Bastardy Bonds and Goldens and Goldings and Wayward Fathers

Golding / Golden / Goulding et al Family History on Facebook


Goldens – Bastardy Bonds – Public Policy – Family History – Heritage

There are some Goldens and Goldings et al in the records that had to post Bartardy Bonds.

Most colonial-era American states once had a system of ‘Bastardy Bonds’. North Carolina kept the law into the 1930s (there are Goldens and Goldings in the NC records).

If a single woman became pregnant and someone reported her as having a child out of wedlock then she was called before the authorities to name the father. If she did not, or could not, then she or her father or some good person had to step forward and post a bond. The bond bound you to the child. Should the local government have to spend money for any reason to care for the child then whomever posted the bond would get the bill.

Failure to name the father, or to have a father or someone to step forward to post a bond for the mother, could resultĀ in the child being taken away and made a ward of the state. This almost always meant that the child was given as an indentured servant to some family. (Here in Prince William County, Virginia, there are records of infants being turned over to families until they reached adulthood).

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Public Humiliation

Until the mid- 1700s, one of the more dire consequences was that the mother was brought before the public and received 10-15 lashes on her bare back and then had to pay a fine for taking the court’s time to investigate whom was the father of her ‘bastard’ or ‘bastarda’ (1608300907).

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DNA and rediscovering stuff

One of my grandmothers (not a Golden) chose to invent a family name for her daughter. She came from a very backward area on the Kentucky and Tennessee line, and had no living father. Her mother was alive but women were considered financial risks unless they owned property.

After becoming pregnant (Kentucky), she moved across the border to a small city in Tennessee. She adopted a last name from one of the local families. The howzit and whyzit of that decision are lost.

My great-grandmother probably would have lost her daughter as a result of not inventing a father.

Almost immediately after the baby was born my grandmother moved and used her new name to start a new life. No story has been passed down as to how those early years worked out for her, but she did find a fine man (one of my great-grandfathers) and they had a full life today.

Through DNA testing, we have since identified who the father was. The individual came from one of the upper class families in coal country. He had a reputation for having his way with young women (at least two other bastard births by him). One of those young mothers did make claim that he was the father and even named her daughter after the father. Since matching my DNA with the great-grand-daughter of the other mother, I have been able to match with at least five members of our phantom grandfather. Just another page in the book of life.


You are welcome to add to or to correct this story by contacting: Bill Golden, Norfolk1956@gmail.com

BTW – I look forward to sharing your stories, photos and in-search-of quests. Contact me at the email address above.

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