The original indexing of Middlemore Home Children arriving in Canada from England between 1873 and 1932 was undertaken by volunteer members of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO). The resulting Index contains more than 5,800 children’s names and has been available online since 2008.
The Index is being updated to include references to source material relating to each of those children using the microfilmed Middlemore archives. These materials are available at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa, and at the National Archives of Australia (NAA) in Canberra. There are also some references from Middlemore archives that are currently only available at the Library of Birmingham.
Guide to the Middlemore source materials used in the Index:
Microfilms of the original Middlemore agency records are held by LAC in Ottawa and by the NAA in Canberra. The originals are archived at the Library of Birmingham.
Nearly all references in this Index are to microfilms held in Ottawa and Canberra. Microfilms listed in the Index as MS 715 are held in Ottawa but are not yet accessible. This Index contains only the names of those children who were brought for settlement in Canada between 1873 and 1932 by the Children's Emigration Homes of Birmingham, England (known from 1925–1954 as the Middlemore Emigration Homes).
Note: The names of Middlemore children emigrated by the Fairbridge Society in parties bound for the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School in British Columbia between 1936 and 1948 are not included, as some of those files are still closed.
Most of the records are hand written, and sometimes parts of the texts are extremely hard or impossible to read. The minutes and correspondence files can be very bad. Parts of a microfilm image may be so black or so faded that words cannot be deciphered. The volunteers have done their best in the transcriptions of the references. Those who make the scans or hard copies of requested references will do their best to get a clear copy, though the original in Birmingham may not be any clearer. Back to Top
Selecting a child’s name in the Index will bring up a new page showing all the references to that child that exist in the Middlemore archives. Copies of the child’s referenced documents may then be ordered from one of the archives (see obtaining copies below
Not all children's names were entered in the files where their records would be expected to be found, and sometimes a record for one child was misplaced in another child's file. In this case the misplaced reference is found in the Notes column.
The recorded spelling of children's names varied over time. For this reason, names that may sound alike but are spelled differently are usually shown with a "/" separating the similar sounding names, e.g., WALTERS/WATERS. In addition, the transcribed names may not be completely accurate, as the original handwritten records were sometimes extremely difficult to decipher, especially from microfilm.
There are a few instances where a child entered the Homes in Birmingham with one name, but in Canada was known by another, sometimes quite different, name, e.g., KEILEY/REILEY. In those situations, all references to the child are listed under the child’s name as it was spelt at the time of his/her first settlement in Canada, no matter what name the child may have used previously or subsequently. All the other names used by or for that child (including married names if included in the Middlemore records) are listed in the Index with the comment "See [name of child]."
On occasion the visitors sent by the distribution home to monitor children’s progress confused the forenames of the children. Where this has been observed during transcription, both names are given, such as Frances/Florence. Some names have variable spellings and strict alphabetical order was not used, e.g., Mac and Mc are listed alphabetically by the first letter after the "c". Back to Top
All records over 100 years old are open, but access to those between 75 and 100 years old is restricted by legislation on access to information and privacy. Some Middlemore records over 100 years old are on the same microfilm reel as restricted records; this makes the whole reel restricted. It is still possible to consult and make copies from restricted records, but the LAC form "Restricted Access: Application for Access (for records less than 100 years old)" must be completed and submitted to LAC before access is granted or copies provided.
Copies of all the references beginning with the LAC Reel Number "A" or "R" may be ordered from:
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0N4 Canada
Using the online LAC order form, enter all the information for each of the references required. When you submit the online form, you will receive an automatic acknowledgement with your order number.
If your order includes any references from restricted reels, you will have to complete and sign the LAC Application for Access form
and send it as a scanned attachment by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
or you can send it by fax to 613-992-5921. Be sure to include your order number.
For references beginning with MS 517 and are over 100 years old, contact BIFHSGO
for information. When contacting BIFHSGO about Middlemore children or any home child, please put the name of the child in the subject line.
Copies of all references may be ordered from the Library of Birmingham:
The Library of Birmingham―Archives Heritage and Photography
Centenary Square, Broad Street
Birmingham, West Midlands B1 2ND, UK
When requesting records from the Library of Birmingham, use the full reference number given for the specific child except you must replace the "A" or "R" reference number with “MS 517”, volume numbers are the same in all three Archives.
Each reference starts with the LAC reel number and the archive volume number. Back to Top
The last Middlemore party of children arrived in Halifax in 1932 and were settled in 1933.
- Application Books 1876–1954 (names extracted to 1932)
- Admission Registers 1872–1954 (names extracted to 1932)
- History Books 1873–1892 (names fully extracted)
- Settlement and Reports Folios 1876–1952 (names extracted to 1933)
- Minutes of the Homes Committee [equivalent to a board of governors] 1893–1954 (names extracted to 1939)
- House Committee Minutes [sub-committee of the Homes Committee overseeing the Girls' and Boys' Homes] 1920–1951 (names extracted to 1939)
- Correspondence from Birmingham 1903–1952 (names extracted to 1939)
- Correspondence from Canada 1916–1941 (names extracted to 1939)
- Parent Consent and Custody Orders 1912–1925 (names extracted to 1920)
- Annual Reports 1873–1967 (names extracted to 1939)
Files regarding the admission of children into the Homes or their settlement in Canada have been indexed to 1932 or 1933. This coincides with the year that the last Middlemore party arrived in Canada and the year that members of that party were placed with their first settlement families. Records such as minutes, correspondence and reports were searched to the end of 1939 but no names of children settled in eastern Canada were found in these files after 1937.
Most records are handwritten and most books and registers are not paginated. The entries in the Application Books, Admission Registers and History Books were all handwritten directly into the specific book or register. Most minutes and correspondence were also handwritten. The Settlement and Reports Folios were the exception. In these, all available completed agreement forms and visitors' report forms for a specific child were pasted on one or two pages headed by the child's name in copperplate handwriting.
Children settled in Canada by the Middlemore agency included not only those from the Children's Emigration Homes of Birmingham, England but also children from other institutions. About one third of the children came from various workhouse unions at the request of the union guardians, while small numbers of children came from industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages or private sponsors. All are included in the Index. However, in a few of these latter instances, the only Middlemore record noting that the child was brought to Canada is the child's name in the Admission Register, as there are no settlement records and reports for the child. This is true for all young persons over the age of 18, as they were considered adults and no visiting was done. The names of such young persons are included in the Index only if entry into Canada was confirmed by other means. Back to Top
Application Book entries began in 1876. They are ordered by date and case number, with two or three entries per page that usually include information on the family background. Until 1900 the amount of information entered in these books was inconsistent and the names of some children admitted to the Homes (e.g. workhouse or private children) were not entered.
All Application Book entries have a "family" case number, but sometimes children of the same family who were admitted at different times were given different case numbers. However, the relationship is usually revealed by referring to the earlier sibling's case number. Where a familial relationship among children having different case numbers is known, all the case numbers are included with each family member’s entry. The Index includes several unrelated children who were accidentally given the same family case number. To distinguish these children in the Index, the entry date and the name of the preceding child is given, as well as a page number when available.
References are by case number.
Some children do not have case numbers and were not entered in the Application Books. These include names of children from workhouse unions, other agencies or who were considered "private" because of private sponsorship. Their background information stayed with their original agency or sponsor. Some background information about children without case numbers is occasionally included in their Admission Register or History Book entries. In a very few instances, the names of children with case numbers listed in an Admission Register have not been entered in the Application Book. In these circumstances the space for the name and information alongside the case number was left blank.
For information about children from workhouse unions and the location of their archives, see Peter Higginbotham's website: The Workhouse
The Admission Registers date from 1872 and consist of one-line entries in columns across two pages (double page). The left-hand column of the left-hand page is headed "Year", beneath which were entered the month and day of the child's entry into the Homes for the identified year. The records are in chronological order by date of entry and there is no break from one year to the next. Sometimes, especially in the Boys’ Registers, there are two or more double pages per year, while in the Girls’ Registers one double page may include two or more years. There are approximately 40 names per double page. Children who were expected to be emigrated by the Homes are included, even if they were not actually admitted (e.g., most union workhouse children and private youths).
The earliest records include the child’s date of entry into the Homes, name and sometimes date of emigration, if emigrated. From the mid-1870s, the left-hand page has the child’s entry date (or date when the Children's Emigration Homes became responsible for the child), name and age, usually the parent's or guardian's address, or both name and address. The right-hand page has a brief summary of the child's background (usually a summary of the Application Book entry but sometimes with additional information), who recommended the admission, what happened to the child (emigrated, ran away, returned to parent, or sent to an asylum or training school and why) and the date the child left the Homes for Canada. Starting in 1896, case numbers are also included, first on the right-hand page, but later switched to the left-hand page. Back to Top
References are by date of entry.
The two Admission Registers are not paginated except for the first 18 left-hand pages of the first Boys Register covering 1872 to November 1880. The first seven double pages have been re-entered, starting on page 8 and continuing to page 14. This is information from the early pages and often with the addition of the child’s age at the time of entry. (The first seven pages have not been included in the Index.) Entries are not in date order until page 10, making the search frustrating. Starting in March 1875 some background information on the boys was given; before that date, usually only the boy’s name and date of entry were recorded.
The entries on the double pages for 1910 (starting May 23 and September 30) and the 1912 double pages (starting May 18) have been muddled―the information on the left-hand page does not match that on the right-hand page. The Index gives the references for the left-hand page and the correct matching right-hand page. The case numbers on the right-hand page were useful in determining the correct matching left-hand page.
: The two Admission Registers are not paginated. The first few pages of the first register have dated entries but they are not in date order, making the search frustrating. Most of the entries include background information, but this is not consistent until February 1876. Entries on the fifth pair of pages headed "1875" have not been indexed, as they have the word "checked" written across them and include major errors, e.g., the emigration date to Canada was before the child had been admitted to the Homes. The sixth double pages, also headed “1875”, contain the corrected information from the fifth double pages, with the first girl’s entry dated December 3. Back to Top
Entries in the first History Book began in 1873, after the first Middlemore party was settled in Canada.
Each child's entry is handwritten on two pages with the child’s name in copperplate writing at the top of each page. The left-hand page usually contains the child's age, date of departure from the Homes, sometimes brief comments on the child’s background, and often one-line summaries of visitors’ reports, while the right-hand page usually includes a list of settlement families and addresses, with dates of contract renewals. The children’s case numbers are not included.
From 1876, when the first Application Book was started, until 1891, when the History Book entries were discontinued, some Middlemore children are recorded only in the History Book.
Children from other agencies may or may not have a History Book entry. Further, there is often a reference to lost correspondence files for further information.
Entries are useful in bridging the information between the Application Books and Settlement and Reports Folios.
References are by page number.
These records cover the period from 1912 to 1925 and are indexed to 1920. The extractions were done by LAC and are gratefully acknowledged.
The Parents’ Consent forms contain the parent or guardian's consent for the child's guardianship to be transferred to the Children's Emigration Homes and their consent for emigration.
The Care and Custody Orders were initiated by magistrates. This occurred when parents had been sentenced to prison for cruelty and neglect of their children, and guardianship of the child was transferred legally to the Children's Emigration Homes with authority to emigrate the child. (The Homes could refuse to receive a child if the child was deemed unsuitable for emigration.)
If a child entered the Homes on a Care and Custody Order, was settled in Canada and became so "troublesome" that he or she had to be returned to England, the Care and Custody Order had to be revoked because the Children's Emigration Homes was not a long-term child care organization.
References are by File Part and page numbers.Back to Top
Entries in the first Settlement and Reports Folio started in 1876.
Usually two pages were devoted to each child with the child's name in copperplate handwriting at the top of each page. Since most Settlement and Reports Folios are not paginated, the names of the children were usually grouped alphabetically―A, B, C, etc., but were not arranged in alphabetical order within the letter group.To help find a child’s record within that letter group, the names of the preceding and following children are provided. Entries in the paginated Settlement and Reports Folios were not alphabetically arranged. Only when the page numbers are clear on the microfilm are they given.
The folded settlement agreements relating to the child were usually pasted on the left-hand page and the folded visitor reports on the right-hand page. Occasionally all forms for a child are on one page. Usually the date of the document is clearly visible in the folded state. These documents were unfolded one-by-one for the purpose of microfilming, but occasionally a folded document was not microfilmed open. Copies of such documents may be obtained by contacting the Library of Birmingham (see address above) using the full reference given in the Index but replacing the “A” number with “MS 517”.
Besides the settlement agreements and visitors’ reports, after 1893 many children’s files also contain letters the children wrote to the Homes’ staff in Birmingham.
The number of records for each child is usually between one and ten on each page but sometimes there are many more. A small number of children had over 50 records per page.
References are by page number and/or the names before and after the referenced child. The approximate number of documents on the referenced pages is also given.
Note on New Brunswick Settlements 1885-1891:
No Settlement and Reports Folio records exist for many of the children who were settled in New Brunswick between 1885 and 1891. Some children’s names were entered in the Settlement and Reports Folio at the top of two pages which are otherwise blank. In these situations, "(name only)" has been entered in the Index after the page numbers for the children in question. The visitors' report forms of a few of these children were placed with the children's entries in the History Book. Back to Top
The earliest extant Homes Committee Minutes start in 1893 and are organized by date.
Amid the major management issues dealt with by the Homes Committee, there are references to children, but only a few are mentioned by name. They tend to be children who had difficulties, for example, a child in difficulty in Canada who was taken back to England or one who had difficulties on a personal visit to England and who sought help from the members of the Homes Committee to return to Canada. Such references can be useful in completing the history of what happened to these children.
The Minutes sometimes refer to letters, a death or to special achievements by Middlemore children in Canada.
References are by date of Committee meeting.
This sub-committee of the Homes Committee was established in 1920. Like the Homes Committee Minutes, they are arranged in date order. The Minutes contain details of the admission and release of children, illnesses, brief summaries and updates on unsatisfactory children settled in Canada (taken from reports of the Canadian superintendents), and what happened to those who were returned to England for cause.
References are by date of Committee meeting.
Correspondence was frequent between the Middlemore secretary in Birmingham and the Canadian superintendents, as confirmed by notes in children's files and superintendents' reports mentioned in the Homes Committee Minutes. However, the earliest records have apparently been lost.
Most of the correspondence is not paginated but is usually filed in date order.
For convenience, the correspondence is classified as originating either in Canada or Birmingham, but frequently letters have been misfiled in this respect.
Before about 1920, nearly all the correspondence is handwritten.
References are all by date of the correspondence.
Correspondence originating in Birmingham
: The earliest extant correspondence from Birmingham dates from 1904. Up until 1924, it was mostly written by George Jackson, at which time he was replaced as secretary by Robert Plenderleith. Correspondence relating to individual children has been indexed, while correspondence on management, political matters and so on, has not. Included are letters to the guardians of various workhouse unions who sent children with a Middlemore party for settlement in Canada. Some letters concern a single child, but most, especially correspondence with the Canadian superintendent, include comments on more than one named child.
Correspondence originating in Canada:
The earliest extant correspondence in the Middlemore archives originating from Canada dates from 1916. This correspondence from the Canadian Superintendent William S. Ray, was voluminous. It dealt mostly with children, but also with management issues and political changes at the provincial and federal levels that affected the policies and activities of the Children's Emigration Homes. While much of the correspondence deals with children in some sort of difficulty, successes that some children achieved as adults and that were reported upon in Canadian newspapers were also included. Back to Top
These were small hard-covered books containing information about the agency and its policy, finances and activities.
Until 1916, they usually also contained descriptions of the voyages to Canada and the settlement process of the various emigration parties.
Short background descriptions of some of the children admitted to the Homes during the year preceding emigration were usually included, as well as comparisons of the condition of children at their time of entry and after several months spent in the Homes in Birmingham or after several years in Canada.
In addition, lists of people who supported one or more named children, children's letters and a limited number of photographs were included.
Most of the children mentioned are identified by initials alone (always reversed in the 1930s) or by first name and initials.
While comparison with other Middlemore records made it possible to identify many of the children mentioned in the Reports, there was insufficient information to identify all of the children whose letters were included.
The last letter received from a child settled in the Maritimes was in 1936.
Access is open to all the Annual Reports.
References are by the Volume number, Report number, the year the Report covers and page number(s).