Free Online Bible Library | Thomas John Barnardo

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Thomas John Barnardo

1845-1905. Converted in 1862, he became a member of the Plymouth Brethren and went to London from his Dublin home in 1866, determined to become a missionary doctor. Visiting the Stepney slums, the plight of a homeless waif, Jim Jarvis, inspired him to establish his first home for destitute boys in 1870. Equipped with amazing, if rather autocratic, nervous energy, great organizational flair, and journalistic skill in appealing to the public, he quickly built up a vast system. In 1873 a former public house provided the base for a church and a coffee palace; in 1876 he built a village at Ilford to provide homes for girls in small, less institutional, units; in 1882 he started to send children to Canada because of the better employment prospects, and in 1886 he began to arrange boarding-out for children. The organization so expanded that by the time of his death he had admitted 59,384 children to his homes, helped 20,000 to emigrate, and materially assisted a further 250,000.

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