A Bastardy Bond from Georgia ensuring the child of an unwed mother would be cared for until the age of fourteen. Elen Jones, George Bennett.

A Bastardy Bond from Georgia ensuring the child of an unwed mother would be cared for until the age of fourteen

Forsyth County, Georgia: 3 May 1866. Unbound.

This Bastardy Bond from Forsyth County in Georgia is dated “May the 3rd 1866. It is in nice shape with some minor insect predation along its storage folds.

The document reads in part:

"We Elen Jones as Principal and George Bennett as Security . . . acknowledge ourselves held and bound . . . in the sum of . . . six hundred and forty two dollars and eighty five and three quarters cents . . . Whereas Elen Jones a Free white single woman of said County has voluntarily come before Josiah H Woodliff a Justice of the Peace of said County and made oath that on the fourth day of March Eighteen Hundred and Sixty Three in the County of Rabur (sic – Rabun) and state afforesaid that she was Delivered of a Female Child which Child is a bastard and is likely to become Chargeable to said County of Forsyth Now should the said Elen Jones well and truly Educate and maintain the said Child until it shall arrive at the age of Fourteen years and also save harmless the said County from Expences with said Child boarding nursing and maintaining then the above obligation to void otherwise of force this May the 3rd 1866." Very good. Item #009346

Bastardy Bonds were used by several American colonies (and later states) to ensure that communities did not become fiscally responsible for children born to unmarried women. Generally, the bonds required the father of the child either swear to provide regular payments or a lump sum to the county for support of the child. If the mother refused to name the father or the father could not be located, she, her father, or another interested party might sign the bond.

Variations in the process occurred, and in the case of this bond, the father is not named and the mother, Elen Jones, pledged to support the child herself until the age of fourteen. If she failed to do so, her guarantor, George Bennett, would be required to pay the county, $642.85¾ on her behalf. The bond does not indicate Bennett’s relation to Jones. Neither does it indicate what punishment would be meted out to Jones and Bennett should neither “maintain and educate” the child nor fulfill the financial terms of the bond.

At the time of listing, no other bastardy bonds are for sale in the trade, and the Rare Book Hub shows only one has ever been sold at auction. OCLS identifies only two bastardy bonds held by institutions, one from South Carolina and one from Tennessee.

Price: $400.00

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