They are bound to support their bastard children.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

State v. John L. Lee, 29 NC 265 (1847).

On appeal from Craven County Superior Court, the issue in this case was whether John Lee, after having been tried and convicted of bastardy, could move to quash the proceedings against him on the grounds that Catharine Curtis, the mother of the child, was a woman of color and therefore incompetent to testify against a white man.  The verdict: too late.

State v.  Thomas Long, 31 NC 488 (1849).

On appeal from Martin County.  In May 1848, Lucinda Simpson, then pregnant, swore that the father of her child was Thomas Long. Long moved to dismiss proceedings against him on the grounds that Simpson was a woman of mixed blood within the fourth degree and therefore incompetent to give testimony against him.  The Court was satisfied that in fact she was of mixed blood and dismissed the case.  In October 1848, on Simpson’s oath, another warrant for the same pregnancy issued for Long.  These proceedings were dismissed based upon the earlier finding.  The Supreme Court held that the prior judgment was binding and the second case rightfully quashed and noted that the better course would have been an appeal. 

State v. Williamson Haithcock, 33 NC 32 (1850).

On appeal from Orange County.  Williamson Haithcock, an admitted free negro, was charged with bastardy by a white woman.  Haithcock’s counsel moved to quash on the grounds that bastardy laws did apply to such a case. The Supreme Court: “We are at a loss to conceive of any reason why the defendant should be exempted from the operation of the bastardy laws, merely because he is a free negro.  Free negroes are capable of holding property, they can sue and be sued, and are bound to support their bastard children, whether begotten a free white woman or free black woman.  They can set up no ‘exclusive privilege’ in this behalf.”