August 10, 2010

Using Bastardy Examination and Orders to Trace Illegitimate Ancestors

In an earlier post I talked about How to Use the National Archives United Kingdom Website to Obtain Ancestor Documents. One of the items I found, and ordered, was a Removal Order. On 18 MAY 1778, a Removal Order was served on my 5th Great Grandfather THOMAS BLANDON, DRUMMER in the Western Battalion Militia of Suffolk.

I also ordered two Bastardy orders and one Bastardy Examination for my ancestors. These were for the year 1791 and held at Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich Branch.

Because parishes did not want to be responsible for the care of an illegitimate child, a pregnant woman or one who had just given birth, would be questioned by a midwife or other authority and the name of the child's father recorded. The father would then be ordered to provide financial support, either as a lump sum payment to the parish for the child until he/she reached the age of majority, or as a monthly sum (also payable to the parish for the child's welfare). In many cases the mother too would be ordered to make payments. This ensured that the child did not become a burden on the parish.

One document was a Bastardy maintenance order for the female child of Hannah BLANDON (my 4th great grandmother) by James King, late of Chediston, husbandman. The order and examination papers gave Hannah's place of residence, marital status (Single) and exact date of birth of her daughter. James King, my 4th great grandfather, was named as the father and did not deny the charge.

James and Hannah had at least two more children - my 3rd great grandfather Thomas King being one of them. I have not found a marriage record so do not know if the couple ever married legally. But their Bastardy Examination and Orders provided me with more detail on James and some interesting anecdotal information on Hannah.

There are other English records which provide details that may help in tracing an illegitimate ancestor.

* Parish Records
* Special Bastard Records
* Vestry Minutes
* Churchwarden Accounts

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