WHERE TO FIND INFORMATION
There were several reasons under the Industrial Schools Act why children were sent away, begging, destitute, single mother/father couldn't cope, being in the company of criminals or being an orphan or having a surviving parent who was undergoing Penal Servitude or imprisonment, very rarely was it for committing a crime, from the records. Any person could put before two Justices or a Magistrate any child apparently under the age of 14 for these reasons. The sentence handed down by the magistrate was, as a rule, until the child reached 16. From the records I have seen, any child who committed a serious or made a habit of appearing in front of the magistrate, was sent to a Reformatory School where the rules and discharge age were different. There are exceptions to the rule which you will no doubt come across when trying to trace your missing ancestor.
My father for example, aged 10 was sent from east London to Cannington, Somerset until he was 16, for wandering, he had a good home life and by east London standards his parents were considered well off. My father came back to east London where he died a few years ago, but he never arrived back until he was almost 20. Quite often at the age of 14 the children were licensed out to work, Dad was given the choice of working in the mines or joining the army, he chose the army and was posted to, amongst other places, India before coming home – imagine his surprise to see that he had another five siblings! Industrial Schools also took in voluntary cases.
Reformatory Schools, for children aged 14 to 18, the rules were different, as was the discharge age, see brief description of the 1866 Reformatory Schools Act.
The sources of records that may be available, vary from area to area and the date of sentencing. The area where the child lived when they were sent to the institution would be the best place to start looking for the records, not where they attended institution, e.g. an east London child sent to an institution anywhere in England and Wales, there are an abundance of records held at the London Metropolitan Archives (link below). Also holding admission registers is the National Archives, (link below) they have one register which also includes, in many cases, a photograph of the child. However, having said that the local archives in the area of any institution, could possible hold valuable information, e.g. the North London Truant School, Walthamstow London, a good selection of records are held, on microfiche, at the Bristol records office (link below)
All the information I have is posted on the website, but if you are really stuck please do not hesitate to contact me.
When contacting the archives/record office for information, ask them if they have any of the following, for children sent to industrial/reformatory schools, in addition to which include any other names of the institutions, e.g. Manchester Industrial School is also known as Ardwick Green, Birmingham Free also know as Gem Street, Tennal; Ansell and Harborne:
Or anything that may help you to locate the records of your ancestors or if they are unable to help, perhaps they could suggest your next 'hunting ground'
Juvenile Court records,
School Board Registers
County Council Registers
Board of Guardians Registers
Workhouse School Registers
Below is a short list of various archives which may be able to assist you in your enquiry:
Contact details firstname.lastname@example.org How long this email address will last, until those pitiful spammers force me to close another email address down, I don't know. Please ensure that you indicate in the subject what you are looking for.