Newsletter - 29 April 2011

 

Why is it called My Ancestors?

Fully transcribed death indexes at findmypast

Save 15% on findmypast subscriptions!

Blank census forms

New Zealand census cancelled

Can we look forward to loyalty card censuses?

Leaving a digital legacy

Liverpool parish registers online

No Wills?

Middleton register entries

Family tree programs

Dick Whittington and his library

Research before parish registers

Correcting transcription errors

Did your ancestor run a pub?

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 16 April 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.

 

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

 

 

Why is it called My Ancestors?

More than 7 years ago, when I was designing the LostCousins site, I had to come up with a name for the page where members would enter information from the 1881 Census. The obvious choice was My Ancestors, although I've had reason to regret that decision over the years - because so many members have made the mistake of only entering the households where their direct ancestors were living.

 

I did think of using the term My Antecedents instead, but since most dictionaries define 'antecedent' as 'ancestor' there didn't seem to be much point. Since I believe in calling a spade a spade I often wish I'd called the My Ancestors and My Cousins pages My Dead Relatives and My Living Relatives, because that's what they really are, but I suspect some members would have found this a little distasteful (in the past I've had emails from members who find the use of the term 'bastard' in baptism registers upsetting). Alternatively, I might have called them Searches and Search Results, because once again, that's what those pages really represent.

 

Do you think that the My Ancestors and My Cousins pages should be renamed and, if so, what names would you choose?

 

 

Fully transcribed death indexes at findmypast

Findmypast have launched fully-transcribed indexes of British overseas deaths 1818-2005, British deaths at sea 1854-1890, and British armed forces deaths 1796-2005 which completes their set of overseas BMD indexes.

 

However, the most important release is just around the corner - I understand that findmypast are close to launching their fully transcribed GRO death indexes for England & Wales. This is great news for everyone who, like me, has found findmypast's fully transcribed birth and marriage indexes a great improvement on what's available at other sites (even the free searches can be very useful, as I explained at the beginning of the year).

 

Of course, what would be really fantastic would be if findmypast were to provide a global search for all their BMD indexes - it would not only save time, but pick up those unexpected overseas events. But perhaps that's too much to hope forÖ.

 

Tip: it's amazing what can be achieved by taking information about relatives who were recorded on the 1911 Census, then extending your tree forward using information in the fully transcribed indexes - already I've added hundreds of 20th century relatives to my tree, and I look forward to adding many more. How about you?

 

Save 15% on findmypast subscriptions!

Forget about the Royal Wedding - there's something much more important happening this weekend. Yes, it's the 7th birthday of LostCousins on May 1st, and we're going to be celebrating with an EXCLUSIVE discount offer, thanks to findmypast!

 

For just one week (until 11.59pm on Friday May 6th) you can save 15% on any new findmypast subscription when you click here and enter the code LOSTCOUS15 - and, as if that wasn't enough of a birthday bargain, as a BONUS I'll give you a free LostCousins subscription that runs alongside your findmypast subscription.

 

To qualify for the bonus you must click the link above immediately before subscribing to findmypast, and also forward to me a copy of the email receipt you receive from them - I can't process your free subscription until I receive it. Your free LostCousins subscription will run for the same period as your findmypast subscription, though if you are already a LostCousins subscriber your bonus will commence when your existing subscription expires (ie the expiry date will be extended by 6 or 12 months, as appropriate).

 

Existing findmypast subscribers qualify for a 20% loyalty discount when they renew, so the 15% discount and bonus offer do not apply. You'll find full details of the findmypast Loyalty Scheme here - make sure you qualify!

 

Blank census forms

Did you keep a copy of your 2011 census form? I know that a lot of LostCousins members did - but I bet that most people didn't keep a copy of their 1971, 1981, 1991, and 2001 census forms!

 

Fortunately there's a site where you can download PDF copies of the blank forms, and whilst some of them have SPECIMEN stamped across it's still quite feasible to fill them in as if it were 1971 or whenever (assuming you can remember where you were and who else was there at the time).

 

Looking at the 1971 form brought back all sorts of memories - although I wasn't a head of household myself, as a census enumerator I helped countless members of the older generation fill in their forms, which usually meant me asking them the questions and filling in the answers. Probably not so different from what happened in 1871, I suspect!

 

New Zealand census cancelled

One of the unexpected casualties of the devastating New Zealand earthquake on February 22nd was the 2011 Census, which was due to be taken on March 8th. However, I understand that Statistics New Zealand will be retaining the forms returned early or completed online before the census was cancelled, so there may yet be some information for family historians of the next century.

 

Can we look forward to loyalty card censuses?

According to the Daily Mail, British government officials are "looking for ways to replace the expensive census and controversial count before 2021. They believe into data already held on store cards such as Tesco Clubcards and by phone and energy companies, banks and even the National Lottery could help provide an alternative."

 

It does seem likely that whatever course is chosen, family historians of the future won't be able to glean much useful information from the 2021 census - even the information collected in this year's census will be of relatively little value compared to that collected 100 years ago, because there are no middle names, no birthplaces, and no information about the years of marriage or number of children born to that marriage.

 

Leaving a digital legacy

When I posted an online obituary for my father recently I received quite a few favourable comments, so I was interested to see an article in this week's New Scientist in which the author described the website he set up after his wife died: "To me, the Internet seemed to offer an obvious way to fulfil Kathryn's wish - certainly more so than a dramatic headstone or funerary monument. So I built a memorial website to celebrate her life through carefully selected pictures and text."

 

But that was 6 years ago - nowadays, with sites like Facebook attracting so many users, people are recording a wealth of information during their lifetimes, so now the real question is whether it will be preserved after their deaths.

 

LostCousins is, I think, unique in that many years ago I provided the opportunity for members to nominate a family member who would take over their account when the time came, to ensure that the information collected, and the contacts made, did not die with them. Sadly there are a lot of members who have yet to complete that section of their My Details page - and perhaps you're one of them? If so, I hope you'll rectify that omission right away, because we can never predict when the fickle finger of fate is going to point towards us.

 

Liverpool parish records

 

Liverpool parish registers online

Ancestry have recently added millions of parish register entries for Liverpool, including both Church of England and Catholic parishes - it's an amazing resource, especially for anyone whose ancestors arrived from Ireland, as Liverpool was the main point of entry, and many stayed in the area.

 

Apart from the usual baptism, marriage, and burial entries, there are also records of confirmations - the first time I've encountered these records online. Catholic baptisms and confirmations give the names of godparents, information that is rarely seen in Church of England registers.

 

You'll find the Catholic registers here, and the Church of England registers here. Do let me know if you make any exciting discoveries!

 

No Wills?

There are two main reasons why official records relating to wills exist - one is because estates above a certain value were subject to Stamp Duty, the other is because the executors applied for probate. Probate is the process of proving a will, ie certifying its validity so that investments and property can be transferred into the names of the trustees or beneficiaries.

 

These days, where fairly modest sums are involved and there is no other reason to seek probate (for example, if other assets were held in joint names, and so are passing by survivorship), many banks are prepared to hand over the money to the executors after seeing the original will and making a copy - and I suspect that this has been the case for many years. This means that if you search the National Probate Calendar but don't find an entry for your relative, this doesn't necessarily mean that he or she didn't leave a will.

 

Indeed, just because you find an entry in the calendar doesn't meant that there was a will - because where there is no will, and therefore no executors, Letters of Administration must be taken out before the estate can be settled. When I looked at a sample page from the National Probate Calendar about one-third of the entries related to administrations.

 

Middleton register entries

Val drew my attention to this amusing article from the University of Cambridge Alumni newsletter, which describes some of the early 19th century register entries for the parish of Middleton in Norfolk.

 

Family tree programs

I get a lot of emails from members asking me which family tree program I would recommend. This is a very easy question for me to answer, because I've only ever used two programs, and I've found them both excellent - though in very different ways.

 

For advanced users Family Historian is a superb program, which though it has 29 built-in reports, also has a report generator that allows you to create your own. However, it's too powerful for my everyday needs - I want something simple that allows me to determine exactly how my family tree appears on the screen (or on paper), and let's me see large parts of it at one time.

 

That's why the program I've been using since 2002 is Genopro. It may not be as sophisticated or powerful as other programs, but it does what I want - and it's very easy to learn and to use, because all you need to do is click the right mouse button! For example, if you're starting from scratch and you right-click you get a pop-up menu where the first entry is Family Wizard - which allows you to type in a family simply by filing in the boxes on a form.

 

It took me about 90 seconds to create the example family you can see here using the wizard. Once you've created the family you can move it position it wherever you want by moving the mouse - just click the left button when you have it in position (being able to move around chunks of your tree like this is one of the most useful features of Genopro).

 

The next step might be to add a husband and children for Charlotte, the eldest child - and there are two ways I can do this. Whichever method I choose, I start by right-clicking on Charlotte: I can use the Family Wizard again, or I can choose New Mate, about half-way down the menu. Most of the time I choose the latter option, so I'll briefly explain how that works.

 

When I select New Mate from the menu Genopro automatically creates a husband for Charlotte - and when I right-click on him, choosing Properties (the last entry in the menu) allows me to type in as much or as little information about him as I like. That's the great thing about Genopro - you're not forced to fill in information that you're not sure about, or don't have to hand, and you can go back at any time and click Properties to enter more data when you have it.

Adding children is easy too. When I right-click on either Charlotte or her husband the options that appear include New Son and New Daughter (I can even choose New Child if I don't know whether it was a boy or a girl).

 

To move any of the individuals around is similarly easy - just left-click to highlight them, then drag them with the mouse. This is very handy if you've entered the children in the wrong order, or if you simply want to create more room. To move more than one person at a time hold down the Ctrl key while you select them with the mouse, or click one of the icons in the toolbar (these allow you to select groups of people such as siblings, spouses, dependants, or ancestors).

 

But reading about me constructing a fictitious family tree isn't much fun when what you really want to do is try the program out with your own tree - so you'll be delighted to hear that you can try the program out for 14 days free of charge, and with no commitment to purchase. Click here and choose the option Download GenoPro from the menu. If you do decide to purchase you can save 10% on the price simply by being a LostCousins member and following this link (note that there are even bigger savings when you buy more than one licence).

 

Note: Genopro may have 2 million users worldwide, but that doesn't necessarily make it the right program for you - everybody has different needs and different ways of working, which is why it's always important to try a family tree program out before you buy it.

 

Dick Whittington and his library

Best known as the inspiration of Puss in Boots, the real Richard Whittington was nothing like his pantomime namesake - he came from a wealthy family. History does not record whether or not he owned a cat; he was, however, elected Lord Mayor of London, in 1397, 1406, and 1419.

 

The Guildhall Library was founded in the 1420s under the terms of Whittington's will, and its modern day successor holds many records of interest to family historians - though the parish registers for the City of London were transferred to the London Metropolitan Archives a few years ago, and are now available online through Ancestry.

 

Of particular note is the collection of trade and telephone directories, one of the largest in the UK - you'll find a copy of a leaflet about the collection here. Online sources of directories include Ancestry (phone directories from 1880-1984), the University of Leicester's historical directories project, and the Internet Archive (although it isn't particularly easy to search).

 

Research before parish registers

Beginners often find it difficult to adapt to research before 1837, when civil registration began in England & Wales, and there is a similar watershed in the 16th century when we can no longer rely on parish registers as our source (the earliest parish registers date from 1538, but records don't go back that far in most parishes).

 

On Saturday 14th May there is a full-day course at Society of Genealogists that will help you overcome the difficulties of researching prior to 1600 by introducing you to the range of records that are available; the cost is £24 for members of the SoG, or £30 for non-members. Even if you haven't got back that far in your research, it's worth bearing in mind that just as parish registers continue to be a valuable source of information after 1837, many of the records that you can draw on for clues in the pre-1600 period continue into post-1600 period.

 

Click here for a list of all the courses taking place at the SoG during May.

 

Correcting transcription errors

Transcription errors are a fact of life, and despite what some people might think, they aren't a result of the subscription sites using low-paid overseas workers with a poor command of English - you only have to look at the censuses that were transcribed by British family historians to know that anyone can make a mistake.

 

When you find a transcription error do remember to report it to the website concerned - it may not help you, but it will help others. Don't assume that your submission will be ignored - I mainly use findmypast in my research and I've found that when I submit a correction, more often than not it is accepted the same day!

 

By the way, some members have written to me asking why they can't submit corrections to Ancestry. Instead of reviewing submissions and making corrections where appropriate, Ancestry have a system where users submit 'Alternate information' which is included alongside the original erroneous data. To submit a 'correction' at Ancestry click Add Alternate information under Page Tools which you'll find on the left hand side of the transcription.

 

Talking of transcriptions, one of the reasons I prefer findmypast is the way that you can view or print a transcription of an entire household. This is especially handy for the 1881 Census since that single page gives all the information you need to enter the household on your My Ancestors page at the LostCousins site.

 

Did your ancestor run a pub?

Many of us have ancestors who ran a pub - I certainly do - but like me you might not be aware of the Dead Pubs website which records historic information from diverse sources relating to pubs in London and much of the South of England.

 

I didn't find my ancestor listed there - the records for the landlords of the Three Compasses at Patchetts Green only go back to 1882 - but it's certainly worth checking to see if your victualler ancestors are listed. Local records offices are another good source of information relating to pub landlords, because the licensing system goes back hundreds of years.

 

Peter's Tips

When you buy a new domestic appliance the supplier will usually offer to take the old one away - for a charge. However, you may find - as I did - that your local authority offers a better deal - Uttlesford District Council will take away up to 2 large appliances for a fixed fee of £14. On the other hand, I also noticed that Sainsbury's are currently not only offering free delivery, until May 10th they are also offering to take away the old appliance free when you enter the special offer code NGJ9-TYML-4G6V (for washing machines), CGCC-JGVH-LHXF (for fridges), 6XCN-6FJ9-TYTR (for cookers), or QPGM-N9JL-QGHH (for dishwashers).

 

These days, if you put your house on the market in Britain you have to get an Energy Performance Certificate - which your estate agent will no doubt offer to organise for an extortionate fee. But after spending 5 minutes with Google I found a company called NextDayEPC who will do the job for a fraction of the price. Another trick the agents use is to offer a free EPC if you agree to use their conveyancing service - which sounds like a good deal until you realise that there are specialists who will do the conveyancing for less than half the price they quote.

 

Finally, remember that until May 2nd the LostCousins site is totally free - so make sure you add as many entries to your My Ancestors page as you can, especially from the 1881 Census (remember it's the brothers, sisters, and cousin with families of their own who are most likely to be the links to your 'lost cousins'). And don't forget to click the Search button when you finish!

 

Stop Press

This is where any amendments or updates will be highlighted.

 

That's all for now - I hope you've found my newsletter interesting. Many of the articles are inspired by you, the members, so please do keep writing in with your thoughts, comments, and suggestions.

 

peter_signature

 

Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins