Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Norfolk Female Orphan Society

Minute Book 1816-1853 Accession #9401, University of Virginia Library.

Jan 16, 1816, ‘The Female Orphan Society held their 12th annual meeting in the Methodist Meeting House’ [dates its foundation to 1804] ‘in addition to the number of orphans already under the care of this society, two more shall be received into the asylum, as soon as proper objects are found, & the number for the ensuing year will consequently be twenty.

 Feb 1st 1816 aside from main officers also chose 6 ladies as ‘visiting committee’ and 6 more as ‘soliciting committee’ Resolve to purchase an asylum house ‘proper for the orphans in their care’ ‘Jane Holsey, an orphan now in the asylum, shall be permitted to return to her mother, being a respectable women & now able to provide for her support.’

March 9th 1816 ‘That if the mother of Fanny Gaskins, an orphan now qualified to leave the asylum, should desire it, she may be permitted to return to her, & if not she shall be bound out as soon as a proper place for her can be obtained. ‘the orphan Ann Bainbridge be bound immediately to Mrs Ann Stevens, who applied for her’ Episcopal Bishop requested to preach charity sermon.

 July 1st 1816 ‘On report of the visiting committee that much sickness had prevailed among the orphans of the asylum, they were requested by the board to observe the utmost strictness in their examination of their diet &c & likewise to urge the Governess to pay the most exact attention to neatness & every particular that might contribute to the promotion of their health.’

July 26th 1816 Receive a legacy of $2,500 from Capt John Maxwell to purchase a house for an asylum for poor girls.

Oct 7th 1816 ‘A letter from the Governess of the asylum was laid before the board, containing a request to have her salary increased, & also to have the orphan Elkana Fisher bound to her. Thereupon resolved, that the salary at present allowed Mrs Latham being deemed a sufficient compensation for her services, no addition can consistently be made to it by the society.’ But agree to bind Elkana Fisher to her.

 Jan 2nd 1817 Annual Meeting ‘We have received eight children into the asylum, bound out two to suitable employments & discharged three at the request of their parents who had become able to provide for their support. We have also had the misfortune to lose one by death, notwithstanding all our best care & attention. She was indeed in low health when we took her into the school.’ Accounts show income of $607 from solicitors, and $272 from church collections Mary Weldon bound to Mrs Amelia White

Jan 28th 1817 ‘Mrs Richard Taylor then informed the board that by a communication received from the First Directress of the Orphan Society of Petersburg, she was requested to make known to them the wise of the managers of said society to place one of their orphans, being in particular circumstances, under the care of our institution for some months, her expenses to be duly discharged by them. Whereupon, resolved that it being contrary to the rules of our constitution to receive into our asylum any orphan from without the bounds of the borough, the managers regret they cannot comply with this request of their sister society.’ Dr Jennings, Meth preacher requested to preach charity sermon

April 1, 1817 Finitta Shearman sent to sister Mrs Casteen ‘if she is willing to have her bound to her’

July 1, 1817 Prepare Marble tablet honouring Capt John Maxwell’s donation and also ‘Rev Francis Asbury, Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who first formed the constitution & organised the Female Orphan Society of this Borough on the 24th day of March in the year of our Lord 1804

 Jan 2nd 1819 Annual Report ‘We have bound out four of the children to service in respectable families where they are likely to be well brought up & duly rewarded.

April 1, 1819 ‘Mr Parnell shall be permitted to take the orphan Jane McNey lately bound to him, to Baltimore.’

 July 1 1819 ‘That the child Caroline Baptiste be received into the Asylum on the resignation of her by her parents to the society’

Oct 1, 1819 That an orphan now under the care of Mrs Farquar be taken into the asylum as soon as Patsey McCarthy is bound to Mrs Taylor.

Jan 2, 1820 Board now have a ‘school committee’

April 1, 1820 ‘A letter from the Governess was read, on the subject of the intended proposition of the board, which she been informed of, to lower the salary allowed her, in consequence of the fall in the price of provisions. Whereupon Resloved that the deduction of $50 heretofore made in Mrs Latham’s salary, in consideration of her family’s occupying so large a part of the asylum, be relinquished, & the yearly allowance for each orphan be reduced to $50. This resolution being submitted to Mrs L was readily agreed to.’

April 18, 1820 ‘Mrs Smith, to whom the orphan Peggy Jones was bound, proving unworthy of the charge with the consent of a competent number of the managers, she was taken from Mrs S & May 2nd was bound to Mr Johnson, hatter.’ ‘The orphan Jane Hill, was bound to Mrs French May 2nd but remained in the asylum some weeks after’

July 1, 1820 ‘Reported that an application had been made by Mrs James Wilson so Smithfield, for the orphan Marian Fulton now in the asylum. Whereupon, Resolved 2nd that Mrs Tucker make some enquiries deemed prudent by the board, The result of these proving satisfactory, the orphan M Fulton be then bound to Mrs Wilson.’ [bound July 22] Mary Vincent bound to Mrs Hodges

July 7 1820 Elizabeth Barnet bd to Mrs Nancy Rogers

August 8, 1820 ‘The orphans Sally Campbell & Mary Reynolds were taken from the poor house & placed in the asylum, under the care of the managers’

Dec 7, 1820 Belvidera Foster bd to Mrs Swindills. ‘Seven children were received in 1820, & seven put out to service’

Jan 2, 1821 ‘that it be proposed to Mrs Latham, to deduct the sum of two dols from the salary allowed for each orphan under her care. This being accordingly done, Mrs L consented to the proposal for one quarter on trial, reserving to herself the right of rejecting it on the second, if she found it insufficient.’ ‘On report of the Governess, that the orphan Betsey Dorsey was frequently quilty of several improper practices, by the advice of the managers, she was brought before them, & admonished by the first directress.

 Jan 1821 With the consent of a competent number of managers, Mrs Francis French not finding the orphan Jane Hill, to answer her purpose, transferred her indentures to Mrs Polly Hanon.’

March 2, 1821 ‘the orphan Mary Vincent having given great dissatisfaction to Mrs & Mrs Hodges to whom she had been bound, at their request was bound to Madame Dikins.

April 2, 1821 ‘Miss tucker then acquainted the board with the wish of Dr Shepherd to have the orphan Eliza Williams bound to him, whereupon Resolved that the board highly approve of this home for the said orphan & that she be bound to Dr S as soon as he may request it.’

July 1, 1821 ‘That the application of Mrs Brundel for one of the orphans be attended to by Mrs Moseley & Southgate & if it be thought a suitable place, Mary Ann Richardson be bound to her immediately.’

Nov 26, 1821 ‘The directress then laid before the board of managers, a proposition of the common council viz, that the ladies should receive into the asylum such young Female Orphans as are at present in the poor house, or may in future have legal claims on the corporation for support, offering for the board &c of each such child, the sum of sixty dollars per annum and subjecting each such orphan to the general and particular rules of the institution. The proposition put to vote and acceded to without opposition.’

 July 1, 1822 ‘A petition from Mrs Latham for an increase of salary – rejected unanimously as impracticable.’ Betty Dorsey bd to Mrs Currier

August 12, 1822 Betty Dorsey recd back into asylum ‘Resolved that Mrs Foster, to whom Fanny Stroud was bound, may keep the child as long as she remains in Norfolk, but if she leaves Norfolk, must return her to the asylum.

Aug 18, 1822 Betty Dorsey ‘given up to her brother who has agreed to support her’

April 1st 1823 Received donations of clothes from various gentlemen and $20 from Dorcas Society Betsey Butt orphan of 13 bd to aunt Sarah Ethridge.

Oct 1, 1823 ‘Resolved that Mrs Latham be required to see that the children do the work, furnished by the ladies, for the purpose of aiding the funds, in procuring small needful article of consumption in the school.’

April 1, 1825 M Hodges bd to her brother ‘That the society united for the instruction of poor children shall have the privilege of meeting once a week, in the manager’s room at the orphan asylum.’

April 1, 1826 ‘That if the parents will relinquish them, the two little Dawleys shall be placed in the asylum.’

 July 1, 1826 Eliza Hidges bd to brother.

Oct 1, 1826 ‘that enquiries be made respecting the character, & situation of Mrs Barsaline who has applied for her sister, one of the orphans, in the asylum.’

Jan 1, 1827 That the visiting committee shall make efforts to put out, two of the children best qualified for service and thereby made a vacancy for two which the common council wish to place in the asylum.’

April 1, 1827 ‘Mary Martin shall go to her sister Mrs Barsaline in Portsmouth and a child now in the poor house shall fill the vacancy. Rebekah Rose shall be bound to Mrs Pitt, and Mrs Piercy’s child shall fill the vacancy, thereby made Mary Rollins to Mrs Perrier &c Mrs Cooper’s child shall be received in her place.

July 1, 1827 A petition from Mrs Latham for the priviledge of having her daughter in the asylum with her, during her month of confinement – rejected The priviledge granted Mrs Latham of attending her daughter at her own residence at that time, furnishing a competent person to instruct and take care of the children in her absence’

Jan 2, 1829 Eliza Grymes bd to sister Mary Campbell bd to Mrs Bedell ‘eligible situation’

April 1, 1829 ‘at the request of the Infant School Society, recently formed in this place that the said Infant School shall have the use of the large school room in the Asylum for the ensuing quarter.’

July 1 1829 Infant School Society continues another quarter – pays Mrs L $2 month for cleaning etc Sally Hall bd to grandfather in Philadelphia

Jan 2, 1830 ‘Mrs Taylor, having taken Eliza Cheery and finding her not qualified for the services required asks the privildge of returning her & taking Mary Kilgrow – granted.

Oct 1, 1830 Mrs L gives notice of resignation at end of year. Ladies advertise in Herald & Beacon for a ‘pious woman’ who can instruct children ‘in reading, writing, working and all useful, plain branches of education’

Dec 2nd 1830 Apptd Mrs Elizabeth Jakeman as new matron

April 2, 1832 ‘An application being made for one of the orphans by her sister, Mrs French was appointed to enquire into the character &c of the applicant’

July 1836 ‘That a committee of ladies be appointed to engage a person to instruct the children three times a week in arithmetic and penmanship.’

Oct 2, 1837 ‘That Mrs Steed and MRs Cosby be appointed a committee with discretionary power to restore Ellen West to her mother, or otherwise as in their judgement may seen most prudent & proper.’ Mrs Jakeman gives notice – board thanks ‘the diligence and affectionate fidelity with which she has uniformly discharged the duties of her office’

Dec 13, 1837 Miss Margaret Miller elected matron. ‘That the advantages which have resulted from the adoption of the rule excluding colored servants from the establishment, render it necessary that the said rule, dispensing with their service, shall become a permanent law of the institution.’

 Jan 2, 1838 ‘A renewed application from the relatives of Ellen Curtis having been received, resolved that it is inexpedient at present to grant their request’

April 2, 1838 ‘that from henceforth that it is expedient that mean shall be an article of the chidlren’s food once every day’

 July 2, 1838 ‘An application from Mrs Lappin for her two children having been received it was resolved That Mrs Lappin’s request be granted’

Oct 1, 1838 Miss Miller asks for pay rise, gets $57.50 up from $55 per annum per child

Jan 9, 1840 22 children in Asylum – fluctuates between about 17 and about 23. Epis Church coll: $247

Jan 2, 1843 ‘That the application of Mrs Dixon for her sister Elizabeth Grant be refused’

 Jan 1st 1844 Rules that no child over 9yrs by admitted. Mrs Dixon permitted to take her sister.

Jan 2, 1845 ‘That the secretary be requested to address a note to the minister of the Methodist church reminding him that no collection had been received from that church the past year & asking his immediate attention to it.

April 1, 1845 ‘That Lily Moore be returned to her father as his present circumstances are sufficiently bettered to justify his support of her.’

Oct 1, 1845 ‘That in future, when a child is admitted into the asylum, special inquiry be made to ascertain whether it has been baptised, if not, that it be attended to immediately provided none of its friends object to it.’

April 1, 1846 Thoughts that the asylum building might be unsafe, ask a number of gentlemen to give their opinion. ‘Harriet Boise returned to the asylum after an absence of nearly 4 years, her uncle being dead.’

May 10th 1846 Confirmation that building needs to be knocked down, agree to advertise the lot and appeal for donations through the press. ‘That Mrs Chamberlain & Mrs Talbot be a committee to wait upon Col Garnett to ascertain whether the funds of the late Benevolent Depository would not be given to aid in rebuilding the asylum.’

 July 1, 1846 Money received from Benevolent Depository (amount unspecified)

Aug 5th 1846 ‘That the managers of this society having entire confidence in the committee of gentlemen already appointed give them full authority to do what they thing best, for the good of the institution, with regard to building their new asylum, begging them to bear in mind that the building must be plain, substantial, & convenient, without ornament, or any thing superfluous.’

March 5, 1847 ‘Resolved that the asylum be taken down & entirely rebuilt, & that the building committee be requested to set about the work, so soon as may be convenient. The amount of funds on hand for this purpose are $2400’

July 15, 1847 Building committee recommend buying a house, board prefer to build new asylum, resolve to sell existing site

July 25 1847 Ladies change their mind and decide to keep old site.

April 4, 1848 ‘Mrs Pratt’s application for her child be granted, if after her marriage, it appear that she can take good care of her’ ‘That none of the children be permitted to go market except with Mrs Gaskins or some other white person’

 July 1, 1852 ‘Lydia Morse, one of the orphans, left the asylum about the last of May, without permission, supposed to have gone to her sisters’

Account Book 1846-1865

Accounts for Jan 1854 show little reliance on dividends and stock, only one share in Farmer’s Bank Stock – Y of $43 Jan 54; other annual income includes church collections [Pres $65, Bap $39; Meth, $43 – Nov 57 Epis $180], appropriation from city, $100, and from school commissioners $100; main contribution is from donations, and collections made by individuals, not subscription from members.