About the object

A ‘poor badge’?

The original purpose of this object is not yet known for certain. St Swithin and St Ethelburga were two parishes in the City of London, but have no other known connection. A likely theory is that this was a badge awarded by parish authorities to people they considered to be ‘deserving poor’. It conferred the right to beg within that parish.

Made of brass, the badge is pierced with holes allowing it to be sewn onto heavy fabric such as a cloak.


Making a match

Researchers have been able to match this token to the child it was left with thanks to the clear imprint the badge left on the admission form, or billet. The imprint can be read in reverse ‘ETH .. BU … AND… W’.

The token would have been wrapped in this admission billet when it was left with the child and was stored away for almost a century. When the tokens were put on display in the 1850s, the connection between the child and her token was lost.

But because of the imprint on the paper, the link can be reestablished. We know that this badge was left in March 1760 with a baby girl who was renamed Rachel Porter by the Hospital.