The Bristol Emigration Society was founded in the early 1880s. Prominent members were Mary Clifford and Agnes Beddoe. Around 1886, the Society began sending children to Canada from various local unions, workhouses and other institutions, including the Park Row Certified Industrial School and the Bristol Industrial School.
Margaret Forster (Foster) and Mark Whitwill sometimes accompanied groups of children, but many groups were not accompanied to Canada. The Society did not establish a receiving and distribution home in Canada. Samuel Gardner, the immigration agent at Saint John, New Brunswick, was responsible for finding placements for most of the children. Most were placed in homes in New Brunswick, but some others were placed in Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.
The society stopped sending children around 1906. Based on annual Immigration Branch reports, an estimated 555 children were sent between 1885 and 1904.
Research at Library and Archives Canada
Department of Agriculture: General Correspondence (RG17)
Before 1892, immigration was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture. There are files relating to various sending agencies, including children placed by Samuel Gardner. Those records have been indexed by name in our Home Children Records database.
Immigration Branch: Central Registry Files (RG76 B1a)
This series contains correspondence between the Immigration Branch and many of the sending organizations. The files contain a variety of documents relating to the activities of the organizations, often including annual reports, lists of children’s names and medical certificates. The documents within each file are arranged by date. Microfilm reels can be viewed on site.
Most of the microfilm reels in this series are digitized on the free website Héritage. Enter the reel number in the search box, e.g. C-4715. If the reel is digitized, click on the reel title to see the images. The page contents are not searchable, but you can skip ahead through the images to find the volume and file of interest, then browse through the pages in that file.
File title: Bristol Emigration Society
RG76, volume 99 and 100, file 13204, 1894-1906, microfilm C-4764
Research in Other Institutions
Bristol workhouse records were destroyed by enemy bombing during the Second World War. If any records remain, they would be in the custody of the Bristol Record Office.
The following websites include lists of names.
- The golden bridge: young immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939 by Marjorie Kohli, pages 191-194. (AMICUS 28334219)
- Uprooted: the shipment of poor children to Canada, 1867-1917 by Roy Parker, pages 121-125. (AMICUS 33716306)
See our Home Children 1869-1932 page for links to other research sources, websites and institutions in Canada and the United Kingdom.