Newsletter - 4 November 2011



More ink, vicar?

Save when you join the Society of Genealogists

Exclusive discount

Essex parish records at FamilySearch

Records of military nurses now online

Was your ancestor an inventor?

Copyright - or copy wrong?

Standards for sharing information

Top genealogy shows in 2012

When is a father-in-law not a father-in-law?

Ripper story features in TV show

Can you really buy a NEW Kindle for only £79?

Don't forget FamilySearch!

International Genealogical Index

IGI Batch Numbers

An ideal Christmas present?

Peter's Tips


About this newsletter

The LostCousins newsletter is published twice a month on average, and all LostCousins members are notified by email when a new edition is available (unless they opt out). To access the previous newsletter (dated 22 October 2011) please click here. Each newsletter links to the one before, and you can go back to February 2009 when the newsletter first went online; there will shortly be an online index to articles thanks to the sterling efforts of members Elizabeth and, especially, Gill.


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). Note: 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 you are still using Internet Explorer you may need to enable pop-ups (if a link seems not to work, look for a warning message at the top of your browser window).


To go to the main LostCousins website click the logo at the top of this newsletter.


More ink, vicar?

As family historians we spend tens, perhaps hundreds, of pounds on marriage certificates - so I was fascinated to discover that the instructions that the General Register Office issues to vicars, regarding not just marriages but also burials and baptisms, are now publicly available on the Home Office website.


I found it fascinating to read what needs to happen when a couple wish to marry in two different churches on the same day, or when a couple wish to marry for a second time (not recommended, apparently). You might be wondering why baptisms are relevant to the GRO - that's because when the baptismal name differs from that in the birth register the register can be amended, so long as no more than 12 months have passed since the original registration.


The document is full of fascinating facts - it evens tells you where to buy the permanent blue-black ink and special fountain pens that registrars use, and which vicars are also expected to use.


The instructions are intended to be read in conjunction with Anglican Marriage In England And Wales, which is published by the Church of England Faculty Office. Also on the Home Office site I found Issue 1 of Clergy Newsletter, dated August 2011 which lists a number of common errors in the returns submitted to the GRO.



Save when you join the Society of Genealogists

The Society of Genealogists was founded in 1911, which means that this year is the Centenary - and to celebrate I've negotiated a special offer for LostCousins members. I've been a member for a number of years and have found the resources in the library to be absolutely invaluable - in a single afternoon I managed to get back two generations on one of my lines, even though my ancestor's surname was Smith!


When you join the SoG before 31st December using the exclusive code LC11 you can save in four ways:


(1) The joining fee (normally £10) will be waived.

(2) Your subscription and member privileges will start immediately, but you won't have to renew until 1st January 2013.

(3) You'll get a 2012 subscription at the 2011 rates, saving you a further £2.

(4) If you live in the UK you can save a further £3 this year and every year by completing the Direct Debit form.


You'll find the Membership Application form here (it's in PDF format). The rates shown on the form are the 2011 rates, so if you live overseas the total cost for a subscription that runs until 31st December 2012 will be just £27, and if you live in the UK it will be £42 (when you agree to pay future subscriptions by Direct Debit). Please enter the offer code LC11 in the box labelled Membership Fees.


The Society of Genealogists is the UK’s largest family history society with a remarkable library and education centre in Clerkenwell (close to the London Metropolitan Archives), online data and an extensive publishing programme. More information can be found on the SoG website.


Tip: there is an SoG mailing list at Rootsweb which is only open to SoG members - it's well worth subscribing.


Exclusive discount

I'm delighted to say that I've also been able to persuade findmypast to offer an exclusive 10% discount to LostCousins members who take out a new subscription at - but because of findmypast's loyalty scheme you won't just save 10% in your first year, you'll also save 10% in the following years (full details of the loyalty scheme can be found here).


Although the prices of everything else are going up, findmypast recently reduced their subscription rates by an average of 15%, so when you factor in the 10% discount I think I can safely say that it has never been cheaper to take out a Full subscription - even though it now covers more records than ever before. When I looked back I was amazed to see how much has been added in the 2 months since I announced the last exclusive offer:


Scotland 1841 & 1851 census transcriptions

The Manchester Collection

Berkshire burials and marriages

The Cheshire Collection


Anyway, what you really want to know is how you can secure your 10% discount. There are two steps, first you need to go to the findmypast site by clicking here, then after registering (or signing-in if you've already registered) enter the code COUSINS11X in the Promotion Code box at the left. When you click Apply the discounted rates will be displayed - and with your exclusive discount even the most expensive subscription works out at just 27p a day.


But there's more good news - when you take up findmypast's offer I'll give you a FREE LostCousins subscription (worth up to £12.50) that runs alongside your findmypast subscription! To qualify for the bonus you MUST click the link in the previous paragraph immediately before subscribing to findmypast (otherwise we won't receive the commission that pays for your LostCousins subscription); when claiming your free subscription please forward to me a copy of the email receipt you received from findmypast so that I can verify your entitlement. Note that if you are already a LostCousins subscriber I will extend your existing subscription by 6 or 12 months.


 The offer starts on Saturday 5th November and runs until 11.59pm (London time) on Monday 21st November. There are always people who miss out because they leave it until the last minute - don't be one of them!


SMALL PRINT: the COUSINS11X discount code cannot be used in combination with any other offer, including the Loyalty Discount.


Essex parish records at FamilySearch

What is it about Essex - and I don't mean the TV programmes? A couple of years ago I discovered that - completely unannounced - the Essex Records Office had made available online beautiful colour images of many of the registers in their vaults.


Now I've just spotted that over half a million Essex parish register entries have been added to the new FamilySearch site - once again, completely unannounced as far as I can tell. Some of the entries seem to have been taken from Bishop's Transcripts and don't include the name of the parish, but I'd estimate that over half do. There are no online images, but some of the entries coincide with registers that are currently free online at Seax (Essex Archives Online).


Essex Record Office is planning to launch a new subscription service called Essex Ancestors - the launch has been delayed several times, but I'm told it is now 'imminent'. When it finally launches registers for all 550 parishes will be online, but free access to the registers currently online will end - so I'd urge you to make use of what's there while you can. Note: sadly in the hours between me writing this and publishing it ERO introduced charging, although it's not clear whether they have added any new registers - certainly not in the parish that most interests me!


Sadly the task of transcribing and indexing the registers is beyond the budget of Essex County Council - what a shame they didn't come to an arrangement with Ancestry or findmypast. I don't know how many people will choose to subscribe to the new service, which I believe may cost as much as £75 for an annual subscription - that's not much less than a findmypast subscription, yet it only covers a single county's registers, and they're not even indexed!


Records of military nurses now online

This morning the National Archives have released online images of 15,000 service records for nurses who served in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve) and the Territorial Force Nursing Service.


It's not only free to search, it's also free to download the images. I haven't found any of my relatives yet, but I did download some sample records which I found fascinating - so I'll be interested to know what discoveries you make!


Two days ago findmypast added their own records of military nurses covering the period from 1856-1940; you'll find more information here.


Was your ancestor an inventor?

As far as I know there were no inventors in my family - so far as I know the renowned 19th century telescope maker George Calver is not a relative of mine, nor is the 21st century American inventor Andrew John Calver (although a distant cousin who emigrated to Canada in 1910 bore the same name).


If your ancestors were more inventive than mine you may well find that there are patents registered in their names. A good place to start looking is the European Patent Office's Espacenet site, which was suggested by member Steve. Unfortunately the US equivalent only offers searching by inventor's name from 1976 onwards - patents from 1790 are online, but you'll need to know the patent number.


Copyright - or copy wrong?

Following on from recent articles about members whose online trees were purloined, the misused or abused, I've been in correspondence with a number of members about copyright protection. The laws on copyright vary slightly from one country to another, but in the UK copyright is an automatic right which arises whenever an individual or company creates a work. To qualify, a work should be regarded as original, and exhibit a degree of labour, skill or judgement.


Is your family tree a literary work? UK law defines a literary work as "any work written, spoken or sung, other than a dramatic or musical work" and since this is a sufficiently broad definition to include railway timetables and computer programs, it must surely encompass family trees.


Of course, you can't stop someone else from publishing the same tree, just so long as they have compiled it themselves, and not copied it, but they could be called upon to prove that they have created it through their own efforts. However, in practice it is better to avoid that situation arising in the first place, not least because of the differences in copyright law around the world and the difficulty of taking action against someone in another country.


Standards for sharing information

I'd like to draw your attention to Standards for Sharing Information With Others, a document compiled in 2000 by the National Genealogical Society in the US, and which has been on the Help & Advice page at the LostCousins site for several years.


I am going to make two suggestions. The first is that you abide by these sensible guidelines yourself; the second is that when someone else asks you to share your research with them, you ask them to confirm that they too will abide by the guidelines, certainly so far as any information you give to them is concerned.


Will you do that?


Top genealogy shows in 2012

Between 28th-31st March 2012 the 13th Australian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry takes place in Adelaide, South Australia. There are several LostCousins members amongst the speakers and organisers, and the programme looks very interesting - I only wish it wasn't on the other side of the world! To find out more visit the Congress website.


Who Do You Think You Are? Live takes place at London's Olympia between 24th-26th February, and if you're quick you can get tickets for less than half-price when you buy multiples of two. Click here, enter the code EARLY2420, then click Submit code. Please note that the discount only applies to Standard tickets.


Tip: you can book up to two workshops when you order your tickets by paying £2 extra for each. Although they are free on the day, it's inevitable that the most popular workshops will be booked solid! You'll find a timetable listing all the sessions here. I started counting the speakers who are LostCousins members, but there were so many I lost count!


When is a father-in-law not a father-in-law?

Answer: when he's a step-father.


This is not a Christmas cracker joke, but a fact that LostCousins member Susan brought to my attention recently following my article in the last newsletter about half-cousins. It seems that until the middle of the 19th century the suffix in-law was often used where we would nowadays use the prefix step. For example, in Pickwick Papers Sam Weller refers to his step-mother as "mother-in-law".


The ambiguity isn't just a problem when it comes to understanding census entries - it could also affect the interpretation of wills. Other ambiguous terms include uncle and aunt, niece and nephew, which may or may not refer to somebody who is a blood relative.


Ripper story features in TV show

Have you been watching the Find My Past TV series on the Yesterday channel?  I'm looking forward to the programme due to be broadcast on 24th November, because it is going to feature three people whose ancestors are connected with the "Jack the Ripper" case - and as you'll know from recent newsletters there are several LostCousins members who also have connections (including me).


As I was writing this newsletter the Daily Mail published an article claiming that the Ripper may have been identified!  This followed the discovery of a surgeon's knife amongst the belongings of Sir John Williams, a surgeon who attended Queen Victoria and later founded the National Library of Wales - indeed it was in the library that the knife was discovered, amongst an archive of the Doctor's possessions. It is probably just a coincidence - he was, after all, a surgeon. But what isn't a coincidence is the timing of the story, because Tony Williams, a distant relative of the doctor who found the knife has just published a book called Uncle Jack - a Victorian Mystery. (If you're tempted to buy it I suggest you first look at the reviews of the previous edition.)


Can you really buy a NEW Kindle for only £79?

The latest Kindle comes without a keyboard or a mains adaptor (you charge it from a USB port), and can only store 1400 books at one time - hence the reduced price of £89 - but otherwise it's the same as the models that my wife and I bought last year. She who must be obeyed has the Kindle Keyboard (that's the new name for the Wi-Fi version) which has just come back down to its original price of £109, whilst I have the Kindle Keyboard 3G, which costs £149.


Why did I spend extra to get the 3G version (which according to Amazon is for people who don't have Wi-Fi at home)? Because it allows me not only to download books worldwide, it also provides FREE virtually worldwide Internet access via the experimental browser. It's a little clunky, and can't cope with every website, but for checking email and keeping in touch with the news and weather via the BBC website it's fine. Nothing better than lying on the beach in and discovering that it's snowing back home.


One thing has changed since we bought ours - you can now buy them at Tesco. In fact, if you order from Tesco Direct by clicking here you can save £10 on any order of £75 or more when you enter the coupon code TDX-NTRY (note that if you order a Kindle, you must collect it from a local store - they can't be delivered - nor can you use the coupon in store or in conjunction with other offers).


And that's how you can buy a Kindle for only £79.


Don't forget FamilySearch!

There's so much new information appearing on subscription sites like Ancestry and findmypast that it's easy to forget that there's a free site that in some cases offers the same records.


For example, the Warwickshire registers that Ancestry recently launched (see my last newsletter) have also been indexed at FamilySearch - and from what I've seen so far, their transcription is better. Even if it isn't a better transcription, it's clearly a different one - so you've got two chances to find elusive relatives.


What you won't find at FamilySearch are images of the Warwickshire registers - although you could go to your nearest LDS Family History Centre and ask them to order the microfilms (but you may well find that your local public library has an Ancestry subscription - most English libraries do, as do many in the US and Australia).


Similarly, the Cheshire registers that findmypast have recently added to their site, but haven't officially launched yet, are also available at FamilySearch. In my tests so far the findmypast and FamilySearch transcriptions have appeared identical, but once again you won't find the images at FamilySearch (though you could ask your Family History Centre to order the microfilms - and a few public libraries have findmypast subscriptions).


You won't find the Cheshire Collection simply by going to the findmypast site - at least not at the time of writing. But you will find them if you click here.


Strangely, whilst FamilySearch have indexed transcripts of some parish registers, but no images, for some counties they have images but not transcripts - which means you have to browse the images rather as you would if you went to the county records office. For Cornwall that isn't much of a problem, because the Online Parish Clerks project for Cornwall has transcribed nearly 2 million entries, and because the work has been carried out by volunteers it's completely free to search.


Similarly, whilst there isn't an OPC project for Norfolk, another volunteer project - FreeREG - is making good progress, with most parishes complete up to 1812, and quite a few transcriptions extending into the 20th century.


Tip: the link for the Norfolk parish registers in the FamilySearch index currently doesn't work - many thanks to LostCousins member Chris for providing this link which does work!


International Genealogical Index

The International Genealogical Index is probably still the largest collection of British baptism and marriage entries, and yet there are some researchers who have never used it. You'll find the IGI at the old FamilySearch site, and whilst many of the entries are also at the new site there are features of the old site that many researchers prefer.


Tip: you'll find my 'Guide to the IGI' on the Help & Advice page at the LostCousins site


IGI Batch Numbers

One of the most useful free sites is Hugh Wallis's site which allows you to search the IGI by batch number - which in effect means searching by parish, since each batch usually comprises entries from a single parish.


Tip: you'll find a guide to batch numbers and Hugh Wallis's site in my article 'Unlock the Secrets of the IGI' on the Help & Advice page


Until recently the search feature on Hugh Wallis's site linked to the old FamilySearch site. Now it has been updated to link to the new site - but there's a problem, because some of the batch numbers don't exist at the new site (the entries may be there, but not under that batch number).


You could manually enter the batch number at the old FamilySearch site, but an alternative is to make use of the filtering component of the Search feature at the new FamilySearch site - you'll find an excellent explanation of how to achieve this in the FamilySearch blog.


An ideal Christmas present?

Professional genealogist Celia Heritage is offering a £10 discount on her e-course Researching Your Family History to readers of her own newsletter - but as a loyal LostCousins member she's also agreed to extend the offer to readers of my newsletter!


You'll find full details of the course on the Heritage Family History website, and this link will take you straight to the description. You can do the course at your own speed and, whilst the discount only lasts until the end of December, Celia has kindly agreed that so long as you pay before Christmas you can complete the course in the New Year. Simply email Celia explaining that you're a LostCousins member (you'll find her contact details on her website) and she'll send you a link allowing you purchase the course at the discounted price using PayPal (if you have a UK bank account, you can also pay by cheque).


But here's the conundrum: is it a present for you or a present for somebody else?


Tip: Celia Heritage will once again be speaking at the Who Do You Think You Are? show; her talk is entitled "I've Lost My Ancestor Before 1837. Where Did He Come From?" and takes place at 3pm on Sunday 26th February.


Peter's Tips

Christmas isn't that far away - and there are some gifts that can't be left to the last minute, because they need to be personalised. Two years ago I bought my wife a calendar with photographs of the village where we live taken from old postcards, and which I'd picked one by one from the enormous range available. In the collection there are postcard photos from all over Britain - click on the scene below to see what's available from the area you live, or where you grew up.


Photo of Stansted Mountfitchet, Children 1903, ref. 51108x
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.


If you have your own photographs, whether they are contemporary photographs or sepia-tinted photos from the family albums, another option is a photo book or diary. Albelli are the biggest producers of photo books in Europe, and if you click here you can save 20% on all their products.


Apart from the Radio Times there's only one magazine that I first read nearly 50 years ago, and still subscribe to today - it's called Which?, and it's the magazine of the Consumers' Association. I never buy any major household item without first checking what Which? has said about it, but I also find the coverage of everyday items such as food and washing-up liquid useful. I don't always agree with what they say - but at least when I make a decision it's an informed one!


Though I keep back copies of the magazines for at least 2 years I tend to use the reviews section of the website to make sure I get the very latest advice - but, in any case, as a subscriber I've got access to both. If you've ever subscribed to Which? you'll already know how good it is, but if you haven't, I'd thoroughly recommend investing £1 for a one-month trial. Click here to find out more.


Another magazine I subscribe to is Computer Shopper. I'd never buy a new computer without checking what they have to say, so as I read each issue I tear out the reviews that I think might be useful in the future - for example, in the current issue they've reviewed a selection of computers that cost about £450, but are all at least twice as fast as the one I'm using to type this (and I only bought this one 3 years ago).


Of course, they don't just review computers - the latest issue also reviewed monitors, cameras, camcorders, mobile phones, home cinema, printers, hard drives, and software. Until the end of November £1 will buy you not 1, but 3 trial issues when you click here and enter the code N10042AFFCS.


Stop Press

This where any last minute amendments will be recorded or highlighted.


I hope you've found my newsletter interesting, and that you'll keep writing in with tips of your own - many of the best articles in my newsletters are inspired by members.




Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins