Bastardy Bonds circa 1850 Canterbury

+2 votes
Guidance please... has anybody got a link to Bastardy Bonds / Court Records Canterbury area circa 1850.  Do they exist and were they in force in 1850.  I have a birth of an Emma Beckwith in Canterbury 1850 QIV (GRO Reference 5/70) for which no mother's maiden name is given.  The mother, we suspect is Emma Beckwith who went on to marry Herbert Busbridge - whose surname Emma junior appears to have taken before her arrival in Canada circa 1871.  Was Herbert her biological parent?  Bastardy Bonds may enlighten me.
in Genealogy Help by Andrew Field G2G6 Mach 2 (24.5k points)

3 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer

Short answer in 1850 you would not find a Bastardy bond. You might find a filiation order in the local petty sessions records. If these survive they would probably in theKent Archives. For a lot of areas, few survive but  Kent may have more than many areas.  Reay, used records of affiliation proceedings  in the petty sessions for part of Kent in his research on the Blean area. He found less than 25% of unmarried  mothers applied for filiation.  (Microhistories 1996) Most either managed with the help of parents and other relatives or  may  have made informal arrangements with the father.   

( longer answer, as this was a period of change )

After 1834, responsibility for bastard children placed upon mother. If she had a bastard child, she made her own arrangements or had to go into the workhouse . This was made a punitive experience. It was meant to deter  women from pre marital sex, to prevent 'forced' early marriages and help lower the birth rate (it didn't and it may have led to more cases of infanticide). She could not apply to the court for a filiation order,  only the responsible parish could apply. They had to apply to the Quarter sessions and needed corroboration which was hard to obtain. This was costly, more costly than 'in relief' and likely to fail for want of corroboration. There were very few cases.

1839-1844 Cases shifted back to petty sessions. Still the woman could not apply herself , still needed some corroborative evidence. The man could ask for the case to be moved to the Quarter Sessions. Still very few cases.

One of the results of the Welsh Rebecca Riots was an investigation into the working of the Bastardy clauses in the new poor law.

1844 onwards, woman could now present her own case for filliation in the petty sessions before two magistrates. The parish was not allowed to get involved at all. The woman had to go it alone which was a discouragement for many poor, illiterate women.  She still had to provide some material evidence.( often others seeing the couple together after village events) The man could ask for the case to be held at the quarter sessions but had to post sureties. She had to apply within a year of the birth of the baby, unless a  father who  had previously been paying maintenance stopped doing so. 

by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (278k points)
selected by Andrew Field
Thank you so much... excellent response which I am sure many of us can learn from...
+2 votes
The use of Bastardy Bonds ceased around 1840. After that date the mother had to bring an action in the Petty Sessions for maintenance against the putative father. You need to check Petty Sessions records which will probably be held in the local archives.
by David Cooper G2G6 Mach 1 (11.6k points)
+5 votes
If any records are held, they would probably be at the Canterbury Cathedral Archives or the Kent Records Office at Maidstone. I am going to Maidstone archives on Saturday so I can ask, but you may want to send an email to both archives to see which ones may have the records.

I would also recommend autosomal DNA testing of the eldest living descendant as I have a lot of success solving illigitimate cases.
by Michelle Wilkes G2G6 Pilot (118k points)
I'm sitting in Maidstone archive now, and it does look as though they have the Bridge union Bastardy Orders 1844-1897 (G/Br AZ 4) and Original bastardy Orders 1842-1922 (G/Br AZ 5) which is closed for 75 years ..but as the oldest case would have been opened in 1995, the whole file should be accessible.
Michelle Thanks so much for looking...  much appreciated.

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