Deserted Wives and Children Act 1840, 1840, courtesy of NSW legislation.
An Act to provide for the maintenance of Deserted Wives and Children
The Deserted Wives and Children Act 1840 [10/1840 (4 Vic. No.5)] was created to protect women and children who had been 'deserted' by their husbands or fathers, and left without financial support. It included 'illegitimate' as well as legitimate children in its terms, so long as proving paternity didn't rest only on the mother's oath. This Act was amended in 1858 to allow Justices to 'place' children who were 'abandoned' by their parents in public institutions, such as the Destitute Children's Asylum, or any other public establishment. The Act was repealed by the Deserted Wives and Children Act 1901.