This is a sample page from the bastardy orders register for Alnwick Union, 1852-1916. Entry 93 relates to Sarah Davison a single woman of Alnmouth in 1859. The reputed father of her child is George Whittle, schoolmaster, of Bedlington. He is ordered to pay 1 shilling and 6 pence (approximately £2.70 by today's values) per week to the mother of his child.
As a result of The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 groups of parishes that had previously been responsible for caring for the poor in their own area were joined together to form unions. Alnmouth formed part of the Alnwick Union and was therefore served by the Alnwick Board of Guardians. One of the responsibilities of the Unions was to deal with bastardy cases - establishing the father of an illegitimate child and ensuring that he paid maintenance to the mother. This type of record can be particularly useful to family historians. Unfortunately, many of the records of the Northumberland Boards of Guardians cannot be traced. However, Northumberland Archives Service does hold a number of records for the Alnwick Union.