New York City Sues James McCarter for the Costs of Maintaining His Out-of-Wedlock Child by Mary Fenton

August 3rd and 6th, 1803

On March 6, 1801 the state of New York passed "An Act for the relief of Cities and Towns from the Maintenance of Bastard Children" and began charging the mothers and suing the reputed fathers for the costs of caring for their out-of-wedlock children. In New York City the children were cared for by the Commissioners of the Alms House and Bridewell.

Five cases of bastardy were brought before the court this day by the Anthony Day, the attorney for the Commissioners. The suits were dismissed contingent upon the five men (Robert Watts, Josiah Furman, Francis Sullaway, James Rand, and James McCarter) each paying the $20.26 incurred by the city in caring for their out-of-wedlock children.

Wednesday Morning 3 Aug 1803
The Court Met Pursuant to Adjournment

Present John B. Prevost, Esquire Recorder
Wynant Van Zandt, Esquire Alderman
John Cothout, Esquire Alderman


The People in the Complaint of

Mary Fenton
James McCarter
6th ward Grocer Principal

Henry Lowther
7th ward Cartman, Surety


People's Witnesses
Mary Fenton
Katy Johnson
Margaret Fenton
James T. Mary

Defendant's Witnesses
Joseph Brotherton
John Taylor
Henry Lowther


In a case of bastardy

The Defendant being called on his Recognizance appears whereupon as this is a Case of Bastardy. It is ordered that the hearing of the appeal in this cause be set down for the first day of the next General Sessions of the peace to be holden in and for the City and County of New York and that the said Defendant personally appear on the day and at the place aforesaid and then and there abide or perform such Order as shall be made concerning a Bastard Child which Mary Fenton went withal on the eighth day of October last in pursuance of the Act entitled "An Act for the relief of Cities and Towns from the Maintenance of Bastard Children" passed the 6th March 1801 and not depart the Court without leave.

On Recording and filing an affidavet of Anthony Day the Attorney for the Commissioners of the Alms House and Bridewell of the City of New York by which it appears that since the bringing of the suits against the Defendants respectively in this Court of Common pleas called the Mayor's Court of the City of New York...It is therefore ordered that the suits respectively may be discontinued on paying the sum of twenty Dollars and twenty six cents for the use of the said Commissioners of the Alms House and Bridwell in said City.

The court after hearing the appeal made in this case do adjudge and order that the order made by the justices be confirmed and that the Defendant stand committed until the same be complied with and the costs of prosecution paid.


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