In 1878, The Cambrian newspaper departed from its usual dry reporting of the meetings of Swansea’s Guardians of the Poor to publish an account of a ‘child adoption’, in which a female child was taken from the workhouse to be ‘adopted’ by a local woman. The only comparable entry in the guardians’ minute book is from their meeting on 22 August and relates to a Mrs Esau’s application to ‘adopt’ Bessie Havard, it was written without any of the drama and relish of The Cambrian’s version which I have copied in full below. I don’t know how much sentimental licence the newspaper used and to what extent it was a true representation of the guardians’ conversation, but its worth reproducing verbatim as the text raises many questions which I explore below.
The Cambrian, 6 September 1878, ‘Child adoption’.
“There, take her, and God bless you!”
Twas a Guardian of the Poor of the Swansea…
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