Newsletter - 1 June 2012
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 18 May 2012) please click here.
Whenever possible links are included to the websites or articles mentioned in the newsletter (they are highlighted in blue or purple and underlined, so you can't miss them).For you convenience, 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 nothing seems to happen then you need to enable pop-ups in your browser.
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!
50,000 records of employees who worked in the Royal Household between 1526-1924 have gone online today at findmypast.co.uk - and you can search them free of charge (viewing a record costs 10 credits if you're not a subscriber). For full details of the records click here.
The National Archives have created an online exhibition of congratulatory addresses sent to Queen Victoria on the occasion of her Gold and Diamond Jubilees in 1887 and 1897. There are also links to exhibitions to this year's jubilee.
My initial excitement at hearing that Queen Victoria's journals had been made available online was tempered by the discovery that most of the originals were destroyed after her death, so that for most years all that survives is the edited version created by Princess Beatrice, Victoria's youngest daughter between 1901-1931.
So don't expect to find any revealing details of Victoria's relationship with John Brown, the trusted companion immortalised in the film Mrs Brown - and certainly no confirmation of the allegation that she gave birth to Brown's child!
On the other hand, whenever I read about Queen Victoria I find out something new. On this occasion I learnt the name of the book the young Princess was reading as she waited to become Queen - and discovered that on most days Victoria would stay in bed until 8 or even 9 o'clock (not all what I expected). More significantly after further research I discovered that Victoria was unable to become the ruler of Hanover because she was a woman - instead her uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, became King Ernest Augustus.
What will you learn, I wonder? Do let me know if you make any interesting discoveries!
When Queen Victoria died she was in her 82nd year, and had been on the throne for 63 years and 7 months, a record for a British monarch (though one that I hope Queen Elizabeth II will break in a little over 3 years' time). Princess Beatrice was 87 when she died in 1944.
In the Queen's Speech last month it was announced that the State pension age will to rise to 67 for both man and women by 2028, and that further rises will be linked to longevity. Accountants PWC have calculated that this will mean that children born in 2012 will be 77 years old before they qualify for their state pension - on the other hand, the latest projections from the Office for National Statistics suggest that one-third of them will live to at least 100.
There was a similar increase in longevity about 30,000 years ago, when the number of humans living beyond the age of 30 increased dramatically, and some anthropologists believe that the positive influence of grandparents set homo sapiens apart from other hominids such as the Neanderthals (see this article for more details). Will there be another step change as great-grandparents, and even great-great grandparents influence the lives of our descendants?
However long you live, eventually someone will have to take over your research - which is why there's a box on your My Details page where you can enter their email address (please fill it in if you haven't already done so - just in case you get run over by the proverbial bus).
But we all have our own way of recording and filing our research, and it can be a big challenge for someone else to understand it. The following article by LostCousins member Frances will, I'm sure, get you thinking about how you can make it easier for those who come after:
"In 2006 my husband and I joined Lost Cousins but have only had our first matches this year. While they are well worth the wait, they are tinged with sadness as one was for my maternal grandmother’s family but the other was for my husband’s Francis clan. Sadly he died very suddenly in 2009 so has missed out on the excitement. His lost cousin is descended from his great aunt, so I know he would have been so pleased had he still been alive to have made contact with that branch of the family.
"Making contact with both cousins has spurred me on to get back to Family History research – a hobby we used to enjoy together. In fact we bounced ideas off each other and therefore knew a lot about what we were both doing. We thought we had many years of research ahead of us and planned more visits/holidays to areas associated with all our family branches – one of the joys of having ancestors from many different places even if it is more challenging at times.
"Now I am left with the task of trying to complete my husband’s hard work but where to start? I am sure he knew exactly what he was doing and his unique filing system no doubt worked for him but is a challenge for me. For years I had nagged him to collate and write down all his memories but he always thought he had plenty of time and resisted putting pen to paper. I did write a few articles for him about some of his relatives but now so much has died with him. I will do my best to remember but it will never be the same. I am left with mountains of paperwork and several trees entered into Generations which I have transferred to Family Historian including two copies of the main Francis tree - but which one is the latest or are they both the same?
"A tip for other researchers - make sure that if you duplicate your tree you make it clear which one is the up to date version! His online notes are just cryptic comments entered as he came across information, rather than in chronological order. Not easy to decipher! Another tip – remember that if someone else has to complete your work your 'shorthand' may make sense to you but is unlikely to be clear to other people.
"His box files contain a random selection of computer print outs, photocopies, brief notes on scraps of paper etc, all 'filed' within a piece of folded paper – so easy to detach the contents from their cover. Mine at least are in labelled plastic wallets within each box file. Tip 3 – make sure your filing system will stay intact when someone else sorts through it.
"My son arranged for his father’s emails to be forwarded to my account so that I did not lose contact with people he had family history links with. Great - until you want to unsubscribe from ones you are not interested in! Then there is the problem of accessing his membership of various sites as I do not know his passwords or pin numbers. I tried to guess some but with a low success rate. Cancelling emails from third parties or even memberships is still ongoing as many websites will not let you unsubscribe unless you are doing it from the email address first registered with them – this includes genealogy sites. I think I have managed to extricate his name from most but there are still some that I cannot get disconnected from and have resorted to blocking them as spam. Tip 4 – get emails redirected to you BUT be prepared for frustration if you need to unsubscribe from any you are not interested in.
"I too am in danger of doing the same with my research especially if I spend too long sorting out my husband’s work which I feel I should as it is after all related to the main family name. You never know how long you have got to complete your work or when you might suddenly disappear as my husband did. I thought we had years ahead of us as did he. I have however made a start on writing down my own memories as however hard it is to admit it our own lives are family history and will be of interest no doubt to future generations. Being a war baby I have lived through almost as much history as my late husband who had wonderful memories of our home area during WW2.
"Don’t let your memories die with you or leave it all to your relatives who may not have the knowledge or interest to do justice to all your hard work. You may have less time than you think!"
Thanks, Frances, for sharing your experiences with the LostCousins membership. None of us likes to think about dying, but unless they come up with a cure for old age, it's something we'll all have to face one day.
By the way, when I save a copy of my family tree - which I do whenever I make a change - I include the date in the filename. That way I've always got older copies I can go back to in the event of any disaster, but I also know which is the most recent version.
Tip: when you include a date in a filename use the format yymmdd (eg 120529) so that the files are automatically sorted into date order when you sort them by name.
Frances told us how sad it was that it was only after her husband's death that she discovered his 'lost cousin' - and I'm sorry to say that this is a story that could be repeated time and time again, because there are so many members who have been registered with LostCousins for years, yet haven't added any relatives to their My Ancestors page (or have entered no more than a handful).
Some members complete their My Ancestors page on the day they join LostCousins - and more often than not they find a new cousin immediately! It's therefore hard to understand why so many others just let things slide, especially when it only takes 1 or 2 minutes to enter an entire household.
Tip: if every reader of this newsletter were to spend just 27 minutes entering relatives from the 1881 Census on their My Ancestors page they'd find an average of 1.5 new cousins each!
Although I was brought up to think of my cousins as being the sons and daughters of my uncles and aunts, the term can actually be applied to anyone who shares your ancestors. 'Blood relative' means exactly the same thing.
When you're linked with another member at LostCousins you can easily see whether the other person is a cousin of yours or related to you only by marriage. Once the two of you have both agreed to make contact the entry on your My Cousins page moves from the New Contacts section of the page to the Cousins or Relatives section - but you can also find out in advance what the relationship is by referring to the My Contact page for the relationship.
How do you get to the My Contact page? By clicking on your relative's name or initials. This brings up a list of all the relatives that you have both entered, and - equally importantly - shows how each of you are related to each of them.
If any of those relatives is shown as a 'direct ancestor' to both of you, then clearly you're both cousins. But, less obviously, if any of those relatives is a 'direct ancestor' to one of you, but a 'blood relative' to the other then that also makes you cousins.
Should neither of these apply, then it's probable that you're only related by marriage - although a closer relationship may become apparent when more common relatives are shown.
Tip: connections with other members who are only related to you by marriage can be a lot more valuable than you might think - as I was reminded when Gill recently wrote to tell me how useful one of her connections had been. One reason is that the offspring of the marriage are cousins to both of you - as will be their living descendants.
Very occasionally the person you're matched with won't be a relative at all - not because one of you has made mistake or because the LostCousins system has gone wrong - but because one of you has deliberately entered someone who isn't your relative. In the next article I'm going to talk about one of the circumstances in which this might happen....
One of the unique features of the LostCousins site is that it enables members to make valuable contacts between people who aren't related.
For example, if you were writing a book about an event in the 19th or early 20th century you might be keen to contact living descendants of the people you're writing about. In this case you'd look them up in the census, and enter them on your My Ancestors page using the 'Historical Research' category.
But you don't have to write a book to make use of this feature - for example, when Paul in Canada was young his grandmother gave him an old pocket watch which bore the inscription "Presented to Grenadier James Bancroft, by his Ovenden friends for his bravery throughout the Crimean War. August 1856".
James Bancroft was at the Battle of Inkerman where, as Paul relates, "he played a prominent role in the defence of the Sandbag Battery, and the charge down the Kitspur Ridge. He followed his Company Commander, Edwyn Burnaby out of the battery with about 18 others and several times threw back the Russian columns. Of this small group only 7 men survived. James himself was bayonetted in the mouth and torso, and was grazed by a shell. These injuries were described as 'slight' in the casualty listings of the London Gazette.
"After the war, Captain Burnaby encouraged some of the men who were present that day to write down their version of events, and published them in a book. It is because of this book and the efforts of Edwyn Burnaby that today I have a first-hand account of my ancestor's experiences - in his own words. I am interested in finding living relatives of Edwyn Burnaby - to 'give back' what has been so carefully preserved for me."
The National Probate Calendars at Ancestry now cover the years 1858-1966. This expansion enabled me to find several 20th century entries for members of my family, including 3 of my grandparents.
In my last newsletter I wrote about how findmypast.co.uk had upgraded its search facility, and this week news came through that Genes Reunited have also upgraded their searching. For example, you can now search using census references, something that wasn't previously an option, and there are various new options to help find misspelt names. When you're searching the census you can also enter the first names of other members of the household - this is particularly useful if the surname is a common one.
Tip: if you're searching the census by name you must include at least the first character of the surname, otherwise the only results you'll get are those where the surname is missing.
About 6 months ago I exclusively revealed that findmypast were in the process of adding records from the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, and at last they have launched their Plymouth and West Devon Collection, which currently comprises 3.5 million births, marriages, and burials from 1538-1911.
If you subscribed to Essex Ancestors, the independent online service run by Essex Record Office, you might have been expecting to see a steady flow of new registers.
I understand, however, that the remaining registers will all be added at the same time - but not until later this year. The big question is whether they'll arrive in time for those who paid £75 a one-year subscription when the site launched in early November - I certainly hope so!
Most public libraries in England (and many in other countries) have a subscription to Ancestry Library Edition which provides substantially the same features as a Worldwide subscription - the features omitted mostly relate to family trees and information sharing.
However one member recently reported that they were unable to search parish records at their library, which would suggest that a lower level of subscription also exists, and I'd be interested to know whether anyone can corroborate this.
Tip: some libraries offer findmypast instead of Ancestry - a few offer both. Make sure you know what's available free at your local library!
A lot of members have asked me whether it would be possible to send them a reminder when their LostCousins subscription falls due for renewal.
Ironically, I did send out reminders at one time - but had to stop because of complaints from a very small, but vocal, minority. I decided at that time that I wouldn't send out reminders again unless there was some way of distinguishing members who did want to receive a reminder from those who didn't.
I'm glad to say that you can now indicate on your My Details page whether or not you'd like me to send you an email reminder just before your subscription runs out. It's completely optional - nobody will receive a reminder unless they explicitly ask for one - but if your memory is anything like mine it's an option you might like to choose.
Tip: the expiry date of your subscription is shown near the top of your My Summary page, the page which is normally displayed when you log-in to the LostCousins site.
Whilst on your My Details page, please make sure that the information shown is up to date and as complete as possible - and if you are still using the temporary password that was issued when you first joined I'd advise you to choose one that you'll find easier to remember.
Genealogists for Families has now helped over 1,000 individuals to expand their small businesses so they can support their families, educate their children or install windows, running water etc in their homes. Founded by LostCousins member Judy Webster, and supported by many other LostCousins members - me included - Genealogists for Families works through Kiva, a non-profit organisation.
Normally when you give money to a charity you never see it again, but with Kiva you make loans (typically $25), and when they are repaid - which they invariably are - you can lend the money out again. To find out more, or to join us click here.
Tip: right now, thanks to a generous benefactor, you can make your first $25 loan without spending a penny of your own money.
Between 1670 and 1710 as many as 50,000 French Huguenots sought refuge in England, and about half of them settled in London, primarily in Spitalfields. I know that many LostCousins members have Huguenot ancestry.
However I was surprised to read in an article on the BBC News website that there are now so many French people living in London that there are only 5 cities in France with a greater population!
This email I received from member Susan speaks for itself:
"I visited the Dickens' London exhibition at the Museum of London recently and want to highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Victorian period, even if they have no connection with London. Entrance is £5 and it is worth every penny. The evocation of day-to-day life for the poor and the well-to-do is brilliant, and the old photographs used throughout are amazing. It closes on June 10th 2012."
According to a BBC news report a team of scientists from the UK and Switzerland are hoping to prove the existence of the mythical yeti using DNA tests. The project is being led by Professor Brian Sykes, who came up with the 'Seven Daughters of Eve', a concept that may be an effective marketing tool for his DNA testing company, but is - in my opinion at least - of relatively little value to genealogists.
What next - the Loch Ness monster?
I was amazed by the response to my mention in the last newsletter of The Blood Detective, by Dan Waddell - dozens of members who'd read the book wrote in to tell me how good it was, and several mentioned his follow-up book, Blood Atonement. Frustratingly I still haven't managed to find the time to read either book!
Tony wrote in to point out that if you want to buy both books there's a very good deal at The Book People, and if you get so carried away by the bargains on offer that you spend £40 or more there you can save an extra 5% using the discount code AFVOUCHER40 (valid until the end of June), or else get a free copy of Jamie Oliver's Great Britain (while stocks last).
Exchange rates have been fluctuating quite a bit recently, so I thought it would be helpful to recalculate the cost of an Ancestry Worldwide subscription from Ancestry.co.uk for members who live outside Europe.
In Australian dollars it currently works out at $214 (compared to the $449.95 renewal price that Ancestry.com.au charge), in New Zealand dollars it's $277, in US dollars it would be $208 (compared to $299), and in Canadian dollars the cost is $215. All of these represent considerable savings compared to the price you'd pay for the same subscription (albeit with a slightly different name) at your local Ancestry site. Please note that when you first visit the UK site you'll be shown the price including UK taxes, which is £155.40 - but the price you'll actually pay is £135.13 (the reduced price will be shown before you complete the purchase).
Tip: Ancestry will try to send you to your local website; click here to go direct to the UK site.
The June issue of Which? Magazine landed on my doormat last weekend, and as usual I've been scouring it for useful tips. I was amazed to discover in their review of washing powders that the overall best-performer (Aldi's Almat with Stain-Lift) was also the cheapest, working out at just 11p per wash. Incidentally, Which? demonstrated last year that old-fashioned washing powder performs better than liquids and gels - even though they usually cost more.
Also in Which? a review of ebook readers once again made the Kindle a best buy - but please note that if, like me, you value free worldwide Internet access, the Kindle Keyboard 3G is still the ONLY model that offers this.
Inevitably there are all sorts of Jubilee-related offerings: at the BBC Shop there's free delivery on everything and a 10% discount on all Diamond Jubilee products when you use the code JUBILEE1. But don't expect Jubilee items to be an investment - too many of them are produced!
Finally, when I upgraded my computer earlier this year I switched to Google Chrome as my main browser (I also have Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera - each of which I use occasionally, mainly for testing purposes). So, as you can imagine, I was interested to read that last month Chrome overtook Internet Explorer to become the most popular browser worldwide.
If you want to download a free copy of Google Chrome simply type 'Chrome' into Google - it couldn't be easier.
Tip: one advantage of having two browsers on your computer is that you can be simultaneously logged into two accounts at the same website - very handy if both you and your spouse have LostCousins accounts!
This where any last minute amendments will be recorded or highlighted.
Please keep sending in your news and tips - many of the articles in this newsletter result from suggestions from readers like you!
© Copyright 2012 Peter Calver
You may link to this newsletter, and I have included bookmarks so you can - if you wish - link to a specific article by copying the relevant entry in the list of contents at the beginning of the newsletter. 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.