This is my very own success story on finding the father of an illegitimate child.
My great, great grandmother was born Mary Ann Walder on the 31st December 1863 in Warninglid, in mid Sussex. She was registered under her mums maiden name, who was also Mary Ann Walder. Obviously there was no fathers name on the birth cert. The birth was registered on the 28th January 1864.
In July 1864, Mary had suddenly moved to London as she married a Kent born Servant called Thomas Roberts on the 25th July 1864 in Stoke Newington, London. He was a widower. On the 6th November 1864, the baby was baptised as "Mary Ann Kate, Daughter of Thomas & Mary Ann Roberts". If he admitted paternity in the baptism, I then needed to find his whereabouts in 1861 census to see if he was living near Mary in Sussex at all. I couldnt find him on the 1861 in London.
I eventually found him in the 1861 census living a few miles down the road from Mary in Brighton. He was aged 47, a Servant, born Kent, with wife Esther, and their daughter Ann aged 9. Could they have met in Sussex, Esther died, and they went on to meet in London?
If he was a servant and footman, he probably knew of Mary Ann through work, etc.
I found the death cert of an Esther Roberts in the Dec Quarter 1863 in Brighton. This was at the same time Mary gave birth to her baby girl. This means that Thomas was still married well into his next wifes pregnancy.
I recieved the death cert of Esther. She died on the 14th November 1863 at 19 Viaduct Terrace, Brighton, aged 42, wife of Thomas a Domestic Servant. The Cause of death was very eye catching. It said "Phthisis, years, certified". Phthisis is lung TB, a horrible wasting disease. Mary Ann Walder was 7 months pregnant.
The length of her illness would have given Thomas time to have an affair if he was stressed out about his sick wife. Also, her infection would have been passed on if he was in constant contact with her. Everything just fell into place after that. Esther was really ill and he began his affair with Mary Ann Walder. The illegitimate birth is explained because the fathers wife had only just recently died.
They moved away to London in the early months of 1864 just after the birth, obviously to escape a scandal. They wanted to also escape the heartbreak they left behind so it was a perfect opportunity to make a fresh start after the whole affair issue. Goes to show that a bit of detective work pays dividends.