Collection online

satirical print / print

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    A woman swearing a child to a grave citizen, after Hogarth; a pregnant young woman standing to right, swearing on a book before a magistrate who sits at a bench to left with a book labelled 'Law of Bastadry [sic]' in front of him, that the child is by an old man wearing a dark wig with a ruff hanging at his waist, while he raises his hands and eyes to heaven, protesting innocence, his wife, wearing a coif and bonnet shakes her fist, upbraiding him, and the true father, a young man, crouches behind the woman, whispering counsel; beside the magistrate to left, a little girl sits teaching a dog to walk on its hind legs.
    Etching and engraving


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1730-1735 (circa)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 304 millimetres
    • Width: 357 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered below the image "W. Hogarth pinx. / J. Sympson Junr. sculp. / Sold by J: Sympson Engraver and Print=seller at the Dove in Russell Court Drury Lane"", and with twelve lines of verse describing the scene:
        'Here Justice triumphs in his Elbow Chair,
        And makes his Market of the trading Fair;
        His Office Shelves with Parsh Laws are grac'd,
        But Spelling Books and Guides between 'em plac'd.
        Here pregnant Madam screens the real Sire,
        And falsly swears her Bastard Child for Hire
        Upon a Rich old Letcher, who denies
        The Fact, and vows the naughty Hussif lies;
        His Wife enrag'd, exclaims against her Spouse,
        And swears she'l be reveng'd upon his Brows;
        The Jade, the Justice and Church Ward'ns agree,
        And force him to provide Security'
  • Curator's comments

    The painting is dated circa 1729, now in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. A pencil drawing, in reverse to the painting and the print, was supposed to be in the Royal Library in 1833 (Nichols, p. 394) but is now lost (Oppé, no. 102).
    The magistrate is said to resemble Sir Thomas De Veil, of Bow Street (Biogr. Anecd., 1782, p. 340). See the Four Times of the Day, Night' (BMSat 2392).
    The print was copied as an illustration for an indecent poem 'The Substitute Father, or Perjured Whore swearing her Bastard Child upon a rich Old Miser' by Joseph Bancks, originally published by John Bowles, Black Horse Cornhill, later reprinted, with a smaller copy by Isaac Basire, in Banck's 'Miscellaneous Works' (London, 1738).
    The image was known to Bernard Picart (d. 1733) who apparently wrote to a friend in England for curious customs and was sent a print of it with another of 'Orator Henley christening a Child', of which a mezzotint was also engraved by Sympson Junr. ( Chaloner Smith 2, see BMSat 2837). He commented on the 'fantastical' custom it illustrates in his 'Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde répresentées par des figures dessinées de la main de Bernard Picart' (posthumous, Amsterdam 1736). See Paulson 1965 p. 309-10. According to Stephens, Picart was sent an impression from Sympson's plate, although Jacobus van Schley also engraved a copy of it, dated 1735 (see 1858,0417.529), which according to Paulson, he prepared for Picart's book (BMSat 2262). A copy by William Dickinson, meanwhile, is lettered as being after Heemskerk (2010,7081.3008)


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 2261 bibliographic details
    • Nichols 1833 p. 194 bibliographic details
    • Paulson 1965/70 p. 309 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XVIIIc Unmounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number



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Object reference number: PPA402940

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