British Empire
Living in the British empire - migration
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Extracts from a report published in 1871 on the emigration of boys from reform schools
(Catalogue ref: HO 45/9672/A46505B)
  • In the later 1800s Britain became increasingly aware that at least one third of its population lived in poverty. Researchers like Henry Mayhew, Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree showed the scale of the poverty. They also showed that poverty and crime were often linked.
  • There was a lot of disagreement about crime. Many Victorians thought that the tendency to be a criminal was genetic. However, many more realised that crime was usually found in poor areas. They realised that people became criminals because of the environment they were in.
  • Many churches and charities focused on children who had committed crimes. As well as looking after them inside jails and reform schools, they looked at ways to keep offenders out of crime afterwards.
  • This source seems to show a successful programme to send young lads who had committed crimes to Canada and help them start a new life. A large landowner in Canada ('our friend') agreed to take the boys and train them in the skills needed in Canada.
  • Programmes like this were controversial. These boys often had families who wanted them to return to their homes after they served their sentences. However, churchmen like Rev. Walters believed that this is what caused many of them to re-offend. You can see that he believed he was doing his best for the boys, but did he have the right to send them away from their families?
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