Bastardy Bonds and Records, 1735-1966


Bastards were persons whose parents were not married to one another at the time of birth. Bastards were prohibited from inheriting property from the father unless legitimized. Bastardy bonds were typically posted by putative fathers of illegitimate children to insure that the child was supported without public expense. Bonds and records typically give the name of the father, his bondsman, as well as that of the mother and child, and the amount of the bond posted. Bastardy records may also include presentments against and examination of unwed mothers and mothers-to-be, warrants to bring putative fathers to court, and receipts for payments made on behalf of bastard children.

Descriptions of original bastardy bonds and records held by the State Archives are summarized in the online MARS catalog. For a summary of original bastardy records and microfilm held by the the State Archives of North Carolina, please see the Guide to County Records.

Bastardy bonds and records may also be available on third party websites. The State Archives provides links to many of these collections in its Digital Collection.