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A photo of a Lambeth boy in his best clothes.

There is no actual photo of Charlie as he was just an ordinary boy in a time before photos were common.


Charles ( Charlie )


about 14

Place of Birth





shepherd boy

Place living now

Australia ( New South Wales )


Click photo for fullsize image

Good stuff : his dog, reading, the beautiful countryside of Australia

Bad stuff : very hot sun, being far from his family, feeling lonely at times

Documents . Ragged School printed newsletter with letters home from Australia, modern photo of sheep in Australia, map of 1825 & nineteenth century engraving of boy shepherd.

Charlie was a young man living in London in the 1840s. As his family were very poor his chances of a good job and life in London were not good. He won a prize to live in Australia as a shepherd. To read his letter home he seems to have found the place lovely although he missed his family at home.

Teachers notes

Charles Phillips was a prize winner. His gift was to be given a new outfit of clothes and a ticket on a ship sailing to Australia to start a new life there. To be chosen the pupils of the "Ragged Schools", as the organisation of schools for poor children was called, had to have excellent attendance at school, to read fluently, be able to repeat the Our Father prayer and the Ten Commandments and have a good knowledge of a useful craft skill, such as shoe repair or tailoring, or for the girls training as a lady's maid. The few other London children who arrived under the same scheme praised the natural beauty of Australia and its cleanliness. However like Charlie they were often lonely for their families. In their letters home some ask for their parents and brothers and sisters to come and join them, others for friends or sweet hearts to come out to Australia to be with them.

We have details of Charles' work and income from the letter that was printed in the Ragged Schools newsletter, as well as details of the voyage to Australia. We also note his wish for all of his family to come and join him. They would do well in Australia he says.

"Letters from Ragged School Emigrants " was a small booklet printed especially for the Ragged School and its wealthier funders. It is likely that one reason for the printing was to show rich supporters of the schools what good work they were doing. We do not know how much the letters were edited before printing although the selection we have seem remarkably honest and down to earth. Charles mentions for example people dying on the ship whilst they were travelling. He also pleads " Dear Father and Mother, I wish you would come out. "

It is clear that Charles was not an orphan. He had family but we presume that they were poor and so having the chance to get a stable job in a new country was seen as a good thing. The letter from Charles is the only information we have specifically about him.

www.Lambethlandmark.com : search words; Ragged school : orphan : Global links Australia

Web links www.Barnardo's.org.uk

"Alone on the Wide Wide Sea", Michael Morpurgo Story of an orphan boy sent to Australia in the 1940s. (age 9 +)

"Anne of Green Gables", E. L. Montgomery Fictional story of an orphan girl sent to work on a farm in Canada, published 1908.

" Children of the Empire " Gillian Wagner 1982 isbn 0297 78047 6 Non-fiction tells the story of thousands of children sent abroad from Britain to the colonies of Canada, Australia, New Zealand & South Africa mainly to work on farms or as domestic servants.