Bastard is properly the base child of a father of gentle or noble birth, but more generally any illegitimate child; child born out of wedlock, base-born child; basterino; pack-saddle child; natural child; of natural birth; unfathered, etc.
Percentage of children born illegitimate in three different parishes in three different counties:
A child born out of wedlock is legitimated by the subsequent marriage of his parents
1837-1965 about 4-7% of births were illegitimate
It is suggested the increase in illegitimacy in the 18th century was caused by the rapid growth in ale houses 1730s to 1780’s. Peter Laslett in The World We Have Lost (1965) states” Our ancestors, by this test of bastards born and registered as such, were rather more moral sexually than are we ourselves.”
Where to find records of illegitimate children – especially the name and identity of the father:
The first and best place to locate information on illegitimacy, including the name of the father, was in the parish registers. 1538-present
Civil registration (birth and marriage certificates) 1837-present might name father, although note laws referenced below.
A parish Edgmond, Salop has a special bastard register 1797-1828
READ MORE : Bastardy or Illegitimacy in England
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