Newsletter - 7th
LostCousins is FREE
for Easter ENDS APRIL 15TH
offering 20% discount ENDS APRIL 14TH
newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue
(dated 31st March) click here; to
find earlier articles use the customised Google search between this paragraph
and the next (it searches ALL of the newsletters since February 2009, so you
don't need to keep copies):
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
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are two common mistakes that people make when they look at the LostCousins
website. One is to think that itís a people-tracing service; the other, far more
common, is to assume that the goal is to connect people to their cousins.
who reads what it says on the home page before they join is going to make those
mistakes, but considering that LostCousins has been going for almost 16 years (our
birthday is on 1st May) there are probably lots of people reading this who
won't remember why they joined. You might be one of them!
So what is LostCousins really about? The goal is to
help you find out more about your ancestors by putting you in
contact with other family historians researching the same ancestral
someone who is researching your ancestors is likely to be a cousin of yours, and
that has benefits too - not just social networking, but the chance to compare
DNA matches in order to knock down 'brick walls'. But finding cousins is just a
step towards the real goal, which is to find out more about the ancestors you
share. Unless you can afford to employ a large team of genealogists, collaborating
with cousins is the only way you can give all of
your ancestors the attention they deserve. If any one of those ancestors had
died in infancy, or failed to procreate, you wouldn't be around today - a
back just 8 generations to the early 1700s and there are over 250 ancestral
lines to consider; go back 3 more generations to the early 1600s and now there
are over 2000 - no one person can possibly research them all single-handed.
why it's so important to collaborate with other researchers - by working
together we can achieve far more than any one of us would working on our own.
Whether you're working with a 3rd cousin who shares 12.5% of your ancestors, or
a 6th cousin who shares only 1.6%, you're going to achieve more when you work
together than you possibly can when you work independently. If your ancestors were
mostly British there are currently around 200 LostCousins members who are your
6th cousin or closer - itís an enormous resource, but one that is easy
to ignore because you wonít know the names of your 'lost cousins'.
you one of those who hasnít entered a single relative on your My Ancestors
page? Or only a token handful? Now's the time to put that right - your cousins
depend on you just as much as you depend on them!
because ALL of your living cousins are descended from the branches of your
tree, it's by starting as early as you can, then tracing your branches through
to 1881, that you're going to maximise the number of 'lost cousins' you find
(and also give yourself the best chance of winning one of the 100 prizes on
offer in my Easter competition).
all make mistakes - all of us that is, apart from those who are in a position
of power which allows them to rewrite history, be they journalists or politicians.
And even they make the mistake of thinking they can fool all of us all of the time.
errors canít be corrected - the die is cast - but mistakes on your My Ancestors
page are really easy to fix. All you need to do is
click the person's name, make the change(s) and click Save. Easy-peasy,
and if youíre one of the millions who are in isolation right now it's something
useful to do in your spare time. †
how do you know that an entry needs to be corrected? A good place to start is
with the entries that don't have red, blue, or grey ticks against them (where
there is a tick it indicates that your entry has matched with that of another
member, so it's probably correct).
by sorting your My Ancestors page into Household order (check the appropriate
'radio button' at the top of the page). Now work down the page looking for
households that have no ticks at all. In most cases you'll see a little arrow †in front of the census references - clicking
this arrow automatically carries out a search of the relevant census (depending
on the census it could utilise Findmypast, Ancestry, or FamilySearch).
you get no search results at all this usually indicates that the census
references are incorrect. Although you're probably more interested in names and
dates, census references are incredibly important because they define a page in
the census - get one of the references wrong and youíre either pointing to the
wrong page or a page that doesn't exist. Either way it means your entry canít possibly
match your cousins' entries - and that's why checking entries using the arrows
provided is so important.
always read the notes on the Add Ancestor/Edit Ancestor forms (the advice
varies according to the census); for more information about where to find
census references see the FAQs page.
only need to click one arrow per household - that's because the census references
for the head of household should be used for every member of a private household,
even if some of your relatives are recorded on the next page.
course, you only need to check your entries once, and the best time is to do it
is at the time you enter a new household. But more than half of all entries in
the LostCousins database were submitted before the checking arrows were added -
it's only in the last few years that it has been so quick and easy to check
that the census references are correct.
fewer matches you have, the more likely it is that some or all
of your entries are incorrect. So if you donít have
any matches at all, donít blame the system (or your cousins), check to make
sure that you're not the one at fault. None of us wants to discover that we've
made mistakes, but if our errors are blocking our path it would be extremely pig-headed
of us to ignore them!
LostCousins is FREE for Easter ENDS APRIL
mentioned last month that despite the pandemic LostCousins would be free for
Easter as usual. The FREE period starts now, and runs until midnight on Wednesday
15th April, so you've got plenty of time to enter more relatives from the
census and connect with 'lost cousins'.
you'd need to be a LostCousins subscriber to initiate contact with a new cousin,
but over the next week there will be no restrictions. Even better, it doesnít matter
if your cousin doesn't respond until after the free period has ended - itís only the
initial invitation that requires a subscription.
if youíre an Ancestry user like me you'll be familiar with the problem of other
members not responding, no matter how many reminders you send - for all you
know your messages might be disappearing into a 'block hole'. But at
LostCousins you've got someone who will follow up if a cousin doesnít respond
after 14 days - I'll do everything within my power to connect cousins.
every relative you enter from the 1881 Censuses could win you a prize - see the
last issue for full details of my Easter Egg Hunt, with 100 prizes worth over
lot of new members join during the periods when LostCousins is free (there are several
each year), but they may not have time to enter all of
their relatives from the 1881 Census before the offers ends. This is not only
bad news for them, itís bad news for those of us who are their 'lost
So this year there's a special offer for anyone who joins
LostCousins. By entering the offer code #STAYATHOME in the box at the bottom of
the registration page they can get a free upgrade to Subscriber status that
lasts until 1st May 2020, our 16th birthday - giving them up to 16 days extra
to complete their My Ancestors page and invite their new cousins to correspond.
are welcome to share this code on social media, but please make clear that
LostCousins is a site for people who are researching their family tree, and not
a people-tracing service. I donít like disappointing people, and I'm sure you donít
this code will only work when entered on the registration page - this means it
can't be used by existing members, but of course you've already had 2 weeks to
enter your relatives since the free period was first announced.
1666 the villagers of Eyam in Derbyshire were quarantined
in order to prevent the spread of bubonic plague to the surrounding villages - and
one of them, just 2 miles away, is the village of Calver (which many believe is
the source of my surname, though I'm not so sure).
to this BBC News article
260 residents of Eyam died of the plague between 1665
and 1666 - a significant proportion of the population. But was their sacrifice
in 2020 we're guided by the advice of medical experts, in the 17th century
nobody understood how bubonic plague was transmitted - indeed, it was only in
the 1890s that it was discovered to be caused by a bacterium that was carried by
fleas from rats to humans. Unlike COVID-19, bubonic plague rarely spreads directly
from one human being to another - but the villagers of Eyam
weren't to know that.
the other hand, had they left the village they would probably have taken fleas
with them, in their clothing and other belongings, or even in their hair - so in
practice the quarantine was both necessary and effective.
Great Plague of 1665-66 was the last significant outbreak of bubonic plague in
England - but although it killed an estimated 75,000 to 100,000 people in London,
more than one-fifth of the population the city at the time, its impact was trivial
compared to the Black Death. This earlier epidemic devastated Europe between
1346-53, and is thought to have killed between one-third and one-half of the population.
2020 we're not being asked to sacrifice our lives, but our freedom of movement
- and given what we know about the virus it makes perfect sense. Only the
young, who think they're invincible, and the foolish, who donít think at all,
can screw it up for the rest of us. Let's hope they don't!
Last year I published
several extracts from Peter Cox's excellent compilation, Growing Up in London, 1930-1960 -
unfortunately copies of the book sold out soon after I wrote about it - and no
wonder, itís a marvellously evocative record of an earlier age. A lot of members
subsequently downloaded a free PDF copy of the book (you'll find it on the Peter's
Tips page of the LostCousins website), but given the current circumstances
we're faced with I thought it was worth sharing some of the passages from Chapter
8, entitled Food:
the food people had available in our period of 1930Ė60 there appear to be three
distinct phases, corresponding pretty much to each decade. In the 1930s, before
rationing; in the 1940s both during and after the war when there were severe
rationing restrictions of both choice and quantity; and the 1950s, when
rationing had more-or-less finished. They are though similar, yet entirely
different from today, in one key respect. There was a very restricted range of
food available, and self-service supermarkets did not exist. Only a handful of
well-off people had fridges, so perishable food went off quickly and shopping
expeditions were more frequent. You rarely bought cakes, but the housewife
would bake cakes and buns, and make pastry and puddings the hard way. There were
no such things as Ďready mealsí and very little eating out, especially among
our contributors. And for fresh produce the year was divided into distinct
seasons, seasons which from a shopping viewpoint weíve almost entirely
imported 20 million tons of food before World War II began, including well over
half its meat, cheese, sugar, fruit, cereals and fats. Food shortages soon became
apparent as imports rapidly began to dry up Ė the volume had fallen by 80% by
the end of that first October. Rationing began in the second week of 1940 with
bacon, butter and sugar. Later in 1940 meat, tea and cooking fat were added. In
1941 cheese, jam and eggs, in 1942 tomatoes, dried fruit, biscuits and rice.
Potatoes, fruit and fish werenít rationed, but their availability fluctuated.
Fish volumes for example dropped to about 30% of pre-war levels."
precise quantities of rationed foods varied as circumstances changed, but the
following would be typical in the middle of the war, for one adult for a week.
Butter, cheese and tea Ė 50gm. Margarine and bacon or ham 100gm, sugar 225gm,
milk about one to two litres, one egg, meat to the value of 1/2, sweets 90gm.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers had double the egg ration, a pint of milk a
day, and the first choice of fruit. Children from 5Ė16 had a modified ration,
including the full meat ration and half a pint of milk a day. In addition each person had 16 Ďpointsí they could use each
week. From 1946Ė48 bread was rationed for the first time."
were rationed and a Mars bar cut into five slices would serve for a mid-morning
snack each weekday. Yes, one Mars bar to last a whole week."
we were evacuated we went for school dinners to the
British Restaurant in Cheyne Lane. These communal kitchens, run by local
councils, served highly subsidised coupon-free meals costing ninepence, and I
have fond memories of spam fritters and stuffed cabbage, although that may have
been simply the hunger of a growing girl."
were staying with a woman and her four pretty daughters in a big farm house. These girls were being dated by American
soldiers and one day one of them brought an extraordinary treat to the house.
It was something I had never seen before and that the girls had not seen in
four or five years Ė a fresh orange."
my first was born in 1947 the cheese allowance was pretty small
so we decided to register the baby as a vegetarian. This involved going to the
local police station and declaring this was babyís wish, thence to the food
office to get the appropriate ration book. About a year later, the cheese
ration went down but the meat ration increased. You can imagine the procedure
to convince the food office that baby was a carnivore after all. It was all
rather a pity because as a registered vegetarian one was able to get certain
extras such as dried fruits off points and dried bananas; we didnít see a fresh
banana for years.
might be struggling to find the food we want now, but at least weíre better off
than our forebears were in the 1940s! Mind you, I chuckled when I read the excerpt
about slicing a Mars bar into 5 - in the 1950s my father would slice a Mars bar
into 8 or 12 pieces so that it would last the whole family for 2 or 3 days.
We'd do the same with ice cream - in those days you could buy a Neapolitan 'brick'
from the ice cream van, and even though the ice box in our fridge didnít keep
it properly frozen we'd still make it last for 2 days. (I found a 1953 advert
for Walls ice cream 'bricks' on eBay - you can see it here.)
2020 many vulnerable people are receiving food parcels, and one LostCousins
member is keeping a record of the contents. So far Elaine has received two weekly
parcels; the first (received on Saturday 28th March) contained the following:
Loaf of white
3 tins tomato
Large tin of
cartons semi skimmed milk
-2 mins in microwave
Large bag of
Large bag of
Bag of 6
Bag of rice
containing tea bags, instant coffee, individual biscuits, toilet soap, hotel
sized body wash
contents were broadly similar in the second week - but I wonder whether it
varies according to the region?
Those of you who
lived through WW2 rationing in Britain might be surprised to learn that there
was also rationing in the USA. The National WWII Museum in New Orleans has information
about wartime rationing in a section aimed at students and teachers.
quote from the website explains why there were shortages:
was in short supply for a variety of reasons: much of the processed and canned
foods was reserved for shipping overseas to our military and our Allies;
transportation of fresh foods was limited due to gasoline and tire rationing and
the priority of transporting soldiers and war supplies instead of food;
imported foods, like coffee and sugar, was limited due to restrictions on
you can see from this page from a ration book recycling was also important. I donít
know about you, but since the current lockdown started
I've been thinking very carefully before throwing anything away, whether itís dripping
from the roast, trimmings from the vegetables, or the packaging that the food
Findmypast still offering 20% discount ENDS APRIL
Tuesday 14th April new and lapsed subscribers can save 20% on any 12 month
subscription at Findmypast.co.uk - but although this offer is only available at
the UK site, you don't have to live in the UK to take advantage of the offer.
provided you use my link
and follow the advice here
you could also earn yourself a free LostCousins subscription when you buy a 12
month Plus or Pro subscription. So far everyone who followed the
advice has qualified!
existing Findmypast subscribers may be able to take advantage of this offer
when upgrading, ie from Plus to Pro - it's certainly
worth a try. But the offer definitely isnít available
for renewals, though on the other hand Findmypast have long offered a 15%
Loyalty Discount for existing subscribers who renew - let's hope they continue
to reward loyalty!
the 1921 Census is released in 2022 we'll find out who
our ancestors' employers were - it'll be an opportunity to discover more detail
than ever before about their lives.
Grace's Guide is a not-for-profit
project which aims to provide a brief history of the companies, products and
people who were instrumental in British industry from the Industrial Revolution
found some information on the boiler-making business my grandfather worked for
from 1900 to 1947, and for some of the companies I worked for myself in the
1970s. The focus is on manufacturing industry rather than retailing, banking,
or other services, but you never know what you might find.
the contract to publish the 1921 England & Wales census was won by
Findmypast - if everything goes to plan (and bear in mind that the current
pandemic is going to have a long-term impact on many projects), it should be
available in January 2022, which is the earliest date that it could be
published under the Census Act, 1920.
Gill Draper from the British Association for Local History was due to give a
talk at Family History Live next week - but though the show has been
cancelled she's making available her slides and notes through the BALH website
- you'll find them here.
2013 I wrote
about an entry in the 1851 Census where the relationship of two children to the
head of household was given as 'love child', an unusually frank description,
though whether it was chosen by the householder or the enumerator is a matter
quite forgotten about this entry until last week, when Shannon wrote in with
another example, this time from the 1891 Census:
Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London,
the permission of Findmypast
Findmypast you can search most of the censuses by Relationship, so out
of interest I search the 1881 Census for '*love child*', which produced 7 results.
Unfortunately I couldn't find a way of carrying out the
same search at Ancestry, because the relationship must be selected from a
drop-down menu, which doesnít include 'love child' as one of the options. But
it wasn't all bad news - entering 'love child' in the Keyword box on the
Search form threw up the exquisitely named Love Chambers, who was born in Child
Okeford, a picturesque village in north Dorset.
Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London,
England with the permission of Findmypast
Finally an unusual entry from the 1911 Census - it's
one of a very small number that show someone who is still alive, in this case
Robert Weighton, currently the world's oldest man. And,
talking of centenarians, it was lovely to hear the words of Dame Vera Lynn †("We'll
meet again") echoed in the Queen broadcast to the nation last Sunday.
Let's hope that all three of them continue to make and break records!
In a normal year my wife
and I spend as much time as we can during the warmer months on the Norfolk Broads,
so I couldnít resist reading Norwich & Norfolk: Stone Age to the Great
War from Stephen Browning (writer) and Daniel Tink (photographer). It's not
a family history book, but if you have ancestors from Norfolk it might well be
of interest, especially if you plan to spend time in the area researching your
sure you have a map by you when reading the book - although there's a one page black
and white map of the county at the beginning of the book, it's too small scale,
and doesnít show the location of all of the places mentioned. A fold-out map
would be more suitable, though in a day and age when many maps are available
free online I suspect the publishers would have
baulked at the cost.
I liked most about the book was discovering things I didnít know about some of the
towns and villages I'm most familiar worth. Of course, the real test will be to
take it with me when I next visit Norfolk - but goodness knows when we'll be
permitted to go out of the house simply for leisure purposes!
there are many photographs in the book, the only ones that are in colour are
the ones on the outside cover; this isnít going to make much difference when youíre
on your travels, but it makes the book less visually interesting to the casual
reader. There's a comprehensive index at the back, and as you work through the
book there are contact details for many of the places of interest.
only available as a paperback - there's no Kindle version - but whilst the
published price is £14.99, itís currently available at Amazon in the UK for
little more than a fiver (with free delivery when you spend £10 or more on books).
At that price it's a bargain!
I'm very grateful to
Jenny Towey, Vice President of the Anglo-German Family History Society for
writing the following review:
The Magic of German Church Records: Finding
the Key to Your Ancestorís Past by Katherine Schober is a paperback book
jam-packed with clear illustrations of original documents and English
translations. The author presented a talk on this subject to a RootsTech conference and then expanded the talk into this
There are extremely useful appendices:
including samples of baptismal, marriage and death records Ė showing both
handwritten and printed form versions with translations.† Also - Occupations; Numbers; Months; General Vocabulary
Found in German Church Records (each consists of three columns Ė German word,
English translation, handwritten version).
I canít praise this book enough: it is well
written and presented and is bursting with useful information, hints and tips -
such as the Streets in
reading Jenny's review I ordered a copy of my own (I have several German lines),
and I'm eagerly looking forward to receiving it. If you also want to place an order please use the relevant link below. Note that it is
not yet available in Australia.
the last newsletter I recommend running (or walking) up and down stairs as a
way of getting exercise without venturing outside your front door. Well, on
Saturday the BBC revealed
that John Griffin, aged 53, has done stair-climbing equivalent to climbing
Mount Everest (and coming down again). I donít know whether he's a LostCousins member
- it's a common name - but full marks to John anyway!
weeks ago King's College, London announced the release
of an app to track the symptoms of COVID-19. A new version was released just
under a week ago which fixes problems reported by early users and I've
downloaded a copy to my smartphone. You can find out more here.
you want to understand the science of epidemics, this short course produced by
the Wellcome Trust which I found on the University of
Liverpool website sets out some of the basic facts - it was produced well
before the current epidemic.
in the UK the press are fixated on the question of
when the lockdown will finish so that life can get back to normal. But realistically
life isnít likely to get back to normal until either a reliable vaccine is approved
and available in sufficiently large quantities, or public opinion accepts that
the death of several hundred thousand British people is a price worth paying.
guess your view on those options is going to depend whether you think you might
be one of unlucky ones - personally I'd prefer to wait for the vaccine. In the
meantime alternating short periods of lockdown (say 3 weeks at a time) with short
periods when people can go to work, shop, and play as normal would be one way
to build resilience into the economy without throwing the most vulnerable members
of the population under the proverbial bus.
course, this doesnít just apply to the UK - it's unlikely to be significantly
different in other democracies in the developed world, whilst in the Third
World it could be far worse. What a shame we weren't better prepared for this
pandemic, despite all the warnings from the experts!)
Changing the subject
- but only slightly - many of the free films at the British Film Institute website
are short public information films, such as A-tish-oo from 1941 about the
perils †of spreading germs by sneezing (it
not only recommends the wearing of masks, it demonstrates
how you can make your own).
films are organised into collections such as The Home Front
and NHS on Film,
which includes a 1948 documentary about the diagnosis and management of polio,
still a devastating disease at that time.
it's not all doom and gloom - a long-forgotten 1933 musical called Britannia
of Billingsgate is highly recommended by Will Gompertz,
the BBC's film critic (I've yet to watch it). It features a young John Mills - who
just a few years before had been working for my 1st cousin twice removed
selling toilet paper (though not very successfully). Finally, donít miss the
public information film How
to Use the Telephone - there are a few people who could learn from it even
today! (UPDATE: unfortunately it seems that the BFI films are not viewable outside the UK.)
you fancy something more highbrow, the Globe
theatre is making freely available several Shakespeare productions, but only
for a limited period - donít worry, they're not all tragedies! I also understand
that many West End theatres are making their productions available, but I havenít
had a chance to look into this.
This is where any major updates and corrections will be highlighted
- if you think you've spotted an error first reload the newsletter (press Ctrl-F5) then
check again before writing to me, in case someone else has beaten you to
Lastly, something that has troubled me for a long time but has
really come to the fore recently. A number of
organisations are using the shutdown to solicit volunteers to transcribe historic
documents of one sort or another. A great idea on the face of it, but if youíre
a LostCousins member please make sure you put your own cousins first - if
you havenít entered all of your relatives from
1881 that should surely be your top priority? After all, almost anyone
can transcribe historic records, but only you can enter the information that
will connect you to your cousins. Donít they say that charity begins at home?
© Copyright 2020 Peter Calver
Please do NOT copy or republish any part of this newsletter
without permission - which is only granted in the most exceptional
circumstances. However, you
MAY link to this newsletter or any article in it without asking for permission
- though why not invite other family historians to join LostCousins instead,
since standard membership (which includes the newsletter), is FREE?