Every record will give you a transcript created from the information found in the original records held at the Warwickshire County Record Office. The details in each record can vary, but most will including the following:
Date – date of application or petty session
Putative father’s name
Child’s birth year – in some cases this field is blank. This implies that the child had not be born at the time the record was created.
Document type –bastardy return, bastardy register, bastardy applications, or appeal
Archive and reference
The Warwickshire bastardy index was created by the Warwickshire County Record Office using the original records held at the record office. You will find an index for 4 types of records: bastardy applications, bastardy registers, bastardy return, and appeal. There are more than 5,000 entries from 1844 to 1914. Each record provides the name of the mother, and most records include the name of the putative father. The putative father is the individual who is alleged to be the father of the child. The records do not contain the name of the child.
‘Bastard’ was a contemporary term which meant a child born outside of marriage. Bastardy records were created to establish who is responsible for the financial maintenance of illegitimate children. At the time of these records, bastardy cases were held in the petty session. Mothers could ask the court for an order against the child’s father to provide child maintenance. It was the mother’s responsibility to provide evidence of the paternity. This could be in the form of witness statements about the individuals’ relationship. Fathers were to pay the maintenance under threat of imprisonment.
It is always best to start with a broad search and then narrow your results. For example, only begin your search with a name and then you can edit your search if you want to add a father’s name or year.
The petty session division is not always the same place as your ancestor’s residence. Their local petty session court may have been in the closest town or city.