Newsletter - 22 January 2014
Ancestry Challenge: your starter for £20 ENDS MONDAY
The LostCousins newsletter is
usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 15
January 2014) click here, for an index to articles
from 2009-10 click here, for
a list of articles from 2011 click here and for a
list of articles from 2012-13 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 or change the settings in your security software.
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!
Ancestry Challenge: your starter for £20 ENDS MONDAY
How far can you extend your family tree in 4 months? Ancestry.co.uk have announced that for just 5 days, from Thursday 23rd until 11.59pm on Monday 27th January, you'll be able to buy a 4 month Premium membership - providing access to ALL of Ancestry's British and Irish records - for just £20.
It's a great low-cost way to get access to well over a billion records, and because there are hundreds of millions of records which you won't find at any other site it's an offer you should consider even if you've already got access to another major subscription site.
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, researchers with British ancestry ideally need simultaneous access to both Ancestry and findmypast - but it's often hard to justify the cost of two annual subscriptions, whilst if you go for shorter subscriptions it usually works out significantly more expensive.
Because it's such a small investment, yet such good value, this offer from Ancestry.co.uk makes the decision really easy - and I'm going to add a little extra to spice it up.
Click this link to go to the Ancestry site and you can earn up to 4 months free subscription to LostCousins - though before you make your claim you'll need to enter at least 5 additional relatives from any of the 1881 Censuses we use to your My Ancestors page.
Here's how it will work: if you add 5 relatives from 1881 you'll get 1 month free, if you add 15 you'll get 2 months free, and if you add 50 I'll give you 4 months free!
However, you'll only be able to make one claim - and it's entirely up to you whether this claim is for 1, 2 or 4 free months (of course, the more relatives you enter, the more 'lost cousins' you're likely to find - so don't feel you have to stop when you reach 50). You can see how many relatives you've entered from each census on your My Summary page.
When you email me to make your claim please provide your Ancestry Order Number - this is a 9-digit number which is displayed on the screen as part of the confirmation of purchase, and also given in the email receipt (if you receive one - many people don't). This will enable me to verify that we have received the commission that funds the free subscriptions. You should also state how many relatives you have added from 1881 since taking up the challenge, and how many months you are claiming. Remember you can only make ONE claim.
Note: the Ancestry offer is not exclusive to LostCousins, but you won't qualify for a free LostCousins subscription (or support LostCousins) unless you go to the Ancestry site using the link above immediately prior to purchasing your Ancestry subscription. This offer cannot be combined with any other offers. Free subscriptions will start on the day your claim is verified, but no claims will be accepted after 27th May 2014. If you already have a LostCousins subscription I'll extend it by the appropriate number of months.
The article Getting the most from Ancestry in the last newsletter was very well-received, so I thought I'd follow up with some additional tips, this time in relation to Ancestry family trees.
Public or private?
You probably already know that Ancestry trees can be public or private - public trees are visible to all Ancestry subscribers, private trees can only be viewed by people you personally invite. But you can search both public and private trees, so having a private tree doesn't prevent you connecting with your cousins.
It's true that if you have a private tree lazy researchers probably won't connect with you. Then again, they probably won't connect with you if you have a public tree, either - they'll take your information without out a please or thank you. So my advice is to make your tree private so that serious researchers can contact you, but name collectors don't get their grubby mitts on your hard-won data.
Downloading an online tree
A lot of people rely totally on their online tree, and don't have a family tree program on their computer. This is very dangerous - and severely limits what you can do (family tree programs have many more features than online trees).
It's very easy to download your Ancestry tree to your computer - you don't even need to have a tree program on your computer if you're just doing it as a backup. Here's what you do.....
1. Go to your Ancestry tree and select Tree settings from the Tree pages menu.
2. On the Tree Settings page look for the Manage your tree section on the right, towards the bottom of the page.
3. Click the green button labelled Export tree - this creates a GEDCOM file in preparation for downloading
4. Once the file has been prepared you'll see a new green button labelled Download your GEDCOM file - you can click it now or click it later (you may as well do it now).
Note: if you make a change to your Ancestry tree the Download button will disappear, and the Export button will come back.
Although it was first performed as a stage play in 1904, Peter Pan wasn't published in book form until 1911 which, coincidentally was also the year when, for the very first time, married women were asked to provide details of the children they had borne during their marriage.
Many of the householders filled in the form incorrectly - the most common error was to put the information against the father rather than the mother (since this was a time when wives couldn't own property or vote in national elections, and were called by their husband's names, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised).
My maternal grandfather had been married twice, but the numbers he put down - against his name, not his wife's - were for both marriages (though no less useful for all that).
Nevertheless, despite the frequent misunderstandings, it's usually possible to glean some useful information - most parents lost at least one child and unless they survived long enough to appear on a census we wouldn't even know of their existence (even though we might speculate about the gaps between the births of the children we do know about).
However, even when you know that there are some births (and deaths) that you haven't found, identifying them in the birth indexes can seem like an impossible task - and that's where this LostCousins member's story starts.....
Not very long ago, I came across the 1911 census entry for the household that contained my Grandfather Campbell and his mother. To my surprise (and that of the rest of the family) my great grandmother reported that she had had seven children, of whom four had died. I knew of my grandfather and two great uncles, but the other four were news to us all.
From a combination of Free BMD and Familysearch christening records, I was able to find a great aunt, born 13 July 1887, christened 19 August 1887, died 3Q1887. But the other three still evaded me, not least because the family name was a fairly common one.
Just the other day I started a discussion on the Lost Cousins forum:
"...if anyone can think of a realistic way of identifying 3 children born to my great-grandmother, dead before the 1911 census, I am interested to know. I am not rushing to pay for all birth certificates of children named Campbell, born in South Shields during her childbearing years - nor death certificates of Campbells dying there under the age of ten. Too many, too expensive, too depressing!"
I had quite a rush of recognition, support and helpful suggestions, and a surprisingly good outcome. I thought I would share the ideas and progress, in the hope of encouraging others who may be faced with the same problem.
For one thing, the numbers to consider weren’t quite as daunting as had first appeared. Although there were 456 births in South Shields registration district in the thirty years up to the 1911 Census, there were only 118 deaths during those years of children aged 0-9 years old (anyone aged 10 or more would have been recorded on at least one census, so I could rule them out). A further 14 deaths could be disregarded because the child would have been on a census, leaving just 104 deaths. (My thanks to Peter for doing this calculation - I had been too discouraged to even address it)
I was able to reduce the period to consider, as I knew that my GGM was born in June 1855 so was very unlikely to have been having children after about 1902 (when she would have been 47). She married in March 1882, so that still left me about twenty years of births/deaths, but the number was shrinking. We were down to 99 child deaths in South Shields RD for the years 1883-1902 (74 of these children were under two when they died).
I also had birthdates for the four children I knew of (these were recorded in the FamilySearch baptism records), so could exclude babies born too close to them. I decided to be fairly sweeping with my exclusions, taking out a year either side of the known births, as the idea was to get a shortlist of likely candidates. There were three unnamed babies - I gambled that it was unlikely I would be discarding all of them.
There was a suggestion that I could see if there was a pattern to the births that I knew of - if I could see when a baby might be ‘due’. Unfortunately, the interval between children is not much of a lead in this case, as there is three to four years between all the four that I know of - plenty of room to fit in another baby. And my great-grandfather was away at sea for long periods (he was never at home for a census) which has an effect on such things.
I could reduce the number slightly by eliminating babies who had the same name as an elder child who survived. Also, it was suggested that I could discard those who had a middle name which was obviously a surname, but didn’t mean anything to me. A really constructive idea was that, since the four children I knew of all had two or more Christian names, I should concentrate on babies who also had two names.
By including only babies with two names and excluding the ones I could identify as being born too close to the children I know of, I got the list down to an amazingly low nineteen. I excluded another 3 by finding christenings with the 'wrong' parents, leaving 16.
The four children I knew about had all been baptised, and the baptism register entries were recorded at FamilySearch. It therefore seemed quite likely that the others had not been christened, suggesting they had died very young. I started by excluding anyone dying with an age greater than 0, but when I looked at the age my GGM’s babies had been christened, I found that it ranged from about three weeks to about nine weeks, which suggested that if any of my great aunts or uncles had survived beyond a few months, they would very likely appear on the baptism records. On this basis, it seemed I might be looking for children who died in the same quarter that the birth was registered, or the next quarter (or just possibly the previous quarter, since the period for registering deaths was and is shorter than that for registering births).
That left just 6 on my shortlist. On closer consideration I excluded a further two babies because their births only just fitted in between two of the known children. And, incredible as it seemed at the start it looks as if my missing relatives may be:
EITHER John Edward Campbell (3q1896
- 4q1896) OR Edward Charles Campbell (1q1897 - 2q1897)
Agnes Dorothy Campbell (2q1898 - 2q1898)
John William Campbell (4q1900 - 4q1900)
I must repeat that these were techniques to reduce the list of ‘possibles’ to something manageable, not homing in on 'The Right Answer'.
I am very aware that I was making sweeping assumptions, and only sight of a certificate will prove if any of these are my great grandparents’ children - and I won't be entering them on my tree until I have some evidence. However, my experience might encourage you, if you are also faced with a seemingly impossible task of finding Lost Children - it's almost certainly not as difficult as it looks!
Liberty is one of the 660 LostCousins members helping me to prepare the LostCousins forum in advance of its official opening - I'm very grateful to her for this article, which I'm sure will inspire others to emulate her success.
In November I wrote about the Wellcome Library's collection of London health reports, which includes reports from 1848-1972 made by the Medical Officers of London boroughs, and highlighted the 1956 report for Ilford in which my own bout of scarlet fever would have been recorded in the statistics.
After that article appeared I had several emails from members who had family connections to the reports - for example, Bryan wrote to tell me that his father, who was the Chief Sanitary Inspector for Merton & Morden wrote part of the 1950 report for the borough.
Now the Wellcome Library is making available another fascinating resource - over 100,000 images at its Wellcome Images site can now be used completely free of charge, even for commercial purposes (just so long as the Wellcome Library is named as the source). I found this wonderful advertisement for the National Children's Home and Orphanage which, judging from the shape, may have been displayed in a bus or train:
(Looking for historical information about the charity I came across this site created by Philip Howard, who grew up in their care - it might be of interest to others who had a similar upbringing.)
At Wellcome Images I also found an engraving of a building I have driven past many times without knowing anything of its history, nor its present role.
Built between 1841-43 and designed by Gilbert Scott (who was also responsible for the Albert Memorial), the Infant Orphan Asylum in Snaresbrook, which had been opened by King Leopold I of Belgium, later became the Royal Wanstead School, and is now Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Note: in this context the word 'asylum' does not imply mental incapacity (as in 'lunatic asylum' or 'mental asylum', but the need for protection.
I wonder what images you'll find in this wonderful collection?
As this Daily Mirror article reports, the last conscript was discharged in May 1963 - ironically just months after the Cuban missile crisis. The decision was taken years earlier - the last conscripts joined in November 1960, and nobody born on or after 1st October 1939 was called up.
Note: the Daily Mirror photo shows a scene from 'Carry On Sergeant', with Bob Monkhouse in the foreground - but do you know who that is in the background?
You can search and view newspapers, books, magazines, and even radio news bulletins free at the Delpher site. Unfortunately there isn't an English language version of the site, but if - like me - you use the Chrome browser the website pages are translated instantly (though not the newspaper articles).
Note: the site is still being developed so you might occasionally run into problems.
If you have connections with the Netherlands you might also have used the Genlias site in the past - it was an excellent free site with an English version. Sadly Genlias is no more, but can search the same records at WieWasWie, although currently the site is only in Dutch.
If you liked the composite photographs of San Francisco that I recommended in the last issue you might enjoy this video production which puts a 1927 film if London alongside a closely matched modern equivalent (thanks to Joanna and everyone else who recommended it). This composite photo of Buckingham Palace is also interesting, and Cathy directed me to some then-and-now photos of Covent Garden that are very nicely done.
If you're interested in contributing photos, the BBC's "Turn Back Time" project has a Flickr group where photos can be shared.
There's an online petition suggesting that the 1921 Census should be released earlier than the due date of 2022. A lot of people have written to me suggesting that this would be a good idea - but I'm not so sure.
According to the Office of National Statistics there were 465,000 alive in 2012 aged 90 or over - and most of them would been recorded on the 1921 Census. When their parents filled in their census forms they would have done it expecting the information to be kept confidential for 100 years - a period that was laid down in the Census Act of 1920. Of course, in those days life expectancy was much lower - in 1921 life expectancy at birth was around 60 for girls, and only 55 for boys - so 100 years really was a long time.
Note: you can find out more about life expectancy at intervals since 1841 here.
I'm not sure that the minimal benefits from seeing the 1921 Census a few years early can outweigh the infringement of the rights of the tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of people whose information will be revealed. We could ask them, I suppose - but what about the people who have dementia, and can't give informed consent. Surely we can't trample over the rights of one group of citizens simply because another group is impatient?
To release the census early would require a change in the law - and if we're going to fight for a change in the law shouldn't we be putting all our efforts into securing the changes that will allow the General Register Office to put the historic birth, marriage, and death registers online?
There's an even more important reason not to ask the government to go back on the promise that was made in 1920. If the traditional census is to continue in 2021, as we all hope - don't we want the people completing the forms to believe the promise of strict confidentiality? How can we expect people to answer truthfully - if they answer at all - after breaking the promise made on the 1921 Census forms?
Recently the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, called for the Low Pay Commission to agree on an above-inflation rise in the minimum wage. Perhaps counter-intuitively, increasing the minimum wage can actually reduce government expenditure, because the increases are mostly paid by private employers, and many low-paid workers come from households which receive top-up benefits from the State.
If you listened to The Long View on Radio 4 this week (available online here) you may have been struck by the similarity with the Speenhamland System, instituted by magistrates in Berkshire in 1795. They called for farmers and other employers in the county to increase the wages of their employees to take account of inflation in food prices, but provided a safety net of subsidies paid by the parish.
That is to say, when the Gallon Loaf of Second Flour, Weighing 8lb. 11ozs. shall cost 1s. then every poor and industrious man shall have for his own support 3s. weekly, either produced by his own or his family's labour, or an allowance from the poor rates, and for the support of his wife and every other of his family, 1s. 6d. When the Gallon Loaf shall cost 1s. 4d., then every poor and industrious man shall have 4s. weekly for his own, and 1s. and 10d. for the support of every other of his family. And so in proportion, as the price of bread rise or falls (that is to say) 3d. to the man, and 1d. to every other of the family, on every 1d. which the loaf rise above 1s. That is to say, when the Gallon Loaf of Second Flour, Weighing 8lb. 11ozs. [3.9 kg] shall cost 1s. then every poor and industrious man shall have for his own support 3s. weekly, either produced by his own or his family's labour, or an allowance from the poor rates, and for the support of his wife and every other of his family, 1s. 6d. When the Gallon Loaf shall cost 1s. 4d., then every poor and industrious man shall have 4s. weekly for his own, and 1s. and 10d. for the support of every other of his family. And so in proportion, as the price of bread rise or falls (that is to say) 3d. to the man, and 1d. to every other of the family, on every 1d. which the loaf rise above 1s.
Loaves of bread were bigger and heaver in the 18th century - a Gallon Loaf would have been almost 5 times the weight of the large loaves you'd find in British supermarkets today. According to the Measuring Worth website, 3 shillings in 1795 is equivalent to about £13 today when the rise in prices is taken into account. Or to put it another way, the minimum income for a single man in 1795 is equivalent to just 2 hours of labour at the modern minimum wage - which goes to show how much worse off our ancestors were than us.
The Speenhamland System didn't work - there was no way to force employers to raise wages, and in practice they cut wages rather than raising them, secure in the knowledge that the parish would make up the difference.
The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 created the Poor Law Commission, whose three commissioners were each paid £2,000 per annum, an enormous sum in those days when many ordinary people laboured long hours for less than £20 a year.
Things are a little different nowadays - by 1997, when members for the new Low Pay Commission were being chosen the government had at least got the remuneration sorted out, as you can see from this Letter to the Editor, published in The Times on 1st July of that year.
Indeed, even though the current commissioners are now entitled to claim fees and be reimbursed for travelling expenses several of them have not made any claims at all.
(One of these days I'll put together a compilation of my letters to newspapers and magazines - if only to prove that I did have a life prior to LostCousins!)
I've mentioned previously that I've been transferring my savings to Zopa, a peer-to-peer site that matches lenders and borrowers, but minimises the risks by breaking up the loans into small chunks (of as little as £10 each). They've also created a fund to offset any losses that are incurred.
Recently the rates have been falling both for lenders and borrowers, so Zopa came up with the idea of a Rate Promise for lenders - until 3rd February you can get a rate of 5% on money you lend for between 3 and 5 years (the rate is subsidised by Zopa handing back some of the 1% commission they normally take).
But if you do want to take advantage of this offer don't leave it until the last minute - the Rate Promise only applies to money that has been lent out by the deadline.
One of my favourite family photos is of my mother with the rest of her primary school class. I would never have recognised her with straight hair, so thank goodness I went through the photos with my aunt before she died.
There was one problem with this picture - there were some dirty marks that I couldn't get off without damaging the photo (and believe me I tried).
Fortunately a new photo retouching company called Repixl had just opened up - and as they were based just down the road from where I used to live in the early 1990s I decided to give them a try. There was no need to send anything through the post - I simply scanned in the photo (warts and all), then uploaded it to their site. In less than an hour I had an almost perfect copy, and because they currently have a free trial running, it didn't cost me a penny!
My mum, by the way, is in the 2nd row from the front, 4th from the left. I wonder if any other readers of this newsletter have ancestors in this photo from 1934?
Finally, in case any of you are short of reading matter, the genealogical novel I'm currently reading is by LostCousins member Alan Dance. I'm currently only 56 pages in, so I can't yet deliver a verdict on The Westbrook Affair, but I'm certainly looking forward to getting back to it now that I've finished this newsletter (and submitted my tax return).
This is where I'll post any last minute news, updates, or offers.
Thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter - I hope you find some of the articles and tips useful.
© Copyright 2014 Peter Calver
You MAY link to this newsletter or email a link to your friends and relatives without asking for permission in advance. I have included bookmarks so you can link to a specific article: right-click on the relevant entry in the table of contents at the beginning of this newsletter to copy the link.