Thomas Coram was the son of a ships captain and was born in Lyme Regis in 1668. He became a shipwright and in due course moved to London where he gradually gained a reputation as a philanthropist. Amongst his schemes to assist the disadvantaged was one to provide a new life for the unemployed by sending them to Nova Scotia.
Coram was shocked by the sight, in London streets, of unwanted children who were left to fend for themselves or to die. He spent many years working to provide for them by establishing a foundling hospital - a place where they could be cared for. He quickened the interest of wealthy or influential people, including the artist, Hogarth. In 1741 the first children were taken in at a house in Hatton Garden and by 1745 his Foundling Hospital was opened.
Coram died on 29 March 1751 and was buried in the chapel of his Hospital.