Newsletter - 29th April 2014
Restore your expired ScotlandsPeople credits ENDS WEDNESDAY
The German Kings Who Made Britain THURSDAY
The LostCousins newsletter is
usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 17th
April) 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.
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 your 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 or change the settings in your security software.
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!
Hard to believe, I know, but on Thursday 1st May it will be 10 years to the day since I launched LostCousins - and to celebrate the LostCousins site will be completely FREE until 6th May. This means that whether or not you're a subscriber you'll be able to contact the cousins you find.
It's a great opportunity to find more 'lost cousins' - or to find your first 'lost cousin' if you haven't yet completed your My Ancestors page.
Yet to complete your My Ancestors page? It's easier than ever before to get started - this weekend I added to the Help & Advice page some new illustrated Getting Started guides which demonstrate just how easy it is.
There are three major websites - FamilySearch, Ancestry, and findmypast - where you can obtain information from the 1881 England & Wales Census absolutely FREE (this is the reason why we started with this census back in 2004).
Since everyone has their favourite site I've produced three different guides. Follow the illustrations and you'll be able to enter your very first household in 5 minutes - and once you know what you're doing it should take only 1 or 2 minutes per household.
In the next few days I'll also be posting another guide showing how you can use the free Family Tree Analyzer program to identify the relatives to enter - it will even search the census for you if you want!
Restore your expired ScotlandsPeople credits ENDS WEDNESDAY
There's great news for anyone whose Scotlandspeople credits have expired: previously the only way you could restore expired credits was to purchase more - and if, like me, you are an intermittent user of the site you might well have found that whilst you managed to recover your old expired credits, some of the new credits expired before you could use them.
Until midnight (Edinburgh time) on Wednesday 30th April you can reactivate expired credits without making any purchase at all. Simply go to the ScotlandsPeople site, log-in, then click Buy more credits. Next enter spring2014 in the Voucher Code box and click Use voucher - you'll see something rather like this:
When I saw that 0 credits message my first thought was that it hadn't worked - but then I noticed that up at the top of the screen, where it had previously said 'expired' after my credits it now said 'expire 365 days' (365 days equals 8760 hours).
Thousands of members have just been invited to join the LostCousins Forum ahead of its official opening - and YOU could be one of them!
Log-in at LostCousins and check your My Summary page. If you've been awarded a coupon code, congratulations - you're invited to join the forum! Simply click the link and register at the forum, remembering to enter the coupon code and your membership number (also shown near the top of your My Summary page).
Note: the 'brick walls' area of the forum isn't open yet.
Thousands of users of the findmypast site have contributed to the feedback forum, whether by contributing new suggestions, adding to existing discussions, or voting to indicate which of the suggestions deserves highest priority.
Because there are already so many discussions, what they're likely to be looking for now is for users to contribute to existing discussions. It certainly won't help to have several competing discussions about the same issues (this is the same on any forum - including the LostCousins Forum).
Here's what I do: after clicking "Post a new idea" I don't enter it immediately - instead I type a keyword in the box to see what other discussions there are on similar topics. It's extremely unlikely that I'm going to have something completely new to say, so if the first keyword doesn't bring up any results I type a different one. Only when I'm satisfied that there are no existing discussions on related topics do I start a new discussion.
For example, here's a suggestion I submitted earlier today:
Include book numbers for the 1841 England & Wales Census
The 1841 Census is the only one where the same folio and page numbers appear repeatedly within a given piece. This is because the numbering of the folios (sheets) typically restarted from 1 at the beginning of a book, whereas in later censuses the count was only reset at the start of each piece (or bundle of books).
As a result of this different procedure, to uniquely identify a page from the 1841 Census it's necessary to cite not only the piece and the folio and page numbers, but also the book number.
This isn't simply a citation issue - without book numbers it is more difficult to search using the census references.
At the old site book numbers were bundled with the folio numbers which was confusing; at the new site they are currently not shown at all.
Before submitting this suggestion I looked through all previous suggestions which mentioned '1841' or 'book' or 'number' - only I had discovered that there were none that dealt with this particular issue, or anything closely related did I submit my proposal.
Note: all comments on forums are moderated: currently comments on the findmypast forum are being pre-moderated following some spam postings a few days ago; this means that your messages (and mine) won't appear until they have been checked by a member of staff.
As I demonstrated in my last newsletter there are a number of different ways to search the same records at the new findmypast site - so many, in fact, that I managed to miss one!
I displayed three different search forms from which you could search the census, but I omitted a fourth option (many thanks to Lawrence for reminding me). Start by selecting 'Census, land and surveys' from the Search records dropdown menu, then choose 'Census' from the All collections dropdown menu:
Note that this form allows you to enter keywords, which the other censuses searches don't. When I searched for my great-grandfather using the keyword 'Barton' I got precisely three results:
Note that the keywords you enter are matched against the entire record: for example, if the keyword was 'John' I'd get all the John Calvers in the country (so that wouldn't be a good choice of keyword!).
You may find that some address searches are easier to carry out using this form - that's partly because of inconsistencies in the handwritten census data. For example, some enumerators filled in all the boxes at the top of each census schedule, but many didn't - so if you specifically search for people living in a certain town you won't find entries where the Town or village or hamlet box has been left blank by the enumerator.
However, on this search form you can enter the name of a town or village in the Where box - it will then match with records where the name appears anywhere in the address, eg Barton Road, East Barton Cottages, Great Barton, Barton Mills. In other words, it's a keyword search which only looks at the address.
To be fair, there were similar inconsistencies with the searches at the old findmypast site - but, of course, over time we find workarounds, or sidestep the issues by adjusting our search strategy.
There was one problem I definitely wasn't able to overcome at the old site - and you may have come across it yourself. Whilst I would often know from birth certificates or baptism records that my ancestors were living in a particular street at the time of the census, if their surname was wrong or badly mistranscribed I couldn't find them without painstakingly going through every household in the street - which could take a very long time.
At the old site you could search either by name or address, but not both at the same time - but the new site allows you to combine elements of both, and this is a genuine improvement. It can be particularly useful when you're searching the 1841 Census, because there are so many records which have only been partially transcribed (the census schedules were usually written in pencil and some are extremely hard to read).
Judging from recent comments on the feedback forum many findmypast subscribers are still struggling - I can only assume they're not LostCousins members, because many of the 'problems' referred to were solved in my tips article. Finally, if you've discovered a nifty way to search at the new site which I haven't already mentioned in the newsletter, do please let me know!
Findmypast have launched their Shropshire parish register collection, as forecast in the last newsletter - and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the register pages have been scanned in colour, making them much easier to decipher. (They're also browsable, and I understand that in time all of findmypast's parish register collections will be browsable.)
You'll find a list of the Shropshire record sets here.
Ancestry.co.uk have just released a collection of Poor Law Records for Norfolk. There are over 138,000 images in the collection, but unfortunately they're currently unindexed.
The images are also available at the free FamilySearch site, so there's currently no reason to pay to view them at Ancestry, but if you already have a subscription you may prefer to use their site.
Although the records are unindexed, those I looked at were in date order. As an example, the register of births for Great Snoring Workhouse (Walsingham Union) runs from late 1838 up to March 1866 and not only gives the parents' names (in most cases the children were illegitimate, so there's only a mother) but also the date of birth and date of baptism.
I've always had a suspicion that births and deaths in workhouses might not always make it into the GRO indexes, but the few entries I checked were all there. Let me know if you discover any entries that are missing.
Your ancestors didn't have to be in the workhouse, or poor to appear in the Norfolk Poor Law Records collection. From 1853 onwards smallpox vaccination was compulsory, and the Board of Guardians were responsible for its administration. I came across a Vaccination register for Fakenham for the period 1881-1885 which had clearly been drawn up by reference to the Register of Births for the sub-district, and this makes the registers a useful secondary source of birth information, especially for those areas which don't have local birth indexes.
In case you haven't seen these registers before, here's a typical page (if you click on the image you can see a larger version on the FamilySearch website):
These days there are people who object to vaccination, and this was also true in the 19th century - as this interesting article on the LincstothePast website explains. Towards the end of the century it became possible to register as a conscientious objector to vaccination - and it seems the phrase was used in this sense long before it came to be used for those who believed that it was wrong to fight.
It's worth checking whether vaccination registers survive for the areas of interest to you - if so you're likely to find them in the local record office.
A new two-part documentary series about the East India Company begins on Wednesday 30th April, at 9pm on BBC2. Established under a Royal Charter granted my Queen Elizabeth in 1600, the Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading with the East Indies had such an extensive monopoly that at one point they controlled half of the world's trade (according to Wikipedia).
If your family has connections with India you've probably already discovered the findmypast's British India collection - if not, click here to see a list of the datasets, or to search for records.
The German Kings Who Made Britain THURSDAY
Another new documentary series looks at the four King Georges who ruled over Britain (and Hannover) from 1714-1820. It's of particular interest to me because I have German ancestors who came to England during the reign of King George III.
The three-part series begins on Thursday 1st May, at 9pm on BBC4. Coincidentally - or perhaps not - Film4 (no relation) is showing The Madness of King George at 6.50pm on the same evening.
According to an article on the BBC History website, the vast book drawn up on the orders of William the Conqueror was nicknamed the 'Domesday' book by his English subjects, who felt that it was an undertaking comparable with the Day of Judgement - and the name has stuck.
I'm told there was an interesting programme about the Domesday Book on Radio4 recently - I haven't listened it yet myself, but it was highly recommended by my wife. You'll find it here.
In the last newsletter I commented that a 'distinguishing mark' was once a commendation, rather than a physical attribute, and this prompted Ian to send in an example of a 'distinctive mark' from the 1906 enlistment record of one Harry Gotts:
"Extensively tattooed both forearms, breast and back. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year across buttocks"
I don't know about you, but I was really impressed by this example that Rosemary sent me (and, as you can imagine, Rosemary was delighted that she'd followed my recommendation):
If you're quick you might still be able to be able to get a free photo repair - click here and register right away (there's absolutely no catch - and you don't have to part with the original photograph).
Worried about the Heartbleed bug?
You've probably heard about the Heartbleed bug which, if exploited, could have allowed confidential information to be stolen.
Nobody knows whether the bug was exploited before it was discovered, but many sites have recommended that users change their passwords, just in case.
Fortunately, at LostCousins we've never used the software that contained the bug, so you don't have anything to worry about.
I've mentioned Britain from Above in the past - they have a large collection of aerial photographs taken between 1919-53. Another 7700 images from England and Wales have recently been added to the site, which now has over 69,000, all of which are free to view thanks to Lottery funding (eventually there may be as many as 95,000 images).
British Pathé have posted their entire collection of over 85,000 film clips on YouTube. Fortunately they're still available at their own website, and I think you'll find them much easier to search there.
If you follow this link you'll find a clip in which my 1st cousin twice removed (my grandfather's 1st cousin) presents Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, with the freedom of the City of London. The Queen is also in there somewhere - of course, she was merely Princess Elizabeth in those days.
Julie spotted this unusual name in the London Electoral Registers - and it isn't a mistranscription. Mr Day was born in 1897, so I strongly suspect his birth date was 20th June, the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne.
Poor Edward didn't have a choice - his parents chose his name - unlike Saire May of North Shields who recently changed his name to Marmite. I guess that's one way to get your 15 minutes of fame.....
As we're just coming up to our 10th Birthday I thought you might like to see the very first newsletter I wrote - it was emailed to members on 14th May 2004, and you can see it by clicking here.
There was no Peter's Tips column in those days, but that first newsletter was full of advice that remains true today. I hope you enjoy this trip down Memory Lane!
Thursday: thank you to all those members who have sent birthday wishes - I will respond to everyone personally, but it might me some time to get back to everyone! Thank you too for posting messages on Twitter and other forums - a lot of new members have been joining as a result of your generosity in sharing the good news.
I hope you're looking forward to our second decade as much as I am - thanks for everything you've done to help make LostCousins a special place, one where relatives can become friends.
© Copyright 2014 Peter Calver
You MAY link to this newsletter or email a link to your friends and relatives without asking for permission in advance - I have included bookmarks so you can link to a specific article: right-click on the relevant entry in the table of contents at the beginning of this newsletter to copy the link. But why not invite them to join?