DEVON-L ArchivesArchiver > DEVON > 2007-05 > 1180599761
From: Charani <>
Subject: Re: [DEV] Bastards
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 09:22:50 +0100
Dennis Locke wrote:
> Correct me please if I am wrong. I understood that when it became evident
> that an unmarried woman was pregnant, the local parish would ask her who the
> father of the unborn child was. Whoever the lady declared as the father, if
> believed, was assumed to be the father and was pursued for support by the
> parish. If I remember the accused had to pay a total of 40 pounds either up
> front or over time. If he paid over time, there was always the chance that
> the child would not live and the putative father would not have to pay the
> full 40 pounds support. I don't know if the amount of required support ever
I believe that it would depend on the status of the girl in question.
I don't think it was a hard and fast rule. The Board of Guardians
or the Parish Overseers would be more concerned as to whether or not
the girl was likely to become a charge on the parish. The higher the
status of the girl, the more likely her father would demand the man
concerned marry his daughter.
Where the girl was likely to be a charge or where she chose to claim
maintenance from the reputed father, then he would be examined and, if
he was found to be the father, he would have to support the child
until s/he was able to earn a living for him/herself.
The father would have two or three bondsmen who would guarantee the
sum would be paid. The bondsmen could be friends or relatives. I
think the amount that had to be paid varied.
Of course, the reputed father had the option to marry the girl,
providing he wasn't already married ;))
From what I have seen in researching my family lines, most of the
time it was the girl's own family who supported her regardless of the