Coram True Stories

The Coram Hospital was London's first home for abandoned children where many a tradgedy took place. From reading this page you will find out just how many incidents happened and, how they compare with Coram Boy.

Coram Boy tells the tale of two young boys growing up in the Foundling Hospital. It deals with bullying, teenage pregnancy, rights, slavery and racism. Was this story based on the truth read on to find out......

Some 27,000 children passed through the doors of the hospital between the 18th century and the 20th century one of whom was a young girl called Mary Clifford...........
Mary spent some years at the Foundling Hospital until she was apprenticed off to Elizabeth Brownrigg, along with a few other girls her age. No boys from the Hospital were apprenticed to Elizabeth as they were apprenticed of at the age of 14.

Elizabeth was born in 1720 to a normal working class family. She then married James Brownrigg while still a teenager. She gave birth to sixteen children, however only three surrvived childhood. In 1765, with their remaining son(John), they moved to London's Fetter Lane where our story begins.

As a highly repected midwife of the time, Elizabeth was given custody a number of female children from the Foundling Hospital. She was however found ill suited to the task of caring for the girls and began to severly abuse them. This involved stripping them and chaining them to beams or pipes and then whipping them. All this torture for the smallest breech of her rules.

Mary Jones one of her first girls ran away and seeked refuge within the hospital once again and after a medical examination they demanded that James Brownrigg kept his wifes abusive behaviour in check. However nothing ever happened about it.

With the warning just being ignored, Brownrigg also severly abused Mary Mitchell and Mary Clifford. Like Jones before her, Mary Mitchell tried to return to the Foundling Hospital with no luck. John Brownrigg forced her to return to her abusive employer. Then, as a result of Jones and Mitchell trying to run, Mary Clifford came to more excessive punishment. She was stripped bare, forced to sleep on a mat inside a coal hole and fed only bread and water. As Mary was only fed water and bread she tried to open cupboards for food but was caught. Since hse was caught red handed, Brownrigg chained her to a roof beam for the day and beaten continuously.

By 1767 Mary Mithchell and mary Clifford had infections from their wounds and repeated assults didn't help with healing. Nonethless, Elizabeth's neighbours were becoming very suspicious with the goings on inside her house so the asked the hospital to investigate. When they did investigate Brownrigg gave in Mary Mitchell howver they demanded to know where Mary Clifford was and took James Brownrigg as prisoner, although Elizabeth and John escaped anyway.

On the run they were spotted by a businessman and the trio stood trial. however unfortunately by this time Mary Clifford had succombed to her infected wounds, therfore Elizabeth Brownrigg was charged with the 14 year olds murder and sentenced to be hung and her corpse be publicly disected.

You might have thought this was horrible and wretched (which it is) however Elizabeth wasn't the only person that did this to the Foudling Hospital children.