CD20 Bastardy


We have provided a free name index to this product, as a pdf file, which can be viewed, downloaded, copied and printed. The index can be accessed through a link in the publications page on our website:

This publication is a compendium of the ten volumes of bastardy events we have already published. You can view them on page 13, the next page.

Bastardy documents and names of reputed fathers can be difficult to find, particularly in the 19th century. Usually the father’s name is omitted from birth certificates. Before 1875 a mother of an illegitimate child was able to supply the registrar with the name of the reputed father, but, after this, the man had to appear and affirm, or provide a signed affidavit, that he was the father before his name could appear on the birth certificate. In some cases where there was more than one birth by the same father, it may have been that the couple were living together or married later.
The the data in this publication was extracted from the Petty Sessions records. Where there are details of the witnesses’ evidence they have been transcribed. The original writing was hastily written down by a Court Clerk at the actual session, so he would often use abbreviations for common words and miss out the actual sentence used by the witnesses, only recording the gist of it e.g. single. In order to make the evidence readable full words have been inserted whenever possible. While the witnesses were giving their evidence they were often answering questions put to them by the magistrates, the complainant’s or defendant’s representative, this means that some of the recorded replies are rather disjointed and the readers will have to imagine for themselves the sort of questions that were put to these people. In most cases the names of the witnesses, and sometimes the relationships to either the complainant or defendant, are recorded. This will give additional and interesting information to the family history researcher who finds an ancestor here as either a witness or a main player in the case. The names of the complainants, defendants, witnesses and places are in alphabetical order.

Download Specific Description

The transcripts are presented in a public domain format (pdf) file which can be read by the program Adobe Acrobat Reader or any other program that will read pdf files. Searching can be undertaken by using the built in Adobe Reader search facility. Windows users can use bookmarks to drill down to individual index entries or to the nearest year for events in the transcripts. For Apple Mac users the file should open in Preview. Click the View button and select Table of Contents. The ability to print has been disabled but copying has not. As with any transcript users are advised to consult the original material, which is at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. Please inform Wiltshire FHS of any errors or omissions, either by writing to Wiltshire FHS Publications, Unit 3, Bath Road Business Centre, Devizes SN10 1XA or emailing [email protected]



Supplied by: Wiltshire Family History Society

Format: CD-ROM

Product Ref: WIL-CD20