Newsletter - 28th June 2014
The LostCousins newsletter is
usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 18th
June) 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 donít 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!
Fed up with football? Until midnight (London time) on Monday you can get a 1 month Britain subscription for just £1 at findmypast.co.uk (after the initial 30 day period, your subscription will be automatically renewed at the normal price of £9.95 unless you untick the 'auto-renew my subscription' box in the My Account section of the site).
If you haven't used findmypast recently, it's a great opportunity to see what all the fuss is about - findmypast's new UK site has proven extremely controversial, although my personal experience has been quite positive (once I figured out that there were several different ways to search the same records, each of which had some advantages of the others). To ensure that you get the most out of your bargain month take a look at my tips articles from April, which you'll find here and here.
To take advantage of findmypast's generosity and support LostCousins just follow this link. In the unlikely event that your discounted price doesn't show automatically, type WORLDCUP1 in the promotional codes box and click Apply.
Tip: if you already have a subscription to another site this is a great opportunity to move your research up a gear - with access to two sites with different record collections (and different transcriptions of records that they share) you'll be able to make more discoveries. The only downside is that you might get used to the luxury.....
I've been wondering when something like this would happen - Ancestry have taken another look at their WW1 records and in the process have indexed the names of spouses, next-of-kin, and other family members shown in the personnel records.
Spouses appear in many records under their maiden names, so this is how they've been indexed - so you might well discover marriages you didn't know about, or children you were previously unaware of. It's also a great way to track down soldiers with extremely common surnames, or whose surname has been mistranscribed.
For example, I was able to go to the British Army WWI Service Records 1914-1920 and search for soldiers whose wife had the surname Calver:
Note: I haven't shown the rest of the Search form because it was completely blank!
This technique also works for the British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920, and you can also search both record sets using the name of a child (remember they'll usually be recorded under the father's surname).
This is great work by Ancestry - wouldn't it be fantastic if their next step was to index marriage witnesses, and beneficiaries in wills?
A collection of paintings by Richard Nevinson, one of the most famous war artists of WW1, is online at the BBC website - you'll find them here.
You may recall that last October I drew attention to the fact that the Electoral Registration forms sent out by most councils no longer showed pre-printed ticks against the names of individuals who had chosen to be excluded from the commercial version of the register. What I didn't know at the time was the background.....
I discovered recently that in late 2012 the website 192.com threatened to apply for a judicial review when 27 Electoral Registration Officers (out of hundreds across the country) refused to give an undertaking to remove the pre-printed ticks from the forms. When proceedings were issued in January 2013 a further 12 agreed to sign, but the officers from 15 brave councils continued to fight: Birmingham City, Blackpool, Bolton Metropolitan Borough, Chorley Borough, Hertsmere Borough, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough, Manchester City, Pendle Borough, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough, Spelthorne Borough, Stevenage Borough, Stockport Metropolitan Borough, Three Rivers District, West Lancashire Borough, and Wirral Council.
The case was due to be heard in the High Court in March 2014, but 192.com discontinued their claim, and legal costs were awarded to the defendants. If your local council is on the list I suggest you congratulate them for protecting your privacy - I don't suppose they get congratulated by taxpayers very often!
Who Do You Think You Are? Live moves in 2015
The annual show in London at the end of February regularly attracts up to 15,000 visitors to Olympia. However in 2015 the venue isn't available, so the show is moving to a new location and experimenting with a new date: 16th-18th April at the National Exhibition Centre near Birmingham.
Sited right next to Birmingham International railway station and - for the jetsetters amongst you - just a few minutes from Birmingham Airport, the NEC also has 16,000 car parking spaces.
Origins & Mocavo bought by findmypast
The news that findmypast had bought Origins.net, one of the oldest providers of online records came through just as I was finalising the last newsletter, so I mentioned it briefly in the Stop Press - but I'm sure that you'd like to know more.
will be some months before all of Origins' records are integrated into the findmypast database, but it should be worth the wait!
Mocavo began as a free genealogy search engine, but later introduced a subscription option. It isn't a site I've used other than when it first launched, so I'd be interested in comments from readers who do have experience - good or bad. What I can tell you is that as a result of this takeover all of the US census indexes are being made available free online for the first time.†
Yesterday I received an email which once again confirms how dangerous it is to rely on trees that you find online, and how careful you need to be when sharing information:
"From bitter experience I have learned to be ultra careful in how much data I make available to even people whose credentials I think I know and understand. Alas, even relatives can be loose with the way that information is passed on to outsiders, with their unconfirmed additions. My philosophy now is that I don't give out any parts of my tree until I am absolutely sure that it will not be doctored and passed on. Your comments about having unconfirmed data in trees is so, so correct. I have one relative who went from starting a new tree to having over 3000 entries in under 12 months; mostly just dragged from someone else's tree on Ancestry without doing any verifying. There are whole chunks where two families have been mixed and the overall result is a complete mess. If someone else now comes along and puts that data into another tree then the error compounds. So, my strong advice is this: use published trees to give yourself a frame work but verify each entry before adding it into your own tree."
If you're exchanging information with cousins, why not ask them if they will abide by the Standards for Sharing Information With Others which you'll find on the Help & Advice page?
If you're keen to find a cousin from a particular line, and you haven't been able to find them at LostCousins (despite entering all the relatives you can find in the 1881 Census), it's well worth trying Genes Reunited - especially now that you can buy a monthly Standard subscription that costs just £4.95.
As with all subscriptions to Genes Reunited (and its big brother findmypast) your subscription will be renewed automatically by default - but you can change the settings on your 'My Account' page. When you buy or renew a standard subscription you get 50 free credits which you can use to access any of Genes Reunited's records.
Building your family tree at Genes Reunited is free, and you can export the information as a Gedcom file. Searching for people who have entered the same relative is also free - though because the information that people enter varies, you can't be sure that someone is really related until you correspond with them (it's to avoid this problem that LostCousins requires everyone to enter information from the same census).
But contacting someone through Genes Reunited requires a subscription, which is where the 1 month option comes in useful (though if you want to use the site for longer periods the 12 month subscription works out much cheaper). As with LostCousins, entering information and searching for matches is free - it's only when you want to contact someone you've been matched with that you need to be a subscriber.
Note: until Monday 30th June you can save 20% on a 1 month or 12 month Platinum subscription to Genes Reunited when you click here and enter the discount code GRJUNE20 on the payment page.
Sherlock Holmes may be a fictional character, but he had a real life rival - the French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon, who is mentioned in The Hound of the Baskervilles, published in 1902.
At a time when criminals frequently changed their identity, he came up with a system of measurements which would allow those who had been caught before to be identified no matter what name they gave or how they attempted to change their appearance (branding of convicted criminals had been inconveniently outlawed, and fingerprinting was as yet unproven).
As I read about Bertillon in the April 2014 issue of Significance magazine I realised that what Bertillon had invented was a forerunner to LostCousins - like me he realised that relying on names alone was prone to error, and so came up with the idea of using physical measurements, just as I chose to use census information and, in particular, the references that define a precise census page.
The results were similar: in the first year Bertillon's system identified just 49 repeat offenders, but as his database grew the numbers increased dramatically, and in the first 10 years 3500 were identified. LostCousins linked just 120 new relatives in its first year, but over 10000 in its first decade.
Bertillon's system eventually fell out of favour when it proved to be unable to separate the two British criminals, Ebenezer Alfred Fox and his identical twin Albert Ebenezer Fox, whose poaching exploits terrorised the pheasants of Stevenage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (you can read more about them here). It was replaced by fingerprinting, which even today is the primary means of identification used by police forces around the world.
Whilst only 99.8% of matches at LostCousins have been correct, all of the errors so far have been the result of the wrong person being identified on the census by a member - the matching algorithm has proven to be 100% reliable. Let's hope it stays that way!
There are quite a few interesting talks at the SoG in July, and you don't have to be a member to attend (though the cost is lower for members). For example, on the afternoon of Wednesday 2nd July Dr David Wright will be giving a one-hour lecture entitled "What can we Trust on Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates?", then on the morning of Saturday 12th July Dr Geoff Swinfield will be running the half-day course " DNA and Heredity for Family Historians", which is aimed at those with no prior knowledge of the subject.
For a full list of events follow this link to the SoG website. Of course, if you're going to the SoG it would be a shame not to visit the library, which has an incredible collection of material, some of it unique - but to make the most of your visit check the library catalogue first.
Ancestry recently uploaded around 8 million records from Lancashire parish registers and Bishop's transcripts, dramatically increasing their coverage. A much smaller addition, Lancashire Vagrants Passes, comprises records of individuals and families deemed to be vagrants who were deported from the port of Liverpool to Ireland between 1801-35 (many were sent to Liverpool from other areas).
Of course, most deportation under the Poor Laws involved people being sent from one parish to another, not from one country to another - elsewhere on Ancestry you can see Settlement and Removal Orders for several Poor Law Unions in east London.
Iceland has low rates of immigration as well as excellent genealogical records going back as far as 1000 years, so it's an excellent place to research DNA. A third of the population have donated DNA samples, and others are being encouraged to take part - but some inhabitants feel unhappy, as this BBC article explains.
Irish petty sessions collection continues to grow
Last June I reported that the collections of Irish petty sessions records at findmypast had grown to over 12 million; today it was announced there now over 21 million records covering the period 1828-1912 - you'll find more details here.
If you're accessing these records through findmypast.co.uk you'll need a World subscription, but you could always take advantage of the 1 month for 1Ä offer at findmypast.ie
Note: according to the Irish Times the US police records for 10 Irish migrants are going on sale in Dublin on Tuesday - let me know if you spot one of your relatives!
One of the reasons findmypast upgraded their site was to make it easier to add new record sets, and in April they announced their intention to add 100 new record sets in the following 100 days. Some of the new record sets are enormous, but others are small, such as the Honourable Artillery Company records added on Monday.
But whilst there are only 13000 entries they include my grandfather Harry Calver, so for me it was a very special collection! You may recall me mentioning recently that his personnel file had turned up at findmypast, having been thought to be amongst the millions of files lost as a result of enemy action in 1940 - so to see these HAC records is a real bonus.
Note: earlier releases included many 'Pals' battalions
In November I wrote about the late registration of deaths in England & Wales - over 10,000 deaths per annum are registered at least 6 months later, which causes problems for statisticians, not least because many of them will fall in a different calendar year. It could also cause problems for family historians, who would normally expect a death to be registered within 7 days.
Last week the organisation Sense about Science published an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for change - and pointing out that there is already a better system in Scotland (and 23 other European countries). Now where have I heard that before.....
Earlier this month I showed you a birth certificate which had been corrected and asked if you knew why the child's surname had been deleted. The answer, as I'm sure most of you knew, is that the child's surname wasn't shown on birth certificates - had it not been deleted it would have implied that the child's name was Charles Heal Heal.
Of course, there are people who have names like that - in fact, there's a well-known genealogist called Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, although in this case the duplication arises because she and her husband were both Smolenyaks before they married.
A lot of people think I collect rubbish - but to me it's memorabilia or ephemera. Just as I was finalising this newsletter I discovered that an Ephemera Society Fair takes place in London on 6th July, and as I'm going to be in London that day to hear a lecture given by a distinguished LostCousins member who's flying in from the US, I'm planning to go along.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
My top tip this time is "Don't answer the phone when you're making fudge" - I've got a burnt pan and toffee to prove it.† Most annoyingly of all, it was a marketing call that distracted me - when will the government get a grip on this problem? I've been registered with the Telephone Preference Service for 17 years, so shouldn't be on anyone's list - but judging from the number of calls I get it makes little difference, probably because these scam artists don't play by the rules.
Would you like to be my friend? I'm not talking about Facebook, but an offer that I received from Nationwide Building Society recently. If I recommend a friend to Nationwide and that friend subsequently transfers their current account banking (including at least 2 Direct Debits) then we get £50 each!
I've banked with Nationwide for about 20 years - as they're owned by their customers the service is just that little bit better and so, by and large, are the interest rates. I have a FlexAccount which, despite having no monthly or annual fees, comes with free UK and European travel insurance (until I'm 75), and as an existing customer I also get higher interest on my savings. But if you want even more, you can splash out £10 a month on a FlexPlus account, which offers free Worldwide travel insurance (including winter sports), free car breakdown cover (throughout the EU), free mobile phone insurance, and 3% interest on credit balances up to £2500. The FlexPlus account came top in a recent Which? magazine survey of packaged current accounts (June 2014 p52).
Although I've never met most LostCousins members I've corresponded with so many of you over the years that I think of you all as friends - so if you're looking to move to a better bank, let me know and I'll fill out the online recommendation (I'll need to know your name, email address, and date of birth).
Whilst 3% sounds like a pretty high interest rate, especially since the Governor of the Bank of England reckons that 2.5% will be the norm in future, I'm currently earning 5% on the money I've lent through Zopa. Next month I'll be attending a party in London that Zopa are giving for their lenders and borrowers (not all of them, just the ones who were quickest responding to the invitation) and if you're going to be there as well perhaps you'll let me know?
Many websites were down earllier this morning (28th June) including Ancestry, findmypast, Origins and many others - so some links may not have worked. The problems now seem to have been resolved.
Thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter - I hope you find it 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. But why not invite them to join?