I feel like I should start a blog series called “Ancestors Behaving Badly”.
While doing some research of my ancestors from Horton, Nova Scotia, I came upon records indicating that Noah Fuller (Born: 1750), my 4th great grandfather, was charged with an “Order of Filiation”.
I was unfamiliar with the term, but learned that it is commonly a legal action to connect the birth father with an illegitimate child and force the parent to pay for the child's support.
I obtained a copy of the document and here is a transcription.
The order of Lebbeus Harris and Nathan Dewolf esquires, two of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace in for the said county and both residing in Horton near to the township of Cornwallis in the said county, made the fourth day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight  in [the] morning a female bastard child, lately born in the township of Cornwallis aforesaid, of the body of Abigail Pierse [I am unsure it is Pierfe or Pierse due to the way “S” was written at this time] singlewoman.
Whereas it hath appeared unto us the said Justices as well upon the complaint of Joseph Pierse Esq. and Mr. James Fillis principle inhabitants of the said township of Horton, as upon the oath of the said Abigail Pierse that she the said Abigail Pierse on the fifth day of April, was delivered of a female bastard child at Cornwallis aforesaid in the said county, and that the said child likely to be chargeable to the said township of Horton, and further that Noah Fuller of Horton in the said county yeoman did beget the said bastard child in the body of her the said Abigail Pierse, and whereas the said Noah Fuller hath appeared before us, in pursuance of our summons for that purpose and hath not showed any sufficient cause why he the said Noah Fuller shall not be the father of the said bastard child : We therefore upon examination of the cause and circumstances of the [unknown word], as will upon the oath of the said Abigail Pierse as otherwise do hereby judge him the said Noah Fuller to be the reputed father of the said bastard child……
And thereupon we do order, as well for the better belief of the said township of Horton, as for the sustententation and relief of the said bastard child, that the said Noah Fuller shall and do forthwith, upon notice of this our order pay or cause to be paid to the overseer of the poor of the said township of Horton or the same of the sum of four pounds…….for and towards the lying in the said Abigail Pierse and the maintenance of the said bastard child to the time of making this our order…..
And we do hereby also further order, that the said Noah Fuller shall likewise pay or cause to be paid to the overseers of the poor of the said township of Horton the sum of three shillings weekly every week from this present time for and towards the keeping sustenation and maintenance of the said bastard child, for and during so long time as the said bastard child shall be chargeable to the said township of Horton….
And we do further order the said Abigail Pierse shall also pay or cause to be paid to the said overseer of the poor of the said township of Horton for the time being, or to some one of them the sum of three shillings…..
Weekly every week so long as the said bastard child shall be chargeable to said township of Horton, in case she shall not nurse and take care of the said child herself….
It is unfortunate that the order doesn’t give us any insight into the circumstances of Abigail and Noah’s relationship. Noah was married to his wife, Elizabeth Bishop on November 6, 1777. So it would appear that Abigail become pregnant by Noah prior to his wedding to Elizabeth Bishop. Noah and Elizabeth stayed married and had at least 9 children together.
My understanding that the governments main concern in the event of an illegitimate child was making sure that a father was found to prevent the local government from the burden of paying for the child's care.
Being about 200 years removed from the event, I am intrigued about what happened to Abigail and Noah’s daughter. The child is never named in the order. Did she have the last name Fuller or keep the name Pierfe/Pierse? How old was Abigail when she gave birth? Did she ever marry? I have not been able to find anything about her or her mother.
If you have the belief that “these types of things” didn’t happen back in the “good old days”, it just goes to show that things may have not been quite so different than they are today.