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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 October 2020
Between 1947 and 1965, 408 British children were sent to Australia under the auspices of the Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement and its successor bodies. Situating this work in wider policy contexts, this article examines how the council involved itself in this work with support from some senior clergy and laity despite being poorly resourced to do so. Noting the council's failure to maintain standards expected of this work by the Home Office and child-care professionals, the article considers factors underlying this which both reflected wider tensions over child migration in the post-war period as well as those specific to the council.
1 In the period covered by this article the name of the Church of England Council of Empire Settlement changed to the Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement in 1937, to the Church of England Council for Commonwealth and Empire Settlement in 1955 and then to the Church of England Council for Commonwealth Settlement in 1958. The council was then reconstituted in 1972 as a committee operating under the Board of Social Responsibility. The decision to begin child migration work, and most of its child migration activities, took place whilst the organisation was constituted as the Advisory Council, but over a hundred children were also migrated in its later organisational forms and this continued until the mid-1960s.
3 See, for example, Coldrey, Barry, ‘“A charity which has outlived its usefulness”: the last phase of Catholic child migration, 1947–56’, History of Education xxv/4 (1996), 373–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Geoffrey Sherington and Chris Jeffrey, Fairbridge: empire and child migration, Nedlands, WA 1998; Constantine, ‘The British government’, 99–132; Grier, Julie ‘Voluntary rights and statutory wrongs: the case of child migration, 1948–76’, History of Education xxxi/3 (2002), 263–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Boucher, Ellen, Empire's children: child emigration, welfare and the decline of the British world, 1869–1967, Cambridge 2014CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On earlier moral framing of some of these schemes see also Swain, Shurlee and Hillel, Margaret, Child, nation, race and empire: child rescue discourse, England, Canada and Australia, 1850–1915, Manchester 2010Google Scholar.
4 See Legislative Assembly, Western Australia, Select Committee into Child Migration, Interim report, Perth 1996; UK Parliament Health Committee, Third Report, The welfare of former British child migrants, London 1998; Preliminary report on Neerkol for the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions, Brisbane 1998; Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions, Brisbane 1999 (Forde Report); Australian Senate Community Affairs Committee, Lost innocents: righting the record: report on child migration, Canberra 2001; Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, Report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, module 2, Belfast 2017; Australian Royal Commission, Case studies 5 (on Salvation Army institutions in Queensland and New South Wales), 11 (on Christian Brothers institutions in Western Australia) and 26 (on St Joseph's Orphanage, Neerkol), Canberra 2018; and Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Child migration programmes investigation report, London 2018.
5 On the historiography of the involvement of the Anglican Church in imperial migration in earlier periods see, for example, Hilary Carey, God's empire: religion and colonialism in the British world, c. 1801–1908, Cambridge 2011; Joseph Hardwick, An Anglican British world: the Church of England and the expansion of the settler empire, c. 1790–1860, Manchester 2014; Rowan Strong (ed.), The Oxford history of Anglicanism, III: Partisan Anglicanism and its global expansion, 1829–c. 1914, Oxford 2017; Rowan Strong, Victorian Christianity and emigrant voyages to the British colonies c. 1840–c. 1914, Oxford 2017; and Michael Snape, ‘Anglicanism and interventionism: Bishop Brent, the United States and the British empire in the First World War’, this Journal lxix (2018), 300–25. On the changing post-war context for Commonwealth ties and migration see, for example, Boucher, Empire's children, and Sarah Stockwell, The British end of the end of empire, Cambridge 2018.
6 Post-war child migrants sent overseas through funding agreements made under the Empire Settlement Act were sent to residential institutions in Australia, Canada and Southern Rhodesia, with only a small number placed directly or subsequently in family homes for adoption or fostering. A short-lived scheme to New Zealand, funded by the New Zealand government, which placed children directly in foster-care was not a subject of policy discussions within the United Kingdom government as it played no formal role in the funding or regulation of this scheme.
7 On this, see, for example, Constantine, ‘The British government’, and Gordon Lynch, Remembering child migration: faith, nation-building and the wounds of charity, London 2015.
8 On a comparable study of such organisational failings in the context of post-war Catholic child migration see Gordon Lynch, ‘Catholic child migration schemes from the United Kingdom to Australia: systemic failures and religious legitimation’, Journal of Religious History, forthcoming.
9 This study should therefore be understood as working within the history of childhood, in that its focus is on organisational structures and working practices in relation to children, rather than as a children's history primarily concerned with the lived experiences of children sent overseas through the council's work. For accounts of the experiences of child migrants sent to Anglican children's homes in Australia see, for example, Humphreys, Margaret, Empty cradles, London 1994, 15–18Google Scholar, 47–52, 173–83, and also interview with Ken Pound, ‘Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants Oral History Project’, NLA, nla.obj–219399697. On eight accounts of sexual abuse at Anglican children's homes in Australia see Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Child Migration Programmes Investigation Report, London 2018, 120.
10 Final report of the Royal Commission on the natural resources, trade and legislation of certain portions of his majesty's dominions, cmd.8462, London 1917.
12 Conference of prime ministers and representatives of the United Kingdom, the Dominions and India, held in June, July and August, 1921: summary of proceedings and documents, cmd.1474, London 1921, 59–63.
13 Ibid. 8–9. Given that this agreement focused on the use of migration to encourage primary production in the Dominions, the South African government indicated that the lack of need for white labour in South Africa meant that it was unlikely to participate in this arrangement in this form which seemed more suited to the needs of Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
14 Report of the Church of England Council for Empire Settlement for the nine months ending 31st December 1925, and Second annual report for the Church of England Council for Empire Settlement for the year ending 31st March 1927, CRC, CECES–2.
16 See, for examples, documents and correspondence at NAA, CP18.104.22.168. On contact with overseas committees organised by archbishops or bishops in their respective states see also memorandum on Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement, TNA, n.d., MH102/1888.
17 In the post-war period, the Waifs and Strays Society (now the Church of England Children's Society) did not migrate children exclusively through the council, but also used other recognised sending organisations such as the Northcote Trust: TNA, MH102/1593.
18 Third annual report of the Church of England Council of Empire Settlement for the year ending 31st March 1928, CRC, CECES–2.
19 Fourth annual report of the Church of England Council of Empire Settlement for the year ending 31st March 1929, ibid. For statistics on annual rates of assisted migration after the passing of the Empire Settlement Act see Report to the secretary of state for Dominion Affairs of the inter-departmental committee on migration policy, cmd.4689, London 1934, 6.
20 British Oversea Settlement Delegation to Australia, Report to the president of the Oversea Settlement Committee from the delegation appointed to enquire into conditions affecting British settlers in Australia, cmd.2132, London 1924; British Oversea Delegation to Canada, Report to the secretary of state for the colonies, president of the Oversea Settlement Committee, from the delegation appointed to obtain information regarding the system of child migration and settlement in Canada, cmd.2285, London 1924.
21 Report of the Oversea Settlement Committee for the period 1st April 1931 to 31st March 1932, cmd.4143, London 1932.
22 Sixth annual report of the Church of England Council of Empire Settlement for the year ending 31st March 1931, CRC, CECES–2.
23 Seventh annual report of the Church of England Council of Empire Settlement for the year ending 31st March 1932, ibid.
24 Eighth annual report of the Church of England Council of Empire Settlement for the year ending 31st March 1933, ibid.
25 Report of the Church of England Council of Empire Settlement, London 1936, ibid. CA547.
26 Report of the Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement for the year 1st September 1937 to 31st August 1938, ibid. CA618.
27 Report to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, President of the Oversea Settlement Committee, from the Delegation Appointed to obtain information regarding the System of Child Migration and Settlement in Canada, British Oversea Delegation to Canada, cmd.2285, London 1924.
28 See, for example, TNA, DO35/1139/M1125/1; DO35/1139/M1125/2.
29 See A. R. Peters, memorandum, 29 Nov. 1943, NAA, A441, 1952/13/2684; Nutt to acting secretary, Department of the Interior, with enclosures, 8 Aug. 1945, NAA, A446, 1960/66716; Arthur Calwell, How many Australians tomorrow?, Melbourne 1945; ‘Migration to Australia – New Minister Explains Government Plans’, 2 Aug. 1945, TNA, DO35/1135/M822/29/1; Inter–Departmental Committee on Migration, 10 Sept. 1946, NAA, A446, 1960/66717.
30 Lord Bessborough to C. Addison, 23 Nov. 1946, TNA, DO35/1139/M1125/2.
31 See correspondence and documents in TNA, DO35/3388, and NAA, K403, W59/114.
32 Walter Garnett to C. W. Dixon, with enclosure, 12 June 1947, TNA, DO35/3386.
33 Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement Scheme, memorandum from meeting on 21 Feb. 1949, TNA, MH102/1888.
34 On how children were referred to the council see speech by Bell in Church Assembly: report of proceedings, xxxiv, 34, 1954, spring session, p. 90, CRC.
35 G. A. N. Lowndes to secretary of state for Home Affairs, 9 July 1947; R. L. Dixon note, 6 Aug. 1947, TNA, DO35/3389; memorandum on the Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement, n.d., TNA, MH102/1888.
36 Enid Jones to Noel Lamidey, 26 Sept. 1949, NAA, A436, 1949/5/6347.
37 Report of the Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement for the year 1st January 1947 to 31st December 1947, CRC, CECES–2–CA897, 3.
38 See, for example, confidential appendix on Swan Homes, Perth: TNA, BN29/1325. See also correspondence at NAA, K403, W59/114, and Jones to Lamidey 26 Sept. 1949, NAA, A436, 1949/5/6347. Although the council appeared to have accepted parental assurances that they were planning to migrate to Australia in the future and would reunite with their families, the UK government's 1956 fact-finding mission noted the emotional disruption caused for child migrants who were migrated to Australia and admitted to residential institutions without clear plans about when their parents would join them.
39 Report for the year 1st January 1947 to 31st December 1947, 3.
40 See T. M. Nulty to R. L Dixon, with enclosure, 22 Aug. 1947, TNA, MH102/1556, and DO35/3389. The limit of 20 boys for this nomination is repeated through other Commonwealth Relations Office files as well: TNA, DO35/3389.
41 See Lamidey to Tasman Heyes, 9 Dec. 1947, and Heyes to Lamidey, 30 Dec. 1947, NAA, K403, W59/114.
42 See Garnett to F. H. Ordish, 5 May 1948, NAA, K403, W59/114. See also H. E. Smith to Heyes, 26 May 1947, with enclosures, NAA, A445, 133/2/8.
43 See TNA, DO35/3388.
44 Constantine, ‘The British government’, 132.
45 See, for example, Report of the Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement for the year 1st January to 31st December 1948, CRC, CECES–2–CA935.
46 See notes 2, 11 Mar. 1951, Geoffrey Fisher papers, LPL, ms 84, fos 307–9. This commendation was reprinted in the council's annual report that year: Report of the Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement, for the year 1st January 1950 to 31st December 1950, NAA, A436, 1949/5/6347.
47 See documents and correspondence at TNA, DO35/3389.
48 ‘Empire settlement’, The Times, 18 May 1950, held ibid.
49 Bessborough and Fisher to Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, marquess of Salisbury, 2 July 1952, ibid.
50 J. P. Gibson, note, 14 July 1952, ibid. On the wider context of the growing scepticism within the Commonwealth Relations Office about the economic value of the United Kingdom government's financial contribution to assisted migration to Australia see, for example, TNA, DO35/3424.
51 Salisbury to Fisher, 18 July 1952, TNA, DO35/3389. Fisher made a further approach to the Commonwealth Relations Office for the restoration of this funding in 1960 and was again turned down: Fisher to Alec Douglas- Home, 14 Mar. 1960, and Sandys to Fisher, 17 Oct. 1960, Fisher papers, ms 239, fos 259–61.
52 See Church Assembly: report of proceedings, xxii, 1952, autumn session, 260–5, CRC.
53 See, for example, Church Assembly: report of proceedings, xxxxi, 1951, summer session, 271, ibid.
54 See, for example, more extensive debates on reports by the Assembly's Overseas Council and the Council for Ecumenical Cooperation, ibid. spring session, 408–23; xxxiv, 1954, spring session, 38–47, CRC.
55 Correspondence and documents relating to the creation of the Campbell Commission are held in the George Bell papers, LPL, ms 183, fos 1–53. Its final report was published as Church Assembly, Report of the Empire Settlement Commission, Jan. 1954, CRC, CECES–2–CA1100.
56 William Wand also made the point about the moral obligation of the Church of England to honour the financial commitment of Anglican dioceses in expanding children's homes to receive child migrants by sending children to fill these vacancies in his speech commending the Campbell Commission to the Church Assembly: Church Assembly: report of proceedings, xxxiv, spring session, 96, CRC. On Roy Peterkin's recollection of pressure from the archbishop of Perth for the Swan Homes to compete with Catholic child migration work see Australian Senate Community Affairs Committee, Lost innocents, para 2.39. On attempts to secure Commonwealth and State Government funding to expand the Swan Homes to provide additional space to accommodate child migrants see Roy Peterkin to Calwell, 11 Mar. 1948, and Calwell to Peterkin, 1 Apr. 1948, NAA, K403, W59/114. See also previous concerns amongst Protestant Churches in the United Kingdom about more organised Catholic migration schemes, and the suspicion that Catholic organisations received preferential treatment from the Commonwealth Department of Immigration under Calwell: Bessborough to Fisher, 25 June 1947, and Burlingham to Eley, 3 July 1947, Fisher papers, ms 27, fos 329, 333.
57 Memorandum on the present position, Bell papers, ms 183, fos 19–21.
58 Report of the Empire Settlement Commission, 30 Apr. 1953, ibid. fos 7–9.
59 Bessborough to Fisher, 12 May 1953, ibid. fos 11–13.
60 This point was further expanded on in Bessborough, chairman of the Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement, memorandum, ibid. fos 22–6.
61 Fisher to Bessborough, 13 May 1953, and Bessborough to Fisher, 19 May 1953, ibid. fos 16–17.
62 Empire Settlement Commission meeting, 30 Sept. 1953, appendix ii, ibid. fo. 31.
63 Church of England Advisory Council of Empire Settlement, memorandum on present activities of the council, ibid. fos 32–4.
64 The Church of England Council for Commonwealth and Empire Settlement, report for the fifteen months, 1st January 1955 to 31st March 1956, CRC, CECES–2–CA1176.
65 See, for example, Jones to George Bell, 22 Feb. 1954, Bell papers, ms 183, fo. 90; Fisher to Home, 23 Jan. 1959, Fisher papers, ms 217, fos 279–80; Church Assembly: report of proceedings, xxxiv, 1954, spring session, 87–99; xxxvi, 1956, summer session, 291–2; xxxvii, 1957, summer session, 322–4.
66 Bell to Fisher, 26 Feb. 1954, and Fisher to Bell, 4 Mar. 1954, Fisher papers, ms 140 fos 342, 344. Whilst Fisher supported the council's work, he also regarded the Campbell Commission's funding request for it from the Church Assembly as financially challenging: Fisher to Bessborough, 23 Jan. 1954, ibid. fo. 341.
67 Church Assembly: report of proceedings, xxxiv, 1954, spring session, 90, CRC.
68 The blocking of this appointment led to extensive correspondence held on file at Bell papers, ms 183, fos 148–83, 196–204, 252.
69 See minutes of ad hoc meeting of the council, 8 Oct. 1956, ibid. fos 234–5.
70 See confidential situation report, 25 Oct. 1956, ibid. fo. 245.
71 See Bell to Harry Batterbee, 12 July 1956, ibid. fo. 215; Fisher to Williams, 7 Jan. 1959, Fisher papers, ms 217, fos 271–2; Hodgins to Fisher, 17 Mar. 1960, Fisher papers, ms 250, fo. 288.
72 See Church of England Council for Commonwealth and Empire Settlement, report for the year 1st April 1957 to 31st March 1958, CRC, CECES–2–CA1250, 6.
73 Secretary's memorandum, 5 Oct. 1956, Bell papers, ms 183, fos 229–31.
74 Committee on Commonwealth and Empire Settlement, preliminary note, n.d., Fisher papers ms 217, fos 291–2; Bickersteth, memorandum, n.d., Bell papers, ms183, fo. 233; Church of England Council for Commonwealth and Empire Settlement, report for the 15 months 1st January, 1955 to the 31st March, 1956, CRC, CECES–2–CA1176, 5.
75 Contrast, for example, confidential report of the Empire Settlement Commission, Bell papers, ms 183, fo. 18, with Jones to Bell, 27 Nov. 1956, ibid. fo. 239.
76 See proposal to appoint an assistant secretary, ibid. fos 148–51.
77 Report for the fifteen months 1 Jan. 1955 to 31 Mar. 1956, CRC, CECES–2–CA1176.
78 Gordon Lynch, ‘Pathways to the 1946 Curtis Report and the post-war reconstruction of children's out-of-home care’, Contemporary British History, 27 Apr. 2019, <https://doi.org/10.1080/13619462.2019.1609947>.
79 Children Act, 1948, ss.17, 33.
80 See documents and correspondence at TNA, MH102/2047.
81 See, for example, D. R. Hall to under-secretary of state, 9 Nov. 1951, TNA, MH102/1784. The minutes of meetings of the Council of Voluntary Organisations for Child Emigration are held in the Fairbridge collection at the University of Liverpool, Special Collections and Archives.
82 See, for example, note and memorandum by Home Office, TNA, MH102/1784.
83 Heyes to Official Secretary, UK High Commission, 22 July 1953, NAA, A445, 133/2/106.
84 See also (n. 9 above) interview with Ken Pound on his experience of being transferred immediately from the Swan Homes to Padbury.
85 See, for example, Anglican Homes for Children, Western Australia, 80th annual report, 1948, TNA, MH102/1888.
86 Extract from notes of Mr Moss, n.d., TNA, MH102/1890; report on Padbury's Boys’ Farm School, 4 Dec. 1951, NAA, PP6/1, 1949/H/1145.
87 See Nutt to UK High Commission, 5 Sept. 1952; P. L. Taylor to R. L. Dixon, 22 Sept., 1 Oct. 1952, MH102/1890.
88 See Ken Pound interview (n. 9 above).
89 Child migration to Australia: report of a fact-finding mission, cmd.9832, London 1956. Consent would have been required from the Home Secretary for children sent from England and Wales, and the Secretary of State for Scotland for children sent from Scotland. This proposal would have extended the existing requirement of s.17 of the 1948 Children Act for such consent to be given for children migrated from the care of local authorities.
90 See documents and correspondence at TNA, BN29/1325.
91 On the following points see confidential appendices on Melrose, Pendle Hill; St John's Church of England Home, Melbourne; Swan Homes, Perth; Clarendon Church of England Home, Kingston Park: ibid.
92 Some boys whom members of the mission met at Melrose were also said to be confused about why they had been sent to Australia. Positive comments were also made in the confidential appendices about Burton Hall Farm School, Tartura, Victoria, where although some criticism was made of selection choices by the council, no concerns were raised about lack of records. In a response to the mission's report, Enid Jones sought to justify the limited case histories sent over with child migrants by the council on the questionable grounds that such histories would inevitably be less detailed for children sent from parental, rather than residential, care: Jones to secretary of state, 26 Oct. 1956, TNA, DO35/6383.
93 Report of the inter-departmental committee on migration policy, 1956, TNA, DO35/4881, paras 57–97.
94 See E. R. Sudbury circular, 27 Dec. 1956, TNA, DO35/10269.
95 See, for example, Gibson to R. W. Whittick, 27 Nov. 1958, and Whittick to Gibson, 14 Jan. 1958, TNA, DO35/10268. On some degree of compliance with expected standards see the council's apparent avoidance of sending siblings to different parts of Australia: Jones to Madeleine, 23 Mar. 1950, NAA, A445, 133/2/10. On an earlier case of Home Office concern about the rigour of its selection processes, see also the earlier case in which the Home Office had intervened to suspend the migration of three brothers in a case where the council seemed to have made inadequate enquiries about the consent of both parents to their emigration in a case of contested custody: W. Lyon to G. M. Wansborough-Jones, 2 Dec. 1948, TNA, MH102/1886).
96 On this and the other criticisms see Whittick to Jones, 22 Apr. 1958, TNA, DO35/10268.
97 This point about the organisational value of receiving regular reports on child migrants overseas was emphasised in Women's Group on Public Welfare, Child emigration, London 1951, 61, a report with which members of the Council of Voluntary Organisations for Child Emigration would have been familiar.
98 ‘Emigration of children who have been deprived of a normal home life’, n.d., TNA, MH102/1558; NAA, K403, W59/63.
99 Whittick to D. M. Cleary with enclosure, 4 Feb. 1959, TNA, DO35/10268.
100 See Whittick to W. Peters, 20 Apr. 1960, TNA, DO35/10255.
101 W. Peters note, 8 Sept. 1960, TNA, DO35/10269.
102 See, for example, House of Commons debates on Children Bill, Hansard, s.5 cdl, 7 May 1948, and s.5, cdlii, 28 June 1948, and House of Lords debates on Children Bill, Hansard, s.5, cdxlviii, 9 Mar. 1948 and s.5, cdxlix, 13 Apr. 1948. Whilst disagreements were evident within the Church of England as to whether the welfare state was more generally a support or hindrance to the development of Christian virtues such disagreements were less common in relation to debates about raising standards of child-care: Church Assembly: report of proceedings, xxxi, 1951, spring session, 56–69, CRC.
103 See, for example, Jones to secretary of state, 26 Oct. 1956, TNA, DO35/6383.
104 See Lynch, ‘Catholic child migration’.
105 Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Child migration, 109–12.
106 See a similar ability to recruit senior figures from the colonial and Dominions services to chair territorial councils of the Assembly's Overseas Council: Church Assembly: report of proceeding, xxxi, 1951, autumn session, 374, CRC.
107 See Confidential Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Migration Policy, 1956, TNA, DO35/4881.
108 On this settlement see Church Assembly: report of proceedings, xxi, 35–6, CRC.
109 Church Assembly: report of proceedings, xxxiv, spring session, 90, ibid.
110 See report by Eve Kennedy, minutes of meeting of Church of England Moral Welfare Council, 7 Nov. 1956, ibid. MWC/Min/M/3.
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