Charles Hambley






















CHARLES HAMBLEY 1884-1962 Charles was just five years old that day in 1889, when his mother delivered him to Barnardo's in London. He was sick, malnourished,and upset. His father had died just three months previous, leaving his mother with no means to support herself and her three children. Since then, the family had been subsisting on a parish donation of three loaves of bread a week. All the children were sick; Barnardo's was her last hope. She signed the papers giving up her rights to the children. The misery of the children can be seen in their admission photo. Charles cannot hold his head up, and his eyes are full of tears. His father died and left him, now his mother was leaving him. He felt scared and helpless. His older brother, Harry, was also sick, but angry, and defiant. A year later, Charles and Harry were sent to Teighmore, on the Channel Island of Jersey. This is where boys "in delicate health" were sent. The climate there was the best in England. After 5 years, they returned to London, where they were photographed again, before being sent to Canada. These pictures show both boys in greatly improved health. Charles was placed with Alex Fair of Purple Grove, Lot 9, C 12, Huron twp, Bruce county, near Goderich. Harry was 10 km away in Holyrood, close enough to visit on Sundays. Both boys were small for their age, had no farm experience, and were unaccustomed to harsh Canadian winters. It seems Alex Fair was not really very fair with Charles. He complained that Charles was not strong enough to do all the work and was not worth the $100 for six years of labour. He got Barnardo's to drop the price to $90. Charles was so angry, he threatened to sue Mr Fair. In spite of this, Charles was awarded the Barnardo's Good Conduct Medal. Charles made requests to Barnardo's for contact with his mother, and she made similar requests for news of her boys. A third brother, Frederick,also made requests, and even signed himself in to Barnardo's when he was 15, in hopes of being sent to join his brothers. It seems these requests did not produce the desired results, and must have made Charles feel even more rejected. When the six year contract was up, Harry went to Toledo to work for a short time, but had to return to Ontario to get treatment for an eye infection. Around the same time, Charles met with an accident, and wrote to Barnardo's for news of Harry. As soon as Harry was well enough, he went to see Charles, but could not find him. Harry spent the rest of his life looking for Charles, without success. Not knowing what had happened to Harry, Charles must have interpreted this as yet another rejection. From that time, Charles made no further attempt to contact any of his family. For the rest of his life, he steadfastly maintained that he had no living relatives. He told his wife that he was born in London, Ontario, and deliberately gave wrong names for his parents on his marriage licence. Charles had a loving wife and nine loving children, but his family say he was very quiet, almost withdrawn. They did not know why, because they did not know about his previous life and experiences. Charles was only 5'3" tall, but he served in both WWI and WWII.