Royal Liverpool Seamen’s Orphan Institution (Seamen's Orphanage), records.



Before 1869 there was no institution in Liverpool for the support and education of the orphans of British seamen. The first move to interest the people of Liverpool in the possibility of establishing such an institution was made by a group of leading Liverpool shipowners who were concerned by the increasing need for such provision. Members of the public were invited to attend a meeting at the Mercantile Marine Service Association Rooms on the 16 December 1868 at which the resolution to found such an establishment was proposed by Ralph Brocklebank and Bryce Allan, both leading shipowners & philanthropists. James Beazley, another leading shipowner, was invited to take over the chairmanship of the executive committee formed to further the plan to establish an Orphanage. On 9 August 1869 the Liverpool Seamen’s Orphan Institution opened in temporary accommodation in Duke Street, and by the end of that year there were 60 children in residence. In 1870 Liverpool Town Council approved a resolution to give 7000 square yards of land at the north-east side of Newsham Park to the committee to construct a Seaman’s Orphan Institution. On the 31 January 1874 the children from the temporary home in Duke Street were transferred, together with 46 newcomers. In addition to the 200 children at the Orphanage, the Committee also looked after children on an outdoor relief basis. By 1899 it was recorded in the Annual report that there were 321 children in the Orphanage while 508 were receiving outdoor relief. Although children of all denominations were assisted with preference given to the claims of orphans of British seamen connected with the Port of Liverpool, the prayers were from the Church of England and the scholastic and religious instruction were under the supervision of the Chaplain. The formal opening of the Institution took place on the 30 September 1874, the ceremony being performed by the Duke of Edinburgh, the “Sailor Prince”, fourth son of Queen Victoria. In May 1886, the Queen herself visited the Institution, and granted the Orphanage the privilege of adding her name to the list of patrons. Royal patronage continued into the next century culminating in 1922, when the Institution was incorporated under Royal Charter. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the Orphanage was evacuated to Hill Bark, Frankby, Wirral. In 1946, preparations were made for the return to Newsham Park, but the Committee members were becoming increasingly concerned over the possible effect on the Orphanage of the great expansion in the country’s social services. These changes led to a gradual decline in the number of children living at the Orphanage. Additional new legislation prohibited children under 11 years of age being educated at the same school as older children, and made it illegal for young children to live in a school of an institutional character. Hence the Orphanage was closed on the 27 July 1949. However, the work of the Institution in providing for the relief and education of the orphaned children of seamen continues today and in 1969 the Institution celebrated its centenary. The collection was held on loan at the Maritime Archives & Library for many years until the records were gifted to National Museums Liverpool in March 2014. The RLSOI retains copyright and other property rights where applicable and shares responsibility under the Data Protection Act 1998 for access to any sensitive personal data with the Maritime Archives & Library. For further details see the attached catalogue or contact The Archives Centre for a copy of the catalogue.