London Metropolitan Archives - Item Details

Billet books

Reference Code:

A/FH/A/09-1

From Collection:

FOUNDLING HOSPITAL

Scope and Content:
  • The billet books are bound volumes of forms used to record an inventory of all items of clothing, notes and tokens left with the foundlings on their admission to the Hospital. Mothers would leave some form of a token with the child as a means of enabling the child to be reunited with their mother should their circumstances change. The tokens took many forms, for example some were scraps of fabric, half of a playing card, coins, small objects and thimbles. The idea behind the tokens was that mothers would keep a matching swatch of fabric or coin, or the other half of a playing card and would present this when reclaiming the child. Many of the tokens are still attached to the billets however some have since been removed and are on display at the Foundling Museum. The swatches of fabric in the billet books have been used by numerous researchers in the study of eighteenth century fabric.
  • Due to the fragile nature of these items they can only be viewed in LMA's Conservation Studio. Please contact ask.lma@cityoflondon.gov.uk <mailto:ask.lma@cityoflondon.gov.uk> to make an appointment to view individual volumes.
Classification: CHARITIES
Site Location: London Metropolitan Archives
Level of Description:
    Subseries

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Access Restrictions: View in Conservation Studio by appointment only. Please contact staff.
Physical Condition: Fit
Related Material: Note one form of admission with token dated 2 June 1756 'W:W' 3 weeks old female, christened as Mary Ann Potero on 5 May 1756 at St James's Parish is held at the Museum of London (reference NN2711)