What is a "proved son?" What does it mean for a child to be "proved."

Here is the context: I was reading on Wikipedia about Lady Godiva and it said

Lady Godiva was the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. They had one proved son Aelfgar, Earl of Mercia.

  • 1
    What's the historical context? Specific country's inheritance laws? Royal bloodlines/kingship rights?
    – DVK
    Jan 20, 2012 at 18:48
  • They probably mean son between husband and wife, until recently the only guaranteed parent was the mother, the father was expected to be the husband of the wife but that was not always the case. But like DVK says the context here is important.
    – MichaelF
    Jan 20, 2012 at 19:32
  • @MichaelF I am not sure your point about mothers is necessarily true, an awful lot of women died in childbirth until quite recently and the woman acting as mother was not infrequently a second or third wife. Dec 12, 2019 at 9:06

1 Answer 1


The country was England, and "proved son" in this context means "legitimate son."

Leofric probably had many sons, but only one by his lawful spouse, Lady Godiva. More to the point, he had affairs with a bunch of other women, who produced sons that may or may not have been his.

The more important issue (absent today's DNA tests) is: was Lady Godiva's son actually his? English law strongly presumes this to be the case, except when it was basically impossible (e.g. when the man had been away from home for a whole year before the child's birth). Given that Leofric cohabited with his wife, and the child at least somewhat resembled him, English law presumed, and therefore "proved" that the child was his.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.