Newsletter - 16th September 2014



Half-price Genes Reunited subscriptions EXCLUSIVE


Understanding the 1841 census

Insight into the 1851 Census

WW1 PoW records: continued

The forgotten Belgians

Genealogy in the Sunshine - March 2015

Thank findmypast it's Friday

Letter to an ancestor

Can you read this? What about this?

Another browser tip

Do you have any dead certs?

Your cousins are dying to hear from you

Has Jack the Ripper really been identified using DNA?

British Newspaper Archive offer subscriptions for under £50

Scotland's leap of faith

Amazing English & Welsh maps at the National Library of Scotland

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 2nd September) 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!



Half-price Genes Reunited subscriptions EXCLUSIVE

From today until 6th October you can save 50% on 6 and 12 month Standard subscriptions to Genes Reunited when you click here and use the offer code LCFIFTY - bringing the price down from £15 to £7.50 for a 6 month subscription and £20 to £10 for a 12 month subscription. (You'll need to enter the offer code on the payment page.)


Genes Reunited should need no introduction - originally known as Genes Connected when it launched in early 2003, it was a spin-off from the well-known Friends Reunited site. There are two main ways to use Genes Reunited - you can search for specific relatives, or you can upload your tree as a Gedcom file (almost all family tree programs can export your tree in this format).


It's also possible to build a tree on Genes Reunited, though I generally wouldn't recommend relying on ANY online tree as your main repository of data because programs that run on your own computer are generally more powerful and flexible (Family Historian is the program I generally recommend when asked).


All Genes Reunited subscriptions now include 50 pay-per-view credits, which would normally cost £4.95 - and not only do you get 50 credits with your initial subscription, you get another 50 every time you renew. Genes Reunited offers access to most of the British records that you'd find at findmypast, including the British Newspaper Archive.


Tip: when you meet a cousin at Genes Reunited (or any other site, for that matter), why not invite them to join LostCousins? Connecting with your cousins through more than one site helps to ensure that you don't lose touch.



This weekend both and LostCousins will be free - so it's a great opportunity to research your collateral lines and add extra relatives to your My Ancestors page. The Ancestry offer runs from Saturday to Sunday and includes over 1 billion UK records, but the LostCousins offer starts on Friday and runs right through until Monday!


Note: the Ancestry link above will be updated between now and the weekend, so don't worry if you're taken to a page which shows last week's dates. If you want to share this news please share a link to this article/newsletter, not the links above.


Normally you'd need to be a LostCousins subscriber to contact someone new (ie someone in the New Contacts section of your My Ancestors page), but until midnight on Monday all members can contact people they've been matched with. You needn't wait until Friday to start entering your relatives from the 1881 Census - why not start now?


Tip: you don't need to get a reply before the offer ends - just make sure you click the Make Contact button while the offer is still running. Once you've made contact with someone at LostCousins you can continue to correspond with them whether or not you're a subscriber.


The last time an Ancestry weekend coincided with a LostCousins weekend the results were amazing for many of the members who took part - it's another great opportunity to link up with YOUR cousins!


Understanding the 1841 census

The most challenging of all the censuses is 1841: there's limited information about places of birth, the ages shown are mostly rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5, and the relationship between the members of a household isn't shown.


However, there's more information there than you might think - take a look at the instructions that were issued to enumerators, which you'll find here (thanks to Guy Etchells for making them available). I'd like to draw your attention to this sentence in particular:


At the end of the names of each family draw a line thus / as in the Example.At the end of the names of the inmates in each house draw a double line thus //


In later censuses it's clear where one household ends and the next begins because heads of household are identified; in 1841 we have to make deductions based on the more limited information available. Can we assume that whenever we see the / marker a new household begins?


Unfortunately that isn't always the case. Those of us who were fortunate to hear Donald Davis's presentation at Genealogy in the Sunshine in March will know that when Shropshire enumerator Edward Taylor, a farmer, filled in his own census form he inserted / after his youngest child, but before the female servant who was clearly part of the same household (you can see an extract from the form in Don's article in the September 2014 issue of Family Tree).


When Edward Taylor copied the information from the household schedule to the enumeration book he made at least one alteration - he changed his occupation from 'Farmer' to 'Relieving Officer' - but the / symbol remained, as you can see at Ancestry (the entry is at the bottom of the right-hand page).


In this case it's easy to deduce that Sarah Ball worked for Edward Taylor and his family, but it won't always be obvious where one household begins and the next ends. One complication is that in 1841 only one census form was issued per dwelling, even though there may have been several families sharing the accommodation; this may have made life easier for the enumerator, but it makes things more difficult for us because when people are living in the same household there's more likely to be a connection between them. For example, a male boarder who is around the same age as one of the daughters of the household might be her future husband.


However, if we treat everyone in the same dwelling as being part of the same household we could find ourselves on wild goose chase, searching for a connection when none exists. My rule of thumb is to assume that a / marker separates households unless there is convincing evidence to the contrary (as in the case of Sarah Ball).


Note: Donald Davis's lecture at the Society of Genealogists on Wednesday afternoon has now sold out, even though the SoG increased the number of places to meet the demand following my last newsletter. I suspect there are going to be quite a few LostCousins members amongst the audience (I'm hoping to be one of them).


Insight into the 1851 Census

With the exception of the 1911 Census the records that we see online are the pages from the enumerators' books, not the census returns completed by householders themselves (which, sadly for historians, were recycled).


Donald Davis's amazing discovery in the Shropshire Archives has made it possible to compareseveral household schedules for one part of Shropshire with the entries that the enumerators made in 1841, but I'm also grateful to him for alerting me to the fact that some of the household schedules for 1851 have survived - and are available online!


Although most people reading this won't have connections to Llandyrnog (in Denbighshire), viewing samples of the forms that the householders there completed may enable you to better understand the 99.99% of this census for which only the Enumerators' Summary books have survived. You can see the household schedule completed by William Williams, a Land Agent and Farmer of 312 acres who employed 10 labourers (most of whom were living on the farm), if you follow this link to Ancestry.


If you've got a findmypast subscription there's a bonus - in most cases you'll also be able to see the other side of the form, which shows the instructions to householders (click the right arrow to see the relevant instruction page). Note that in 1851 each head of household completed a separate form - the "GeneralInstruction" at the top reads:


This Schedule is to be filled up by the OCCUPIER or Person in charge of the house; if the house is let or sub-let to different persons of families, in separate stories or partments, the OCCUPIER or Person in charge of each such story or apartment must make a separate return for his portion of the house upon a separate Householder's Schedule.


This is very different from the situation in 1841; there were also no dividing marks to be added between the family and their servants or other occupants.


Instead of dividing marks enumerators wereexpected to draw lines between households and between houses, and as you can see from the Directions to Enumeratorsfor 1851, the lines between households within the same dwelling were to be shorter.


Understanding the information on the census requires understanding the census itself; to interpret what householders and enumerators wrote we need to know what they were asked to write.


WW1 PoW records: continued

It's not often that I struggle to use a website, but the records of WW1 prisoners-of-war at the Red Cross website have proven quite a challenge. Steven wrote in to explain why I couldn't find any Jones PoWs - apparently I should have searched for JOHNE!


I suppose if you say Jones with a French accent.......


Note: most PoW escape stories are from World War 2, so when John wrote in to tell me how much he had enjoyed The Escaping Club by Alfred John Evans, who served in the Royal Flying Corps, I thought I'd have a look for him in the ICRC records - without success I'm afraid. Can you spot him?


The forgotten Belgians

According to this BBC News article a quarter of a million Belgian refugees came to the UK during World War 1, but amazingly little trace remains of them today. By the end of 1919 over 90% of them had returned home - although a few married Britons and were assimilated into the population.


It is thought that Agatha Christie based Hercule Poirot, the most famous Belgian of all, on a refugee she encountered in Torquay, her home town - his first appearance in print was in 1920.


Note: in November I'll have the pleasure of listening to David Suchet, surely the finest Hercule of them all, at the Oldie Literary Lunch, where he'll be talking about Poirot and Me, in which he reminisces on nearly a quarter of a century playing the Belgian detective.


Genealogy in the Sunshine - March 2015

I can now confirm that next year's course will take place between March 14th-21st. Once again we'll be at the beautiful (and beautifully peaceful) Rocha Brava resort on the Algarve coast of Portugal where the weather in March is similar to England in June.


Whether you came this year or not, it's a great opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with other researchers, and to learn from expert speakers. Half-course, half-holiday, there will be plenty of time to take in the sights, the sun, the sea and the sand - and you're welcome to bring non-participating friends and relatives.


If you haven't already indicated your interest please get in touch right away as places are limited.


Thank findmypast it's Friday

On Friday findmypast added over 500,000 records to their site, including Dorset Marriages, London Poor Law records, Northamptonshire Hearth Tax records, and Archbishop of York Marriage Licenses - and they're promising to add new records every Friday from now on.


Tip: If you don't have a findmypast subscription and are wondering what you might be missing, you can currently get a 1 month Britain subscription for HALF PRICE - you'll find more details here.


Letter to an ancestor

Pauline was one of the first to send me her letter - addressed not to her own ancestor, but to her husband's. It's a reminder that there's so much that we'll never be able to discover from public records......


Dear Emma,


My name is Pauline and my husband is your Great Grandson and our daughter your Great Great Granddaughter.My mother-in-law was the only daughter of your son Harry.


There is so much that we would love to ask you if we could - where and when you were born, who were your parents, siblings, where and when were your 2 eldest daughters born, and did they have the same father as the rest of your family?


These are questions that, maybe, with perseverance, we may one day answer.


Things have changed so much in the relatively short space of time from when you married in 1885 to now. We can find out what living conditions were generally like in your part of London at that time, but can we really imagine what it was really like.We would love to know what having 2 children out of wedlock meant for you, it is almost the norm now - probably hard for you to imagine. We'd like to know what your day to day living is like, love to see your home, see what you look like - does our daughter resemble you in any way?


How did you meet our daughter's Great Great Grandfather?Was it love at first sight?Did he make you feel special? More importantly we would love to know what makes you happy, what makes you laugh, what makes you feel safe, what frightens you, what are your aspirations for you and your children?


These are things that we will never know about you, but fundamentally they are what really matter and make you who you are.


With love


Your Great granddaughter-in-law


Pauline xxx


If you're researching your spouse's ancestors remember to open a second LostCousins account - entering someone else's relatives on your My Ancestors page won't produce the best results and could confuse other members.


Can you read this? What about this?

From time to time I receive an email from a member complaining that the text in this newsletter is too small. Fortunately there's a very simple solution, one that could transform the computer usage of anyone whose eyesight isn't what it was.


All modern browsers have a Zoom function which allows you to increase (or decrease) the size of the text and graphics on the web page you're viewing - simply go to the browser menu and adjust the Zoom percentage, which defaults to 100%. Don't know where to find the browser menu? Whether you're using Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome (my preferred browser) you'll find the button that opens the menu at the top right of the browser window, just underneath the X that you'd normally click to close the window.


Note: there are also short-cuts, as there are for most browser functions, but I reckon that if you're using Zoom for the first time it's best to do it the long way round (it only takes 2 seconds anyway).


Another browser tip

Do you ever have difficulty finding a word on a long web page? Simply press Control-F, which will open up a small search box within your current browser window, then type the word or phrase you're looking for.


Note: you could use this to find someone on your My Ancestors page, but remember that you can also sort the entries page in three different ways, one of which is by surname - and this might prove more effective. In general I prefer to sort my entries by household, since this enables me to quickly check whether I've already entered a family.


Do you have any dead certs?

Most of us end up with numerous birth, marriage, and (especially) death certificates which relate to the wrong person - I've probably got 40 or 50 in my files, which is a lot of money down the drain.


There are a number of sites where you can share the information or pass certificates on to people who really are related, but they all have so few certificates in their collections that I've never felt it worth recommending them to LostCousins members - even 100,000 certificates is just a drop in the ocean when there are upwards of 250 million events. In the past FreeBMD has been the best site to use, because it's a site that many people use anyway, but now there's another option - LostCousins.


If you can identify the individual on the certificate on any of the censuses that we use at LostCousins, simply enter them on your My Ancestors page as you would a relative of yours, but using the 'Dead cert' category, and you'll be automatically linked with members who have entered the same person so that you can pass on the certificate - or the information that's on it.


I appreciate that you won't always be able to find the person on the censuses and in some cases they won't have been recorded on any of the censuses we use - because they were born too late or died too soon. But it's a way of sharing something that's probably of little use to you with others who will it find it more useful.


Note: there are several other categories that you can use when entering on your My Ancestors page people who are not related to you; most of them are described briefly on the FAQs page (you'll find additional information on the Help & Advice page).


Your cousins are dying to hear from you

I used this title for a January 2013 article in which I reminded members that none of us is going to be around for ever - so the longer we delay searching for our living relatives, the more likely it is that we'll be too late.


I was reminded of that article this week when I had the sad task of explaining to Chris that the cousin he'd been matched with, and was trying to contact, had passed away almost exactly a year ago. If only he'd spring into action when he saw that article last January!


Tip: remember that your living cousins are descended from your collateral lines - indeed, that's what makes them cousins. This means it's important to enter the members of your direct ancestors' extended families who were recorded on the 1881 Census - because they'll be the ancestors of your cousins. If you only enter your direct line you may never find them!


Has Jack the Ripper really been identified using DNA?

According to a recent 'exclusive' article in the Daily Mail the infamous serial murder Jack the Ripper has finally been identified - by his DNA!


Since my 1st cousin 4 times removed was the wife of Inspector Frederick Abberline, who was in charge of the Ripper enquiry, I have a personal interest in the case, although I must admit that I haven't rushed out to buy the new book that describes this latest discovery.


Identifying a murderer after 126 years is quite a challenge, particularly since even Inspector Abberline himself is proving difficult to identify - there were sketches of him in the newspapers of the time, but there are no photographs in which he can be identified beyond all reasonable doubt.


Mind you, it seems that the sketch artists of yesteryear produced pretty good likenesses - a recent blog posting compared an artist's sketch of the champion angler William Watson, found in the British Newspaper Archive, with photographs from the family archives. What do you think?



British Newspaper Archive offer subscriptions for under £50

With more than 8.6 million pages from over 1 million newspapers the British Newspaper Archive is one of the most useful resources when it comes to turning genealogy into family history (ie putting flesh on the bones). The bare facts in official records rarely give us much insight into what our ancestors were really like, but newspaper articles can help to fill in the gaps - whether our ancestors were in court, in coffin, or insolvent.


Until the end of September you can save 40% on a 12 month subscription when you click here and use the promotion code SEPTEMBER12 - make sure that you click Apply code to display the discounted price before continuing:



At the end of the 10 year project there will be 40 million pages in all from the British Library collection - it's a massive undertaking!


Scotland's leap of faith

If Scotland votes for independence later this week it shouldn't have any direct effect on LostCousins - we'll continue using the Scotland 1881 census to match researchers with Scottish ancestry.


Of course, it would be sad to see the break-up of Great Britain after more than 300 years, but when you consider how many other national borders have changed over that period I think we all, Scots included, have to consider ourselves fortunate that it has lasted so long.


Whatever decision the Scots take on Thursday, it will be a brave one - I wish them luck.


Amazing English & Welsh maps at the National Library of Scotland

For some time the National Library of Scotland has offered access to historic ordnance survey maps for England & Wales, but now they've gone further - you can overlap 19th century maps with modern maps or Google aerial photographs. It's a great opportunity to see where your ancestors lived in relation to modern maps - and, if you're lucky, to be able to visit their homes.


The maps are free to search and view - just follow this link. Please note that you can also view maps side by side if you prefer - though I find the overlays work best for me (and they lined up incredibly well in the examples I tried).


Peter's Tips

I'm afraid I got my blackberry story in the last issue all wrong - you'll find the correct story on this blog. As soon as I read it I realised that I had got it wrong. Memory failure again! I guess that as I get older it's going to get worse....


I woke up this morning with a vehicle registration number in my mind - and for no apparent reason. It was the registration number of the Lambretta Li150 scooter I owned in the late 60s and early 70s (it would be worth a fortune if I still had it). Of course, if I'd actually tried to think of the number I'd never have succeeded - isn't it amazing how our memory plays tricks? All the more reason to write things down!


Bad news in the post this morning: Nationwide are cutting the interest rate on my Flexclusive Saver 5 account from 2% to just 1.2%, which they tell me is still competitive - and to tell the truth it is, when you compare it against conventional savings accounts. But if I can only earn that much on my savings we may as well pay down the mortgage (which is where the savings are going to end up eventually, after all).


Whilst I've been putting longer-term savings into Zopa, where I'm earning 5.2% on 4 and 5-year loans (you can still get a £50 bonus if you click here and invest £2000 or more before the end of the month), I do need instant access to some of my savings, and reasonably swift access to some of the rest.


It's therefore fortuitous that a couple of weeks ago LostCousins member Eddie wrote to recommend another peer-to-peer lending site, one that offers reasonable interest rates for one month and one year investments, and I've already made my first investment. RateSetter is currently offering over 2% for monthly access and over 3% for one-year bonds, and so that's where a chunk of my Nationwide money is going to be headed. I probably won't wait till the end of the month, either.


If you're interested, Ratesetter are offering a £25 bonus for new lenders who invest £1000 or more - and if you click this link before you register with them I'll also get a £25 bonus (thank you in advance).


Writing this newsletter has been a real struggle - not because I was short of things to write about, but because I'm half-way through reading The Lost Ancestor and I really can't wait to find out what happens. I've managed to piece together some of the clues - at least, I think I have - but there are still some big questions that I can't answer without Morton Farrier's assistance. Perhaps he should be writing this newsletter rather than me?


Going back to wild fruit, I gathered sufficient wild plums - I should really call them bullaces - to make 9 jars of jam last week, and I'm expecting to make a similar quantity this week. This is far more than my wife and I can (or should) eat, so if anyone coming to the SoG on Wednesday would like a jar, let me know and I'll do my best to remember to bring it with me (just don't expect a fancy jam jar with a piece of gingham cloth over the top - you'll get a recycled jar with a screw-top and handwritten label).


Stop Press

This is where I'll post any last minute additions.


Thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter - I hope you find it useful.


Description: Description: peter_signature


Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2014 Peter Calver


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