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Hannah and George Osborne, aged here about nine and six respectively, were the natural children of Dr John Ranby, physician to the royal household and a friend and neighbour of Hogarth in Chiswick. George was brought up as Ranby’s heir and changed his name to John Ranby by royal license in 1756. Although he was childless, Hogarth had a deep sympathy for children, especially those disadvantaged by poverty or the circumstances of their birth. In 1740 he became a leading light in London’s Foundling Hospital, which cared for orphaned children: he and his wife also acted as foster parents.

May 2007