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Bastardy Papers

The first legislation on the subject in 1576 stated that a child was settled in the parish of its father unless a bastard which would be settled in the parish of its mother. Later in 1733 an Act was passed which allowed for the imprisonment of the father until the parish were indemnified of payment for the childs care.

A parish would be liable to make payments for a bastard child with legal settlement until it entered an apprenticeship or reached the age of 14. In order to prove settlement for such a child the mother would be “examined” to find the name of the father. Once this was established a warrant was issued for the father to appear before a magistrate to arrange payment from him for the child. A Bastardy Order was drawn up after the birth to list who would pay what towards the child’s upkeep and a Bond was entered into with the father and bondsmen pledging fixed sureties. We have found the following examples:

Bastardy Examination records

Elizabeth FOLLAND

We have several FOLLAND ancestors from Beaford but have not identified this Elizabeth however her records are worth noting here. She could possibly be the base child of Judith FOLLAND, Elizabeth [2391] baptised in Beaford 17 Apr 1791. On the baptism of an earlier base born daughter Judith is colourfully described as “an Harlot”.

Elizabeth FOLLAND voluntarily made an oath to John BOGAN esquire Justice of the Peace on the

“Fourteenth day of February in the Fifty Sixth year of the Reign of our sovereign Lord George the third by the Grace of God, of Great Britain and Ireland United, King, Defender of the Faith, and so forth, and in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and sixteen”.  She claimed to be expecting a child likely to be a bastard chargeable to the Parish of Beaford.

She named Richard GATON [10577] as the father

 “Richard Gaton having had carnal knowledge of her Body, on or about the 14th day of August  last in the Parish of Roborough ... no other person hath had carnal Knowledge of her Body ...”

So a Bastardy Warrant was issued to apprehend Richard GATON.

The second document about the case said that Richard GATON has been brought in front of  John BOGAN Justice of the Peace and

“... hath refused to give Security to indemnify the said parish (Beaford) and has also refused to enter into a Recognizance with sufficient Surety ... in Pursuance of an Act passed in the Eighteenth Year of the Reign of her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth concerning Bastards begotten and born out of lawful Matrimony ...”

He was ordered to be taken to the Bridewell at Exeter where he was to be kept safely until he gave the required Security.

A Richard GAYTON was a 45 year old Farmer in Roborough on the 1841 census and a Richard GATTON was baptised in Roborough 16 Sep 1792 the son of William and Mary GATTON. Do these events relate to the putative father?

Bastardy Bonds

Judith FOLLAND [757] was subject to a Bastardy Bond on 29 Dec 1773 [2215A add PO 35/4/1] when she stated that -

“eighteen weeks ago last Tuesday was delivered of a Bastard female Child”.

She gave birth to Grace on 17 August in Beaford and named George SMALE [2487] of Petrockstowe as the father. Henry STEVENS and John WOOLLCOMBE two local Justices of the Peace adjudged -

“George SMALE of Petrockstow in the said County Husbandman be the father of a Bastard female Child born of the Body of Judith FOLLAND and likely to be Chargeable to the said parish of Beaford ...was ordered to pay unto the Church Wardens and Overseers of the poor of the said parish Eight pence weekly towards the Maintenance of the said child”.

He also had to pay a further eighteen shillings for Judith’s “Lying in”. It was also deemed that Judith should also pay the Church Wardens and Overseers eight pence a week if she decided not to nurse the child herself. By 1776 however George had not paid and now owed the Parish of Beaford over four pounds so the Parish applied again to the Justices of the Peace to make George SMALE pay his bill. They issued a warrant to bring him to the next “Session of the Peace”. Unfortunately the result is unknown. Judith however went on to have at least five children out of wedlock, her situation is summarised here.

From the Parish registers

Grace daughter of Judith FOLLAND an harlot Sep 19 1773
William son of Judith FOLLAND harlot baptized May ye 10th 1777
Rebecca Daughter of Judith FOLLAND an Harlot Baptizd Sept the 27th 1779
Robert base child of Judith FOLLAND Baptizd May 25 1781
Elizabeth base child of Judith FOLLAND 17 Apr 1791

From Rootschat Bernice010

William died 7 Oct 1778
Rebecca died 3 Feb 1808

From the Bastardy Bonds records found in North Devon Record Office, Barnstaple:

Judith FOLLAND female child (this was Grace) - George SMALE of Petrockstow, Husbandman putative father 1773. After George was named as the father a maintenance order was issued against him which was followed by a Warrant to apprehend him on 1 May 1776. He appears to have been to Hatherliegh as this had been written in and crossed out on the warrant.

In the Overseers accounts 1778-1791 there are monthly entries like this one:

Nov 14th 1779 signed by Richard BUDD [10571] ( Richard BUDD was married  to Judith's sister Margaret)

Judith FOLLAND child pd 2s
Judith FOLLAND 2nd child pd 2s

The second child was Rebecca, William had died before 1779. There was no father mentioned for William, Rebecca, Robert or Elizabeth in the poor law papers.

Judith continues to be paid monthly for two children until October 1780, by now the rate is 2s 8d per child but the entry for "second child" has been rubbed out in November. No death for an unaccounted FOLLAND has been found so has the second child died or been bound an apprentice?

Grace became a parish apprentice aged 8 in 1781. She was bound to William WEBBER for Housewifery until she was 21 or married. Bearing in mind that Judith had been labelled “An harlot” at Grace's baptism was she in fact not the first child?.

In 1782 John MILLS signs the accounts and Judith FOLLAND is recorded as receiving the allowance for BAZALS child.  This was probably Robert baptised May 25 1781.

The accounts continue monthly until 1783 which becomes somewhat strange as she gets money for “child HARRIS” from Aug and “child Richard TASKER” is added in December she can't possibly have two children so close together but as can be seen from the Bond against George SMALE she waited eighteen weeks to report the birth so the HARRIS child  may have been earlier. Possibly she was being paid to look after two children for widowed fathers. These two continue to be named until 1787 when “child HARRIS” becomes  “John HARRIS child”  On the 11th October 1790 Judith is paid 10s for for "boy" but this is the only mention of this child. Unfortunately Elizabeth was baptised after the completion of the accounts book.

It is difficult to say how many children she had other than the five whose baptisms have been found.

Margaret DAYMOND [176] named Robert LUXTON [2140] as the father of Peggy baptised 9 Mar 1781. So Wrey J’ANS and John KINGDOM two Justices of the Peace issued a Bond to order that  Robert LUXTON

“...cause to be paid to the church Wardens and overseers of the poor of the parish of Beaford twenty shillings for the lying in of Margaret DAYMOND”

 and twelve pence per week for the maintenance of the child. Margaret was to pay sixpence per week if she did not nurse the child herself.

Margaret had a second child John who was baptised 30 Oct 1785 before marrying Robert LUXTON on 23 April 1788 they had a further 4 children. We suspect Robert was bound a parish apprentice until his 24th birthday and unable to marry. This needs checking out.

Ann MITCHELL [6375] named William FOLLAND [749] the younger as the father of George born 27 Apr 1811 who appeared before G BOGAN and David HORUDON? Justices of the Peace on 7 June 1811. He was adjudged to be the father and ordered to pay eighteen pence a week to the parish towards the maintenance of George. Ann would pay nine pence a week if she did not nurse the child.

Thomas GILES [1072] appeared in the Oxford Quarter Sessions Court to answer for the child of Mary DUNSBY [975] of Somerton. Security was arranged  in this manner; Thomas GILES of Hampton Poyle £20 Martin GILES £10 Jos. LEE £10.

The £40 required by the bonds men was made up as follows:
2 Pounds for the lying-in, and one shilling per week until the child reached 14 years

The father could opt to pay the £40 and forget any other commitment or he could as Thomas has done, elect to appear at a trial at the Assize Court promising to make the payments at the time of the “lying in” and weekly to the child. This way if the child should die young the father could save much of the fee.

Mary’s son Thomas Martin DUNSBY was baptised 29 Jan 1809 and no other records of him have been found.with either the surname DUNSBY or GILES. As Thomas and Mary married on 7 May 1809 it is doubtful that the money was ever paid. They went on to have another 12 children including a Martin in 1823 and a Thomas in 1828 which tends to indicate that Thomas Martin died before 1823.

Notes about Bastardy Bonds have been extracted from the forward by the Devon Record Office to Devon Family History Society publications about various Parish Bastardy Bond Records.
The parish Chest  by W.E. Tate  Cambridge University Press
Beaford Poor Law Records North Devon Record Office, Barnstable
2215Aa Add P022 Removal Order 1764
2215Aa Add P035 Bastardy Bonds
Oxford Quarter Sessions Canon Oldfields Calendar Oxford Record Office.

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