Newsletter – 2nd April 2021
Free access to Ancestry.co.uk this weekend ENDS MONDAY
LostCousins is FREE for Easter ENDS WEDNESDAY
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 30th 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 an email to alert you whenever there's a new edition of this newsletter available!
Free access to Ancestry.co.uk this weekend ENDS MONDAY
Ancestry are offering free access to all of the 27 billion historical records at their UK site over Easter weekend, ending at 11.59pm on Easter Monday. You'll need to log-in (or register if you haven't done so previously), but you won't have to provide credit card or bank details (if you’re asked for these it’s probably because you clicked a 'Free Trial' link by mistake).
Follow this link to the Card Catalogue which lists all of the record collections, or this link to focus on records from the British Isles. Or if it’s parish records you’re interested in, why not use the links in the Masterclass published in the last issue?
Tip: if you want to be able to view the records you find after the offer ends, be sure to save them to your own computer, and not simply to your Ancestry tree.
LostCousins is FREE for Easter ENDS WEDNESDAY
Nobody has to pay to find their 'lost cousins'. Almost all of the censuses we use (including at least one from each country) are free online, and each year there are several periods when the LostCousins site is completely free, which means that all members can contact the cousins they've been matched with.
It's easier to find cousins than you might think - when you enter a relative from the England & Wales 1881 census on your My Ancestors page there's 1 chance in 13 of an IMMEDIATE MATCH. This means that most new members would be able to find at least one 'lost cousin' on the day they join!
Of course, there are many members who don't complete their My Ancestors page on the day they join. That's fine, of course, so long as they don’t keep kicking the can down the road. Unbelievably there are some people who've been members for over 10 years but still haven't found a spare half hour to help their own cousins.... let's hope they read this article and put matters right!
Tip: although the 1881 Census is always free, one of the best ways to find your 'lost cousins' is to start with everyone you can find on the 1841 Census, then trace each branch and twig forwards until you get to 1881 – and what better time to do this than when there's a free holiday weekend at Ancestry?
The most important page at the LostCousins is the My Ancestors page. But don't be fooled by the name – it's not just for direct ancestors, and here's why……
If you're my age or older the chances are that some or all of your grandparents were born before 1881. Naturally you'll enter them if they were on the census, but what's the chance of those entries leading to 'lost cousins'? Pretty small as it happens, because anyone descended from your grandparents is a 1st cousin of yours, and you probably know all of your 1st cousins already.
What about your great-grandparents? Their descendants are your 2nd cousins – so you'll probably know some of them, but not others. However they're not all going to be family historians like you, and the chances are that the ones who are researching their ancestry have already been in touch. So not much chance of finding 'lost cousins' there, either.
Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't enter your direct ancestors – of course you should. But they're just a stepping stone on the journey – not the final destination. The key relatives to enter are the ancestors of your 'lost cousins' – which means entering the relatives from the branches of your tree, because ALL of your living cousins are descended from the branches.
If I look at my own My Ancestors page there are 25 'direct ancestors' who I've been able to enter from the 1881 Census (several of them died shortly after the census, so I'm possibly a little luckier than most). But of course, it’s not the number of my ancestors that determines how many new cousins I'm going to find, it's how many of their ancestors that I've entered – and the best guide to that is the number of 'blood relatives' that I've found in 1881 and entered. That figure is much higher, at more than 700, and whilst some of them won’t have any living descendants, any one of them could potentially provide a connection to a 'lost cousin'.
The important thing to remember is that even if all of my 'direct ancestors' had emigrated long before the 1881 Census, most of those 'blood relatives' would have stayed in Britain, and they and/or their descendants would have been recorded in 1881. In other words, it’s not where your ancestors were in 1881 that matters, but where their cousins were.
So remember, the page might be called My Ancestors, but it’s really a page where you enter your cousins' ancestors – or your ancestors' cousins (it’s the same thing, of course).
Kirk sessions records at ScotlandsPeople
Over a million pages of kirk session and other court records of the Church of Scotland recently went online at ScotlandsPeople, and they're free to view, although it'll cost 2 credits to download each image. See this article on the Who Do You Think You Are? magazine website for more information, and also this article by expert Chris Paton on the role of the kirk session.
For once this adoption story doesn’t come from a LostCousins member, but it presents some challenging issues, so I felt it was worth airing – you'll find Hanna's sad story here.
Do you think that Hanna's children have the right to know that she is dying? Please post your comments on the LostCousins Forum in the Latest Newsletter area.
It has been lovely to see 88 year-old Sheila Hancock in series 4 of Unforgotten (which I haven’t finished watching yet, so please don’t tell me the ending), though I was quite shocked when I realised that 'young' Christopher Timothy who I've been watching in re-runs of the original All Creatures Great & Small is now over 80.
Did you see this story a few weeks ago about a US cop who is still working at the age of 91? Or this week's tale of the Italian lady who received her COVID jab in her 109th year? And what about the article about a 121 year-old bar of chocolate – still edible, I suspect?
As I was watching Unforgotten on the ITV Hub yesterday evening I noticed an advert from Ancestry; earlier in the day I received a press release from Findmypast about their TV advertising campaign that's starting on Sky (if, like me, you don’t have Sky, you can see the ads on Facebook here).
But I can assure you that you won't be seeing any TV ads for LostCousins – in fact, LostCousins has never advertised, not even in computer magazines. Everyone who joins LostCousins does so because they've heard about the site from a friend or relative, or (increasingly in these unusual times) from someone giving an online talk.
That's why most LostCousins members have never had to pay a penny, and why those of you who generously choose to support my work and help to keep LostCousins independent are still paying just £10 a year (or £12.50 for a joint subscription covering two accounts), the same as in 2005!
My father didn't know Lloyd George….
My father didn't know Lloyd George nearly died from Spanish Flu in September 1918 when he was Prime Minister – and, as it happened and nor did anyone else, because it was kept secret to avoid frightening the population and helping the enemy at a crucial point in the Great War (you won’t even find it on Lloyd George's Wikipedia page).
This interesting nugget came from a BBC article which has many other fascinating facts about British Prime Ministers. It was published on 1st April but I'm pretty sure it isn’t an April Fool. Talking of which, the BBC has a list of 10 stories which look like April Fools, but aren't - you'll find it here.
It might be a Bank Holiday today, but I nevertheless received a text message inviting me along next Friday for my second dose of vaccine – I accepted of course, although it'll only be 9 weeks since the first jab.
The UK regulator has managed to identify 22 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) amongst the 18.1 million doses of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine given up to 21st March. I'm not sure how relevant this statistic is since the background rate is around 5 per million people per annum according to John Hopkins University, though I believe that CVST is usually more common amongst people below 50, especially women who are 'on the pill', and most of the vaccine doses will have gone to over-50s.
The report I read didn't say how many of the 22 cases were fatal (it has now been updated to indicate that 7 people sadly died), but it's worth noting that so far this year 38 people have won over £1m on the UK lottery, which gives you some idea of how rare CVST is. And according to the ONS there were over 25,000 deaths registered in the UK in January alone where COVID-19 was the underlying cause – which really puts the figure into perspective.
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 it......
I've rushed this newsletter out to give you as much time as possible to take advantage of Ancestry's free access offer – but I'll be back soon!
© Copyright 2021 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? To link to a specific article right-click on the article name in the contents list at the top of the newsletter.