Thomas Coram

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Coram, Thomas (1668–1751). Coram, a successful sea-captain, was an active philanthropist in the Walpole period, supporting the foundation of the colony of Georgia in America as a haven for debtors. Concerned at the plight of tiny children abandoned in the streets of London, he was the driving force behind the establishment of the Foundling hospital in 1739. Hogarth, who painted a fine portrait of Coram, gave his support and Handel conducted performances of Messiah to raise funds. In later life, Coram himself ran into financial difficulties and was assisted by a public subscription. He was buried in the chapel of his hospital and a statue raised outside. Though the hospital was demolished in 1928, the entrance lodges still stand in front of Coram's Fields, largely given over to children's playgrounds.

J. A. Cannon

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Thomas Coram (kôr´əm), 1668?–1751, English philanthropist and colonizer. He lived for some years in Massachusetts, working as a shipbuilder. On his return to England he became (1732) a trustee of James Oglethorpe's Georgia colony and sponsored (1735) a colony in Nova Scotia for unemployed artisans. He established the London Foundling Hospital (1739), a pioneer institution of its kind.