Thomas Coram

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Missing image
William_Hogarth_053.jpg
Thomas Coram, painted by William Hogarth, 1740

The sea captain Thomas Coram (1668-1751) was born in Lyme Regis, Dorset, U.K. He spent much of his early life at sea and in the American colonies. From 1694 to 1705, he operated a ship building business at Taunton, Massachusetts. He afterwards became a successful merchant in London and, in 1732, a trustee of James Oglethorpeís Georgia colony. In 1735 he sponsored a colony in Nova Scotia for unemployed artisans. As a great philanthopist Coram was appalled by the many abandoned, homeless children living in the streets of London. On October 17, 1739 he obtained a Royal Charter granted by George II establishing a "hospital for the maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children."

In 1742-1745 a new Foundling Hospital was erected in Lamb's Conduit Fields, Bloomsbury. It is said to be the world's first incorporated charity. William Hogarth was among the first governors of the Hospital. He also painted a famous portrait of Thomas Coram (1740; now Foundling Museum, London), and, together with some of his fellow artists, decorated the Governors' Court Room.

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