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Adoption in the 1870s

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Adoption in the 1870s

Postby PeterP » Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:26 pm

Hi all

I've recently discovered that my wife's gt-gfather was born Arthur Cole in 1876, but that his father died, his mother re-married and then died herself before Arthur was 2. He was brought up by his step-father alone, and we suspect that he never knew that he wasn't his step-father's natural son having adopted his surname.

I have two questions:
Having married Arthur's mother, would his step-father have become Arthur's legal guardian when the mother died or would he have needed to formally adopt Arthur?
When Arthur, under his step-father's surname, married in Church in 1904, would he have had to present a copy of his birth or baptism certificate?

Many thanks in anticipation of any help

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RE: Adoption in the 1870s

Postby mrsaverage40s » Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:13 am

Hello PeterP,
I have had this occur in my research too. The person concerned was born mid 1870's, married in Church and had children, and then only found out that their birth name and father was different when they tried to obtain a copy of their birth certificate for their passport. They had not been legally adopted, and was scared that they had committed fraud by being under a different name from the one they were born with, but they were assured by the authorities that this was not the case. I would guess that your Arthur Cole was not legally adopted, and also believed that his step-father was his natural father, and probably never found out the truth.
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RE: Adoption in the 1870s

Postby paulberyl » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:23 am

If not formally adopted step-parents have no legal responsibilty, although they may well have moral responsibilities, for step-children on the death or divorce of the natural parent. The step-parent acts [i]in loco parentis.[/i]

In the 1870s there was no formal adoption legislation (other than wardship or guardianship - only available to the rich) and it is highly unlikely therefore your wife's gt-grandfather was adopted. When he married he would not have had to produce any documentation.

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