Newsletter - 2nd October 2014
Half-price Genes Reunited subscriptions ENDS MONDAY
The LostCousins newsletter is
usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 16th
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 don’t lose your place in the newsletter) - if nothing seems to happen then you may need to enable pop-ups in your browser or change the settings in your security software, but first try a different browser (such as the free Chrome browser which I use) .
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!
Annual subscribers to findmypast.co.uk are to be offered additional benefits under a scheme dubbed findmypast First. Benefits include discounted Imperial War Museum membership, a free 12 month subscription to the Lives of the First World War website, monthly webinars, and discounted magazine subscriptions - you can find out more here. Some benefits may not be available outside the UK.
In February last year findmypast announced a major collaboration with six archives in Yorkshire, and the day before yesterday the first phase - comprising nearly 4 million records - went live. You can see the announcement here.
As you might expect given the number of archives involved in the project, the records are diverse - and you may need to spend a little time working out which collections are relevant to your research. Some parishes appear in more than one collection - the Bishop's Transcripts largely overlap with the parish registers, although that's not necessarily a bad thing, because in some cases Bishop's Transcripts will have survived where the original registers have been lost or damaged. It also improves the chances of finding records that have been mistranscribed.
Note: Bishop's Transcripts (often shortened to BTs) are contemporary copies of register entries that were sent annually to the bishop (or in some cases to an archdeacon); most parishes were required to produce them from 1598, and if you come across earlier entries it's worth checking that they haven't been mistranscribed. It can sometimes be difficult to determine whether you're looking at the original register or the copy - but I've noticed that the handwriting tends to be neater and more consistent in BTs. For more information about BTs see this blog article on the findmypast site.
Almost all the records in this first phase are accompanied by images of the relevant registers or Bishop's Transcripts, but there are a small number of entries for which there are only transcriptions. This list shows the parishes for which the original registers are available, and the years of coverage; this list shows the equivalent for BTs.
Note: Yorkshire is divided into three ridings (the word 'riding' is Viking in origin, and mean a third part). Most of the parishes included in findmypast's Yorkshire Collection are in the North Riding or East Riding; the primary source of records for the West Riding is Ancestry.
Half-price Genes Reunited subscriptions ENDS MONDAY
Just a reminder that until Monday 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 free 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.
Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit was inspired by his father's imprisonment in the Marshalsea; now Ancestry have digitised the Commitment and Discharge Books for 1811-42 which in 1824 include the arrival and release, a few months later, of John Dickins (sic) - you can search them here.
Also added at the same time were the Kings Bench and Fleet Prison Discharge Books and Prisoner Lists for 1734-1862, and you'll find them here.
When his father was imprisoned, 12 year old Charles was forced to leave school and work in a boot-blacking factory, sticking labels on pots of blacking - for a 60 hour week he earned just 6 shillings (equivalent to £23 in today's money, if you allow for price inflation).
John Dickens was only released from the Marshalsea when his mother died, leaving him £450 in 3% stock (not £450, as some sources state - in early 1824 3% Consols were trading at around £89 per £100 of stock, so his inheritance would actually have been worth about £400). You can view the will of Elizabeth Dickens when you search the London, England, Wills and Probate, 1507-1858 collection, also at Ancestry.
The Probate Service for England & Wales have launched an online index to wills and administrations from 1996 onwards. It's remarkably up to date - I found entries where probate had been granted only yesterday, and it includes people who died as recently as 5 weeks ago.
Since online GRO death indexes only go up to 2007 it's a handy way to confirm your suspicions that a distant relative has passed away (though bear in mind that not all estates go to probate), or to find out their precise date of death.
Unfortunately the only indication of location is the registry, which can be misleading - for example, it shows as Birmingham for my aunt (who died in Birmingham), but also for my father (who died over 100 miles away, in London).
If you decide to order a copy of a will just click 'Add to basket', then 'Proceed to checkout', and either log-in or register; you can pay by Visa or Mastercard. The only downside is that the wills now cost £10 each (the price went up earlier this year).
Note: the National Probate Calendar 1858-1966 at Ancestry is an index to earlier wills proved in England & Wales.
Scotlandspeople have recently added 70,000 images and 900,000 names and addresses from the 1875 Valuation Rolls.
I was glancing through a report on the Bank of England's half-yearly shareholder's meeting in The Times of 19th March 1824 - OK, I admit I am a little behind in my reading - when I noticed that the Bank had been making mortgage loans of between £10,000 (at least £10 million at today's property prices) and £300,000 at an interest rate of just 4%. Clearly they didn't have the same concerns about the rising prices of property as we do today (the Bank of England have just acquired new powers to regulate the mortgage market in order to prevent a housing boom and bust).
Between 1838-40 the publisher John Tallis produced 88 pamphlets entitled Tallis's London Street Views - you could say it was the equivalent of Google Street View for early Victorians. 87 of the original pamphlets are in the collection of the Museum of London, and you can view 35 of them (covering the West End) online here.
Only one complete copy of Thomas Milne's Land Use Map of London & Environs in 1800 exists, in King George III's Topographical Collection at the British Library, but you can view the map free online here. As far as I can discern from the markings the different colours represent arable land (yellow), market gardens (blue), meadows (light green), woods (bright green), and pastures (pink).
On the same website you'll find London maps from the first series of Ordnance Survey maps, published from 1805 onwards, Charles Booth's poverty map from 1898, and a 1930s land utilisation map, mostly compiled by schoolchildren as part of a 'modern Domesday' survey of the nation. Select the locality of interest from the grid shown here.
Note: there's an article by Chris Paton in the latest (Autumn 2014) issue of Your Family Tree entitled "How to Map Lives". He has some interesting suggestions, such as "How did your ancestors obtain water for daily use?".
I found these photos from the late 19th and early 20th century intriguing. Do you have anything similar in your collection, I wonder?
As predicted in my November 2012 newsletter over 2.5 million records from 1500 schools went online at findmypast at the end of September.
This is just the first phase of three - schools in the first release are from 12 counties: Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Devon, Huntingdonshire, Kent, Lancashire, Middlesex, Surrey, Wiltshire and Glamorganshire - as well as Westminster.
The earliest records are from 1870, the most recent from 1914 - it's a period when education because compulsory for all, so most of us are going to find relatives in these records. I found several children from one branch of my family in the Buckinghamshire registers; in the Hertfordshire records I found a log entry recording that one of my other cousins had "been taken very sick this morning and had to be sent home".
You can search the school records here.
One of the very few similarities between me and the politician Nigel Farage is that we both have German ancestors. I don't suppose he's much interested in where his came from (his attitude towards foreign immigrants is somewhat uncompromising), but I've love to track down mine. However, I've few clues to their precise origins and searching the records online at FamilySearch hasn't yet resulted in any likely matches.
I was therefore delighted to hear that there's a project to digitise German parish registers (Kirchenbuch) and make them available online, albeit for a fee. Currently at the beta stage, you can find the site here, and get some idea of the planned coverage here.
Tip: if you use the Chrome browser, as I do, it will automatically translate pages into English (it usually does a pretty good job).
The Anglo-German Family History Society is a great source of information about migration to the UK from German-speaking countries, and amongst the articles on their site I found these tables which indicate the proportion of church registers that have been microfilmed. The tables also show the proportions of Catholics and Protestants in each region - the one thing I know about my German ancestors is that they were protestants.
For an introduction to German migration to the UK I'd recommend an article by Panikos Panayi entitled The Settlement of Germans in Britain during the Nineteenth Century - it provides an excellent overview of migration in the 19th century (the introduction also discusses earlier migrants). I've also found The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide a useful reference, even though it's primarily aimed at the American market.
A few months ago I mentioned that Professor Rebecca Probert, author of Marriage Law for Genealogists would be speaking at Buckinghamshire Family History Society on 2nd July - and one of those listening was Angela, who thought that you might be interesting in reading the notes that she took. You'll find them here, together with notes on some of the other interesting talks that Bucks FHS have enjoyed.
I can't recommend Professor Probert's book too highly - there is so much confusion about what the legal requirements were at different times, and only by understanding the law as it really stood can we properly interpret our ancestors' actions. I'm hoping that she will be able to join us at Genealogy in the Sunshine next March so that we can learn more from the research that she has done, not just into marriage, but also related topics such as divorce and illegitimacy.
Yesterday the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 came into force. The main effect is to remove the cap on the amount inherited by the surviving spouse where no valid will has been made, but one of the minor provisions could affect the information available to family historians of the future.
Until the new Act came into effect, when an illegitimate child died intestate neither his father nor his father's family could inherit - the child’s estate was distributed as if the child’s father and his family had predeceased the child. That's no longer automatic - if the father's name appears in the register of births then he and his family will have the same inheritance rights as if the child had been legitimate.
For many years it has been possible to re-register an illegitimate birth as legitimate if the parents subsequently married, but you may not have realised that it's now possible to add the father's name to the birth register even if the parents haven't married. You can find out more information here.
Last Christmas I reported the incredible achievement of LostCousins member Frances Lake, who co-ordinates the Descendants of Deceased Adopted Persons Group, in securing a change in the law that would eventually allow relatives of adopted persons to trace their natural parents.
Last week the final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when Edward Timpson, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families (who himself has two adoptive brothers), announced a key change in the regulations that puts the new law into effect. Previously, once an adopted person died there was no way to track down their natural parents, whether for the purposes of genealogical research, or to identify hereditary diseases.
We all moan about politicians but sometimes they do get things right. All we need now is for common sense to reign over the Home Office, because they're the only ones who can drag the GRO into the 21st century. At the same time as the welcome changes to adoption regulations were announced by the Department of Education, the Home Office were firing the head of the Passport Office - of which the GRO is a part - because of the appalling backlog of passport applications in the early summer (see this article from The Guardian).
They say that lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice, but have a look at this BBC news article from 15 years ago, which reports that passport delays cost over £12m and forced hundreds of holidaymakers to cancel their trips. Interestingly the IT contractor responsible for the new system that caused those delays was Siemens, who were also the contractors responsible for the GRO's abandoned DoVE and MAGPIE projects.
As the inhabitants of the country that invented the term 'bureaucracy' might say: "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose".
I often pick up useful tips from the mailing list of the Society of Genealogists - in my opinion it's one of the most valuable benefits of membership. Recently Irene - who, like many experienced researchers, is also a LostCousins member - recommended the books of George Redmonds, a leading historian of names.
I picked up a second-hand - but perfect - copy of Names and History: People, Places and Things at Amazon for less than £3 (including postage), and took it with me to read when I travelled to Portugal last month to make arrangements for Genealogy in the Sunshine 2015. Whilst many of the examples relate to Yorkshire - where the author has done much of his research - so weren't of direct interest to me, it was amazing to discover how frequently other writers have got it wrong (and to learn how and why they made those errors).
My own surname is said by many to derive from the village in Derbyshire - and yet most of the people who bore the Calver surname in the 1841 Census (638 out of 843) lived in Suffolk or Norfolk. There was only one person called Calver in Derbyshire in 1841 - and he was born out of the county.
And yet, there is a possible route that may have led to the surname migrating from Derbyshire to East Anglia... perhaps my DNA project (at Family Tree DNA) will eventually provide a definitive answer?
Talking of names, yesterday the Independent reported that a Welsh parish has changed the spelling of its name for the third time in 150 years - the 't' that was added in the 19th century was removed 6 years ago, because it was felt to be inauthentic, but has now been restored by popular demand.
In the parish where I live we also have a 't' that shouldn't be there - Stansted Mountfitchet is named after the Norman family who owned the village - Richard de Montfichet was one of the 25 barons who compelled King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215 (he also owned the island at Runnymede where the charter was signed).
The next village to the north is known as Ugley - and there really IS an Ugley Women's Institute (and an Ugley Farmers Market, too). However you'll sometimes find it referred to as Oakley on old maps, and the 1818 book Excursions in the county of Essex suggests that Oakley was the original name, and that Ugley was a distortion effected by Norman scribes - although I'm not convinced by that argument.
The fact, is many names have become distorted over the years - and in some cases the 'obvious' answer isn't the right one. As ever, family historians have to keep an open mind until the evidence becomes overwhelming.
I managed to finish reading The Lost Ancestor on the train back from London after hearing Donald Davis's excellent talk at the Society of Genealogists (if anyone there was hoping to speak to me, my apologies for leaving so suddenly - my return ticket was only valid until 4pm).
As you'd expect from the author of Hiding the Past it was an extremely well-constructed plot, with plenty of intrigue and genealogical detail - but all the loose ends were neatly tied up by the end. This time genealogist Morton Farrier involved Juliette, his long-term girlfriend - and a trainee policewoman - rather more than he did in the first book of the series, so it will be interesting to see whether that trend continues (I'm sure there will be much more to come from the pen of Nathan Dylan Goodwin, the ingenious author). Available as a paperback, or in Kindle format, The Lost Ancestor is highly recommended!
It's less than 3 weeks now to the release of The Lost Empress, the new Jefferson Tayte mystery from Steve Robinson, who is primarily responsible for introducing me - and, I suspect, many of you - to the genre of genealogical mysteries. You can pre-order right now at the Amazon site (the book is actually being published by Amazon under their Thomas & Mercer imprint) and again it's available either as a paperback or in Kindle format.
Note: the links above are to the Amazon.co.uk site; if you live in North America please use the following links:
I get a lot of requests for leaflets from members who would like to hand them out to fellow attendees at meetings - so I've prepared an A4 leaflet in PDF format that you can download here. It can also be used as a small poster if you prefer.
We discovered this week that the next version of Windows will be Windows 10 - and not, as one might have expected, Windows 9. Apparently the jump is to emphasise how different it will be from Windows 8, which hasn't proved at all popular - although I quite like using it on my touchscreen laptop, I've stuck with Windows 7 (which is excellent) on my desktop.
I did at first wonder whether the real reason for the jump is that somebody else has registered the domain name Windows9.com - which they have - but it turns out that Windows10.com also belongs to someone other than Microsoft. (If you fancy speculating on Microsoft's long-term future I see that Windows34.com is still available!)
When Windows 7 and 8 were introduced Microsoft offered heavily discounted pre-release prices to build momentum. I never used the two copies of Windows 8 I bought to upgrade my existing computers as originally intended, but fortunately I found I was able to sell them at a useful profit when the introductory offer ended. So even if you're not sure about upgrading to Windows 10, it might be worth picking up a copy at the pre-release price - although you may have to wait until the second half of next year for the release.
I have just got back from Portugal and the Rocha Brava resort on the Algarve coast, which was the venue for the inaugural Genealogy in the Sunshine and will also host the 2015 course, which takes place from 14th-21st March.
A number of potential attendees who will be coming on their own have asked whether it is possible to share an apartment. The answer is "Yes" - a 2 bedroom apartment is only slightly more expensive than a 1 bedroom apartment, and if two people travelling on their own were to share, the cost for each would be under £16 a night (based on current exchange rates).
There will be a few changes in the format from this year's course, partly because there will be some people who came in 2014 and others who are attending for the first time in 2015, but also because there are likely to be more people attending.
Those of you who are as interested in the sunshine as the genealogy (or who are bringing non-participating friends or relatives), will be interested to know that next March we'll have access to a covered heated pool.
I'll shortly be circulating more information to those who have expressed interest - in the meantime, if you haven't already been in touch, please do so right away.
In March 2013 I wrote in this column:
"How would you like to earn 10.4% tax-free with inflation-linking on top - it sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Oh, and by the way, this particular investment is backed by the British Government!"
It wasn't too good to be true, but it was too good to last - from April 2016 the government are slashing the increase you can earn by deferring your State Pension from 10.4% per annum (1% for every 5 weeks) to just 5.8% per annum (1% for every 9 weeks).
Fortunately, if you reach pension age before 6th April 2016 - and I'm glad to say that I'll beat the deadline by about 6 months - you can still secure the higher rate. I'm planning to defer my pension for 8 or 9 years, but if you only qualify for the lower rate it's hardly worth deferring at all.
That's not the only change that takes effect in 2016 - currently if you defer your pension you have the option of taking a lump sum, which is calculated by taking the pension you have foregone and adding compound interest at 2% over base rate. That option won't be available under the new system, nor - so far as I can see - will the extra State Pension you've earned by deferring be inheritable by your spouse, as it usually is under the existing system.
Everyone's financial situation is different, so just because that I'm deferring my pension doesn't mean that you should defer yours - nevertheless, the fact that the terms will be so much worse after 2016 certainly suggests that for many people who will reach pension age in the next 18 months the present system provides a great opportunity. Want to know more? I'm not a financial advisor, but I can direct you to the government guide here (though you'll probably find the Which? guide easier to follow).
Talking of Which?, later this year elections will be held to fill 3 vacancies on the Council which governs the Consumer's Association - and if you have been a subscriber to Which? magazine for at least one year you'll be entitled to vote. Don't discard the papers when they arrive towards the end of November - last year only 3 of the 10 candidates were successful, so your vote could make all the difference. And if you're not a subscriber, despite the many recommendations in this column, sign up now and you'll be able to vote next year!
I was delighted to read today that the payday lender Wonga is writing off £220 million of debts owed by 330,000 customers following a 'voluntary' agreement between the company and its regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. The customers to benefit will be those who would never have been offered loans in the first place if the affordability rules now being introduced had applied at the time. Thank goodness the FCA is getting to grips with things in a way that the Financial Services Authority, its predecessor, never seemed to manage!
Tesco have also been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons - thankfully I sold the Tesco shares in my personal pension about 7 years ago (at nearly twice the current price). Why did I sell? Because I realised that they were losing money on some of the goods they were selling - indeed, at one time I was able to buy bottles of wine for less than nothing once bonus Clubcard points were taken into account.
Of course, as a customer (rather than a shareholder) I was delighted to pick up bargains - and still am, especially when I turn up just as they're making their final reductions. For example, this week I bought two bags of salad reduced to 14p each, which earned me 25 bonus Clubcard points - worth anything from 25p to 75p, depending how I use them - and I bought a large pizza for 40p. At my local superstore the final reductions happen at around 7.30pm Monday to Friday (though Friday isn't usually a good day for bargains); however, it could be different at your store. Earlier in the day the reductions can be as little as 10% - so it's well worth retiming your shopping trips if you can.
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.
© Copyright 2014 Peter Calver
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