View Full Version : 'Books of Bastardy'/bastardy papers
03-12-2004, 1:07 PM
I am seeking the putative father of one of my Wawickshire ancestors, born around 1815. All I have at the moment is 'base born' in the parish register, with the child just carrying her mother's name.
What are the chances of finding out further information? Was there a legal requirement for parishes to maintain a 'book of bastardy' for the purposes of Poor Law administration? Was any pressure put upon unmarried mothers by the parish to 'name' (or indeed, not to name!) the father?
This is one area of family history I have not delved into yet.
03-12-2004, 2:00 PM
Just found this tucked away in my 'useful notes'
"The 1575/6 ACT punished the mothers and fathers of illegitimate children even to the point of sending them to prison. After 1609 the mother could be sent to the House of Correction unless she gave security of her good behaviour. After 1844 the mother of the illegitimate child could apply to the JP's for maintenance from the father. Fathers did end up marrying the mothers sometimes rather than face prison. Look for bastardy cases and bastardy bonds in the County Record Offices or in record offices where the estate records are deposited."
Parish Overeers were certainly keen to establish paternity, if the mother and/or child were likely to become a charge to the parish.
I can't say for Warcs. but I know from looking for a possible father for my gx2gr.father in Somerset, that most ROs do hold Bastardy Bonds and the like. Unless of course, the mother declined to name the father or she died at the birth. Then the child may often disappear into another family or be taken into the Workhouse, I have examples of both instances.
So, you may be lucky or not;)
03-12-2004, 3:29 PM
There's some information at
(great reference at the end :D )
Although a lot of the resources are pertinent to Lincolnshire, there are some generally-available books listed as well.
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