Edward Capeling was born on May 15, 1878 in Sunderland, Durham, England, to Edward Capeling (a riveter/mariner) and Kate Thomas (a fish hawker). The following are the remarks of the Medical Officer when Edward was first assessed on December 4th, 1893 when he was 15 years old:
‘This youth was brought to our Newcastle “Ever Open Door” by Mr. Wilkinson, police court missionary at Sunderland, having been charged before the Bench at that place with begging, and the magistrates granting a week’s remand till our decision should be known. Our local agent sent us the following report:
The lad’s father deserted his family two years ago, and is of drunken and bad character. The mother has three other children to maintain, and is in a most poverty-stricken condition, gaining a few pence by hawking mussels from door to door. The lad, for truancy, was committed to the Green Street Industrial School for three years, his term expiring some time ago. He has been a member of an acrobatic troupe, then took to hawking fish in the street, carrying parcels, etc. In this way he existed until he was found begging and taken in charge by the police. He has otherwise, it is said, never been in prison. His mother has visited and expressed a hope that something might be done for her son, whom she could not keep and had not seen for a long time. The relatives are all very poor. When brought to our Shelter the lad was found to be in a very dirty state, and his clothes a mere heap of rags. He is a big strong lad and well able to work, though he seems to be lacking in energy. Our agent found him honest and truthful while at the Shelter. The expense of his journey to London was defrayed out of the police poor-box.’
Edward was sent to Canada in March of 1984 on the Sarnia and he was placed with Jonah Carpenter, Dawn Mills Ontario on April 14th, 1894. There was some correspondence negotiating the price Mr. Carpenter would pay, but $40/year was finally agreed upon and Edward ended up staying at this farm for 2 years. There were regular visits and reports, for example:” Jan 1896 Mr. Owens Report – employer Mr. Carpenter Dawn Mills. This lad enjoys excellent health and bears an excellent character as an industrious steady worker”. The summer Edward turned 18, he moved to a new farm in the nearby town of Turnerville to be employed by Thomas Shaw for $110/year. Mr. Carpenter couldn’t afford what Edward was worth and they parted friends, continuing to visit. In 1898, Edward again changed employers and worked at the farm of James Stevens, also in Turnerville. On March 9th, 1898, Edward married a local farmer’s daughter, Carrie Moore and they made their home in nearby Dresden, Ontario. By 1901, Edward and Carrie have a son and a daughter and Edward has had a series of factory jobs. It is reported that he and his wife were parted for a time, but are back together. Regular yearly reports continued until the last one: ‘Sept 30, 1905 Mr. Griffith reports that lad met with serious accident last June – fell down the hatchway of a ship he was working on – was in Detroit hospital two months & it was thought he would not recover. Later he came home to Turnerville where his wife and three children live – has lately gone to work again.’
Edward and Carrie ended up having 9 children, the final one being my grandmother (Helen) who was born February 19th , 1926 and is still living in Oakville, Ontario. She reports that she didn’t see much of her father: he was a away for long periods of time, presumably for work. Edward Capeling died in 1939 when Helen was only 13 years old, so getting this information about Edward’s Barnardo experience was very valuable to her.