The Foundling Hospital was established in 1739 by Thomas Coram, a shipwright and sailor, in reponse to the numbers of abandoned children on the streets of London. Little welfare existed for these 'foundlings' or their mothers who, due to poverty or society's strong disapproval of illegitimacy, were unable to care for them. Coram's charity provided the children with accomodation, food and clothes, religious instruction and education. It was funded by philanthropic individuals, including members of royalty and the nobility.
This print, created in 1774, depicts children within the Foundling Hospital's chapel. All children were baptised when they entered the charity, and religious instruction formed a core element of their care.