Liverpool History Society Questions

A selection of Liverpool history questions submitted to the Liverpool History Society

Nurse child/adoption practices in Liverpool 1860s 70s


I’m researching my family history and trying to find out more about my gt grandfather, who is listed as a nurse child in Liverpool in the 1871 census and then as an adopted son in 1881. I’ve been trying, so far without success, to learn more about nurse child/adoption practices in Liverpool at the time and wondered if anyone associated with the LHS would be able to help.
I’d be grateful for any information or leads.

Best wishes
Steve Platt

22/10/2009 - Posted by | Nurse child/adoption practices in Liverpool 1860s 70s


  1. Hello Steve,

    I will forward your email to the LHS committee.


    Rob Ainsworth

    Liverpool History Society

    Comment by Liverpool History | 22/10/2009 | Reply

  2. Thanks Rob. Do you know if there would have been any system of payment to people who took on a 'nurse child' as with fostering today?

    Comment by Steve Platt | 24/10/2009 | Reply

  3. Hello Steve,

    I do not think there was any payment involved, but I will find out more when I interview the lady, hopefully this week. It appears to have been a common practice for many decades, so long as the nurse handing over the child knew the background of the adoptor. From what I can glean it appears to have been to done with the best of intentions, to save the child from being brought up in an orphanage and in this case handed over to a loving, caring lady.


    Rob Ainsworth

    Programme Secretary & Web Administrator
    Liverpool History Society

    Comment by Liverpool History | 24/10/2009 | Reply

  4. Hello Steve,

    the adoption services around this period and unbelievably up to the 1960s appears to be on an informal basis. I am about to conduct an oral history of a lady who was adopted by a lady. When the girl reached her teens, her adopted mother thought she needed a so she went to Sefton General Hospital in Smithdown Road and collected a young baby boy from the ward sister.

    Fortunately for the children, the lady who adopted them was a caring and loving mother to the orphans and brought then up in a good, supportive and loving home. The point I am making, is that it appears if this was an acceptable method of adoption in the 1960s then one can only assume there was a similar regime in the 19th C. No doubt abuses of this informal arrangement brought about the strict guidelines and laws on adoption we enjoy in the 21st C. I am very much looking forward to interviewing the lady in question.


    Rob Ainsworth

    Programme Secretary & Web Administrator
    Liverpool History Society
    Web Site:

    Comment by Liverpool History | 25/10/2009 | Reply

  5. Talking about adopting children has anyone heard of a functionary known as the Talley man? Apparently, he was sent in to the slums of Liverpool to count the number of children living in a house and if there were more than there should be, he took them away, presumably for them to be adopted or sent to the workhouse

    Comment by sonia morris | 09/12/2009 | Reply

  6. Hello Sonia,

    please see Talley Man link to the right or paste this link into your web browser.

    Rob Ainsworth
    Liverpool History Society

    Comment by Liverpool History | 11/12/2009 | Reply

  7. I have an interest on this topic of informal adoption/fostering. The story goes that my nan was adopted into a family in Liverpool in 1914 and it appears that she came from Glasgow through a Catholic priest there. The widow of the family she was adopted into had several children of her own and after her husband died she fostered/adopted at least four children including my nan. The first being in 1908 a year after the husband died. My questions are would the woman have done this for money? As she only did it after losing her husband. If she did do these fosterings/adoptions for money then there must have been a record somewhere? They lived in Everton at the time. What Catholic churches e.g. SFX etc could have been involved in this. Or can you advise me if there were any Catholic organisations that might have helped with this. Then I can try and see if there are records to check. I have asked the Nugent foundation in Liverpool but they couldn’t help me. One of the children, a boy was the only one to be ever officially adopted.

    Thanks again for your time.

    Comment by Katrina | 04/09/2011 | Reply

  8. Hello,

    I would suggest the Nugent Care Society, Liverpool


    Rob Ainsworth
    Liverpool History Society

    Comment by Liverpool History Society Questions | 04/09/2011 | Reply

  9. Hi

    I wondered if anyone had any advice for me. I’m trying to find out more information on my brother who was adopted at 1 years old. My parents passed away when I was very young. I’ve just tracked down his birth certificate and it also states on there ‘Adopted’ – signed by the superintendent registrar for Liverpool South.

    My next idea is to register on the Contact Register but is there anywhere else that I could possibly check/contact to see if i can find out more about the adoption and info on my brother?



    Comment by Keith | 08/02/2012 | Reply

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