Moderator Control Panel ]

Tracing a missing (bastard) child...

A problem shared is a problem halved. Post your brick walls here and see whether you can offer advice to others

Tracing a missing (bastard) child...

Postby helenearth » Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:56 pm

Hi All,

I was having a discussion with my Nan at the weekend and she uncovered some surprising and interesting snippets about my family history! Anyway, to cut a long story short, my Great Gran (so my Grandfather's mother) aparently had a child when she was unmarried. I believe that birth certificates have been found for the child, but no other evidence. I need to know how to go about tracing this!

In addition (the plot thickens!), a neighbour had a son that she had adopted and after this neighbour died, Great Gran looked after the son. When great Gran died, she made my great uncle promise to look after this son until he died, which he did, and now my Nan suspects that this child could have been Gran's bastard son.

Does this all sound a bit far-fetched, and would there be any way of finding out if the son was adopted, who adopted him to prove this?

Thanks for your help!!
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:23 pm

RE: Tracing a missing (bastard) child...

Postby Mumlee » Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:40 am

Hi Helenearth,
It may be possible to trace the child through census returns, but that depends on when he was born.

Regards Mumlee
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:50 am

RE: Tracing a missing (bastard) child...

Postby paulberyl » Wed Feb 13, 2008 7:00 am


I do not know in what era your great grandmother had her illegitimate child and therefore can only give very general information.

As Mumlee suggests census returns may provide a forename and age on which a search can be conducted. If your great grandmother had an illegitimate child the child's birth could have been registered in your great grandmother's maiden name and a search should be under this name. However informal adoption within families also occurred, with the daughter disappearing to spend time with relatives elsewhere so the child could be born, and then passing the baby off as a sibling, or other family relative, rather than a son or daughter.

Official certification for adoptions was only introduced in England and Wales in 1927. Prior to that any arrangement was essentially a private, informal, agreement between the parties. Various organisations, such as Barnardos and the Catholic Church, did arrange adoptions but records can be difficult to trace, assuming they exist at all.

Another source of enquiry could be parish records as the duty of care for mothers and illegitimate children fell upon the local parish and they may have issued a 'bastardy order'.

Hope this provides you with some avenues for research.

User avatar
Posts: 526
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:33 pm

RE: Tracing a missing (bastard) child...

Postby elygirl » Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:36 am

It might be worth ordering the birth certificate in cases such as this. I was SO lucky when I did just that, for my illegitimate grandfather's father's name (two first names plus surname) had been written in (very clearly) in the appropriate space by the registrar, who had obviously then crossed through the name with just one neat line. This enabled me to find him, living very close to my great grandmother (!) in the census. Normally, at that time (late 1800s) when the child was illegitimate, the space for the father's name would have been left blank. Also, my great-grandmother had given my grandfather a second first name - which was the surname of his father!

How lucky was that! Perhaps the registrar could see into the future and knew how popular this hobby would become. So, although it's an outside chance, I think it's worth paying the money for a certificate, if you can afford it.
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:20 am

Return to General research queries

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests