We’ll not bother to go into who gets this wrong, the Telegraph or the scientists, but wrong it is. What they’re measuring is the rate of unacknowledged, or even unknown, bastardy. While claiming to be measuring the rate of bastardy. The two really aren’t the same thing.
The myth of the bed-hopping aristocracy has been debunked after researchers discovered that historically the lower classes are 12 times more likely to have had illegitimate children than those of higher ranks.
Nope, that’s not what was found at all.
Paternity scandals have often plagued the royals and gentry, with Henry I and Charles II siring at least 41 children out of wedlock between them, many of who were given the surname Fitzroy to distinguish them as offspring of the king.
Even the Archbishop of Canterbury recently discovered he was the illegitimate son of Winston Churchill’s private secretary, Sir Anthony Montague Browne.
Yes (sic) a new study by researchers at the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium has found that the chances of being illegitimate for the European upper classes is one in 200 (0.5 per cent), compared to around one in 17 for the lower classes (just under six per cent).
No. Looking at the people today tells us who is acknowledged as being the legitimate child of the earlier unions. You’re upper class today if great grandpa agreed that he’d fathered the little blighter with great grandma, while in holy union. GGP creating little blighters the other side of the blanket – not unusual among Counts and Dukes and all that – would not lead to that inherited upper class position among the descendants of such non-holy union children. GGM creating such, well, that’s more a matter of manners than anything else.
Traditionally among the British aristocracy – or at least so the joke goes – it was an heir and a spare that were to be ensured was hubbie’s. To even enquire as to the paternity of any subsequent was impolite. That might be more of a joke than the reality but still.
The counting of the wrong thing is being done here. The wrong thing to reach the conclusion that is. To record that Pops wasn’t who he was recorded as being, sure, that differs just as the paper says. But that’s not the same as measuring the rate of bastardy. Because there are also those who are known to be bastards, who do not inherit. Whose descendants are, therefore and largely enough, not counted as being part of today’s upper classes.
Among the labouring classes there’s little to no inheritance so the distinction isn’t made with quite such vehemence. Even today Tommy Steele’s son with the Viscountess whatever it was created something of a hullaballo about inheritance. The Liv Tyler/Rundgren thing a little less legal distinction.