Six key facts about the 'ladies of quality and distinction'


Today we’re sharing with you six key facts about the ladies who helped Thomas Coram with his campaign to establish the Foundling Hospital.

Did you know...

1. It took Thomas Coram over 17 years of campaigning to get the Royal Charter to establish the Foundling Hospital. He began in 1720, but it wasn’t until 1729 that he had a breakthrough when the first of the ‘ladies of quality and distinction’ signed his petition.

2. The first lady signed on 9 March 1729, the last on 7 May 1735.

3. Of the ladies who signed the petition, we think that six were childless, while several others had very young children. Dorothy, Countess of Burlington, sadly lost a young daughter in 1730, the year in which she signed the petition.

4. The ladies’ petition with 21 signatures was put to the King in 1735. A second petition followed in 1737 from noblemen and gentlemen, with 375 signatures in total.

5. Charlotte, Duchess of Somerset, was the youngest of the ladies, and the first to sign his petition. Although her date of birth is uncertain, we think that she was probably 18 when she signed in 1729. The oldest lady was Anne, Baroness Trevor, who was around 64 years of age in 1734 when she signed.

6. The ladies include seven duchesses and one dowager duchess, three baronesses and two dowager baronesses, and eight countesses.

Following in the spirit of the 'ladies of quality and distinction', can you help our campaign and shine a light on these remarkable women? All donations, no matter what the size, make a difference.

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