By J. Keating
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Additional info for A Child for Keeps: The History of Adoption in England, 1918-45
It also stated that the court could, on application by the mother, make an order re custody and right to access as it thought fit ‘having regard to the welfare of the infant and to the conduct of the parents, and to the wishes as well of the mother as of the father’; that is, the court was given full jurisdiction to override the Common Law rights of the father in relation to the custody of his infant children. One of the important pieces of domestic legislation passed during the 1920s was the 1925 Guardianship of Infants Act, which was notable 30 A Child for Keeps for two statements.
105 In 1926, the Legitimacy Act, one of the decade’s pieces of reforming legislation, was passed. It was not as radical as its supporters had hoped for but it introduced the principle of legitimation per subsequens matrimonium into English law if a man married the mother of his 38 A Child for Keeps illegitimate child. e. the child was not the issue of an adulterous union). Previous attempts to introduce this legislation had proposed to legitimise all illegitimate children whose parents subsequently married but this was seen as condoning adultery.
Their agitation had already led to the passing of the Prevention of Cruelty to, and Better Protection of, Children Act 1889. This established for the first time that Setting the Scene 25 the State could interfere in the family in order to prevent hardship or danger to children. Ill treatment of boys to the age of fourteen and girls to age sixteen was now a punishable offence. Although parents were already compelled to send their children to school, until the 1880s their rights to deal with their children in their own home as they wished had remained sacrosanct, except in the most exceptional circumstances.