BASTARD - A word derived from bas or bast, signifying abject, low, base nature. An Enfant de bas, a child of low birth. According to Blackstone, a bastard in the law sense of the word is a person not only begotten, but born out of lawful matrimony. This definition does not appear to be complete, inasmuch as it does not embrace the case of a person who is the issue of an illicit connection during the coverture of his mother. The common law only taketh him to be a son whom the marriage proveth to be so. A bastard may be perhaps defined to be one who is born of an illicit union and before the lawful marriage of his parents.
A man is a bastard if born, first, before the marriage of his parents; but although he may have been begotten while his parents were single, yet if they afterwards marry, and he is born during the coverture, he is legitimate. Secondly, if born during the coverture, under circumstances which render it impossible that the hushand of his mother can be his father. It seems by the Gardner peerage case that strong moral improbability that the husband is not the father is sufficient to bastardize the issue. Thirdly, if born beyond a competent time after the coverture has determined.
The principal right which bastard children have, is that of maintenance from their parents. To protect the public from their support, the law compels the putative father to maintain his bastard children.
Considered as nullius filius, a bastard has no inheritable blood in him, and therefore no estate can descend to him; but he may take by testment, if properly described, after he has obtained a name by reputation. But this hard rule has been somewhat mitigated in some of the states where, by statute, various inheritable qualities have been conferred upon bastards.
Bastards can acquire the rights of legitimate children only by an act of the legislature.
By the laws of Louisiana, a bastard is one who is born of an illicit union. There are two sorts of illegitimate children; first, those who are born of two persons, who, at the moment such children were conceived, might have legally contracted marriage with each other; and, secondly, those who are born from persons, to whose marriage there existed at the time, some legal impediment. An adulterous bastard is one produced by an unlawful connexion between two persons, who, at the time he was conceived, were, either of them, or both, connected by marriage with some other person or persons. Incestuous bastards are those who are produced by the illegal connexion of two persons who are relations within the degrees prohibited by law.
Bastards, generally speaking, belong to no family, and have no relations; accordingly they are not subject to paternal authority, even when they have been acknowledged. Nevertheless, fathers and mothers owe alimony. to their children when they are in need. Alimony is due to bastards, though they be adulterous or incestuous, by the mother and her ascendants.
Children born out of marriage, except those who are born from an incestuous or adulterous connexion, may be legitimated by the subsequent marriage of their father and mother, whenever the latter have legally acknowledged them for their children, either before the marriage or by the contract of marriage itself. Every other mode of legitimating children is abolished. Legitimation may even be extended to deceased children who have left issue, and in that ease, it enures to the benefit of that issue. Children legitimated by a subsequent marriage, have the same rights as if born during the marriage.
BASTARD EIGNE' - Eng. Law. Elder bastard. By the old English law, when a man had a bastard son and he afterwards married the mother and by her had a legitimate son, the first was called a bastard eigne, or as it is now spelled, aine, and the second son was called puisne, or since born, or sometimes he was called mulier puisne.
BASTARDY - Crim. Law. The offence of begetting a bastard child.
BASTARDY - Persons. The state or condition of a bastard. The law presumes every child legitimate, when born of a woman in a state of wedlock, and casts the onus probandi on the party who affirms the bastardy.
This entry contains material from Bouvier's Legal Dictionary, a work published in the 1850's.
Courtesy of the 'Lectric Law Library