Source Information

Ancestry.com. West Yorkshire, England, Bastardy Records, 1690-1914 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
Original data: West Yorkshire Bastardy and Other Poor Law Offense Records. Digitized registers and loose papers. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Bradford, England.

West Yorkshire Bastardy and Other Poor Law Offense Records. Digitized registers and loose papers. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale, England.

West Yorkshire Bastardy and Other Poor Law Offense Records. Digitized registers and loose papers. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Kirklees, England.

West Yorkshire Bastardy and Other Poor Law Offense Records. Digitized registers and loose papers. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds, England.

West Yorkshire Bastardy and Other Poor Law Offense Records. Digitized registers and loose papers. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Morley, England.

West Yorkshire Bastardy and Other Poor Law Offense Records. Digitized registers and loose papers. West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield, England.

About West Yorkshire, England, Bastardy Records, 1690-1914

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 hold fathers responsible for maintenance. Mothers could also apply to require a father to support his child.

Some of the records you may run across in this collection include:

  • A summons required the man named as the father of the child to appear in court. The reputed father may be summoned by the parish or by the mother.
  • Bastardy bonds record the father’s agreement to pay for maintenance of the child.
  • Bastardy orders ordered the father to make payment for the maintenance of the child.
  • Payment registers record payments by fathers to the parish for maintenance of the child.

In addition to bastardy cases, you may find references in these records to other violations of Poor Law acts, desertion, and other legislation.

The records often contain the name of the mother and name and occupation of the putative father, but they typically 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.

See the browse menu for a detailed list of the records in this collection, organized by place and year range.