years were also trained in labor homes before they were given employment in businesses at home, at sea, or abroad.

Barnardo’s was one of a number of charities that were actively involved in child migration. The policy was widely accepted at the time, and Barnardo was a prominent figure in enabling child migration in the late 19th century. He primarily worked at placing children in homes throughout Canada, and succeeded in sending over 30,000 children to new homes there.

Barnardo went on to establish further institutions, including a convalescent home, a hospital for the very ill, and a rescue home for girls in danger. Barnardo and his wife also converted their Barkingside home into “The Girls’ Village Home,” complete with 66 cottages and a modern steam laundry.

Thomas Barnardo succumbed to angina pectoris on September 19th, 1905, and was buried in front of his house in Barkingside. At the time of his death, over 8500 of England’s destitute children were being cared for in his 96 homes.
Proving the great value of his work, a national memorial fund was instituted, providing financial support for Barnardo’s work on a permanent basis.

Immigrants Made Good – Abraham Gottheimer

Few will recognize the name Abraham Gottheimer; but perhaps the name Baron Albert Grant will be more familiar. He would become one of the country’s richest men through his wily (and often dodgy) business dealings, but his beginnings were humble and rather inauspicious.

Abraham Gottheimer was born in December of 1831, to desperately poor parents living in Dublin’s Jewish Quarter. His mother Julia was British, and his father Bernard was a refugee from Prussian Poland. Bernard Gottheimer had moved to Dublin in the 1820s and worked the streets as a peddler. The little family was in such dire straits financially that members of their local synagogue had to provide them with blankets when little Abraham was born.

Little is known of Abraham Gottheimer’s younger years, though he boasted of an education in London and Paris. He was extremely charming and uncannily money-smart – traits that he developed early on. In 1856, he took on the name Albert Grant, shortly before marrying Emily Isabella Robinson.

He soon began to make his mark on the economic scene, working as a company promoter. Using his signature charm, he convinced investors to back companies. Rather than aiming for savvy businessmen, Grant approached widows, clergymen and other small targets that easily fell for his sales pitches. By working this way, he rapidly amassed an impressive fortune.

He was far ahead of his time where marketing and direct sales were concerned, and he truly knew how to capitalize on the average man’s impulse for speculative greed. He made millions for himself and his investors – but he lost an equal amount on a regular basis. Anyone who stayed with a Grant float for too long was bound to lose a fortune.

He put enormous stock in his public image and worked hard to maintain it. He bought and published his own newspaper, and successfully earned a seat in Parliament in 1865. He engaged in philanthropy, but even this was to his own ends, as his patronage was targeted toward the art galleries and projects that would earn him recognition and gratitude from the right crowds – particularly, the government. By patronizing a slum clearance in Milan, he earned a Baronetcy from King Victor Emmanuel. He did the same in Portugal and quickly began using his new titles.

The Baron’s fortunes continued to skyrocket, and by 1867, his wealth was estimated at over half a million sterling. Any time investors began to lose money, Grant would whip out another extravagant display to distract them. In 1874, the Baron bought and  developed a neglected piece of land in Central London which had beome a reknowned rubbish dump. It was called Leicester Field, he tidied it up, added a bust of William Shakespeare and gifted the city. We know it today as Leicester Square.

It wasn’t long though before Grant’s day of reckoning came. In 1874, the day after Leicester Square opened, the Baron was charged with bribery and kicked out of Parliament. He held his head above water for a time, but when the Emma Silver Mines Scandal broke in 1879, the Baron declared bankruptcy. He spent the rest of his life in seclusion, in and out of bankruptcy courts and hounded by allegations of fraud and misrepresentation.

Grant spent his last years in relative poverty. He died of heart failure at Aldwick Place, Pagham, near Bognor, in Sussex in August 1899 aged 67

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