Base Born Children - Children born out of wedlock in the Colonies

“Base born” is the term used in the colonies to describe an illegitimate child, or a bastard. The term originates in England and refers to someone of low social standing or rank.

Parents of base born children had committed the crime of bastardy and were tried in Provincial Court. They were subjected to fines and fees, sometimes corporal punishment, and sometimes jail time. In court records, the mother of the child will sometimes identify the child’s father and sometimes not.

Base born children assumed the surname of the mother. Baptismal records can be found for some base born children. The father’s name is blank. If a father of a base born child eventually marries the mother, the child’s surname will sometimes change to that of the father.

Base Born Children genealogy research