Family History Federation

Bastardy – Quarter Sessions – Returns of Affiliation Orders – 1850

This book was compiled by members of the Devon Family History Society in co-operation with the Devon Record Office. The booklet contains an extract of some information and further details may be obtained from the Devon Record Office. The Poor Law Amendment Act, passed in 1844, gave the mother the right to apply to the justices at Petty Sessions for an order to the father to pay maintenance for the child. She was not entitled to ask for maintenance for herself. The application had to be made within twelve months of the child’s birth, unless the father had already given a sum of money towards his or her upkeep. If the justices decided that the man named by the mother was indeed the child’s father, then the order would be made. In Devon, the records of proceedings in these courts have not survived from this period, but returns of all the appeals were made every year in each petty sessional division. They were sent to the Clerk of the Peace and filed with the Quarter Sessions records. The returns record the mother’s name, the date of the appeal and of the court hearing. If the appeal was successful, they record the name of the putative father and the amount he was asked to pay. Some also give the father’s place of residence and his occupation. If the justices decided that there was no evidence that the man named by the mother was her child’s father, the case was dismissed and no order made.


SKU : D017

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