Newsletter - 18 November 2012



World War 1 records saved

Did findmypast jump the gun?

'Dead' man celebrates 106th birthday

MASTERCLASS: Tracking down pre-1837 baptisms and marriage

How to be accurate - and why it matters!

Last chance to search 1911 free ENDS TODAY

Ireland - National Archives launches new website

Scottish wills from 1902-25 now online

Adoption in England & Wales before 1927

Non-Anglican religious marriages

Birmingham electoral rolls online

Birmingham parish registers offline

Essex Record Office expands online register collection

National Archives to open up Community

Last chance to save on Who Do You Think You Are? tickets

How to find your British ancestors in the newspapers

Searching Australian newspapers

Did your migrant ancestors change their name?

Write about your sporting relative and win a prize!

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


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World War 1 records saved

The Western Front Association has saved 6.5 million Great War soldiers' pension record cards which the Ministry of Defence was no longer prepared to preserve and manage. I'm sure that the big genealogy companies will be falling over themselves to get their hands on these records, many of which will, I suspect, relate to soldiers whose service records were destroyed during World War 2.


It's likely to be a couple of years before they appear online - but what a way to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of war. You'll find more details and some sample images here. Many thanks to Barbara for being the first to alert me to this story.


Did findmypast jump the gun?

On 7 November launched their British newspaper collection, with millions of pages from over 200 newspapers from the British Library collection (see here for the official announcement).


Since a 12-month subscription to the British Newspaper Archive costs £79.95 and anyone with a Full or World subscription gets access to these newspapers without paying a penny more it's a fantastic bonus, especially since you can still buy or upgrade to the new World subscription at a significant discount (follow this link to find out how much it would cost you).


But it hasn't been a trouble-free launch, and to get the best out of this new feature right now you'll need to follow the advice in my article towards the end of this newsletter. However, if you have any unusual surnames in your tree it's a fantastic opportunity to find out what they got up to between 1710 and 1950!


For example, when Jill wrote from Australia she was over the moon:


"Thank you so much for alerting me to these newspapers. I’ve had so much fun with my Saubergue line. There are over 400 references to the Saubergues at Dorking, Surrey. Peter Lewis Saubergue had a hardware shop in the High Street. His funeral is described in great detail in 1882, with description of coffin, route, being met at the gates by the Venerable Archdeacon Atkinson who performed the last mournful ceremony, assisted by the Rev G Hughes and Rev L R Flood, etc. There are numerous references to his son Walter who later took over the shop and is on the Dorking Local Board. He is recorded as attending 29 meetings during the year, is on numerous sub committees, and meeting with local MPs and dignitaries. Also, lots of advertisements for the shop."


So, did findmypast jump the gun? I think that perhaps this should have been designated as a 'beta' launch, highlighting the fact that in a complex dataset like this there are some things that only become apparent when real users carry out actual searches  (in practice there's a limit to what in-house testing can achieve).


But would I want them to have delayed the launch altogether - no way!


'Dead' man celebrates 106th birthday

In 1936 Sam Ledward crashed his 500cc Triumph after the front tyre burst, and the doctors thought he was dead. But in the hospital mortuary a porter noticed the corpse move, and returned him to the ward.


Last week Sam celebrated his 106th birthday - not bad for a dead man! You can read more about Sam's extraordinary story in this BBC Wales article.


Note: in 1935 T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) wasn't so fortunate when he crashed his Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle. I wonder if the situation in the Middle East might be any different if he had survived?


MASTERCLASS: Tracking down pre-1837 baptisms and marriage

Researching ancestors who lived in England & Wales is usually fairly straightforward until we get back to 1841, the date of the first census, and 1837, the year that civil registration began. But then it becomes much tougher, for a number of inter-related reasons. In this masterclass I'm going to first talk through the problems, and then explain how I would generally hope to overcome them.


Why we need to use different techniques

When we're researching after 1837 we can refer to the GRO indexes, which (in theory at least) list everyone who was born, or married, or died in England & Wales. Once we get to 1841 we can refer to censuses which (again, in theory) list everyone in the country on a certain night. Best of all, those indexes and censuses are available online, so anybody anywhere can get access to them.


But before 1837 we don't have either of those available to us - prior to the introduction of civil registration parish registers are by far the best sources of early information (and often the only surviving documents that name our ancestors). Most people were baptised, most of those who have descendants alive today got married, and the one thing you can be sure of is that they eventually died, in which case they'll almost certainly have been buried somewhere.


However, even though the vast majority of baptism, marriage, and burial registers have survived, the registers are scattered across the nation. In most cases the original registers are held by the county record office, which means you cannot go to any one record office - not even the National Archives - and expect to find all the baptisms for (say) 1797. Indeed, even if you visit the repository of the registers you're seeking the chances are you'll only be able to view them on microfilm.


Many registers have been transcribed, often by volunteers, and in some cases the transcriptions have been made available online. However you can't just go to one website and search through every parish register that has ever been transcribed, because some transcriptions are available at one site, some at another - and even if you have the time to visit them all, many of the transcriptions are only available at subscription sites, so you may not be able to access them. Furthermore, some of the transcriptions are only available on CD ROM or on microfiche - usually through family history societies.


Faced with such a different situation some researchers just give up - research pre-1837 is so different that they are scared to even try. Some try, but fail - either because they don't fully understand how best to make use of the available resources, or because they don't realise just how much is available to them.


Because of the way that records are scattered across the country, across the Internet, and across different media, it's tempting to adopt an unfocused "where shall I try next" approach. Now, I'm not a professional genealogist, but one thing I do know is that professional genealogists always search logically and methodically, and above all they record where they have searched and what they have searched for. I can't count the number of times members have written to me saying they've searched everywhere for a certain baptism, yet when pressed they can't tell me which parishes they've searched, which periods the searches covered, or even - in some cases - precisely what surnames and spellings they looked for.


Start by gathering the evidence

First I collect all the evidence that indicates - no matter how obliquely - where and when my ancestor is likely to have been born. Sources of information will often include early censuses, marriage certificates, and death certificates - all of which can be helpful, but can also be misleading.


Many people didn't know where they were born, so often the birthplace they gave when the enumerator came round is the place - or one of the places - where they grew up. Some people didn't know how old they were - they might have known when they were born, but that isn't the question on the census form. (It asks for their age, and not everyone was capable of subtracting one year from another, particularly if the years were in different centuries.)


Search the IGI

My second step is to search the International Genealogical Index at FamilySearch; the IGI has far more parish register entries than any other website, and yet it's free! Now and again I'm lucky enough to find someone who looks as if they may be my ancestor, and has a sufficiently rare name that there are unlikely to have been two of them around in the same place at the same time. However, not many names are that rare - indeed, many of the surnames we now think of as rare were once quite common in certain parts of the country.


Tip: some researchers have assumed that the IGI disappeared along with the old FamilySearch website. It's true that there was a time when the IGI was not available at the new FamilySearch site, but you can now find it here.


There are two types of entries in the IGI - those that are described as Community Indexed and those that are Community Contributed. The former are extremely reliable, but the latter are very variable - for example, there are many entries which are clearly not taken from parish registers and are often simply conjecture. It's perhaps just as well that the two sets can only be searched separately!


If you don't find the entry you're seeking in the IGI it's usually because the register that contains the entry hasn't been transcribed and included in the index. Although FamilySearch has at some point microfilmed most of the surviving parish registers, only about half have been transcribed and indexed - so half the baptisms and marriages you're looking won't be in the database at all.


Tip: hardly any burials for England & Wales are included in the IGI.


How can you find out which registers are included? The simplest way is to refer to Hugh Wallis's site - There's a link to it on the My Links page at LostCousins (you'll need to log-in first). As well as listing the years of coverage by parish and by event the site also gives the relevant batch numbers - searching by batch number is not only a great way to limit your search to a specific parish, it's a great way to overcome transcription errors or entries that have been recorded incorrectly by the clergyman who conducted the service (when you omit the person's name you'll get a listing of all the entries in the batch).


What should you do if the parish you're interested in is included in the IGI, but you still can't find the entry you're looking for despite searching through the relevant batch in case of errors? This suggests that the event didn't take place where you think it did (or perhaps didn't take place at all).


Find out which other parishes are nearby

My next step is to use a 'parish locator' (such as the free ParLoc program) to get a list of all the parishes around the town or village where I believe my ancestor to have been born or married. Usually I use a 5 mile radius, but in London that could give you a list of 100 or more parishes - so a radius of 1 or 2 miles might be more appropriate there. The fact that I haven't been able to find the baptism or marriage in the IGI strongly suggests that it's recorded in a register that isn't included in that index, so I go back to Hugh Wallis's invaluable website to find out which parishes aren't included in the IGI for the relevant period - and they’re the ones that I focus my attention on.


Other free sites with parish register transcriptions or images

Where else can you find baptisms and marriages online? At the old FamilySearch site you were limited to the IGI, which hadn't been added to for many years - but the new FamilySearch site has a wealth of other records. For example, there are 69 million baptisms in the dataset described as England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, and 16 million marriages under England, Marriages, 1538–1973. Many of these entries are also found in the IGI, but some are different.


FamilySearch also has indexed transcriptions, but not images, for Cheshire, Plymouth & West Devon, Yorkshire, and parts of Wales, and mostly unindexed register images for Norfolk. FamilySearch also has parish register images for part of Kent, but these are not generally accessible online unless you are at a FamilySearch Centre (there are 4500 of them around the world).


Tip: although you can search all of the transcribed parish register entries with a single search from the FamilySearch home page, you obviously won't find any records that are only present as unindexed images. It's therefore essential that you're aware of the unindexed images at the FamilySearch site.


The free site with the largest collection is FreeREG - at the time of writing it has almost 11 million baptisms, 3.7 million marriages, and nearly 7.5 million burials in its database. However, they're not evenly spread across the country: some counties are very well catered for (Norfolk in particular), but others less so - but it's fairly easy to see what is and isn't there. Other volunteer-led projects include the Online Parish Clerk sites: they don't exist for every county, but you'll find a list of the participating counties here (the county with by far the best coverage is Cornwall, with over 2.2 million entries).


In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the contents of some parish registers were published as books, and your best chance of finding them is through sites such as the Internet Archive, another free site, where a search for (say) 'Kent parish registers' brings up a long list of registers that have been printed in book form and digitised for all to see (you'd pay to see some of these records as subscription sites!). Another similar site is Google Books - although there is a big overlap between the two.


A straightforward Google search is always worth trying, as quite a few individuals have transcribed parish registers and posted the results on their own websites, and some record offices have information that you can search free online, for examples Hertfordshire has a range of records including a marriage index, whilst Medway Archives have posted registers for their part of Kent online (not transcribed, but at least they are at your fingertips - and free).


Subscription and pay-per-view sites

An increasing number of parish registers and/or register entries are becoming available online at Ancestry and findmypast. When I first wrote on this topic in February 2010 there were no register images available at either site, but now you can search Warwickshire, Dorset, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Liverpool, and most of London at Ancestry, and Cheshire, Manchester, Westminster, Plymouth & West Devon, and much of Wales at findmypast. Findmypast also have images of Kent registers from the Canterbury Cathedral Archives, but these are currently unindexed.


Tip: many cities and metropolitan boroughs have a record office which holds the registers for their area, so that, for example, the Lancashire collection at Ancestry doesn't include records for Manchester (you'll find these at findmypast), nor for Oldham or Rochdale. However findmypast's Cheshire collection does include Stockport, and also Warrington - which is now in Cheshire, but was previously part of Lancashire.


Both findmypast and Ancestry have millions of other parish records in transcription form, although quite a few of the records in Ancestry's collection have been taken from books which you might be able to access free online.


Essex Record Office offers online access to most of their parish register collection - and whilst the subscription is quite steep at £75 a year (the cheapest subscription is £5 for one day), for many people with Essex ancestors it's the most practical solution. I live in Essex, but it would cost me more to drive to Chelmsford and back than to buy a 24 hour subscription (not least because of the cost of parking when I get there). Mind you, a visit to ERO would allow me to access a wide range of other records which aren't available online.


Society of Genealogists library

Many of the largest collections of transcribed records held by the Society of Genealogists are available online to members: these include Boyd's Marriage Index, which has particularly good coverage in some of the counties (eg Suffolk and Essex) that are least well represented in the IGI; for a PDF list of all the online collections click here. Over 9 million of the records are also available through the findmypast website.


The Society of Genealogists has many more records in its library, including an amazing collection of records on CD ROMs and microfiche collected by family history societies and other organisations. Non-members can use the library on payment of a fee, which ranges from £5 for 2 hours to £18 for a full day - more details are available here.


Record offices and archives

When you're within striking distance of the relevant record office there's no substitute for visiting in person - but check first what's available online so that you don't waste your time there looking up records you could just as easily (or perhaps, more easily) have searched from the comfort of your own home. When I was beginning my research I wasted a lot of time searching parish registers that had already been indexed for the IGI - I should, of course, have focused on the unindexed parishes.


Many record offices and archives will do research on a paid basis - a typical charge is £30 per hour, which sounds a lot but in my experience is usually money well spent. However independent researchers usually charge much less, and some record offices will provide as list (especially if they don't offer a research service themselves). Please bear in mind that the inclusion of a researcher on the list is not necessarily an endorsement of that researcher.


The importance of the Register of Banns

One of the key reasons we search for the marriages of our ancestors is to find out the maiden names of our female ancestors (of course, if they gave birth after 1837 you'll usually find this information on the birth certificate). If the couple lived in different parishes, which was not unusual, they had to decide which one to marry in - and typically it would be the bride's parish that was chosen. This creates a slight problem, because we unless she survived until the 1851 Census we won't know where she was born (and even then, it wouldn't necessarily be the parish where she was living at the time of her marriage).


Fortunately the banns register usually comes to our rescue. Most people married by banns, rather than by licence, and if the couple lived in different parishes the banns would necessarily be read out in both, and so would be recorded in the Banns register for both parishes. However, there are not nearly as many banns registers available online as marriage registers - you're more likely to have to have to pay a visit to the record office.



When we find the baptism or marriage that we've been searching for it's such a relief that we often drop our guard, and forget to assess the information as critically as we should. In the next article I'm going to talk about some simple things you can do to dramatically increase the chances that the information in your tree is correct.


How to be accurate - and why it matters!

You've someone with the right name, who was baptised or married at around the right time in the right geographical area. So is it all right to add them to your tree, or should you attempt to verify that you've found the right person - and if so, how?


There really is nothing worse in genealogy than identifying the wrong ancestor, because every step you take from then on is likely to be wrong. If the person whose baptism or marriage you were seeking has a common name then you should definitely be on your guard - and in determining whether a name is common don't judge it by the standards of today, but by those of the time and locality that you're researching. Many surnames that have virtually disappeared today were once common in certain localities, and forenames that even in former times were relatively rare considering at the country as a whole, could be quite common in some counties.


For example, when you look at the country as a whole the forenames Roger and Nicholas were fairly rare in the 18th century - but in Devon, where some of my ancestors hail from, they were quite common.


Remember that if you're relying on online resources you may only be searching a limited subset of the parishes, especially if you're searching in the IGI, at FreeREG, or at an OPC site. You may only have found one or two events that appear to fit the facts - but there could be many more that haven't been transcribed and indexed. Just because you've only found one baptism or one marriage that fits doesn't mean that you've found the only one that fits.


Note: researchers who don't live in Britain should acquaint themselves with the geography of the area they're researching; the GENUKI site is a good place to start. If you live in the US bear in mind that English counties are usually a lot bigger than the US equivalent - more like a small state - so if you only know the county where your ancestors came from there could be hundreds of parishes to search.


What other evidence might you gather to prove that the person you've found IS indeed your ancestor? And even more important, how might you prove that he or she ISN'T. The point I'm making is that we shouldn't simply be looking for confirmation that we've got it right - we should search just as assiduously for evidence that we've got it wrong. Sometimes the absence of evidence to the contrary is the best proof available!


The first thing I do is look for more events that seem to relate to the same family, to try and build up a better picture. If you've found what you think is your ancestor's baptism, look for other baptisms where the parents have the same or similar names - remember that the further you go back the more common spelling variations are, partly because there was many people were illiterate, but also because for a long time spelling wasn't considered particularly important.


Note: even William Shakespeare couldn't make up his mind how to sign his name - and, perhaps surprisingly, not one of the six surviving signatures in his own hand have that first 'e'. See Wikipedia for more on this topic.


Sometimes it will gradually become obvious that there were two families where the parents had exactly the same names - or were so close that the vicar might easily have confused them. Usually it will be fairly easy to separate them out based on the timings and the choice of names - and often other information in the register will help, such as the abode or occupation of the father. Even if only one family had a child with the same name as your ancestor it's still important to separate out the two families, because your next objective will be to find the marriage of the parents - and you need some way of determining which couple it is who married.


Simple logic should be your guide. For example, it is extremely unlikely that there would have been two surviving children with the same name in the same family; and it would be quite unusual if one of the sons wasn't named for the father. And if your ancestor was John Smith and his parents were William and Mary, it's fairly likely that John wasn't their first son.


If you can work out the years during which a couple were having children you're half way to working out when they married and when they were born. I've often seen researchers assume, having found the baptism of an ancestor, that his or her parents were born about 25 years earlier, but unless you have reason to believe that your ancestor was the eldest son or daughter it's quite possible that the parents were much older, perhaps as old as 45.


The names of marriage witnesses often provide helpful clues, but the burials register is an even more important source of information. Many researchers have convinced themselves that they've found the right baptism (and hence the right parents) only to discover many years later that the child died in infancy.


Even when you are fairly certain you've identified the right family, don't stop researching other families in the local area with the same surname - after all there's a reasonable chance that they are all related to each other.


Linking up with other researchers who share the same ancestors is a great way to verify that you're on the right track - provided that you haven't all gone down the same wrong path. Not long ago I linked up with half a dozen cousins who, though researching independently, had all made precisely the same mistake - they believed their ancestor was telling the truth when he gave his father's name on his wedding day.


But that's an exceptional situation - the chances are it will never happen to you. So my advice is to do everything you can to find your cousins, short of publishing your family tree online. The safest and most accurate way to do this is to complete your My Ancestors page - with just 91,000 members LostCousins certainly doesn't have the largest membership of all the websites that aim to reunite you with your living relatives, but we certainly have the most experienced membership (the average LostCousins member has been researching longer than I have).


Last chance to search 1911 free ENDS TODAY

You've only hours to search the 1911 England & Wales census free at findmypast and view the transcriptions completely free of charge. Even if you have an Ancestry subscription it's a great opportunity to fill in the gaps in your knowledge - Ancestry don't include all the census references in their transcriptions, which in some cases might prevent you entering your relatives from 1911 on your My Ancestors page.


Ireland - National Archives launches new website

The National Archives of Ireland has launched a new genealogy website which will initially host the 1901 and 1911 Censuses, Tithe Apportionment records from 1823-37, and Soldiers' Wills from 1914-17.


Tip: you can enter relatives from the 1911 Ireland census on your My Ancestors page.


There are plans to add other records in the coming years, including Calendars of Wills and Administration from 1858-1922.


Scottish wills from 1902-25 now online

ScotlandsPeople have added wills and testaments from 1902-25 to their website; the collection now includes 1 million wills covering the period from 1513-1925.


ScotlandsPeople is a government site that offers pay-per-view access to millions of images that are not available online anywhere else, including the censuses from 1841-1911 and registers (not just indexes) of births, marriages and deaths.


Adoption in England & Wales before 1927

In response to my recent article about adoption records Louise Taylor has offered the following additional information and research advice:


The Adoption of Children Act 1926 (effective in England & Wales from January 1927) made possible a process of legal adoption.  Rights of access to records of legal adoption are limited.  Go to for information and guidance about tracing birth relatives and adopted people.


Prior to 1927 and for some time afterwards many children were placed in the care and custody of people other than their birth parents, by means of largely informal and private arrangements.  Written evidence cannot always be found.


Children were also boarded-out (fostered) and in some cases placed for adoption by Poor Law authorities and by charities.  The latter included Barnardo’s, the Waifs & Strays (now the Children’s Society) and the National Children’s Home (now called Action for Children).  Many adoptions were also arranged by diocesan moral welfare boards and from 1917 by adoption societies.  All created records.  Some of the records survive.


These strategies may be helpful in tracing an informal adoption, fostering, or time spent in institutional care:


      make extensive use of civil registration and census records to trace kinship networks (informal adoptions were often within the extended family)

      use local archives to trace records of institutions and charities; search catalogues at

      locate surviving records of adoptions arranged by agencies and organisations; search the database at

      book a talk on the subject of adoption history for your family history group; contact


© Louise Taylor 2012


Non-Anglican religious marriages

Professor Rebecca Probert, whose book Marriage Law for Genealogists is a real page-turner, and highly-recommended, has kindly contributed the following article, which I hope you'll find as interesting as I did:


'Church of Scientology launches marriage rights bid', announced the Daily Telegraph on 24 October. Under the current system, in order for a building to be registered for the solemnization of marriages it must first have been certified ‘as a place of religious worship’ (Marriage Act 1949, s. 41(1)), and the law has, to date, refused to recognise Scientology as a religion.


Of course, the law has a long history of refusing to recognise marriages according to non-mainstream rituals: the post-Reformation canon law insisted that a marriage must be celebrated before an Anglican clergyman; early Quaker marriages were condemned as going together 'like brute beasts'; and a Catholic ceremony was dismissed as no more than a contract. The legal consequences of not being validly married led many couples to put conscience aside and go through an Anglican ceremony.


When the law of marriage was placed on a statutory footing in 1753, Quakers and Jews were exempted, but since the Act failed to specify what the status of their marriages would be, questions continued to arise. It was eventually held that Jewish law applied to Jewish ceremonies, but not until the early nineteenth century were Quaker marriages deemed valid.


By then, reform was in the air, and in 1836 legislation was passed to allow for civil marriages and those according to other religious rites. But it took time (and money) for places of worship to be registered for marriage, and so family historians should not be surprised to find their ancestors marrying in the Anglican church even when they were known to belong to a different denomination.


Professor Rebecca Probert (University of Warwick)


To learn more about various myths surrounding marriage law and practice, go to  


Birmingham electoral rolls online

Ancestry has launched a collection of over 6 million Electoral Register entries from the Birmingham area covering the period 1832 to 1955 - I found my uncle and aunt living in Handsworth in 1939, and in Edgbaston in 1950.


To search the new dataset click here.


Birmingham parish registers offline

A reorganisation at Birmingham Archives means that access to original documents, including parish registers, will end on 23 November and not resume until September 2013. Access to microfilm and microfiche copies will end in early December, and these will not be available until Ancestry makes them available online in the summer of 2013.


Essex Record Office expands online register collection

Essex Record Office is expanding its collection of online parish registers by adding more post-1837 registers, and another piece of good news is that Waltham Forest Archives are joining the project. You'll find more information here.


National Archives to open up Community

In recent months the National Archives has been piloting an online user forum, known as the National Archives Online Community. It has recently been announced that from early next year the Community will be open to all users.


Last chance to save on Who Do You Think You Are? tickets

Until 20 November you can buy two tickets for next year's Who Do You Think You Are? Live show for just £20 plus a £2 booking fee when you click here and use the code EARLY2420. The regular price is £15 per ticket, and it will cost £22 per person on the door, so it's a pretty good saving.


Tip: although there have been further offers in previous years, the very first offer is always the cheapest.


How to find your British ancestors in the newspapers

Since findmypast launched their British Newspaper collection 10 days ago the site has been much busier than usual, and whilst searches of other datasets have been unaffected, members searching the newspaper articles have reported quite a few problems. Some of these issues appear to be a result of the high volume of traffic, but others seem to be the sort of faults that inevitably show up in the first few days when a completely new type of dataset is launched.


Whilst findmypast are no doubt beavering away to fix the problems, I thought I'd share with you some tips that will greatly reduce the chance that you're affected by them:


(1) When you're searching for a named person DON'T enter their name in Forename and Surname boxes on the Search form. Instead enter them in the Keywords box, and put double quotes around them. I know it sounds a strange thing to do, but it works!



(2) When you've found an article that you'd like to save, instead of clicking the Download image link, use the Print Screen button on your keyboard to copy the preview (having first enlarged the article so that the text is readily legible). You can then paste the screen image into a graphics package - I use the free Irfanview program for this any many other tasks. You will probably need to click the full-screen button, and you may also find that you need to split the article into two or more sections.


(3) Currently the filtering is lost when you go to the next results page - it needs to be reselected, which is annoying - so if you want to limit your search by county it's best to do that by selecting it on the Search form. Even then you may have to re-start the search after looking at an article, so before you do, make a mental note of where you are up to (using the back button in your browser may avoid this problem).


Using these techniques I've found lots of articles relating to my relatives, including one very naughty chap who was fined £5 with 20s 6d costs for driving at the breakneck speed of 30mph!


Of course, in those days they didn't have radar guns - instead they measured a mile and timed how long it took cars to get from one end to the other. It reminds me of the lifts I'd get back from university in my friend Alan's ancient Morris Minor - there was a hole in the floor on the passenger side, and the speedometer didn't work, but I managed to figure out that its top speed was just 45mph by counting the lamp posts. Mind you, even to get to 45mph it needed a downhill slope and a following wind!


Tip: although the newspapers in the collection are local and regional newspapers, they often carried stories from other parts of the country. For example, I found an 1890 story about another of my naughty relatives in a Manchester newspaper, even though he lived in Mitcham and the case was heard in Wandsworth (both are south of the River Thames, and over 200 miles from Manchester).


Searching Australian newspapers

Trove is a website run by the National Library of Australia that offers free access to millions of pages from Australian newspapers as well as many other records.


I've mentioned Trove on many previous occasions - indeed, I wrote about the online newspaper archive even before Trove was established - but I'm sure there are many members who have joined since the last mention who would be interested in this important resource.

Did your migrant ancestors change their name?

I found an interesting article on the BBC website about the consequences of having a foreign-sounding name in modern day Britain. Nothing much has changed - many of us have ancestors who changed their name to avoid appearing foreign (even the Royal Family did it!).


Write about your sporting relative and win a prize!

Last year LostCousins members won 1st, 2nd and two 3rd prizes in the Federation of Family History Societies story-writing competition. You'll find full details of this year's competition here - and by the way, your sporting relative need not be famous, or a medal winner. This is a competition that everyone can enter!


Peter's Tips

I know that a large number of members took advantage of the offers in the Stop Press in my last newsletter. I'm glad I decided to send out an extra email because both of the offers have ended, I'm afraid - and quite a few members saved an amazing £63 by following my advice!


Family Tree Maker 2011 World Edition has completely SOLD OUT at Amazon France following my tip, and the price has gone up at Amazon UK - although even at £32 including shipping it's still a very cheap way to get a 6 month World membership of Ancestry (the normal price is £155.40 for 12 months).


Although it's always nice to get something for nothing, I think anyone who has read Steve Robinson's first genealogical mystery will agree that even £1.99 is a bargain price for the Kindle edition of In the Blood. I've just paid £2.49 to download his second book, To the Grave and am now looking forward to the impending release of his third Jefferson Tayte book, which will be out in Kindle format before Christmas. Unfortunately I understand that many members in Australia and New Zealand are unable to buy these books at present - although some have been successful, and it's certainly worth trying, especially if that's where you bought your Kindle.


Remember, by the way, that you don't need a Kindle to read Kindle books - you can read them on any PC or tablet (I can even read them on my Android smartphone). Just got to or to find out more and download the free software.


Still unsure whether DNA can help you in your research? There are some amazing savings at Family Tree DNA right now - click here for more details. If you need to know more about how DNA testing works you'll find a compendium of my DNA articles in this special newsletter that I recently produced for members on my North American mailing list.


Christmas is fast approaching, and so I'm keeping a look out for special offers - not just for me, but also for you (though sadly they're unlikely to be available to members outside the UK).


Tesco Direct are offering £10 off an order of £50 or more, but only for customers who have never registered with Tesco Direct before, and who place an order at the time of registration. To take advantage of their generosity click here and use the code TDX-WRKT at the online checkout (note: if you follow the link and spend £50 Tesco will not only give you £10 off, they'll give LostCousins £1). This offer code expires on 28 November.


There's a new discount code for The Book People which offers 5% off when you spend £40 or more between now and the end of November. It may seem like a small discount, but remember that many of the books are already discounted by 50-75% - and they also offer free delivery on all orders over £25.


Alternatively, if you spend £40 but don't claim the discount you can get a free gift - a beautifully illustrated RHS Diary 2013 with an RRP of £13.99. I've already placed one order recently and I'm planning to put another one in before the end of the month - but I'm not going to mention the titles here since the intended recipients might be reading.....


Last, but by no means least, remember that if you want to enter my jam-making competition your entry needs to be with me by the end of November. It doesn't need to be a big pot, but I do need to be able to taste it - you can't just enter a recipe. You'll find the postal address on the Contact Us page at the LostCousins site - but in general please use email rather than sending letters if at all possible (it's much more work for me if I have to deal with written correspondence, so it tends to end up at the bottom of the pile). No chance of that happening with pots of jam, though!


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. As usual, several of the articles were inspired by members, so do please keep writing in with your tips, comments, and questions!


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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2012 Peter Calver except as otherwise stated


You may link to this newsletter, and I have included bookmarks so you can - if you wish - link to a specific article (right-click on the relevant entry in the table of contents at the beginning of the newsletter to copy the link). However, please email me first if you would like to re-publish any part of the newsletter on your own website or in any other format.