Each record comprises a transcript of the original register. The amount of information listed varies, but the records usually include a combination of the following information about your ancestor:
• First name(s)
• Last name
• Birth year
• Baptism year
• Baptism date
• Father’s first name
• Mother’s first name
• Notes (whether child was born to an unmarried mother)
The record set comprises 18,985 records from eight parishes in Gloucestershire.
These records date from 1695 to 1801.
Included in these records are 66 stated cases of “bastards,” 57 cases of “illegitimate” children, and one case of a “spurious” child. In these records, the ‘Father’s name’ field is usually left blank, although in the case of Jane Collings, who was baptized in 1730, the notes read: ‘A bastard child. Richard Drinkwater the reputed father.’
Children Born Outside Marriage
In England, the 1235 Statute of Merton states that “He is a bastard that is born before the marriage of his parents.” The use of the word “bastard” continued through the 16th century, with the Poor Law of 1576 forming the basis of English bastardy law. It aimed to punish the child’s unmarried mother and putative father and to relieve the parish from the cost of supporting the mother and child. The language changed in the 20th century, with the introduction of the Legitimacy Act 1926, which legitimized the birth of a child in England and Wales if the parents later married each other. The act refers to the child of unmarried parents as “the illegitimate person.” “Spurious” is another archaic word to refer to children born outside of marriage.
Gloucestershire is a ceremonial county in the southwest of England. Gloucester is the county town. Gloucestershire borders the Welsh county of Monmouthshire and the English counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Bristol, and Somerset.