As an addendum to yesterday's post, I am just going to say that under the English common law, a husband had an absolute right to custody of all children born into his marriage. This did not change until 1839 when the Custody of Infants Act, which permitted mothers to petition the Chancery courts for custody of children under the age of seven, so long as the mother was not an adultress.
A child born outside the bonds of matrimony was considered filius nullius, the legal son (or daughter) of nobody. This child would have no legal right to inherit from their father, but could inherit if the father gave him a bequest in his will (ex. I give John Smith 1,000 pounds).
Labels: Children, Law