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Source Information

Ancestry.com. Warwickshire, England, Bastardy Orders, 1816-1839 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Warwickshire Quarter Sessions Bastardy Orders. Warwick, England: Warwickshire County Record Office.

About Warwickshire, England, Bastardy Orders, 1816-1839

This database contains orders issued in bastardy cases by Quarter Session courts in Warwickshire, England.

Historical Background

Following the Poor Laws of 1601, care of the poor fell to a resident’s parish. In cases of an illegitimate birth, parishes tried to identify the father and make him legally responsible for the child’s maintenance to keep the child off parish relief rolls. Nineteenth-century changes to the law shifted responsibility to the Poor Unions, whose representatives still sought to make father responsible for maintenance. Mothers could also apply to require a father to support his child.

About the Records

Bastardy orders were an official order of the court requiring the putative father of an illegitimate child to provide for the child. They contain the name of the mother and assumed father, but do not provide the name of the child, though they may specify gender and birth date. They may also list a parish for each parent as well as a date for the court action.