The Protestant Orphan Society and its social significance in Ireland, 1828–1940

By June Cooper

The Protestant Orphan Society and its social significance in Ireland, 1828–1940

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8884-1
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: December 2014
  • BIC Category: Charities, voluntary services & philanthropy, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Children's Studies, Sociology, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Social Work, Social work, Society & social sciences / Child welfare, Society & social sciences / Charities, voluntary services & philanthropy


The Protestant Orphan Society, founded in Dublin in 1828, managed a carefully-regulated boarding-out and apprenticeship scheme. This book examines its origins, its forward-thinking policies, and particularly its investment in children's health, the part women played in the charity, opposition to its work and the development of local Protestant Orphan Societies. It argues that by the 1860s the parent body in Dublin had become one of the most well-respected nineteenth-century Protestant charities and an authority in the field of boarding out. The author uses individual case histories to explore the ways in which the charity shaped the orphans' lives and assisted widows, including the sister of Sean O'Casey, the renowned playwright, and identifies the prominent figures who supported its work such as Douglas Hyde, the first President of Ireland.

This book makes valuable contributions to the history of child welfare, foster care, the family and the study of Irish Protestantism.


'With this beautifully crafted and well-researched volume, Cooper has produced a significant contribution to Irish social history. She has unearthed rich and long-neglected archives, meticulously analysing evidence that helps us to understand both the social structure of the Irish Protestant community and the way Evangelicalism affected attitudes to the poor and the organisation of collective self-help.'
Eugenio Biagini, University of Cambridge, Irish Economic and Social History 2016, Vol 43 (1)


1. Origins, 1828-30
2. PO Societies and the Poor Law, 1830-50
3. The 'family system', 1830-50
4. Opposition and support, 1850-98
5. Bereaved families and boarded-out children, 1850-98
6. Child training or child labour? 1850-98
7. Tradition versus change, 1898-1940
8. Decline and resilience, 1898-1940
Select bibliography


June Cooper is an Independent Scholar

The Protestant Orphan Society and its social significance in Ireland, 1828–1940

By June Cooper

Hardcover £80.00 /

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