Newsletter - 25 Jan 2013



Offers expiring in the next few days

Ireland DOUBLES certificate prices

Storing information as DNA

Divorce records online at Ancestry

Findmypast add Irish BMD indexes

Book review: Birth, Marriage & Death Records

How to complete a census form

Top South African site to close

English wills from US sources?

Scottish cemetery inscriptions

Your cousins are dying to hear from you

Birthday Book - the final clues

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 12 January 2013) please click here; for an index to articles from 2009-10 click here.


Whenever possible links are included to the websites or articles mentioned in the newsletter (they are highlighted in blue or purple and underlined, so you can't miss them).For your convenience, when you click on a link a new browser window or tab will open (so that you don’t lose your place in the newsletter) - if nothing seems to happen then you need to enable pop-ups in your browser.


To go to the main LostCousins website click the logo at the top of this newsletter. If you're not already a member, do join - it's free, and you'll get an email to alert you whenever there's a new edition of this newsletter available!



Offers expiring in the next few days LAST CHANCE

There are a number of offers that will be expiring over the next few days, some of which have previously been publicised in this newsletter, and some of which haven't - so take a close look at the list so that you don't miss out.


Tip: if you want to share these offers with friends and relatives please send them a link to this newsletter ( so that they have ALL the right details.


Amazon (expires 28th Jan)

Get a free digital copy of In the Blood, Steve Robinson's first book in the genealogical crime series featuring Jefferson Tayte, when you visit or


You don't need a Kindle to download and read a Kindle book - you can get a free Kindle program for your computer or tablet from Amazon.


British Newspaper Archives (expires 31st Jan)

Save 10% on a 12 month subscription when you click here and use the offer code fHmTenYtR (this brings the price down to £71.96 for a year of unlimited access).


Note: you can access most of the same newspapers with a Full or World subscription to (but not, currently, at other findmypast sites around the world) (expires 31st Jan)

Save 10% on any new subscription when you click here and use the offer code LCXMAS


Note: both the Full and World subscriptions provide virtually unlimited access to the same British newspapers that you'll find at the British Newspaper Archive site. The World subscription will also include the Irish newspapers in the same collection, but not just yet.


LostCousins (expires 31st Jan)

Get a FREE LostCousins subscription (worth up to £12.50) when you buy a new subscription, or when you upgrade your existing subscription. If you simply renew an existing subscription you won't qualify - sorry.


IMPORTANT: you must click here or on one of the other links in this newsletter to go their site to buy or upgrade your subscription, otherwise they won't send us the commission that pays for your free subscription.


To claim your free LostCousins subscription forward me a copy of the email receipt you receive from findmypast (you can use any of the LostCousins email addresses, including the one that I wrote from when I told you about this newsletter). (expires 31st Jan)

Get 50 free credits when you click here and use the code LCXMASFREE


This offer is open to everyone, even to existing findmypast subscribers (of course, you can only claim once - findmypast may be generous, but they're not stupid!). Why might you need credits if you're already a subscriber? Well, it's a great opportunity to try out the records that would be available to you if you upgraded your subscription, ie from Foundation to Full, or from Full to World.


Tip: if you're quick you can claim your free credits and take up the discount offer above. (expires 31st Jan)

Get 50 free credits when you click here and use the code FMPIEBMD


BBC Shop (expires 31st Jan)

Save up to 70% off DVDs and other items at the BBC's own online shop when you click here.


Tip: when you find a bargain remember to check whether you can get it even cheaper at


Ireland DOUBLES certificate prices

Without any warning the General Register Office in Ireland have doubled the cost of birth, marriage, and death certificates from €10 to €20 (and you'll have to pay postage on top)!


However, it's not all bad news - local registration offices have been told not to charge a €2 search free when an uncertified copy of an entry is ordered and the full index references are provided. As uncertified copies cost only €4 this additional fee represented a significant premium.


Note: this information came from the Irish Genealogy News blog written by Claire Santry, who I recently had the pleasure of meeting for the first time - it's a fantastic source of news for anyone with Irish ancestry.


Storing information as DNA

A team of scientists in the UK have worked out how to store information in DNA molecules - a technique that could one day be used a form of data storage. It has been calculated that just one gram of DNA could hold about 2 petabytes of data - that's the equivalent of 3 million CDs, or 2000 times the capacity of my 1 terabyte disk drive. You can read more about the amazing research in this BBC News article.


When this technology becomes affordable, perhaps the next step will be to use it as a way of making copies of data - films, music, or whatever the future holds? Or perhaps it will provide a means of recording everything we see and hear so that it can be replayed by our descendants in 1000 years' time?


Divorce records online at Ancestry

Until 1858 getting a divorce in England & Wales required an Act of Parliament, something that few people could afford. Even then it wasn't cheap and between 1858 and 1911 there were less divorces in the entire 54-year period than in a single year nowadays (I guess that's progress of a sort?).


For some time it has been possible to search an Index of Divorces from 1858-1937 at the National Archives site, but the information provided is sparse - usually just the names of the protagonists and the co-respondent.


Now have added digital images of the documents held by the National Archives, which provide a little more detail - usually including addresses that will help identify the parties more precisely. The hundred-year rule prevents documents more recent than 1911 being published at the moment, but presumably they will be added over time.


To search the records click here.


Findmypast add Irish BMD indexes

The civil registration system in Ireland was very similar to that in England & Wales, but it didn't start in earnest until January 1864 (civil registration of non-Roman Catholic marriages commenced in April 1845).


It's now possible to search the indexes of births, marriages and deaths up to 1958 at (or at if you have a World subscription). Whilst it's true that these indexes have been available free at FamilySearch for some time, something you can't easily do at FamilySearch is find a marriage by specifying the names of both parties.


Tip: see the offer of free credits above


Book review: Birth, Marriage & Death Records

The last family history book I read in 2012 was a real stunner (Rebecca Probert's Marriage Law for Genealogists), and I'm delighted to say that the first book I read in 2013 was equally good.


Birth Marriage & Death Records by David Annal and Audrey Collins answers almost every question that I've ever asked myself about civil registration - not just in England & Wales, but also Scotland, Wales, and even the Channel Islands. There are also chapters on military and overseas records, and on divorce and adoption.


If that isn't enough to convince you to buy this book, let me say that I also found the opening three chapters on parish registers extremely interesting, whilst Chapter 7 on non-conformist registers puts these important records into perspective.


There's only one disappointing thing about this book - it wasn't published until 2012. If only I'd had a book as comprehensive as this 10 years ago!


How to complete a census form

There are so many errors and inconsistencies on censuses that it's only natural to wonder precisely what directions enumerators were given , so I think you'll want to take a look at the HistPop website, a University of Essex project which - whilst primarily providing population statistics from 1801 to 1937 - also has samples of Enumerators' Books from 1841-1901, including the pages of instructions and examples.


While scanning the institutional return for Chester Gaol I noticed that there were some typographical errors in the directions which may have resulted in some inmates aged between 45 and 49, or between 55 and 59 being recorded incorrectly (I would imagine that the same errors were repeated in all of the England & Wales institutional schedules).



Am I the first person in 172 years to notice the error, I wonder? It probably helps that my late father was a proof-reader!


Top South African site to close

Ancestry24, a site that I've written about on a number of occasions since it's one of the few sources of South African data, is to close at the end of February. However, I understand that the data is likely to become available at another website - although nobody seems to know which site it will be (let's hope it's either findmypast or Ancestry so that we don't have to buy yet another subscription!).


I suggest that if you have any interest at all in South African research you save a copy on your hard drive of the PDF guide that you'll find on the Help & Advice page at the LostCousins site (it's hosted by Ancestry24 and will disappear, possibly for good, when their site closes).


English wills from US sources?

LostCousins member Brian Randell recently posted a request on the Society of Genealogists' Rootsweb mailing list - and as there are over 5000 people in the United States who receive this newletter I'm sure that somebody reading this will be able to help.


The information in the posting below is also likely to be of interest to any members who have ancestors from Devon - so don't ignore it simply because you don't live in the US! It's also a great example how co-operation between researchers all over the world can help to solve otherwise intractable problems.


My question arises from the efforts of the Devon Wills Project, "A co-operation involving the Devon FHS, the Devon RO, GENUKI/Devon, and the Plymouth and West Devon RO to compile an INDEX of Devon wills, administrations, etc.", a project that I and a colleague Richard Grylls lead - see


We have come across two venerable US genealogical journals, well represented in the Internet Archive, namely The New England Historical and Genealogical Register and The Essex Institute Historical Collections, which each contain a series of articles providing collections of English will abstracts - from which we've obtained very useful details of a number of Devon wills (including ones whose originals were lost when the Exeter Probate Office was destroyed in WW2).


My question is can anyone suggest any other "venerable US genealogical journals" which contain such articles, or better, sets of articles? I stress "venerable" since our particular interest is information obtained, possibly a century or more ago, from the Exeter Probate Office. (Cyndi's List provides a listing of scholarly genealogical journals at, but help in identifying likely relevant, and accessible, ones would be much appreciated.)


Neither Richard nor I have any specialist knowledge of American genealogy - and indeed only learnt of the existence of The Essex Institute Historical Collections very recently. (The large set of - mainly English - miscellaneous sources from which we and our volunteers have already obtained will abstracts and transcripts is listed at


If you are able to help, please write directly to


Note: Brian mentioned to me that they are also seeking information about further early books, ideally now available in the Internet Archive or Google Books, containing the results of detailed genealogical researches into particular US families, since these sometimes include English will transcripts and abstracts.


Scottish cemetery inscriptions

I recently received an email from Muriel in Edinburgh who, with her late husband, compiled a photographic archive of the visible gravestones in the cemeteries of Kintyre, Scotland - it is a shining example of how the endeavours of individual researchers can benefit the wider genealogical community.


There is an index here - simply type in the surname you're looking for. If you find someone you believe to be a relative you can request a free digital copy of the photograph by emailing Muriel at


Muriel also has indexes and photos for many other Scottish cemeteries:


Ayrshire: Muirkirk, all the Kilmarnock cemeteries, Irvine Old Parish, Shewalton (Irvine), Kaimeshill-Riccarton, Perceton (Irvine), Ballantrae, Barr


Dumfriesshire: Wanlockhead, Sanquhar


Dumbartonshire: Kirkintilloch (Auld Aisle and New cemetery)


Midlothian: Currie and Colinton


Aberdeenshire: Oyne


Note: the commercial website DeceasedOnline has many thousands of records from other parts of Scotland - you can search free of charge.


Your cousins are dying to hear from you

I don't think I've ever met a family historian who didn't wish that he or she had started earlier. How often have you wished that you'd asked more questions when you were younger?


The fact is that, despite increasing longevity, none of us will be around for ever - and nor will our cousins. That's why I find it so frustrating that some LostCousins members haven't completed their My Ancestors page so that I can link them to their cousins - before it's too late.


If it takes more than 1 or2 hours to complete your My Ancestors page then either you're going about it the wrong way (in which case, please ask for my advice), or your family tree is much larger than that of the average LostCousins member (about 2000 relatives). Isn't it worth investing 2 hours to make those connections now, while your cousins are still around?


Tip: this recent article will help you decide who to enter. And to save time only complete the compulsory part of the form - most of information in the optional part is for your own use, and won't affect your chances of finding 'lost cousins' (although I would recommend you enter the maiden names of your married female relatives, where known).


Birthday Book - the final clues

There's been a fantastic response to my Christmas Challenge, to analyse the entries in a Birthday Book dating from the late 19th or early 20th century, and figure out the owner(s) were.


Over the course of three successive newsletters, starting on Christmas Day, I've reproduced all of the  entries (there are links to the images here).


What I haven't explicitly told you, however, is that in the preface the book is described as a Birthday Autograph Book, which implies that all of the entries have been made by the person whose birthday it was.


This does, perhaps, shed some new light on the entries for March 26 ("Loo 1904") and October 7 ("Mollie 1904"). I'd be inclined to interpret the dates as being when the entries were written, and not when Loo and Mollie were born (although since even I don't know the answer to this puzzle it's possible that I'm wrong about that).


I wonder too whether the fact that the names of Loo and Mollie appear without surnames is because they gave the book to its first owner?


Something else I haven't revealed is precisely when and where I bought the book - it was at an auction in Great Dunmow, Essex around the turn of the century. So it's a reasonable assumption that the last owner of the book lived and - almost certainly died - in East Anglia.


Finally, I'd like to share with you the entry on December 31 - not a birthday, but a name and address (and in case you can't read the rather faintly-pencilled handwriting, it says Miss C Coleman, 2 Frairs St, Sudbury, Suffolk). My guess is that this is not the name and address of the first owner of the book, but a subsequent owner, and that certainly seemed t be the case when I started my investigations.


A search of the telephone directories at Ancestry reveals that between 1930 and 1938 there was a W B Coleman, grocer, at 2 Friars St, Sudbury - by 1941 he had relocated to 3 Friars St.


The Probate Calendars at Ancestry record a William Bryant Coleman, grocer, of 1 Meadow Lane, Sudbury who died in 1952 aged 81. The executors were William Russell Coleman, grocer, and Christine Mary Coleman, spinster - could this be our Miss C Coleman?


The 1911 Census entry at findmypast for 2 Friars St, Sudbury shows a William Bryant Coleman, a grocer aged 40, with his wife Florence Kate and sons Russell William, aged 10, and Herbert Edward, aged 8.


According to the census Florence and William had been married for 11 years, and this made it easy to identify their marriage in 1900, which revealed that her maiden name was Ready (still no apparent connection with any of the other names in the Birthday Book). I could now search for other children who were born after the third quarter of 1911, when the mother's maiden name was first shown in the GRO birth indexes:



It certainly looks as if this could be Miss C Coleman - however the only matching death I could find  was registered in Norwich, Norfolk in 1987, so the Birthday Book may have passed through  another pair of hands before it reached me.


And there's still no obvious connection with the other people whose names appear in the book! Can you do any better? 


Peter's Tips

Goodness me, horsemeat turning up in Tesco Value Beefburgers! It just shows how much we take on trust when we buy food - and whilst on this occasion it's the supermarkets (or, rather, their suppliers) that have been caught out, it's not unknown for smaller retailers to label meat incorrectly.


I prefer to buy recognisable joints of meat - at least that way I can be fairly certain they've come from the right animal (though, of course, joints of beef are often barded with pork). However I'm afraid that I haven't yet ventured into making my own sausages - that's one form of processed meat that I can't resist as an occasional treat.


Anyway, that's enough about food. Where can you find back issues of this newsletter? They're all online, but how can you get to them?


If you look near the beginning of this newsletter you'll see some text in italics - and it's there you'll find a link to the previous issue. There's a similar link at the beginning of every newsletter, so you can work your way back as far as you like - or, rather, as far back as February 2009 when I first put my newsletters online.


There is an index for the years 2009 and 2010 - there's a link to that index above - and before long there should be an index to 2011 and 2012. But when I want to find an old article I generally use Google, and my search will typically look something like this:


lostcousins newsletter divorce


Or, if want to find out how to save on your Ancestry subscription you might type


lostcousins newsletter ancestry savings


There's no guarantee that Google will put article you're looking for at the top of the list, but it's usually there on the first page of results.


Please bear in mind that some of the information and links will be out of date, and that the further you go back, the more likely this is to be case. For this reason it's often a good idea to work backwards using the links - it makes sure you see the most up-to-date information first.


According to a recent BBC article there are £20 billion (yes, billon) of unclaimed assets in the UK, ranging from forgotten bank accounts and life insurance policies to pensions. I'm pretty certain that none of them are mine - but maybe some belong to you, or to members of your family who perhaps are no longer as alert as they once were? Worth checking, I reckon! There are certainly some good tips in the article.


After I wrote about Kiva in my last newsletter Brian wrote to tell me what he has done:


I am over 60, just, but I am still working so I am entitled to £200 heating allowance. I don't really need that money. So this year I have use most of that money to increase my loan portfolio on Kiva. Thank you for putting me in touch with them. I now have about 9 current loans with them and one that has already been paid back and the money re-used.


When you make a loan through Kiva it's like giving money to charity - except that when the loan is repaid you have the joy of helping out someone else using the same money. LostCousins members have made almost 400 loans already - and helped to transform the lives of thousands of people in the developing world. If you'd like to join them, follow this link to my article in the last newsletter.


Stop Press

This where any late updates will be posted, so it's worth checking back after a few days.


I hope you've found this newsletter interesting and that you'll make full use of your membership of my site to link with the cousins you don't yet know (your 'lost cousins').


Description: Description: peter_signature


Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2013 Peter Calver


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