Newsletter - 8 August 2013



125 million newspaper articles go online

Save 10% on subscriptions EXCLUSIVE

Clandestine marriages revealed at Ancestry

Prince George's birth certificate surprise

Did your ancestors have more sons than daughters?

Japanese quake boosts the number of female births

Britain on Film reveals gender imbalance

Derek - the British Genghis Khan

Wool you find ancestors in the Sheep Returns?

More crew lists online

Canada 1921 Census goes online

Society of Genealogists has 12 million names online

1790 Survey of the High Roads from London

Is there a difference between Ancestry and Starbucks?

Hidden Lives Revealed

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 30 July 2013) 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.

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125 million newspaper articles go online has just added more than 125 million overseas newspaper articles covering the period 1834-2012. Almost 120 million of the articles are from US newspapers, with a further 4 million from Canadian newspapers in Alberta, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Saskatchewan - but there are also articles from several other countries. For a full breakdown see the news release here.


This massive collection is included in the World Subscription, but I'm glad to say that the price hasn't increased. Also available at is their British Newspaper collection, with over 6 million pages from over 200 local and regional newspapers from 1710-1965 (the British collection is included in the Britain Full and World subscriptions).


Save 10% on subscriptions EXCLUSIVE

Until the end of August you can save 10% on any new subscription to when you click here and use the code LCW10


But that's not all - you can also get a free LostCousins subscription (worth up to £12.50) AND a much-coveted invitation to join the new LostCousins forum (priceless - only 1% of members have been invited, so it really IS a privilege).


To make sure you qualify for the bonuses follow these simple steps (and read the small print at the bottom, in case it applies to you):


(1) Click here to go the findmypast website (it will open in a new tab or browser window), then either register or log-in. If you are already logged-in when you arrive at the website (perhaps because you've been checking out the latest data releases before subscribing) log-out, then start again by clicking the link at the beginning of this paragraph.

If you aren't taken to the Subscribe page automatically, click Subscribe in the top right hand corner.

Note: if the Promotional Code box isn't shown it's because you haven't logged in yet (there are two screens that look very similar).

(2) Enter the exclusive offer code LCW10 in the Promotional Code box, and click Apply to display the discounted offer prices:



(3) Choose the subscription that's best for you, bearing in mind that 12 month subscriptions offer by far the best value (because the second 6 months is virtually half price).


The World subscription includes IrelandAustralia & New Zealand, and the USA plus a few records from other countries (click on the country name to see precisely which records are included).


If you're only interested in British records (England, Scotland, and Wales) the Full subscription is by far the best choice - the Foundation subscription only offers basic records and is for absolute beginners (don't even consider it!). The wealth of additional datasets you get with a Full subscription are well worth the small additional cost, especially when you consider that a subscription to just one of them - the British Newspaper collection - would cost £79.95 if purchased separately.


(4) Before entering your credit card details make sure that the price shown is the discounted price!


If at any stage during the process you are logged out (this often happens to me while I'm looking for my credit card), or if your credit card isn't accepted for any reason, please start again at step (1) to ensure that you qualify for your free LostCousins subscription.


(5) When you receive your email receipt from findmypast forward a copy to me so that I can verify your entitlement (you won't find my email address on the website, but it is in the email I sent telling you about this newsletter). Your free LostCousins subscription will run for 6 or 12 months and can include your spouse or partner as well - just make sure that the two accounts are linked together before you write to me (all you need to do is enter the other person's membership number on your My Details page). If you already have a LostCousins subscription I'll extend it.


Small print: these offers cannot be combined with any other offers or discounts or backdated; if you are a current findmypast subscriber you will receive a 10% Loyalty Discount when your subscription is renewed automatically, so you won't qualify for either offer. However if you upgrade your findmypast subscription before the renewal date you should qualify for a free LostCousins subscription (provided you follow the instructions above). Free LostCousins subscriptions are funded by the commission we receive from findmypast, and that's why it's important you follow the instructions to the letter - if you have any questions ask me before you complete your purchase, because it will be too late afterwards!


Clandestine marriages revealed at Ancestry

Until 25th March 1754, when Lord Hardwicke's Clandestine Marriages Act of 1753 came into force, virtually any marriage carried out by an ordained Anglican clergyman was valid, even though the requirements of canon law might not have been met.


For example, whilst canon law required that marriages took place in a parish where at least one of the parties was resident, this requirement was widely flouted. In her brilliant book Marriage Law for Genealogists Professor Rebecca Probert reports a survey of marriages in Northamptonshire between 1700-1751 which showed that at least 27% were conducted in parishes in which neither the bride nor the groom was resident. All of those irregular marriages are regarded as 'clandestine' even though in practice the parties might not have been hiding their marriage from anyone.


During the first half of the 18th century large numbers of clandestine marriages took place in the area surrounding the Fleet prison (known as the 'Rules of the Fleet') where those imprisoned for debt were allowed to live and ply their trade. Clergymen in this position had little to lose, and a lot to gain by carrying out marriages and it has been calculated that by 1740 over 6,600 marriages were being carried out each year, more than half of all the marriages in London at that time.


However, not all of those marrying in the Fleet were Londoners - some couples would travel 100 miles or more to get married there.


Records of many of the Fleet marriages have survived, written down in hundreds of notebooks and registers, and nearly 900,000 entries became available online at Ancestry earlier this week. I was interested to note that on 7th August 1725 a certain Peter Calver of the 2nd Regiment of Guards married Rebecca Cole in a ceremony carried out by John Flood.


To search the records at Ancestry click here.


Prince George's birth certificate surprise

In the early days of civil registration it was the responsibility of the registrar to secure the registration of births - the parents could only be prosecuted if they refused the answer the registrar's questions - and in many parts of the country the registrar went to people's homes rather than sitting in an office waiting for them to show up. These days you'll probably need an appointment to register a birth or death.


So when Westminster City Council registrar Alison Cathcart travelled to Kensington Palace in order that Prince William could sign the birth register it was a return to the way things worked in 1837, when Queen Victoria, William's great-great-great-great grandmother ascended to the throne.


It was no surprise that the registrar was prepared to travel to register this particular birth, but it was a bit of a surprise for me to see how much birth certificates have changed since my own birth was registered in 1950.


From 1969 onwards the place of birth of the father and mother were shown, and since 1986 occupational details have been included for the mother as well as the father.


However, one thing hasn't changed - marriage certificates still only give the name and occupation of the fathers, not the mothers. Whether or not this is discriminatory I'll leave it to you to decide (Scottish marriage certificates have always shown the names of both parents), but there are certainly some people who think it is, and there is an online petition to change things.


Regular readers of this newsletter will know that I'm not a believer in online petitions, so I'm not going to promote this one, but I do think that in view of the more complex family structures we see in the 21st century more information ought to be included on certificates generally, especially if we're no longer going to have censuses.


Of course, the downside of putting more information on censuses is that the privacy concerns are more likely to lead to restrictions on the availability of copy certificates, just as they have already caused the GRO to stop supplying electronic copies of their birth, marriage, and death certificates.


What information would you like to see on the birth, marriage, and death certificates of the future? And did you know that from 1938 onwards registrars asked supplemental questions which don't appear on the form, such as the age of the mother, the parents' date of marriage, and the number of previous children. From 1960 onwards the age of the father was also noted.


(This information comes from People Count, an excellent 1987 book which I recommended recently - Amazon have used copies available from just 1p plus postage!)


Unfortunately for us, that information was used for statistical purposes only, and the raw data is unlikely to have survived. However I shall certainly do my best to track down the statistics, as they might provide some interesting background data for our 20th century research - it might even shed some additional light on the research mentioned in the next article.


Did your ancestors have more sons than daughters?

In the last issue I wrote about some recently research suggesting that older men (over the age of 55) are more likely to father daughters. I was able to spot some examples in my own tree that seemed to confirm this, but I found it remarkably difficult to check, since - unsurprisingly - this sort of thing isn't a feature of my tree program.


I was therefore delighted that one of the members of the LostCousins forum offered to add this feature to an extremely useful utility he has written called Family Tree Analyzer. Instead of spending hours working my way around my family tree I was able to get the answer I was seeking in seconds!


This invaluable FREE utility works with Gedcom files. It takes about 2 minutes to download the Family Tree Analyzer program, unzip the file (right click and select Extract All), then install it by double-clicking the main file (called 'FTAnalyzer').


Tip: Gedcom is the standard for sharing genealogical information, so all family tree programs will Export a tree in Gedcom format - you can even download a Gedcom copy of an Ancestry or Genes Reunited tree!


After running the program select Open from the File menu, and choose the Gedcom file you want to analyse. You'll probably see some error messages as the file is analysed - most family trees acquire errors and inconsistencies - but it won't stop Family Tree Analyzer working (in fact, it will help you put the errors right). Now go to the Report menu, and select the Child Age Profiles - this displays a chart showing the parents' ages when their children were born:



There's also a table showing the number of children born in each 5 year period. If you then want to know who the older parents were, close the pop-up windows and choose Older Parents from the Reports menu (if you want you can transfer this information to a spreadsheet using copy and paste).


In my case I discovered an anomalous entry - a mother who supposedly gave birth at the age of 54. When I investigated I discovered that the child's baptism date had been incorrectly shown as the birth date, so this was an unexpected bonus!


At this stage I'm not going to amaze you by telling you about all the other things that you can do with this great little program - because I need you to tell me how many sons and daughters were born to fathers who were over 55. Send me an email with the answer, and I'll send you some tips on how to use Family Tree Analyzer to do all sorts of other things


To download your free copy of Family Tree Analyzer click here.


Japanese quake boosts the number of female births

Fewer boys than girls were born after the huge 2011 earthquake, according to researchers at the University of California which was recently reported in the Japan Daily Press. Other similar responses to disasters - both natural and man-made (such as the 2008 stockmarket crash) - have been reported by previous studies.


Britain on Film reveals gender imbalance

The BBC 4 documentary series Britain on Film draws on the Look at Life magazine programs that ran in British cinemas from 1959 onwards - there are three episodes from the first series available at BBC iPlayer.


I've recently been watching the second series - which isn't currently available online (apart from a few clips). Episode 3, entitled Island Nation looked at the islands around Britain - and the piece that I found particularly interesting was the one on Fair Isle, Britain's most remote inhabited island. Best known for the distinctive woollens that are still hand-knitted on the island, Fair Isle has (or had) another claim to fame - two-thirds of the children born there were boys.


There are 5 episodes from the second series that haven't aired yet, and I imagine that both series will be repeated in time - well worth looking out for!


Derek - the British Genghis Khan

It has been estimated that about 16 million men, or about 10% of the male population of the former Mongol Empire have a Y-chromosome that is descended from Genghis Khan (remember, Y-DNA passes from father to son). In a culture where high-ranking males are able to mate with large numbers of females it's perhaps not surprising that one man might come to dominate.


However, that doesn't explain why thousands of people in Britain today are descended from Derek, who fathered 496 children between 1917 and 1950. A Mail on Sunday article describes how in the days before IVF and other modern treatments Derek was able to help women conceive, even though their husbands, who were physically or emotionally scarred as a result of the Great War were unable to fulfil their role. (Thanks to Marilyn for pointing out the article.)


How many of you reading this are descended from Derek, I wonder?


Wool you find ancestors in the Sheep Returns? have made available to World subscribers a number of new datasets from Australia & New Zealand including the New Zealand Sheep Farmers' Records, based on the Annual Sheep Returns.


To search overseas records at click on the Search Records tab and choose Search All Records from the dropdown menu (or click here).


As findmypast said in their email "don't be sheepish, search for your ancestors"!


More crew lists online

Janet wrote to let me know that Cheshire Archives & Local Studies have just launched a free database of crew lists for ships registered at Runcorn which includes nearly 30,000 names (the lists were transcribed by members of Runcorn Family History Society). The lists cover the period 1863-1913 and can be searched here.


The biggest online source for crew lists and merchant navy records is findmypast, with over 413,000 entries from Crew Lists from 1861-1913 and 2.6 million Merchant Navy seamen records from 1835-1941.


Canada 1921 Census goes online

I was virtually alone in refusing to repeat the scurrilous rumours about the release of the 1921 Census being delayed by politicians who cared nothing for genealogists - but it seems that I was right to do so, because the census has been launched at Ancestry today.


Currently there are just browsable images - no transcriptions - but I'm sure that won't be the situation for long.


Society of Genealogists has 12 million names online

The Society of Genealogists may have been in existence for over a century, but that doesn't mean they're behind the times. Their extensive online database - free to members - now includes over 1000 datasets, 300,000 digitised images, and almost 12 million names.


Whilst some of the data - such as Boyd's Marriage Index, an invaluable source of pre-1837 marriages - has been licensed by the SoG to findmypast, much of it is exclusively available through their own website (where else could you hope to find records of 18th century christenings in the Portuguese Embassy Chapel?). Although the records there are only available to SoG members, you can carry out a free surname search.


Tip: the default search includes surname variants; you might do better to use the Advanced Search and select 'Exact matches only'.


1790 Survey of the High Roads from London

In 1790, the engraver John Cary published maps showing the main routes out of London - I recently purchased a facsimile of the North set from the British Postal Museum and Archive.


Beautifully reproduced in colour on good quality paper they're good enough to frame, but they're also of interest to family and local historians because of the detail that they show, such as the names of inns (there are many that are familiar to me from my youth!), the occupants of big houses, and the locations of turnpike gates.


I consider the collection well worth the £14.50 I paid (£10 plus £4.50 postage). The one disappointment is that the South set is no longer available, otherwise I would have bought both!


Note: some of the maps are larger than A4 and have been folded to A4


Is there a difference between Ancestry and Starbucks?

To the best of my knowledge Ancestry don't sell coffee and Starbucks don't dabble in genealogy - but that wasn't really what Mike was asking when he emailed me last week. What he was wondering is whether the fact that Ancestry's European operation is based in Luxembourg is designed to reduce their tax bill?


I don't know. It certainly seems that by basing themselves in Luxembourg Ancestry are able to charge a lower rate of VAT than competitors like findmypast, whose parent company is in Scotland, but I don't know whether Ancestry are also managing to avoid paying Corporation Tax in the UK (as Starbucks seem to have done in the past).


Hidden Lives Revealed

In my last newsletter I wrote about Barnardo's, which prompted Josie to mention the Hidden Lives Revealed website, which is a remarkable record of some of the thousands of children who were cared for by the Waifs and Strays Society (now the Children's Society) in the late 19th and 20th centuries.


There are photographs, anonymised casefiles, and details of over 170 homes across England & Wales - and the closer I looked the more I found. Well worth a look!


Peter's Tips

I recently watched a fascinating film documentary from the 1960s: The London Nobody Knows is narrated by James Mason, the English actor who became a Hollywood star. It focuses on the parts of London that tourists wouldn't normally see - the back streets, the bomb sites, the local street markets, the gas lamps, and the Salvation Army shelters. Whilst some of the images were familiar to me from my own youth, there were many that weren't.


Available on DVD for under £8 including delivery, it's well worth a look - and for around the same amount you can buy the book that inspired the film, written by the artist Geoffrey Fletcher. There's another short film on the DVD - a sugary-confection called Les Bicyclettes de Belsize which is very much of its time, and mainly notable for a starring performance by Judy Huxtable, who was to marry the late, great Peter Cook.


I had quite a lot of correspondence following my mention of Coursera, which offers free online courses from a wide range of providers. The comments were generally very positive, and I was so impressed by what Diana wrote that I'm thinking of taking the same course myself:


"I have recently completed a 6 week course with Coursera entitled 'Cardiac Arrest, Hypothermia and Resuscitation' from the Perelman School of Medicine at Pennsylvania University.The presentation was excellent and the lecturers dedicated to their subject. If other courses are of the same standard of excellence I see this taking off in a big way. I can't wait to do another course."


However, one or two members were disappointed with the courses they chose. I guess it's a case of "Coursera, sera - whatever will be, will be". (Sorry - couldn't resist it!)


Talking about printers in my last column prompted Ken to ask for my advice about smartphones - and since others might also be interested I thought I'd repeat my comments here (click the links to find out more):


"Despite what some people might say, a smartphone can't replace a computer when it comes to family history. However if you want something that you can carry in your pocket wherever you go, then a smartphone is well worth considering.


"I can only really tell you about the phone I use - it's a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (I previously had the original Galaxy Note which was almost as good). Earlier this year I paid £339 on eBay for an unlocked phone that was a few months old and came with some extras, but on the whole I'd recommend Amazon over eBay as you are better protected in the event of any problem arising. And today you can buy a NEW phone on Amazon for LESS than I paid for my used phone.


"You can buy a cheaper smartphone but it would almost certainly be a false economy. I chose the Galaxy Note because it has the largest screen of any phone, and at my time of life it's wonderful that I can read what's on the screen without putting my reading glasses on.


"My wife's iPhone 4 has a 3.5in diagonal screen which for someone like me is far too small for surfing the Internet (but she's younger, she has smaller fingers, and she has better short-range vision).My Galaxy Note 2 has a 5.55in diagonal screen, which makes an amazing difference - it's like the difference between an old style 26in TV and a 42in flat screen."


The way things are looking in the garden, if I'm going to be making tomato jam this year it's likely to be green tomato jam, not my usual red tomato jam with lemon and ginger. On the bright side there's a good crop of wild plums in the hedge - last year we didn't get any at all.


This year the birds haven't stripped our Juneberry tree as they usually do, so I'm looking for recipes - does anyone have a favourite?


Stop Press

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


All the best until next time,


Description: Description: peter_signature


Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2013 Peter Calver


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