Newsletter - 22 August 2013
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The LostCousins newsletter is
usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 8
August 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.
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!
It's wet and rainy outside - what better time to catch up on your research? But every cloud has a silver lining, and until Tuesday 27th August the LostCousins website will be totally free, which means you'll be able to contact the new cousins you find - whether you're a subscriber or not.
Here's how to take advantage of this opportunity in five easy steps:
(1) Check your My Cousins page - is there anyone waiting in the New Contacts section? If so, click Reply or Make Contact (you don't have to write an email - it's all done for you).
(2) Go to your My Ancestors page and click the Search button. Whilst you may not have added any new entries since you last clicked the button, your cousins might well have done.
(3) Make sure that you've entered ancestors from every line - if you've been a member for some time it's quite likely you've made some new discoveries since you last added any entries. Focus on the 1881 Census - that's the one that your cousins are most likely to have used.
(4) Now check your My Summary page - how does the number of blood relatives compare with the number direct ancestors? If the ratio is less than 10 to 1 it suggests that you've focused more on your direct ancestors than on the members of their extended families.
(5) Watch your Match Potential increase as you enter more relatives; notice that it goes up much more quickly when you enter relatives from 1881. Remember to click the Search button from time to time to check for new matches.
Once you've made contact with a relative through LostCousins you can continue to correspond with them through the site, even after the offer has ended (or your subscription has expired). This is immensely useful because Ancestry and some other sites force you to take out a subscription when you want to contact another member, even someone you've corresponded with in the past.
Even if you meet your cousins through another site, link to them through LostCousins as well. So often we lose touch with the cousins we've found - don't let that happen to you!
Tip: when you invite a cousin to join using the Refer a Relative option on your My Referrals page you'll be linked to them automatically when they register using the unique referral code. You don't need to know their email address - just leave the email box blank (use the messaging system at Ancestry, Genes Reunited, or wherever to send them the referral code).
Family Tree Analyzer works wonders
When you read my last newsletter did you download the Family Tree Analyzer program to check how many boys and girls were born to fathers over 55 in your tree? The latest version is even easier to download and install - just click here, press the Download button, and run the installer file that you've downloaded - it will install the program automatically.
Of course, this remarkable free program wasn't written just to tell you about the children born to older fathers - this is only one of the many things you can do with it.
For example, if you click on the Census tab the program will list all the people in your tree who were alive at the time of a particular census - simply double-click one of them to carry out an instant census search at Ancestry, findmypast, or FamilySearch (choose the census provider from the dropdown menu at the top of the list).
Since the 1881 Census transcription is free at all of those sites (though you may need to log-in at Ancestry or findmypast), it's a quick and easy way to find more records to add to your My Ancestors page!
Note: I'm still collecting data on the births of children to older men, so please send me the results from your tree whether they show more boys, more girls, or a perfect split. It's important that you don't withhold results simply because they don't seem interesting, or don't support the research that I recently reported - otherwise my sample will be biased.
Every year there are thousands of people who go missing in the UK, but a story on the BBC website caught my eye. It focused on the late 19th century disappearance of an inventor by the name of William Cantelo, who claimed to have invented the machine gun. I wonder if there are any clues in census or other records that wouldn't have been accessible at the time?
It's all too easy to focus in on a specific problem and forget how important it is to look around the problem, gathering evidence that can provide clues and inferences. For example, you may recall that last year I set a challenge, which was to find a birth registration - but to solve the problem you had to research around it.
In that case the answer was to look for the birth registrations of the brothers and sisters. If you'd done so you would have discovered that none of them had been registered - or rather that none of them had been registered under the surname you would have expected, that of the father.
When our thinking is blinkered we unerringly head in the same direction, even if it means bashing our head against a 'brick wall' (which it often does). But when we think laterally we have a chance to make discoveries that we'd otherwise have missed, not because we weren't trying hard enough, but because we were trying too hard.
In the next article you'll see an example of how widening our outlook can lead to new and unexpected discoveries that shed new light on the problem in hand.
The latest edition of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine (September 2013) features a letter from a reader who wrote in about the missing marriage of her great grandparents, Charles Millington and Mary Ann (or Jane) Cook.
In the Banns register of Walworth All Saints, Southwark it is recorded that the banns were called on 13th, 20th, and 27th October 1895 (you can see these entries in the London Metropolitan Archives collection at Ancestry). However, there is no corresponding entry in the marriage register, even though in the 1911 Census it is stated that they had been married for 15 years.
Rebecca Probert, author of the excellent Marriage Law for Genealogists, was the expert called upon by the magazine to shed light on this mystery. She highlighted three possibilities: one is that the marriage never took place, the second is that the marriage took place, but the record was lost, and final possibility - the one that she appears to consider most likely - is that the marriage was never recorded.
Note: you can hear Professor Probert talk about marriage and genealogy at the Society of Genealogists on Saturday 21st September - for more information about this and other events at the SoG click here.
One of the many interesting facts in Professor Probert's book is that a marriage can still be valid, even if it is not registered - and in this case all the evidence suggests that the marriage did take place. Or does it?
When searching for a missing marriage I always make sure that I can find the birth registrations of the children - because if the birth of the eldest child isn't indexed under the father's surname, this is a strong indication that the couple weren't married at that time. The eldest child, Mary Ann, is shown as 4 years old in 1901 and 14 years old in 1911, which suggests that she was born between April 1896 and March 1897.
However, there is no birth registration for a Mary or Mary Ann Millington in the London area during this period, which is a bit worrying, since the registration of births had been compulsory for 20 years. Even more worryingly, there is a Mary Ann Cook whose birth was registered in Lambeth in the 2nd quarter of 1896, although she could have been the child of James & Mary Ann Cook who was baptised in Brixton on 17th April.
It certainly seems a bit too much of a coincidence that both the marriage and the birth registration are missing - what do you think?
Note: I couldn't find Mary's baptism either, nor was she included in the London School Admissions Registers at Ancestry, which I've found can be an incredible useful source of information, even though the coverage is somewhat patchy.
As I was writing this newsletter, BrightSolid, - the parent company of findmypast - announced a major project to involving a consortium of archives in England & Wales which will make millions (quite possibly tens of millions - but that's my estimate, not theirs) of school records available online at findmypast.co.uk
The registers being digitised are for the period from 1870-1914 and cover every region of England & Wales, but unfortunately there is no indication of when the records might start to become available online.
The exclusive discount code that can save you 10% on any new findmypast.co.uk subscription expires at the end of August. See the last issue for full details of the offer, and to find out how you can get both a free LostCousins subscription and an invitation to join the LostCousins forum ahead of the official launch (that's something that money can't buy).
The Edinburgh-based company Beneficiaries Ltd (now World Wide Genealogy Ltd) has been ordered to pay £213,096.98 to the heirs of Charlotte Cook, who died in a rest home aged 93 years without leaving a will. The judge at Reading Crown Court described the ten offences as "calculated, cynical and well planned frauds."
You can read more about that case here, on the website of West Berkshire Council - who brought the case after a complaint to their Trading Standards department. Could you spot a fraudulent heir hunter? Take a look at the home pages of these websites - one of them is completely fraudulent:
There's another way to defraud beneficiaries - cut them out of the equation altogether. In 2009 two men were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to forge in a case that involved over £2m and 14 deceased estates. Instead of contacting potential beneficiaries they forged signatures and invented witnesses in an attempt to acquire properties owned by the people who had died. This case is described here on the Metropolitan Police website.
After 7 years Ancestry have at last corrected the 72,888 entries in the 1881 Census where the parish was incorrectly spelled as Harmmersmith rather than Hammersmith. This particular error featured several times in this newsletter, partly because of its longevity, partly because I was the one who first reported it, but mainly because of the delicious irony that Ancestry's offices are based in Hammersmith.
The bad news is that there are some strange transcription errors in Ancestry's 1911 Census (which is free to access until 14th October - click here to find out more). Raymond discovered that there are thousands of people who are wrongly shown as having been born in Esh, a name that was new to me - but turns out to be a parish a few miles from Durham.
If you search Ancestry's 1911 England census for people who were born in Esh you'll get 8363 results, but only a quarter are for people who were born in Esh, Durham - the others are for people who were born in non-existent parishes such as Esh in Cheshire, Esh in Fife, and Esh in Pembrokeshire. It's not as if the transcribers have misread the name of the town or parish - there's no way you could misread "Birkenhead" or "Aberdour" as "Esh".
I should point out that you'll only find these incorrect results if you use Ancestry's Old Search - which makes me wonder whether the real reason Ancestry want to do away with the Old Search is to prevent us spotting their errors? Sure, if you use the New Search you won't find the 6000 incorrect entries, but that doesn't mean they don't exist - the mistakes are still there, it's just that the New Search isn't smart enough to find them!
Have you found similar issues with Ancestry's 1911 Census? I'm not talking about the occasional mistranscription (because these are a fact of life) but the sort of errors that indicate a systematic failure of some kind. Get in touch if you've
Note: you may find, as I did, that if you search the 1911 Census at Ancestry you're switched to the New Search automatically. If this happens to you, go back to the Ancestry home page and choose Search All Records from the dropdown menu, then click the 'Go To Old Search' link in the top right-hand corner.
As I watched actress Lesley Sharp going into the storeroom at the Essex Record Office in Who Do You Think You Are? I couldn't help thinking how unlikely it was that I'd ever have that opportunity.
Wrong! Just days later I discovered that Essex Record Office will be celebrating 75 years of preserving the county's past by holding an Open Day on 14th September - which will include behind the scenes tours.
For more details see the ERO blog.
Essex Record Office is just one of over 60 members of the County Archives Record Network. The participating archives provide free Reader's tickets to researchers who bring appropriate proof of identity, and once issued the CARN ticket is valid at any of the archives in the network. Follow the link above for a list of participating archives and more details of the scheme.
Last issue I reported that images of the census schedules had gone online at Ancestry, although they haven't been transcribed and indexed yet. More details have now become available thanks to a conversation between the president of the Ontario Genealogical Society and a senior representative of Library & Archives Canada - you can read it here.
Tip: the census images can be viewed free at Ancestry.ca but not at other Ancestry sites around the world.
71,000 pages from 200 Canadian directories and books of military, religious, occupational, and other records have gone online at findmypast.co.uk as part of the World Collection. You'll find more details here.
Tony contacted me recently to tell me about an entry he'd found on the 1851 Census where the relationship of two members of the household to the head was shown as 'love child', a remarkably frank disclosure (HO107/1731/231/8) for those days, albeit a kinder description than you might see in a baptism register.
An even more unusual entry was spotted by the dogged researchers at findmypast - just take a look at this!
Mark Twain didn't quite get to read his own obituary, despite saying "the report of my death was an exaggeration" because in fact the New York Herald article said that he was gravely ill, and not that he had died. But Dave Swarbrick, the folk violinist who used to belong to Fairport Convention (and who is still alive and well) did get to read the obituary erroneously published by the Daily Telegraph in 1999 (you can read what they wrote here).
However, Harry Weathersby Stamps who died in March this year went one better - he wrote his own obituary, leaving only a blank for the date to be inserted! If you're tempted to do the same, why not take a look at what Harry wrote? He certainly sounds like quite a character!
By the way, everyone knows that Spike Milligan, the comedian, wrote the inscription for his gravestone "I told you I was ill" - but I'd quite forgotten that the Chichester diocese didn't allow it to be used until it was translated into Gaelic (see this BBC article from 2004).
The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich has a special area on its website for memorials to seafarers and other victims of maritime disasters - there are over 5000 memorials recorded. You can browse the memorials by category, or search on a variety of fields including surname - although unfortunately the search isn't working at the moment (I have reported it to their press office).
Amongst the many memorials listed is a plaque commemorating Captain George William Manby, who invented the Manby Mortar, which allowed a line to be propelled to a ship in distress. It was suggested after his death that as many as 1000 people had been saved by the device - at findmypast you can see this assertion in the report of a meeting of the National Life Boat Institution published in the London Daily News on 8th December 1854.
Captain Manby lived at Woodhall in Hilgay, Norfolk and it is in All Saints Church that the memorial can be found. Underneath the inscription is written "The public should have paid this tribute" - an interesting comment, don't you think?
The first is full of interesting facts and figures - the origin of the word pedigree, the 35,000 enumerators recruited for the 1841 Census, the way in which early genealogists distorted the truth to suit the client; the latter is a real life Downton Abbey based on the below-stairs reminiscences of Mollie Moran, who became a skivvy at the age of 14, and published her book at the age of 96.
Mollie's employer had two big houses: his London home was in Cadogan Square, near Knightsbridge, but his country seat was at Woodhall, the estate that was once owned by Captain Manby (see the previous article). There were 14 servants looking after 2 people - those were the days!
The last book I finished had nothing to do with genealogy - it was The Wizard: the Life of Stanley Matthews, by Jon Henderson. Stanley Matthews was a hero of mine from the moment I read his autobiography, The Stanley Matthews Story, at the age of 9 or 10.
Many years later I had the privilege of spending a few hours with Sir Stanley, as he was by then, and discovering that as well as a wonderful footballer he was a great storyteller - and one of the nicest people I've ever met. Take a look at this short film at the British Pathé website which focuses on some of the highlights of Matthews' long career - or listen to this episode from the Football Legends series, broadcast in 1995.
Have you noticed that as prices of goods in the shops get ever higher the discounts available to canny shoppers are also increasing? However discounts aren't always what they seem - Tesco were fined £300,000 this week for misleading customers in connection with an offer of supposedly half-price strawberries.
It serves them right! I've written in the past about the way they sometimes increase prices only to discount them again - and there are plenty of products that I'll only buy when they are on special offer.
Take wine, for example - there's a perfectly drinkable brand of Chilean wines that they sell under the Isla Negra label. In fact, I used to buy them myself a few years ago when they were on offer at £2.99, reduced from £3.99. But nowadays the standard price isn't £3.99, £4.99 or even £6.99 - they're £9.99 a bottle on the Tesco Wine website.
However, when there's a special offer you might find the same bottles selling for £4.99, which is a much more realistic price for this pleasant but unexceptional wine. I notice that Asda are currently selling the Isla Negra Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot blend (which isn't available from Tesco) for £4, reduced from £6.
Reprehensible as the marketing tactics of big companies might be, they don't quite match some of the scams you'll come across on the Internet. For example, type melissa johnson working from home into Google and you'll find out how you can make up to $8000 a month. And doesn't she look like someone you can trust, especially holding her cute little baby?
But wait a minute, is that really a picture of "Melissa Johnson from London"? Because she looks remarkably similar to "Melissa Johnson from Dublin", "Melissa Johnson from Sydney", and even "Melissa Johnson from Paraparaumu". They're all supposedly making a fortune working from home.....
At least if we feel we've been conned by a major retailer we've got a chance of recovering our money, but I doubt that anyone who got fooled by Melissa Johnson ever got a penny back.
I should point out at this stage that the lady in the photograph is probably perfectly innocent - after all, what con artist would be so stupid as to post their own photo on the Internet? Similarly, I imagine that the people in the photos on the website of the scam heir hunter (see article above) are just models - they're almost certainly library photos that anyone can license. But don't they look convincing!
This where any late updates will be posted, so it's worth checking back after a few days.
I hope you've found this newsletter interesting - but most of all I hope you manage to find some new cousins this weekend!
© Copyright 2013 Peter Calver
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