Newsletter - 16 April 2011


Totally free access for Easter

Scotland 1911 launches

New free site connects British records

Are there any black sheep in your family?

The real Eliza Doolittle - a LostCousins exclusive

Changing your name by Deed Poll

Interesting radio and TV programmes

Are you related to the future Queen?

Forgotten Voices

Local history recorders

County name indexes

Over 1 million Cambridgeshire records online

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


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 2 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 don’t 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).


Totally free access for Easter

From now until Monday 2nd May it will be completely free to link with relatives you find through LostCousins! It's usual to have a free period at Easter, but with a Royal Wedding the following weekend I've decided to make this year extra special (even though my invitation to the wedding seems to have got lost in the post). Oh, and by the way, it's the 7th birthday of LostCousins on Sunday 1st May, so that's another reason to celebrate.


To take full advantage of this opportunity enter all the blood relatives you can find on the 1881 Census - no matter how distantly-related they may seem. Whilst it's important to enter your direct ancestors and their households (assuming they were recorded on the census), in practice it's the brothers, sisters, and cousins who had families of their own in 1881 who are most likely to link you to your living relatives - so make sure you enter them.


As a rule of thumb if you have 1000 relatives on your family tree, there should be between 150-200 entries from the 1881 Census on your My Ancestors page.


Of course, it's also a great time to invite the relatives you already know to join - remember that even 1st cousins only share half of your ancestors, so they can't rely on you to make all the connections. Do them a favour, and introduce them to LostCousins!


Scotland 1911 launches

Earlier this month Scotlandspeople launched the long-awaited 1911 Census of Scotland, and because there are many thousands of LostCousins members who have Scottish ancestors I decided to take a close look (even though I don't have any Scottish connections myself).


The first thing I discovered is that precisely what you see on your screen depends on the options you've chosen on your My Details page at the Scotlandspeople site:



If you have a broadband connection there's no need to worry about compression - you can always cut the file size down using a graphics program at a later stage (the free Irfanview program is ideal for doing this). Which image viewer you use is largely a question of convenience and browser compatibility, though I would avoid Adobe Reader because it is much more difficult to manipulate images in PDF format.


Once you've viewed a particular census page you don't have to pay to view it again, even in a different format, but nevertheless it would be good to get it right first time!


Above all, make sure that you tick the box against 'Descriptions In Images', otherwise the census references won't be included as part of the image. Here's an example of what you'll see, and what the different parts mean:




644 = Registration district; 12 = Sub-district

038 = Enumeration district; 00 = Sub-district

014 = Page number


If we start using the 1911 Scotland Census at LostCousins (we already make use of the 1911 censuses of England & Wales and Ireland, so it would be a logical move) these census references will be essential information. However it makes sense to record them anyway, since it's the only way that someone else can go straight to the right record in the census. Recording your sources is always good practice.


Not having any Scottish relatives I looked up the famous architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh - who was easy to find. However, for anyone who is used to searching at findmypast or Ancestry the options are comparatively limited - you can't search on birthplace or occupation, nor is it always possible to search by street address. Regular users of the Scotlandspeople site will already be aware of these limitations, because they also apply to other census years


As you'll know from previous newsletters the individual household schedules for the Scotland census did not survive, so you won't see your ancestors' handwriting - nevertheless the enumerators' summaries contain the same information, including the number of years of marriage, and the numbers of children born and still living. To accommodate the additional information the summaries are spread across two pages, though there's no reason why you can't print them onto a single sheet of A4 paper if your eyesight is good enough.


Finally there's the question of cost. There is no subscription option at Scotlandspeople, and you will need to buy credits if you want to see the records - or even the search results. Each page of search results costs 1 credit, and lists up to 25 entries; each image costs 5 credits. Since 30 credits cost £7 it will cost you a minimum of £1.40 for each household you find on the census - but that cost will almost double if the household is split across two pages as Charles Rennie Mackintosh's household does.


Although it's sad that Scotlandspeople still doesn't provide a subscription option so that researchers with Scottish ancestry can search the censuses as cheaply as those with English ancestry, the cost of searching the 1911 Scotland Census is actually cheaper than the England & Wales equivalent at launch (remember that for the first 18 months it was only available on a pay-per-view basis).


Tip: there are street indexes for many large towns and cities which you will find here. These show the registration district and enumeration district within which each street can be found - you can use this information in an Advanced Search (see the Help information at the Scotlandspeople site for full details).


New free site connects British records

Connected Histories, a new website created by researchers from the Universities of London, Hertfordshire, and Sheffield brings together a range of online resources including the 17th and 18th century Burney collection of newspapers, British History Online, the Charles Booth Archive, Old Bailey Online, and many more. Although it's free to search the site, some of the resources are only available by subscription, but often the short snippets displayed provide sufficient detail for you to determine whether the person referred to is likely to be a relative of yours.


Searching the site I discovered that my 3rd cousin twice removed was the conductor of a London omnibus which ran down and killed a man in 1908 (the driver was acquitted of manslaughter, though on the evidence he seems to have been lucky to get off scot-free). I could have found the same entry by searching directly at the Old Bailey site, but hadn't thought to do so - and that's why a site like this can be so useful.


The most interesting aspect of the site is the opportunity to save the connections you make between individual records - either privately for your own use, or publicly so that everyone can benefit - and it seems to be possible to add further entries to a public list. Currently there seems to be no way to search the connections by subject, but as there were under 20 when I last checked that shouldn't be a problem for the foreseeable future - no doubt as the site develops new features will be added.


Are there any black sheep in your family?

It's some years since I've written about The Black Sheep Index, a fascinating site where you can search over 500,000 names culled from newspaper articles and similar sources. Many of the articles are reports of criminal cases, so it's a good opportunity to find out about the darker side of your family history!


If you find a name of interest in the index you can order a copy of the article: it isn't a particularly cheap service, but if like LostCousins member Tony Martin you discover priceless information about your forebears it will be well worth it.


The real Eliza Doolittle - a LostCousins exclusive

Tony uncovered an amazing tale that could well have inspired George Bernard Shaw to write Pygmalion - the play that most of us know through the musical My Fair Lady, which starred Julie Andrews on the London stage and Audrey Hepburn in the Hollywood movie. Tony very kindly agreed to write the following article for my newsletter, and I'm very proud to unveil this world exclusive!


My Fairchild Lady

by Tony Martin


In family research 'lost cousins' can provide the most effective help and the biggest surprises. I have always been interested in my family history and was given a good head start by a family tree produced by my grandfather in 1907 and a comprehensive account "Your Family and Mine", which my father produced in 1973 utilising photos, memorabilia, records, and memories of those who went before. It was a remarkable effort produced without recourse to the online records available today.


After I retired I picked up the baton, with the aim of verifying "Your Family and Mine" and adding to it where possible. I made steady progress but my real breakthrough came when I made contact with a phenomenal researcher, my distant lost cousin Kate in Glasgow (though my father was born in Glasgow, the family left for the Southampton area in 1917 when he was 7, leaving many branches of the family in Scotland). This contact led to an exchange of pictures and data with Kate and other lost cousins which added greatly to the records of all parties.


It was Kate who subsequently found the ultimate lost cousin in her continuing researches. My grandfather had a cousin Eliza Dinah Fairchild born in 1856 in Southampton. It was a humble beginning - her father was a ship’s steward - and at some stage Eliza moved to London as a barmaid.


Kate discovered that in July 1877 Eliza married Henry Digby Sheffield, the 44 year old brother of Robert 5th Baronet Sheffield, thereby becoming the sister-in-law of the Dowager Countess of Ilchester (it also makes her the great, great aunt of Samantha Cameron, wife of the current British Prime Minister). Yet there was no hint of this remarkable marriage in my father’s account "Your Family and Mine" - she had been completely airbrushed out by the previous generation.


What makes these bare facts particularly remarkable is the way that her life seems to have inspired a great literary work - George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. In the play Henry Higgins transforms the flower-girl Eliza Doolittle into a Lady, and I believe it was Eliza Fairchild's story that inspired Shaw to write the play a few years later.


The real-life Eliza was a 20 year old London barmaid when she married Henry Digby Sheffield. He then successfully re-invented her as Evelyn Diana Turnour, daughter of the Vicomtesse D’Lardio, born in Spain. This information appeared in his alumni record for Trinity College, Oxford and in Burke’s Peerage.


Both Kate and I were intrigued by this story and desperate to find out what happened to Henry and Evelyn. The answer came from an unexpected source - the Black Sheep Index. For a small payment I received a copy of an article in the News of The World for 26th February 1905 which related the Breach of Promise case Evelyn Diana Sheffield brought against the Marquess Townshend.


It was a goldmine of information. I learned that after their marriage in 1877 Henry and 'Evelyn' had left the country; they travelled in the U.S.A and Canada "shooting big game and fishing for big fish". Henry Digby Sheffield died in October 1888 in Jacksonville, Florida; Evelyn was in England at the time of his death. Her name was subsequently linked with several men and in 1889 she was the companion of a Mr Garden in Ireland "being such a good rider to hounds". Mr Garden died in 1892 leaving property to Mrs Sheffield valued at £7000.


In 1893 Evelyn went to live at Mettingham in Suffolk. "She had enough money to live well: she kept a groom, a carriage and pair, and to all appearance was a person of means."


Then in 1900 Evelyn took a house in Bassett Road, North Kensington, and 3 years later she was introduced to the Marquess of Townshend. "They took a liking to each other and frequently met. But wherever they went Evelyn did all the paying. She was regarded as a wealthy woman; she lived in a good house, well furnished, and had good pictures around her". On September 16th 1903 the Marquess proposed marriage - he was 38 and she was a well preserved 48, purporting to be much younger.


In reality both were deluded about the other. Townshend needed a rich wife to restore the family fortunes, and Evelyn wanted wealth and a title to confirm her place in society. Both were soon disabused: Townshend discovered that Evelyn was not as rich as she appeared and it was clear to Evelyn that she was not rich enough to meet Townshend’s needs. The offer of marriage was withdrawn on the grounds "that the plaintiff was an adventuress and a clairvoyant and otherwise unfit to become Marchioness". Evelyn was undeterred and sued for breach of promise - a reckless decision given her origins and history.


The court case ran through the details of her exotic pedigree and her many liaisons, much to the amusement of the crowded court. Evelyn must have been mortified judging by the portrait drawn by the newspaper artist. Evelyn’s counsel had established the breach of promise but was suddenly interrupted by her solicitor, who instructed him to stop the case. Townshend’s counsel then started to make a statement "that her connections, her marriage, her birth and her property are a tissue of lies. We have certificates, which show that she was the daughter of a respectable servant in a respectable family. Her father and mother kept a small public house in Southampton, and she was a barmaid in London….". At this point her counsel intervened but more details were given, "This woman actually invents periods and has the audacity to put in Burke’s Peerage a statement with regard to her identity which is disproved by certificates at Somerset House." The Judge then stopped further revelations, and judgement was entered for the defendant Townshend.


For Evelyn the loss of the case must have been a disaster as, quite apart from the legal costs, her reputation and place in society had been totally lost. For her to bring the case seems like madness but perhaps, having concealed her lowly origins for so long, her assumed identity had become real to her.


The story raises many intriguing questions. Why did the 44 year old Henry Sheffield marry a 20 year old barmaid when to do so was social suicide? It was extremely unusual for toffs to marry below stairs - the usual form was keep such liaisons private and casual. Judging by the marriage and subsequent success with men of substance she was a desirable companion, a sporting lady who played the part to perfection.  Some pass through life with little fuss or incident but for a barmaid from Southampton her improbable marriage and life of travel and good living was amazing. Eliza Dinah denied her humble origins and lived a life and background entirely of her own making - Eliza Doolittle could hardly have done better.


I found her in the 1911 census in Bromley with the occupation 'medical' which I believe referred to nursing. She appeared at the same address in the 1916 Kelly's Directory, after which there was nothing. Finally, last month I located and obtained her death certificate - she died in Lewisham in 1942 aged 86. The certificate was made out in the name 'Eliza' Sheffield, which would no doubt have annoyed her greatly.


Note: quotations are from the News of The World article dated 26th February 1905


© Tony Martin 2011


Changing your name by Deed Poll

Like Tony's real-life Eliza Doolittle, Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn also changed their names - they were born Julia Wells and Audrey Ruston respectively. Although it has never been necessary to document a change of name in Britain, these days it would be impossible to open a bank account, take out a mortgage, or collect a pension without documentary proof.


I recently discovered a website called the UK Deed Poll Office, which offers to document a change of name for just £8.99 including postage - amazing!


Tip: if you do change your name, whether by Deed Poll, marriage, or divorce - please remember to update your My Details page at the LostCousins site!


728x90: I’m, your Nan


Interesting radio and TV programmes

Last week I was listening to Radio 4, where the Book of the Week was The Warmth of the Heart Prevents Your Body from Rusting by the French psychologist Marie de Hennezel, which is all about the art of growing old. If you missed it, you'll find it on BBC iPlayer here, but you'll need to be quick because the episodes only stay online for 7 days after broadcast. The book is, of course, available from Amazon at a big discount - but I'm going to buy the Kindle version , which is not only more convenient but even cheaper.


Next week there are two new TV series that will be of interest to family historians - on at 9pm on Thursday 21 April ITV1 begins a new series called Long Lost Family which features people who are reunited with relatives after many years. Don't miss the episode on 5 May, because it features Jeannie Elgar, the LostCousins member who first told me about the series!


At 9pm on Monday 18 April BBC4 shows the first of a two-part series created by the Open University entitled The Gene Code which explores the origins of life and how our DNA makes us what we are.


Are you related to the future Queen?

At the same time on Monday, Channel 4 looks into the family tree of Kate Middleton who will be marrying Prince William, our future King, in less than 2 weeks' time (note: if you have Freeview you can see this programme an hour later on Channel 13 - so there's no need to miss The Gene Code).


In the run-up to the wedding the media are fascinated with Kate's family tree, not least because she is "a commoner". If you're interested in finding out whether her tree links to yours at some point in the past take a look at Anthony Adolph's website, where he traces her ancestry back through 23 generations to Edward III.


Before you point out that if she's descended from Edward III she can hardly be a commoner, I should remind you that millions of people are descended from Edward III, including many LostCousins members  - though most of us probably haven't found the connection yet! Ultimately, of course, we are all related to each other - it's just a question of how far one has to go back to find a common ancestor.


Forgotten Voices

In 2002 there was a wonderful book released entitled Forgotten Voice of the Great War, but although it became a bestseller I didn't get a copy at the time, so I was pleased to discover that I could pick up a used copy in good condition for just 1p (plus postage) at Amazon. It brings together memories collected over a 30-year period from survivors of the conflict - from both sides.


When I heard this week that the world's oldest man had died at the age of 114 it reminded me that there's hardly anyone alive now who remembers the First World War - and anyone who fought in the Second World War must be in their 80s (at least).  I was therefore delighted to discover that Max Arthur, who produced the Great War book in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum, has also compiled Forgotten Voices Of The Second World War, and good used copies of this book are also available at Amazon for 1p. It has had even better reviews from readers than the first book, so I very much look forward to reading it.


Of course, there have been many books written about the Second World War - as a young boy I read The Wooden Horse by Eric Williams, Reach for the Sky about Douglas Bader, The Dam Busters, and The Great Escape, the last three written by Paul Brickhill. All of them were turned into gripping movies, and all of them are available for just 1p at Amazon.


But not all books about the war were turned into films. Some kept a lower profile, such as the two books written by Frank Beckett, who my father knew well when they served with the Eighth Army in Africa (though listed on Amazon there are no copies available, although I did find one at Abebooks, another good source for out-of-print works).


Do your ancestors feature in books about the War? Have you searched on Google for websites set up by Old Comrades associations? You'll also find some useful addresses on the British Army website.


There's also a website called Forces Reunited that some people find useful, although it's really intended for the soldiers themselves, rather than for their families. It's also quite difficult to get off their mailing list once they've got your email address, at least in my experience.


Local history recorders

There's a considerable overlap between the interest of local and family historians, so I was interested to discover that in my local area there is an organisation called Recording Uttlesford History, which states on its website that "The object of Recorders is to record the present, and to ensure that valuable archives and artefacts of the past are conserved", an admirable objective. I found links to useful resources including burial records, bastardy bonds, and lists of members of the Primitive Methodist churches in the local villages.


Using Google I discovered that there are also similar schemes in Suffolk and Hertfordshire, and I suspect there are others in different parts of the country.


This is a good opportunity to remind you that if you are involved in a local history project you can use the One-Place Study feature of LostCousins to link up with descendants of the 19th century inhabitants of the location you're researching.


County name indexes

Steve wrote to tell me about Staffordshire Name Indexes, a site created by Staffordshire & Stoke On Trent Archive Service - it's well worth a look if you have connections with the county. It reminded me that Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies also has free online indexes, and I suspect the same is true of many other counties.


Over 1 million Cambridgeshire records online

1.1 million parish records for Cambridgeshire has just been added to the findmypast site. Click here to find out details of the parishes and years covered.


Nearly 100,000 parish records for Wiltshire have also been added to the site in the past few days.


Peter's Tips

If you're over 60 and live in Britain you probably already know that you could save one-third on most rail journeys by purchasing a Senior Railcard, but like me you might not have been aware that you can get a similar discount on most London Underground journeys by adding the railcard to your Oyster card.


There's also another saving you can make - until 30th June you can get 10% off the cost of a one-year Senior Railcard when you buy online using the promotional code Senior10. True, you can save slightly more by buying a three-year railcard, but if like me you're a first-time buyer you might want to trial it for a year first.


I also discovered recently that at Focus, the DIY store, you only need to be 55 to qualify for a privilege discount card that gives you 10% off 7 days a week. On the other hand, their prices seem to be a little higher than those at Homebase, and especially Wickes.


At this time of the year there's an opportunity for anyone in the UK with savings to put some of their cash into an Individual Savings Account (ISA). Annoyingly the accounts that offered the best rates for Cash ISAs a year ago have cut their rates drastically (from 3% to 0.5% in one case), whilst the accounts that offer the highest rates now don't accept transfers in. If you invested money in a Cash ISA in the last tax year or in earlier years, do be sure to check what the current interest rate is - you may be surprised how far it has fallen.


Thanks to everyone who sent unwanted medicines in response to my appeal in the last newsletter. Sadly funding to cover the postage to Zimbabwe has now run out - so please don't send any more until further notice.


Finally, since the LostCousins site is totally free until 2nd May, you might think that it would be a mistake to take out a subscription during this period - however, you'd be wrong, because when you enter the code 7THBIRTHDAY on the Subscribe page you'll get a subscription that runs until 2nd July 2012 (that's at least 2 months extra). And, as an extra bonus, you can get a Joint subscription covering two accounts (eg husband and wife) for the same price as a Single subscription.


Two months extra, two subscriptions for the price of one? Sounds like a good deal  - and you'll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you're helping the LostCousins project to link cousins around the world.


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 Calver

Founder, LostCousins