Newsletter - 11th August 2014




The Great War: "What did you do in the war, mummy?"

Women in World War 2

Can you spare a pound?

Red Cross WW1 Prisoner-of-War records go online

Military Medals at The Genealogist

WW1 film clips online at the Imperial War Museum

'Mons Mary' - a war horse comes home

WW1 mystery: Who killed Private John Parr?

Dorset Quarter Sessions Order Books now at Ancestry

2021 Census to go ahead: government finally agree

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

What do all those symbols mean?

Do you live in the US? Save 20% with AncestryDNA

DNA project to make UK world leader?

Save 20% on Genes Reunited subscriptions

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


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



The Great War: "What did you do in the war, mummy?"

Until now most of the events and broadcasts commemorating the centenary of World War 1 have focused on the men who risked their lives in combat - but without the efforts of their wives and mothers, sisters and daughters, the war could never have been won.


During the Great War more than 1.5 million women volunteered their services to fill the gaps left by the men who had gone off to fight. Hundreds of thousands worked in munitions factories, over one hundred thousand became nurses, and tens of thousands worked as tram drivers, ticket collectors, or filled other essential roles.


This evening, at 9pm on BBC2, Kate Adie presents a one-hour documentary that focuses on the changes in attitudes to women between 1914-18, and the impact they had on women's lives and opportunities once that war was over.


Tip: if you miss the Monday broadcast the programme will be repeated on Wednesday at 11.20pm (and should also be available on BBC iPlayer).


The BBC website also has a guide entitled What did World War One really do for women? which I suspect includes some of the same material - most of the information is in the PDF files, so be sure to click the links. 



Women in World War 2

Whilst women volunteered to help in the first war, many of them had little choice in World War 2 - on 18th December 1941 King George VI signed the first Royal Proclamation calling-up women under the National Service Acts.


Although at that point only single women and childless widows between the ages of 20 and 30 (inclusive) were called-up, the second National Service Act provided for women up to the age of 50 to be conscripted, and this prompted many women to volunteer so that they would have some degree of choice over the nature of their contribution.


I've recently finished reading an excellent book which describes the experiences of 31 women during World War 2 - they were interviewed by Mavis Nicholson over 20 years ago, so sadly many of them will have passed away since. Some names are well-known - such as the author Mary Wesley, the actress Molly Weir, and the singer Anne Shelton (who died just 2 weeks after she was interviewed) - but most are not, however I found all of the accounts fascinating, and I was intrigued to discover that I have a connection of sorts to two of them!


What Did You Do In The War, Mummy? was originally published in 1995, but was re-released in 2010. I paid just £2.80 on Amazon for a used copy in very good condition (the price included delivery), but I now feel guilty at having paid so little - because it really is an excellent read.


Can you spare a pound?

If you missed out on the spectacular half-price subscription offer last month - for whatever reason - you'll be glad to hear that are once again offering a one-month Britain subscription for the bargain price of ONE POUND!


Simply click here to take advantage of this great opportunity to learn more about your English, Welsh and Scottish ancestors - whether in the censuses, parish records, military records, newspaper articles or any of the other millions of records at findmypast.



There are similar offers at,, and - but of course you won't get access to British records, only local records. Whichever offer you choose please bear in mind that this special rate is for the first month only - the subscription will renew automatically at the full price of 9.95 unless you un-tick the ‘auto-renew my subscription’ box in the My Account section of the site.


Note: you may see other similar offers, but only by using the links above will you be supporting LostCousins!


When the price is so low it surely isn't a question of whether you can afford it - but of whether you can afford not to. But if you're new to, or aren't yet familiar with the new site, make sure you read my tips articles so that you make the most of this great opportunity:


Masterclass: searching parish registers at findmypast (July 2014)

How to get the best from findmypast (April 2014)


Believe me, anybody who says they're struggling with the new site almost certainly hasn't read those articles!


Red Cross WW1 Prisoner-of-War records go online

It's 3 years since I first reported the plans of the International Committee of the Red Cross to make available their records in time for the centenary - so I'm glad to report that they've met their target.


This PDF document explains the records held - which unfortunately are fairly limited. You can search the index cards here.


Military Medals at The Genealogist

The Genealogist have recently added records of the 117,000 Military Medals awarded for acts of gallantry during the Great War. The equivalent of the Military Cross (which prior to 1993 was only given to commissioned officers) it was awarded to non-commissioned officers and ordinary soldiers - and to men and women alike.


You can search the records here - the search itself is free.


WW1 film clips online at the Imperial War Museum

There are over 1000 film clips from the Great War online now at the Imperial War Museum's main website, but it's a little difficult to navigate so I'd suggest following this link.


There's also a new dedicated WW1 search page at which you'll find here.


'Mons Mary' - a war horse comes home

Over a million horses and mules were deployed by the British Army in the Great War, but only horses owned by officers were certain to return when the war was over - and many of the oldest and weariest horses, the ones who had seen the most action, were destined for the knacker's yard.


Gaye sent me this wonderful story about one horse that eventually made it back - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:


After the war ended the Government said it could not afford to bring all the surviving war horses back to England. Many of them were to be sold to France and Germany and some were simply shot. My great uncle who managed the Maypole store in Portsmouth held some lovely parties for the returning troops, and he got to know about a horse called Mons Mary that its rider, Sergeant-Major Budden, desperately wanted to bring back to England and so he decided to launch an appeal to raise some money.


He wrote to the editor of the Portsmouth “Evening News” asking for help: The horse had been in nearly every action of war from start to finish and both horse and rider had come through unscathed. Sgt Major Budden had had to leave his “dumb friend” behind and had received information that his horse had been classified for sale in either France of Belgium. He appealed for a lover of horses to give this “dumb hero” a better home. A further letter from him said he had received a visit from an RSPCA Inspector who had taken this up with the Society’s Chief Secretary and been informed that the Society would do their utmost to get the horse back to England.


The next letter reported some very good news. The Duchess of Portland had taken a great interest in the horse and contributed the remainder of the balance required to purchase the horse for the sum of £37 4s 3d and the safe return of the horse.


The final letter came from the Chief Secretary of the RSPCA saying how pleased he was, and the news would be of great interest to the children of the infants department of Cottage Grove School who contributed their halfpennies and pennies and sent £2 to the Mons Mary fund; to Mr Vernon Lovatt, "the genial manager of the Maypole Company, a staunch friend of dumb animals", and to the RSPCA Inspector who first took up the case and of course Sgt Major Budden.


Subsequently Sgt-Major Budden sent a photo of himself mounted on Mons Mary to my Great Uncle, with the following inscription on the reverse:


"Mons Mary went through the Great War without being wounded. I worked hard to get her back to England, & am happy to say that I succeeded, & she is now living a life of ease at Welbeck Abbey.  The Duchess of Portland bought her. Just lately the Duchess of Portland has offered me Mons Mary as a Gift."


What a wonderful end to the story. I have the original newspaper cuttings and the original photograph which is printed on a postcard.



I never met my great-uncle but I inherited his love of horses.


You can read more about the role of horses during WW1 in this BBC article.


WW1 mystery: Who killed Private John Parr?

I was intrigued by this article on the BBC website - I wonder if the mystery will ever be solved?


Dorset Quarter Sessions Order Books from 1625-1905 now at Ancestry

Parish registers and Poor Law records for Dorset have been online at Ancestry for a while, but the latest addition appeared just after my last newsletter was published.


As you'll see, the Quarter Sessions Order Books document the decisions in a wide range of matters - your ancestors need not have been criminals to be mentioned! You can search the records here.


2021 Census to go ahead: government finally agree

It may have seen like a formality, but there have been some frayed nerves while we've been waiting to find out whether the government would accept the recommendation of the National Statistician that the 2021 Census should proceed. You can read the government's response here (it's a PDF file so you may see a security warning).


However, as you'll see from the letter, this decision only relates to 2021 - the government are still looking for an alternative solution after that date.


Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

There are now nearly 60,000 entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which aims to feature everyone who has shaped British history and culture from the Romans onwards. A full set of 60 printed volumes would cost you over £1000, but fortunately many people reading this will, like me, have free online access using their library card.


Tip: make sure you know what online resources are available through your local library - for example, many offer access to newspaper archives (I used The Times archive when researching my article about the conscription of women), and if I went down to the library in my village I could also get free access to Ancestry.


The first thing I did was to check whether there were any famous people who bear my surname - I thought that perhaps the famous telescope maker George Calver (no relation) might be listed, but he wasn't. However, I did learn that there was an Edward Calver (also no relation, so far as I know) who was writing poetry around the time of the Civil War.


Eventually I realised that I could search the full text of the articles, and in so doing discovered that the overlooked George Calver had in fact been mentioned as the supplier of telescopes to two gentlemen deemed more worthy of inclusion.


The individuals chosen are an eclectic bunch as this entry for Henry Croft, the original "Pearly King", demonstrates. I was also interested to read this blog article which describes how that particular entry was researched - many thanks to Jo at the ODNB who sent me the link after her father forwarded a copy of my newsletter. This quote from the article has a special resonance for family historians, who often have to cut away a thicket of misinformation in order to get at the truth:


"Online there is no shortage of references to Croft and his 'pearlies', but it soon becomes clear that much of this material is partial, anecdotal, and derivative." 


I did eventually find an indirect mention of one of my relatives - she isn't mentioned, but the department at the Industrial Society named after her is. But that in itself was interesting because until then I didn't realise that such a department had existed (it doesn't now). I also found Richard de Montfichet, who was one of the 25 barons appointed to enforce the observance of the Magna Carta, and whose ancestor lent his name to the village where LostCousins is based.


Does anyone from your tree feature?


What do all those symbols mean?

On your My Ancestors page at the LostCousins site you're likely to see some or all of the following symbols:


  indicates a very recent match


  identifies a relative you share with one or more cousins


  means that you share the relative with someone who is not a cousin (typically they're related by marriage)


To find out who else has entered the relative simply click on the tick. If instead of a name it shows 'new contact' refer to the New Contacts section on your My Cousins page.


 indicates that your entry almost, but not quite, matches another entry


Check your entry carefully against the census to make sure that there isn't some small difference (remember that you should use the transcription for the 1880 and 1881 censuses, but the handwritten image for other censuses). Click the symbol then either amend the entry, or confirm it as correct.


Note that if you already have matches for other people in the household it’s likely that the 'near match' is with the same member - so having confirmed that your own entry is correct it makes sense to contact them so that they can correct their entry.


  shows that you have attached a note to the record


To view the note either place the cursor over the symbol, or click your relative's name.


Click to add another member of this household  appears after every entry and is there to save you time


Click the Click to add another member of this household symbol to enter another person who was in the same household on the census - most of the Add Ancestor form will be filled in automatically, saving you lots of time and effort (as well as reducing the chance of a typing error).


For a reminder of how the My Ancestors page works click 'How to use this page' at the top right.



Do you live in the US? Save 20% with AncestryDNA

Until 27th August AncestryDNA are offering 20% off their autosomal DNA test, which can give a guide to your ethnic origins as well as providing links to possible cousins - this brings the price down to just $79.


Alternatively, take out a new 6 month US subscription to and get a free DNA test!


Note: these tests are only available to US residents; if you live elsewhere I recommend Family Tree DNA, the company I use myself.


DNA project to make UK world leader?

The government plans to sequence the DNA of 100,000 people who have cancer or rare diseases in the hope that targeted therapies will prove more effective than blunt instruments like chemotherapy. You can read more about the plans here.


Save 20% on Genes Reunited subscriptions

During August you can save 20% on any subscription at Genes Reunited when you click this link and enter the code SUMMER20 on the payment page.


Tip: the 12 month subscriptions are by far the best value, but please bear in mind that the records available with a Platinum subscription are only a subset of what's available at findmypast.


Peter's Tips

When I was in Norfolk recently I visited the parish church of St Helen's in Ranworth, and noticed the war memorial in the church was unusual in showing the names of all those who fought in the Great War, whether or not they survived:




The men who gave their lives are indicated by the letters R.I.P.


In the graveyard at Happisburgh I found this memorial on top of a small mound - as you'll see it was recently placed there to commemorate a sad event that took place over two centuries ago:


It's not only at time of war that mariners are buried far from home - there were merchant seaman from far away who were buried in the churchyard and, of course, I only saw the ones whose gravestones had survived - many wouldn't have had gravestones.


Stop Press

This is where I'll post any last minute additions.


Thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter - I hope you find it useful.


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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2014 Peter Calver


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