By J. Keating
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Additional resources for A Child for Keeps: The History of Adoption in England, 1918-45
Medieval pages and Tudor apprentices grew up in families not their own; aunts, uncles, grandparents and neighbours brought up orphaned relatives and friends’ children. 2 But with the exception of the Poor Law adoptions described in the last chapter, there were no organised programmes of widespread domestic adoption prior to the First World War except for the limited examples described here. The beginning of organised adoption Adoption was probably too closely associated with baby farming for the practice to meet with much enthusiasm among those involved with children’s welfare.
The Act also gave mothers the right to succeed to their illegitimate child’s intestacy as though the relationship was legitimate and they were the only surviving parents, and it gave illegitimate children the right to take on their mother’s intestacy if she left no surviving legitimate issue. This Act was immediately used extensively. 106 2 Developments in the Voluntary Sector Informal adoption had always existed in all social classes. Neighbours might take in the children next door when they were left orphans to save them from the workhouse.
76 In 1857 the first major legislation around marriage, separation and custody – the Matrimonial Causes Act – was passed. This empowered the court to make interim orders before the final decree, and orders after it, for judicial separation, nullity of marriage and dissolution of marriage, with respect to the custody, maintenance and education of the children of the marriage. The act could also set in motion proceedings to place children under the Court of Chancery. Other legislation relating to custody and marital breakdown included the Custody of Infants Act 1873, which repealed the earlier 1839 Act and gave the Court of Chancery power to give access, custody and control to the mother of an infant under 16 (and then make arrangements for access by the father or guardian).