A hospital for orphans.--Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828
Death of Capt. Thomas Coram (c. 1668-1751),
English philanthropist, whose habitual good deeds, such as the establishment in 1741 of London's Foundling Hospital -- or Foundling Asylum, as he called it -- left him penniless. In 1745 the artist William Hogarth and other friends raised enough money to provide Coram -- who had once been shipwrecked -- with a modest £161 annuity, which paid the captain's basic expenses during the last six years of his life. William Walsh's Handy-Book of Curious Information (1913) reported on an unusual problem that cropped up at the orphanage long before the advent of DNA testing: "One of the minor difficulties, which still persists, though in minimized form, is that of naming the foundlings. In former times, persons of quality and distinction used occasionally to act as sponsors, and honored the children with their names. The practice has been abandoned because the children, when they grew up, used to claim relationship on the strength of it."