Newsletter - 30th July 2013



Barnardo's to scrap priceless photo archive?

Free access to England & Wales 1911 census

Last chance to save at Genes Reunited ENDS THURSDAY

Irish certificates: clarification

Australia: National Family History Month

Royal Australian Air Force casualty database

Crew Lists at The Genealogist

Can an error be a good thing?

Name variants at findmypast - pitfalls and pluses

God helps those who help themselves

Your Match Potential has gone up!

Reading between the lines

Do you have an Ancestry tree?

Old dads have more daughters

2012/13 death rates higher than expected

Church closures coming to an end

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 17 July 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 donít 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!



Barnardo's to scrap priceless photo archive?

The charity founded by Thomas Barnardo cared for 350,000 children between the 1870s and 1980s, and photographic records were kept of many of the children - indeed some were used to help raise funds.


According to a recent blog posting Barnardo's are in the process of digitising their photographic archive, and may destroy the originals if no organisation can be found to take over their care. I initially found this hard to believe, since at the time Barnardo's were still asking former residents of their homes to send in photographs (you can see the archived page from 19th July here), but I emailed the Archive Manager at Barnardo's to check - and to offer a home for the photos should it be necessary.


Here's her reply:


"I have made arrangements for the text regarding the donation of images to be removed from our site, thank you for pointing this out.


"Our photographic archive is unique and to allow researchers and academics continued access, we have taken the decision to digitise the material.Hopefully this will enable a greater number of people who are not physically able to visit the opportunity to study these historic images.


"A decision on the final destination of the archives once digitisation is complete has not yet been made and we will take into consideration any offers we receive to preserve these historic images."


I know that many LostCousins members have ancestors who grew up in the care of Dr Barnardo's. At the present time it costs a minimum of £20 to get a copy of a photograph (there's a full PDF price list here), so digitisation could mean that they are much more affordable as well as more accessible, if the images are placed online. But surely the destruction of the priceless originals is a price too high?


The best site I've found for information about Barnardo's is the The Goldonian, a site set up by former pupils of the William Baker Memorial Technical School, which was based in a country house near Hertford named 'Goldings' bought by Barnardo's in 1921. If you click on the 'Past homes' link in the website menu you'll find information and photographs relating to most of Barnardo's homes.


Photo of Woodford Bridge, Dr Barnardo's, Gwynne House 1921, ref. 70156One interesting fact I discovered from the site is that the Buxton family, who were involved in both Barclays Bank and Truman, Hanbury & Buxton (the brewers) were generous supporters of Barnardo's - though sadly there's unlikely to be any connection whatsoever with my impoverished Buxton ancestor (who wasn't really a Buxton anyway - her mother was widowed long before she was born).


Barnardo's Village Home for Girlswas in Barkingside, where the modern Barnardo's has its head office. In 1910, five years after Barnardo's death, the charity bought Gwynne House and the surrounding estate in nearby Woodford Bridge, and this was turned the Boys' Garden City (it accommodated girls as well after World War 2).


In 1977 the home closed and the land was turned into a housing development, the Gwynne Park Estate - and on his retirement in the early 80s my late father moved into a brand-new house in Gwynne Park Avenue where he was to live happily for the best part of 30 years.


Free access to England & Wales 1911 census

Until 14th October you can search the England & Wales 1911 census free at; click here to find out more.


It's a great opportunity to enter your relatives from 1911 on your My Ancestors page (although the 1881 census should have priority, because that's the census your 'lost cousins' are most likely to have used).


Tip: Remember that whilst the Schedule number is shown on the form the Piece number isn't, so you'll need to take that from the transcription. Always read the advice on the Add an Ancestor form - it varies according to the census.


Last chance to save at Genes Reunited ENDS THURSDAY

This is your last chance to benefit from the exclusive offer I've arranged with Genes Reunited - a 12 month Standard subscription to their UK site for the same price as 6 month subscription when you use the offer code LCGENES


Irish certificates: clarification

In the last issue I revealed that it's now possible to ask for Irish certificates to be sent by email - but what I didn't realise is that the GRO in Roscommon is currently unable to accept orders by email. This will change when their new website is up and running, but for now you can only place orders by post or by fax.


Australia: National Family History Month

August is National Family History Month in Australia - find out about it here.


Royal Australian Air Force casualty database

Helen wrote to me about this website, which is one I hadn't come across before. I'd estimate that there are upwards of 10,000 names on the site.


Note: in future you're less likely to read about specialised resources like this in the newsletter because the new LostCousins forum will be a much better medium to communicate information that - whilst important to a few - won't be of direct interest to the vast majority of newsletter readers.


Crew Lists at The Genealogist

Most of the 439,000 records in their database of Royal Navy and Merchant Seaman from 1851-1911 come from the censuses, but full marks to The Genealogist for providing a new way to search the records. For example, at findmypast you can limit your census search to vessels, but you can't search by the name of the vessel.


Tip: to search by vessel name at The Genealogist don't use the Master Search, choose Ship Crew Lists from the Occupational Records dropdown menu, then select the Advanced Search.


However, the schedules issued to Royal Navy ships in 1851 have not survived, and most of the schedules in respect of merchant vessels have also been lost or destroyed (for more information see
Making Sense of the Census
by Edward Higgs). Accordingly, for that year The Genealogist has used data held by the National Archives in BT98.


Note: it would appear that The Genealogist has licensed the transcriptions from Family History Indexes, which for many years has offered CD ROMs based on BT98 - there is a large range of Scottish and Irish records, but the only English records are for Cornish ports (however, it's important to bear in mind that seafarers would often be found a long way from home).


Can an error be a good thing?

None of us would like to think that there are any errors in our family trees, but when it comes to online records there are all sorts of mistakes to contend with, ranging from transcription errors to misrepresentations - it's a veritable minefield.


But errors can sometimes work in our favour, provided we're alert. When I was writing the previous article I noticed that the example that The Genealogist gives from the 1891 Census is a Captain Noel Stephen Digby, on HMS Britannia - however, when I looked him up in the 1891 Census at findmypast he was on dry land (at 4-5 St James Place in Westminster, a stone's throw from where I found myself working nearly 40 years ago). Ancestry has him in both places at the same time.


In fact findmypast have got it right - he was in London on Census Night. If you look closely at the handwritten schedule for HMS Britannia you'll see that across the top someone has written "Not to be abstracted" and (in a different hand) "Not on board".


If you investigate even further you'll discover that HMS Britannia was the training ship at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth - where Prince Charles, his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all cadets. Digby captained Britannia from 1889 to 1892, when he seems to have retired (although that didn't prevent him being promoted to Rear-Admiral in 1895). You'll find a photograph of Digby here.


Anyway, the point I'm making is that an error can sometimes lead us to discoveries that we wouldn't otherwise have made. Another verdant source of errors in the 1911 Census - the new questions relating to children caused all sorts of confusion.


For example, even though those columns were only supposed to be completed in respect of married women, and should only have included children born within the present marriage, my great-grandfather filled them in against his own name, and gave the aggregate figures for BOTH of his marriages (which confirmed my suspicions that his first wife - my great-grandmother - gave birth to several children who had died in infancy, and never appeared on any census).


Another common error on censuses occurs where the head of the household is a grandparent, and both children and grandchildren are living in the same household. Quite often you'll find that a grandchild is described as a son or daughter in the Relationship column, and when this happens it's usually because the child is listed immediately after their parent (this can be a particularly helpful clue when the child is illegitimate).


Never take information at face value - always consider whether there might be another way of interpreting it. And when you conclude that a mistake has been made, try to list all the possible reasons why it might have been made - the first reason you think of may not be the right one!


Name variants at findmypast - pitfalls and pluses

One of the great features at findmypast is the way that forename variants work when you're searching the GRO birth, marriage, and deaths indexes. There were so many changes in the way that names were indexed in both the 19th and 20th centuries that even now I couldn't tell you precisely what changes occurred and when.


For much of the 20th century only one forename was shown in full, whereas from 1837 to about 1873 all forenames were shown in full. From 1874 onwards two forenames were shown, and this continued into the early 20th century. For example, the 1894 entry EDWARD, Albert Christian G A P D (Prince) relates to the future Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor.


When you search the GRO indexes at findmypast with name variants ticked you don't need to know what the protocol was at a particular time, and this makes it especially easy when the protocol changes during the period you're searching. For example, a search for Albert Christian EDWARD not only picks up the royal birth above but also the 1916 birth of an Albert C EDWARD in Bedwellty, Monmouthshire - and you also get both results when you search for Albert C EDWARD, which is very handy.


Tip: the findmypast search only takes into account the first two forenames, or the first forename and one initial - other forenames are disregarded.


By contrast, searching at Ancestry for Albert Christian EDWARD would find only the first entry, whilst searching for Albert C EDWARD would find only the second entry (and you'd have to search two different datasets, because post-1915 records are separate).


Having created such a great system for searching the GRO indexes, you'd think that findmypast might have done something similar for census searching - but that doesn't seem to be the case. For example, if you search the 1891 Census for someone with the forenames 'Noel Stephen' it won't find Captain Digby because he's recorded on the census as Noel Stephen T Digby - and it won't find him if you search for 'Noel Stephen T' because all forenames other than the first are lumped together as 'Other names', yet the search only takes into account the first and second name.


Tip: if you do wish to search the census at findmypast using a middle name or initial try adding a wildcard character: searching for either 'Noel S*' or 'Noel Stephen*' will find the elusive Captain Digby. When you search using wildcards you must untick the 'Include variants' box.


God helps those who help themselves

This well-known quotation doesn't come from the Bible, as many people believe. According to Wikipedia it originated in ancient Greece, and is used in tragedies from the 5th century BC written by Sophocles and Euripides.


But whatever its origins, it is a motto that certainly applies to family history - the more effort you put into your research, the better the results!


This means taking advantage of all the resources available to you - not just the records at sites like Ancestry, findmypast, and FamilySearch but also the most valuable resources of all, your cousins! You wouldn't believe how many of the people who write to me for help haven't even bothered to complete their My Ancestors page - it makes me wonder why they joined LostCousins at all.


"I've searched everywhere, I've asked all my cousins - nobody has the answer" is a common refrain, yet I rarely hear it from members who understand the benefits of finding 'lost cousins', because they know that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cousins out there who they've yet to discover. Of course, they're not all as keen on family history as you are, but the ones you meet through LostCousins probably will be (and maybe some of those you meet through Ancestry and Genes Reunited too).


Remember that if you havenít completed your My Ancestors page you're not just letting yourself down, you're also letting your cousins down. Isn't it worth an hour of your time to make one of your cousins happy?


Your Match Potential has gone up!

Are you keeping an eye on your Match Potential (you'll find it on your My Summary page)? It's an excellent guide to your chances of finding 'lost cousins', and it goes up every time you add new entries to your My Ancestors page (especially when they're from the 1881 Census).


However, that's the not the only time it goes up - it also increases as a result of other members entering their own relatives! That's because some of those other members are your cousins, and the most relatives they enter the closer you are to making the connection.


Tip: whilst you might only find one or two 'lost cousins' when you first complete your My Ancestors page, it's something that only needs to be done once - you'll continue finding cousins even if you don't make another entry!


Reading between the lines

I received an email recently from a member who was complaining about a website she'd used. It wasn't a website I'd recommended in my newsletter, so she wasn't blaming me for what had gone wrong - she simply felt that others should be warned.


Unfortunately it doesn't work like that. If I write something uncomplimentary about a website there's a possibility that I'll be sued for libel, so I have to make sure that what I write is correct. This isn't a problem when it's a free site, or one to which I already have a subscription - but the last thing I want to do is give money to a website that doesn't deserve my custom.


So if you're wondering whether to hand over money (or data) to a website that you haven't read about in my newsletter, bear in mind that there could be a reason why you haven't read about it!


Tip: to check whether a website has been mentioned in my newsletter enter " website" into Google (where 'website' is the name of the site you're thinking of using).


Do you have an Ancestry tree?

As I explained in my last newsletter, if your main motivation in uploading your family tree to Ancestry is to make contact with other Ancestry users who are cousins of yours, there's no need to make your tree public, with all the risks that involves. Indeed, you might actually make more contacts by having a private tree!


However, as Paul reminded me, when you designate your tree as private there's an additional setting that comes into play - it determines whether or not the deceased relatives in your tree appear in search results (living relatives should never show up). The information shown will be the person's name and their place and year of birth, together with your user name - but not your actual name or your email address.


In my opinion there's relatively little risk in allowing other Ancestry users to see this limited information. In theory they could reconstruct your entire tree by searching for every individual and noting that your user name appears in each case - but in practice this is extremely unlikely to happen.


By contrast, when you have a public tree there's a strong possibility that other Ancestry users will copy the information without a please or thank you - and the chances are that the people who do this won't be nearly as careful as you have been in your research. Do you really want your meticulous research to be bolted onto a tree that is riddled with inconsistencies, quite possibly by someone whose only connection to you is based on little more than wishful thinking?


Old dads have more daughters

Research carried out in the US suggests that after the age of 55 men are more likely to father daughters than sons, so I decided to take a look at my own family tree to see whether there was any evidence of this.


It wasn't easy to find examples - clearly the father would need to be significantly older than the mother - but the three children I could find born to fathers of 55 or over were all girls. However, that could simply be down to chance - and the fact that male children are more likely to die in infancy (so might not show up at all).


Perhaps one of the software experts who belongs to LostCousins can come up with an app to analyse Gedcom files automatically? Between us LostCousins members have an enormous resource of data, but analysing it manually would not only be tedious but potentially subject to errors. Drop me an email if you're interested in taking on this programming challenge!


2012/13 death rates higher than expected

I hope it's a statistical anomaly, but according to a BBC article published a few days ago the number of people in the UK who died in the 2012/13 financial year was 5% higher than expected (the increase was greatest amongst the over 80s).


The winter was pretty awful, which can't have helped, but it's nevertheless a little worrying to come across statistics like these - particularly since it was only in the last newsletter that I wrote about the lower than expected numbers of 90 year-olds recorded in the 2011 Census.


Church closures coming to an end

According to a recent article in The Economist, since 1980 the Church of England has closed 1074 churches, about 7% of the total. However, it seems that church closures may be a thing of the past as the Church of England seeks to make churches part of the community by giving them other purposes - for example, the popular Michaelhouse Cafť in Cambridge (rated 4.5 out of 5 at TripAdvisor) is only open from Monday to Saturday because on Sunday it reverts to its traditional role as St Michael's Church.


Recently the new(-ish) Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, announced his intention to drive payday loan companies like Wonga out of business by using the resources (in particular the premises and congregations) of the Church of England to support credit unions or other community-orientated lenders. My local credit union typically charges interest rates of just under 20%, which seems extortionate - but only until you compare it with the 5700% rates that some payday lenders pocket.


Note: Zopa, the peer to peer lender that I wrote about a year ago is going from strength to strength (a total of £344 million has now been lent). However, credit unions fill a different gap in the market - they're aimed at people with poorer credit ratings who might otherwise be tempted by payday lenders.


Peter's Tips

I was contacted recently by a LostCousins member who mentioned in passing that her printer had broken down - so I took some time to talk her through how I choose a printer. I'm sure she won't mind if I pass the same advice on to you.


I always buy printers for which there are cheap compatible cartridges available - this usually means not buying the latest model, and so far it has meant buying Epson every time. I currently pay about £4 for a complete set of cartridges, whereas Epson would charge £32 (which is not much less than I paid for the multi-function printer itself - even though it also does scanning and photocopies in black and white or colour).


If you want to produce top notch photos on your printer my solution probably won't be good enough for you. But if you want to save money check out UKDVDR as they're the people I buy my compatible cartridges from (and blank CD ROMs, DVDs, Blu Rays etc).


I also came up with this link to some cheap (about £50) Epson multifunction printers at Amazon.

Although they're newer models than the one I've got, over half of the reviewers have given them 5 stars, so they must be pretty good. A set of compatible cartridges is £7.99 from UKDVDR; when I buy a new printer the first thing I do is sell the unused cartridges that came with it on eBay - this often recoups a large part of the cost since there's always someone prepared to pay extra for originals.


That reminds me, there's a company which widely advertises "low cost" inkjet and toner cartridges but which you won't find me recommending in my newsletter. It's not just the fact that their prices aren't as low as they'd like you to think - it's also a reflection of the enormous difficulty I had getting myself off their mailing list.


Has anyone tried the free online courses at Coursera? I've only just come across this site, and I'd be interested in feedback from anyone with experience. There are several courses that looked interesting, but sadly there are no genealogy courses (yet).


If like me you find that you're often in areas where it's difficult to get a mobile data connection, you might be interested in the Huawei E5332 mobile WiFi modem that I've just bought for under £50 from one of the third party sellers at Amazon. It's unlocked, so it can work with any network, but most importantly it has a connection for an external antenna (which I got on eBay for £11.99 including delivery). In my case I found that it turned a weak signal into a strong one, which meant I was able to use the Internet and send emails which I was away from home.


I have used it with both my GiffGaff SIM and a Three SIM, but being unlocked it should work with SIMs from any provider, not only in the UK but also in Europe.


Finally, Family Tree DNA have cut the price of their Family Finder test to just $99 - that's about half the price I paid last year! It's impossible to predict what a Family Finder test might reveal - it's like dipping your hand in a bran tub - but the more people who take the test, the more we're all going to discover, so I'm all for lower prices!



Stop Press

Special offer for Harry Potter fans - click here.


I'll be sending out more invitations to join the LostCousins forum shortly - if you're fortunate enough to receive one I look forward to seeing you there!


Description: Description: peter_signature


Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2013 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 the newsletter to copy the link.


Please DO NOT re-publish any part of this newsletter, other than the list of contents at the beginning, without permission - either on your own website, in an email, on paper, or in any other format. It is better for all concerned to provide a link as suggested above, not least because articles are often updated.