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Bastard

child, mother, law, father, illegitimate, marriage, property and born

BASTARD is the term applied to an illegitimate child ; one not born in lawful wedlock, or one, though so born, who has been declared illegitimate by legal process. From the earliest period the English law has been peculiarly strict on the subject of legitimacy, and so far back as the thirteenth century, when it was desired to introduce the rule of the canon law, whereby illegiti mate children are legitimated by the subsequent marriage of their parents, the barons assembled at Merton made their celehrated declaration " that they would not consent to change the laws of England hitherto used and approved." In those days the fact of birth after marriage was conclusive of legitimacy ; but to-day the fact of birth during marriage, or within a com petent time after the husband's death, is only a strong presumption of legitimacy, which may be rebutted by satisfactory evidence to the contrary; if, however, the husband and wife are living apart, the presumption will be that tltochild is illegitimate, though that presumption may also be repelled. The effect of illegitimacy upon a child is found in certain disabilities under which he labours. These disabilities are few in number, and are chiefly confined to the cases of inheritance and succession ; they commence with the legal fiction that he is filius nulliwt, a son of nobody. From this it results that he cannot be an heir-at-law ; nor can he be next-of-kin to any other than those to whom he is related other than as a descendant ; nor can he be born the possessor of a surname, though he may acquire one by reputation. Thus he is not the heir-at-law to any of his reputed or natural ancestors ; nor is he entitled to a share in the distribution of the personal property of his parents, if they die intestate, or of any collateral ancestor. Such a child can only take under a will where he is distinctly and specifically described ; not if he is referred to under the general description of child, son, or daughter, for such a description is presumed to include legitimate children only. If he die without a wife, issue, or will, his property reverts to the Crown, though the latter will usually, upon proper application being made, resign a portion of the estate in favour of his natural relations. If he have property, the Court will appoint a guardian over him. He may marry without consent, but is required to do so without the table of affinity, as if he had been born in wedlock ; he is thus capable of incest. The father of an illegitimate child has very little, if any, parental authority ; its mother being alone entitled as of right to its custody, though in law she is strictly only a stranger to the child ; but in deciding as to the party to have its custody, the Court will primarily consider the child's welfare. The father can, however, in addition

to or in substitution for the mother, be made liable for its support by the poor-law authorities, as also he can by the mother in AFFILIATION (q.v.) proceedings. If the mother should marry, then her husband is liable for the support of her illegitimate children ; and, at the instance of the poor-law authorities, the putative father is liable although the husband is able to maintain them.

In Scotland the law differs considerably from the English. The duties of the parents of fllii nullius comprehend both maintenance and education, and come under the term aliment. The mother is entitled to the custody of the bastard during infancy, after which the father may take its rearing into his own hand. To determine its father for the purpose of awarding aliment, there must be in the first place some evidence of his parentage other than that offered by the mother ; after this has been supplied, the mother may give evidence in corroboration or completion. In deciding the amount payable by the father, the circumstances of the mother must also be taken into account, as the law requires both of them to contribute to the aliment. A child may be legitimated per subsequens matrimonium, which is by the subsequent marriage of the parents, provided the marriage would have been lawful at the time of the birth ; the result of such legitimation being tor entitle the child to all the rights and privileges in Scotland of lawful issue. But such a child could not succeed as heir-at-law to real estate in England, the descent of that class of property being regulated by the law of the place in which it is situated.

BATHING.—It is an indictable offence for a man to undress himself on the beach and to bathe in the sea near inhabited houses from which he may be distinctly seen, although the houses may have been recently erecettrd, and till then it may have been usual for men to bathe in great numbers at the place in question. The same would apply to bathing in rivers. There is no common law right for all persons to bathe upon the sea-shore, and to pass over it for that purpose upon foot, or with or in bathing machines, even though it be Crown property. It may be that the owners of adjoining land and houses, and the inhabitants of adjacent villages, have in many cases such a right; but it must always be exercised so as not to become a public nuisance.