If a woman had a child out of wedlock in North Carolina, she was required to name the father so that he would support the child. If she chose not to name him in court, then she had to name 3 men who would help pay fo the childs needs. Sometimes one of those 3 men might
be the father; otherwise, they were usually members of her family, her father, a brother, etc. The county did not want to be responsible for the care and upbringing of any illegitimate children.
Another good description is frm Sue
Ashby on the Chatham Co. US Genweb site:
If a woman became pregnant and had no husband or her husband denied the child (that didn't happen often) then she was called into court and asked to name the father of the child. If she named the father, then he was called into court and required to post a "bastardy bond", giving security to the county court, that the child would be supported by him, for a certain period of time. He would have to pay the mother for the "laying in" time. (she would not be able to earn a living during the time of birth and afterwards) and many times these young women
were indentured servants, so the money would be paid to her 'Master" for the time he would be without her services as his servant. Then, her time would be extended, etc.
If she refused to name the father, (and that happened more than you would think), the woman's family or friends would post bond for the same reason. The county court did not want to have an indigent woman and child to have to feed at
county expense. Often, the child would be bound out as soon as it was weaned. A family would take in it to raise and get a servant at the same time, with very little expenditure on their part.
In the very early days of the colony the woman would be taken to the town square and be whipped and left at the stocks for her to be pelted with rotten fruit, etc., for her sins. And, in many places, the purported father was also fined and made to wear a white or other colored smock, that branded him a 'fornicator'. I don't think I've ever read where he was whipped, however..
A number of the County websites have Bastardy Bonds posted, and in case you are interested in some of these other counties here are a few:
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