Newsletter - 9th August 2019



New marriage procedures to take effect in December? BREAKING NEWS

East India Company ships' logs online FREE

Traps our ancestors laid

Understanding GRO index references

The life of a coachman

British Newspaper Archive tops 33 million pages

Save 30% on British Newspaper Archive subscriptions

Confused (and confusing) BBC article questions DNA testing

Save 25% on DNA tests ENDS SOON

Masterclass: How to make the most of your DNA results

Stranger Than Fiction: Part 3 of 'The Life and Times of Eliza Fairchild'

Review: Tracing Your Freemason, Friendly Society & Trade Union Ancestors

1000th anniversary of St Benet's Abbey

A most unusual burial entry

Peter's Tips

Stop Press



The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 28th July) 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):



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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!



New marriage procedures to take effect in December? BREAKING NEWS

Just as I was finalising this newsletter I discovered that the long foreshadowed marriage registration procedures are to take effect from 2nd December. Please see this blog article for more details.



East India Company ships' logs online

When I began my research much of the information online had been uploaded by individual researchers who had transcribed parts of censuses or parish registers relevant to their own research, but realised that their efforts would be more meaningful if they shared the information with the genealogical community at large. Nowadays there is a wealth of information available at sites like Ancestry, Findmypast, and FamilySearch - often supported by images of the source documents - but thankfully there are still private individuals beavering away behind the scenes.


The following article was submitted by LostCousins member Alan:


"During his research into the early 1800s my pal Bryant Bayliffe came across a Captain Thomas Gabriel Bayliff of the Honourable East India Company Service who commanded the Huddart, a vessel which sailed from London to India and back in 1806-7.


"The ship's log is preserved in The British Library, London and Bryant set to work transcribing it, and ferreting out Shipping and Law Reports from contemporary newspapers. Most of the logs' entries are much to do with bearings and weather but this one turned out to include not only an interesting account of a dramatic incident at sea, but one which was the precursor of a unique action at law which became famous for clarifying the use of Martial Law at sea by Captains of private vessels in time of War.


"On the return voyage Capt. Bayliff saw two suspicious vessels which he thought could be a threat so he ordered passengers to their quarters. One of them, a Mr Boyce refused to obey even after some angry exchanges and, ignoring a threat of being clapped in irons he was manhandled from the deck and locked up. All this happened during the Napoleonic Wars; a Captain's word was law on his own ship, a fact which had been explained to Boyce.


"Boyce took great exception to this incident and when the ship docked at the tiny island of St Helena he disembarked and made his own way back to England where he commenced an action against Capt. Bayliff for wrongful imprisonment and assault, and another to recover the extra expense of travelling home by a different vessel. Surprisingly, Boyce won both his cases and received small sums in damages.


"An interesting tale in its own right but not the end of the story. The BBC TV series, Garrow's Law (2009-2011) is loosely based on fact and centred on William Garrow (1760-1840) a young attorney whose aggressive defence of clients helped establish the modern adversarial system now used in most common law systems. Although best known for his criminal defence work Garrow, who rose to the highest ranks in the law, was the attorney who acted for Boyce.


"It is a surprising fact that although for much of the 19th and 20th centuries Garrow's work was forgotten it was cited as recently as 1982 in the Supreme Court of Canada and in 2006 in the Irish Court of Criminal Appeal.


"A full account of the Huddart's voyage and its sequel can be found here"


Transcribed accounts of other HEICS ship's voyages can be found at the same site - it's an unusual resource that will provide vital clues for some researchers, and useful background for others.



Traps our ancestors laid

Our ancestors usually weren't thinking of us when they created the records on which we now rely. Occasionally there will be a child who has given a family surname as a forename (though equally often this indicates illegitimacy), but otherwise there are few clues, and there may even be some 'red herrings'. The challenge for researchers is to keep an open mind.


"I always read your newsletter with interest - I am not very serious about hunting relatives, but many of your articles are fascinating. I thought I would pass on two little snippets as a kind of warning to researchers! I have not specified names to protect those relatives still living who could be embarrassed - and please don't mention my name if youpublish any reference to these events.


"Firstly, I was trying to find out the ancestry of a 'cousin' whose mother was in fact adopted. He had established who his grandmother was, a single woman who gave birth in a seaside town in England: but her birth was in Ireland. I managed to trace the location (a rural area in N Ireland, near the border) and who appeared to be the person: but no apparent record of birth. But when I was able to see the actual birth certificates online, it became clear: the child was given a name at birth, but several weeks later the name given at baptism was different! Both names were recorded on the certificate. Subsequently a younger daughter was given the same name at birth as the previous child, but this time the name stayed. Suddenly all the dates fitted! This 'change of name' at baptism proved a tricky obstacle, two children who had been initially given the same name.


"Secondly, up to the present day. My nephew's grandmother was married to his great-grandfather! Researchers would find that quite baffling and assume a mistake. However, what happened was that my mother and also her future husband had been widowed. My mother's son (my brother) then became the partner of her husband's granddaughter (generational differences bringing them into the same age group), and they had a son. Hence he can quite rightly say that his grandmother married his great-grandfather! Now if it can happen today, it could have happened in close-knit communities in the past, so we need to be cautious and never to assume the obvious!


"I hope you find that of a little interest. Thank you for the extraordinary flow of information!"



Understanding GRO index references

What would you think if you came across these two entries in the GRO birth indexes?



Two births with the same forename and surname, in consecutive quarters of the same year, and with precisely the same index references - you'd probably suspect that there was some connection, and that perhaps the second entry was a correction of the first.


But you'd be wrong - it's all just a coincidence. There were separate registers for each quarter, but each register contained the births for the same registration districts as the corresponding volume of the previous quarter. If you search at FreeBMD you'll find that the page numbers for Hungerford births were 247-262 of volume 2C in the June quarter, and 249-268 of volume 2C in the September quarter - and as each page would have had up to 10 entries the chance of the same name appearing on the same page in different quarters is quite high.


Note: this is a variation of the Birthday problem - the paradox that you only need to have 23 people in a room for there to be a 50% chance that two of them have the same birthday. Even surnames that are quite rare across the country can be fairly common in a particular locality - names like Smith and Brown are common because they're found everywhere, not because there are a lot of people with this name in a given location. Marshall is a fairly common surname - there were 50,000 people with this surname in Britain at the time of the 1881 Census, and it was more than twice as common in Hungerford as across the country as a whole.


In the example above you can tell that the parents of William Charles Marshall weren't married, though you cannot be certain whether Marshall is the surname of the mother or the father without checking the original quarterly indexes - if the names of both parents were recorded in the register the entry will usually have been indexed under both surnames. At FreeBMD you can search for all the entries on the same register page - if the same birth has been indexed twice with different surnames this will usually be apparent.


In our research we're likely to come across many things that are coincidences - and many that aren't. Understanding how the GRO filed and numbered entries will help you distinguish between the two.


Many years ago I noticed that there were just three examples of the name Florence Minnie Calver in the GRO birth indexes:



As you can see, two were in the same registration district, which meant that the volume number was identical and that the page numbers were within a similar range. Having read the first part of this article would you expect there to be some connection between these three births?


There's no obvious evidence that they were connected, but in fact they were all cousins. The first Florence Minnie was my great-aunt, who died almost 20 years before I was born; the second was her 1st cousin, who died just 4 years before I was born, having been a widow; the third was another 1st cousin, who died as an infant.


When local registrars submitted birth, marriage, and death register entries to the GRO they were copied onto loose pages - it was these pages that were bound together to create the GRO's register volumes. Each entry was an exact manuscript copy of the original (including the sequential number from the local register) - which means that if you want to see your ancestors' handwriting you'll need to order the certificates locally, and not from the GRO (but check first to ensure that the local registrar has the right equipment to make a facsimile copy, and is prepared to do so).


Note: there were occasional transcription errors, so in theory local certificates are a more reliable source - on the other hand it is often easier to read the names of marriage witnesses from GRO certificates.



The life of a coachman

Most of my ancestors were poor 'ag labs', but John Calver, the brother of my great-great-great-great grandfather was able to get a position as coachman to Nathaniel Barnardiston, a member of a distinguished East Anglian family. It was a position he seems to have held for much of his working life - so I was interested to discover this blog article which describes the duties of a domestic coachman..



British Newspaper Archive tops 33 million pages

There are now over 33 million pages - and, by my calculations, over 400 million articles - from newspapers and magazines in the British Newspaper Archive. But although the collection goes back to the early 18th century, you wonít find many articles until the second half of the 19th century - not because the newspapers havenít survived, or because the population was illiterate, but because the taxes levied on newspapers from 1712 until the mid-19th century were so high that few could afford to buy them.


According to The Circulation of Newspapers in the Early Nineteenth Century, an article by A Aspinall published in 1946, there were only slightly more newspapers sold in the whole of 1783 than on any one day in 1938. In 1801, the year of the first census, only 16 million were sold - fewer than 2 per head of the population.


Save 30% on British Newspaper Archive subscriptions

If you have a Pro or Ultimate subscription to Findmypast you'll already be familiar with the breadth of the newspaper archive, but you may not realise that searching at the British Newspaper Archive is much more powerful. For example, you can restrict your search to articles added to the archive between specific dates - this avoids the problem of having to plough through hundreds of search results you've seen before in the hope of finding a handful of new ones.


Until midnight London time on Sunday 18th August you can save a hefty 30% on the cost of a 12 month subscription to the British newspaper Archive - bringing the cost down to little more than £1 a week. Please use this link so that you can support LostCousins, and enter the code BNA30SUMMER so that you can secure your 30% saving.



Confused (and confusing) BBC article questions DNA testing

August is the time of the year when journalists are scratching around for something to write about, and whilst this year is different for political commentators, who have plenty to write about, other correspondents are sifting through their files looking for something they can regurgitate.


Headlined "I gave my DNA away. Can I get it back?", Jane Wakefield's article is a hotchpotch of information that will mislead some readers because of the way that it jumps between different aspects of DNA and from one test provider to another, casting aspersions but rarely being precise. It's a bit like writing an article about restaurants which mentions food allergies, rats, and the fact that some restaurants employ ex-prisoners


Read the article if you want, but donít take it too seriously. If there was really something to worry about you'd read about it in this newsletter!



Save 25% on DNA tests ENDS SOON are discounting their DNA tests by 25% until Monday 12th August, bringing the price down from £79 to £59 excluding shipping. If you've already tested it's an opportunity to pick up a couple of extra kits for your cousins; if you haven't, itís a chance to buy a test for a fraction of what I paid for my first DNA test! Please use the link below so that you can support LostCousins: - £59 (save 25%) plus shipping until 12th August


You don't need a subscription to Ancestry to view your DNA results or to connect with your genetic cousins. You can view the most recent 5 generations of your cousins' public trees attached to their DNA results, and you can utilise the strategies in my Masterclass to search your cousins trees, whether they are public or private.


However, you wouldn't be able to view the full trees of other users without their permission - even if their tree is public. On the other hand, why would a cousin of yours not give you permission to view their public tree?


Currently the ThruLines feature, which makes use of Ancestry trees to explain DNA matches, is available to non-subscribers. Ancestry haven't said whether this is permanent, but I would expect them to give some notice before withdrawing the facility.


Ancestry have by far the largest database of autosomal DNA tests, but if you have ancestors from continental Europe it's worth considering MyHeritage. There are special offers in the UK and Australia:


MyHeritage (UK) - £59 until 12th August (free shipping when you order 2 or more kits)

MyHeritage (Australia) - $59 until 12th August (free shipping when you order 2 or more kits)


Note: if the MyHeritage link seems not to work please check back later - there is no need to contact me.


FamilyTreeDNA are discounting all of their tests until the end of August, but the most attractive offer is the 37-marker Y-DNA test at US$129, reduced from $169. Y-DNA only looks at a single line but can be invaluable if you are struggling to find written proof; it works best when you have another sample to compare against - only around 700,000 males have taken a Y-DNA test so the chance of getting a useful match when you test speculatively is fairly low.


FamilyTree DNA - multiple savings until 31st August (please note that links in earlier newsletters no longer work)



Masterclass: How to make the most of your DNA results

Note: I've updated this Masterclass since it was published in May 2018


Before you begin - forget those ethnicity estimates, at least for now

If you've tested for the first time you might think that the easiest part of your DNA results to understand is the ethnicity estimates - but youíd be wrong. Although they're getting better, ethnicity estimates are most accurate at continental level, so if your ancestors all originated in Europe you probably wonít learn anything helpful.


My advice is to consider ethnicity estimates as being for amusement only: even if they are correct, and itís unlikely they are, the areas are often large, ill-defined, and overlapping. To add to the confusion different companies compile their estimates differently, using different reference panels and different areas.


Introduction to autosomal DNA

If youíre male and you've previously tested your Y-DNA you might be expecting a set of numbers, For example, I tested 111 markers on my Y-DNA and I can see from my results how many repeats I have at each of those 111 sites - comparing my Y-DNA with that of other males who have tested is easy, and when I do the number of differences provides a rough guide to how closely related we are.


Autosomal DNA is very different - your DNA is sampled at around 650,000 to 700,000 sites across your chromosomes using a specially designed chip - a sort of miniature laboratory - and there are two readings for each site (because the autosomal chromosomes come in pairs). Although it sounds like a very large number, there are more than 3 billion base pairs in our entire genome, so the test is looking at fewer than one base in 4000. The bases are chosen because they are known to vary in the general population: however the majority donít have have any known medical significance.


Looking at the raw data isn't going to tell you anything - it takes a clever computer program to compare your results with those of millions of others who have tested, identifying common segments of DNA. But even when those segments have been identified, there's nothing to say which ancestral line they came from - there are no names attached, nor any dates. Indeed there's nothing to say which half came from your mother or your father.


No matter how much experience you might have as a family historian, it would be understandable if, when the results of your DNA test came through, you were completely flummoxed about what to do next. There's a simple reason for this - we're used to working backwards from what we already know, so there's a clearly defined path, ie: find our ancestor's baptism in order to discover (or confirm) who their parents were, then find the parents' marriage, then find the baptisms of the parents and so on, working back a generation at a time.


The challenge

But when we're matched with a genetic cousin, someone who appears to have inherited an identical segment of DNA, we're faced with a very different challenge - we usually donít know which of our ancestors we inherited that segment from, and the chances are the person we're matched with won't know either. It's rather like trying to do a complex jigsaw without first seeing the picture on the box.


Most of the matches we make with DNA cousins will be many generations back, since we have many more distant cousins than we do close cousins. The final column of the table below indicates roughly how many cousins you might expect to find if you and they all took the Ancestry DNA test:



Based on Table 2 from: Henn BM, Hon L, Macpherson JM, Eriksson N, Saxonov S, Pe'er I, et al. (2012) Cryptic Distant Relatives Are Common in Both Isolated and Cosmopolitan Genetic Samples. PLoS ONE 7(4): e34267. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034267

Revised using Ancestry DNA estimates for the chances of detecting cousins and the expected number of 1st to 6th cousins for those of British ancestry; the numbers for 7th to 10th cousins are my own guesstimates


Of course, in practice only a small fraction of your cousins will have tested - even Ancestry, by far the biggest providers of autosomal tests, have only sold about 15 million tests - but you can nevertheless reckon that the cousins you're matched with will be distributed roughly in proportion to the figures shown above. In other words, over 99% of your matches will be with relatives who are at best 5th cousins, and could well be 8th cousins or even more distant. This won't necessarily be apparent when you look at your list of matches because there's a tendency for matches to appear closer or more distant than they really are.


Tip: Ancestry won't show any of your DNA matches as more distant than '5th to 8th cousin', but it's very likely that amongst them there are many who are more distant - possibly up to half of them. Once you get beyond 3rd cousins the length of the shared segment(s) is only a very rough guide to how closely you are related - you could share a 20cM segment with a 10th cousin, but no detectable DNA with a 3rd cousin. The same limitations apply at other sites too, of course.


This amazing chart from Blaine Bettinger's blog shows how variable the amounts can be, and how this affects the amount of DNA shared by more distant relatives:



In each box there are three figures: the lowest and highest amounts shared between relatives of each order, together with the average. However the average only takes into account matches - if there was no detectable shared DNA it isnít taken into account in the averages (but does show in the range).


What you will notice is that the average stabilises at around 12 or 13cM even for the most distant relationships in the chart. For example, you can see from the first table that the average DNA shared between 8th cousins is just 0.055cM, but the average in this chart is over 200 times greater. How can this happen? I's because unless there's a matching segment of at least 6 to 10cM most companies won't report a match at all - and because the chart only includes matches which were actually detected, it bumps up the average quite considerably.


Very interesting, you might think - but what does it actually mean in practice? What it tells us is that neither you, nor I, nor any of the DNA companies can reliably predict how closely we are related to our more distant cousins. So donít rely on the testing company's estimate of how closely youíre related to a cousin, look at the chart and figure out what's possible, then consider what's likely (this means, for example, taking into account your age and that of your cousin).


Even if your DNA match is with a 5th cousin, someone who shares your great-great-great-great grandparents, it probably wonít be obvious how the two of you are related. I don't know about you, but I certainly can't say who all of my 4G grandparents were - indeed, I don't even know for sure who all my 3G grandparents were. I've got several 'brick walls' in the last 6 generations (though fewer than before I tested my DNA) - and most researchers, including my DNA cousins, are probably in the same situation. Go back another generation and there are even more gaps - and it just gets worse from then on.


In practice most of the ancestors that link us to our DNA cousins are on the other side of a 'brick wall' - and this could be a 'brick wall' in your own tree, in your cousin's tree, or both trees. What a fascinating challenge!


The reward

At this stage it's important to remind ourselves why we took a DNA test! If you're a regular reader of this newsletter it's very likely that the primary reason you tested was the same as mine - to knock down 'brick walls' that conventional research couldn't breach. If our 'brick walls' have resisted our efforts for years (or even decades), the opportunity to knock them down using DNA is well worth grasping, even though it will mean that we have to adopt a new and unfamiliar strategy, and utilise somewhat different techniques.


But unless you follow the advice in this Masterclass youíre likely to get in to a muddle. There are dozens of DNA bloggers and experts out there who promote techniques and apps that are wonderful in theory, but in practice are more likely to befuddle you and waste your time - in short, you could end up wishing you hadn't taken the test! Just because something is free and produces pretty pictures doesnít make it useful.


Before you get your results

Make sure that you've done all the conventional, records-based, research you possibly can. Remember, DNA testing isn't a substitute for records-based research - you need to do both to have a reasonable chance of success. Each builds on the other - if you only do one you're almost certainly going to fail.


Complete your My Ancestors page, ensuring that you have entered ALL of the cousins (no matter how distant) that you can find on the 1881 Census. Yes, it might take you an hour or two, but skipping this important step could cost your tens or even hundreds of hours when you come to analyse your DNA matches.


Tip: start in 1841 and trace each of your branches (sometimes referred to as collateral lines) through to 1881.


Take a look at your My Cousins page and see which of your cousins have already tested, then contact them and find out who they tested with. If they tested with a different company, ask if they have uploaded their results to GEDmatch, and if so, what their kit number is. Shared matches are the easiest way to figure out how youíre related to DNA cousins, so knowing which cousins have already tested is crucially important.



How to process your DNA matches

I'm going to assume for the purpose of this article that you tested with Ancestry - but don't stop reading if you tested elsewhere because I'll be covering techniques you can use, though not as effectively, at Family Tree DNA and GEDmatch.


At Ancestry you'll typically have over 20000 matches with genetic cousins, and of those all but about 1% will be with 'distant' cousins, ie where the estimated relationship is 5th cousin or more distant. So you might think that the best strategy might be to focus on the 1% on the basis that if you can't make head or tail of those matches, your chance of resolving the more distant matches is negligible. Wrong, totally wrong - that approach will lead to frustration, disappointment, and disillusionment!


Here's how to get the best results and avoid all that wasted time and frustration:



Strategy 1: search by surname


My experience has shown that a much better approach is to search the trees of your matches by surname, in the hope of identifying cousins who have the same surname in their tree as one of your 'brick wall' ancestors. Here's how to go about it:




Strategy 2: search by birthplace


As you will have discovered when working through your list of surnames, most of the time the surname of the ancestors you share with a DNA cousin doesn't appear in both trees - indeed, it's quite possible that the surname of your common ancestor doesn't appear in either tree!


The problem is, when your female ancestors married they generally took their husband's surname. This makes it more difficult to research female ancestors whose children were born before the commencement of civil registration, since baptism registers don't usually give the mother's maiden surname - usually the only solution is to find the marriage. By contrast you can continue researching your male ancestors even if you can't their marriage.


Of course, this problem doesn't simply affect you and your research - it affects your cousins too; most researchers' trees become increasingly sparse with each generation. If you've only identified 10% of your 256 6G grandparents and your cousins have only identified 10% of theirs, the odds of finding out how you're related to a 7th cousin simply by comparing the names in your trees are pretty remote (a little more than 1% in this example, not great odds).


Another way to figure out how you are related to your DNA cousins is to look for geographical overlaps - and here's how to go about it:




Strategy 3: look for overlaps with the more unusual components of your ethnicity

Most readers of this newsletter have mostly British, Irish, or western European ancestry. But some of you will have Jewish ancestors, or ancestors from outside Europe, and whilst ethnicity estimates can be quite misleading, they do provide another way of analysing your matches.


Here's what Ancestry show for one of my DNA cousins:



If Ancestry had detected a Jewish component of my own ethnicity this would be one of the matches I'd be looking at very closely.



Strategy 4: look for the 'elephant in the room'


Because we all have 'brick walls' in our trees there are parts of our ancestry that are a closed book - yet there will inevitably be clues amongst our matches, if only we look for them. For example, if - like me - you don't know of any Irish ancestors, but have lots of matches with cousins who do, you might begin to wonder whether one of your 'brick walls' is concealing a connection to Ireland. I can't provide you with a step-by-step guide - it's all about awareness (Louis Pasteur said that "chance favours the prepared mind").


But beware of the common situation in which you share the same DNA segment with lots of other people (if you tested with Ancestry you won't necessarily know about this unless you upload your results to GEDmatch and use the Chromosome Browser, though if you have a cluster of matches, none of which seems to connect with your tree, it's a pretty good indicator). This suggests that the people youíre matched with come from an endogamous population, one in which people generally marry within the same community - in this case you would probably do well to ignore the matches altogether as any connection is likely to be a long way back.



More tips




Stranger Than Fiction: Part 3 of 'The Life and Times of Eliza Fairchild'

We all have characters in our family tree who on closer inspection turn out to have led fascinating lives, but the story of Eliza Fairchild - a relative of LostCousins member Tony Martin - is exceptional. The first instalment featured in this newsletter way back in 2011 (see The real Eliza Doolittle), and the following year it won Tony 1st prize in a competition run by the Federation of Family History Societies. Let me hand you over to Tony.....


"I concluded my second article on The Improbable Life And Times of Eliza Fairchild with the thought that it would be interesting to see what further research would reveal and my certainly that she would not disappoint us. Parts 1 and 2 recounted how Eliza, a barmaid from Southampton, married the brother of the 5th Baronet Sheffield; was the probable inspiration for Shawís Eliza Doolittle and how she sued the Marquis Townshend for breach of promise.My latest findings have been even more remarkable.


"On 14th June 1901 Evelyn Diana Sheffield was initiated into the Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania Temple in London. According to Wikipedia The Golden Dawn was an organisation devoted to the study and practice of the occult, metaphysics and paranormal activities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many present day concepts of ritual and magic that are at the centre of contemporary traditions such as Wicca and Thelema were inspired by the Golden Dawn. It sounds weird and wacky but its membership included many contemporary celebrities such as the actress Florence Farr, the Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne, the Irish poet William Butler Yeates, Welsh author Arthur Machin and the notorious Aleister Crowley. It is not known if Evelynís membership continued after the acrimonious break-up of Golden Dawn in 1903. The extent of her involvement is also unknown but at least it gives some background to her being accused of being a clairvoyant by the defence in her breach of promise case in 1905 against the Marquis Townshend.


"In the second article I also gave a brief outline of Evelynís involvement in the Tallerman Sheffield patent for the hot air treatment of disease.In it I stated that Evelynís contribution was unknown.However recent research in the British Newspaper Archives has been very informative about Evelynís contribution and her troubled relationship with Mr Tallerman.


"Her companion Lewis Garden died in 1892 but it seems he had already provided her with property in Mettingham, Suffolk and financial independence to enable her to follow other interests.She had a particular interest in medical treatments and had the idea that the use of hot dry air could be therapeutic for a range of ailments. In January 1893 she learnt that an engineer, Mr Thomas Henry Rees, had taken out a patent for a hot vapour treatment device. On May 15th 1893 Mr Rees contacted Evelyn by letter stating ďI am sure we could unite our interests to great mutual advantageĒ.On May 29th Mr Rees wrote again enclosing specifications 'with rough sketches of your bath'. Evelyn financed the development of the hot dry air prototype equipment and even acted as a guinea pig in the proving trials.


"At the time Evelyn was living at the Langham Hotel, which is where she met Mr Tallerman. He became interested in the hot air treatment, sensing a good business opportunity, particularly after hearing that Sir Alfred Garrod, an eminent doctor, had seen the development work and given his encouragement. Mr Tallerman wanted to become involved and being a wily operator insisted on a third share of the patent in return for his business expertise. Subsequently he inveigled Mr Rees into giving up his share of the patent for a derisory sum. He then pressurised Evelyn to sell her share of the patent and the business by limiting the profitability of the company by extensive use of free treatment centres and withdrawing thousands in personal expenses. The idea was to wind up the joint company with Evelyn and set up anew with him as sole patent owner in control of a far larger Tallerman treatment company. Evelyn refused to give up her share of the patent or her financial interest, which left an impasse; but she was progressively side-lined and air-brushed out of the 'Tallerman' Dry Air Treatment and the company.


"It was unjust that Evelyn was denied recognition for her role in developing a serious medical treatment which was extensively used throughout the world and reviewed in The Lancet (still a leading medical journal in the UK). That this was keenly felt as evidenced by the letters she wrote to the press in 1900 attacking Mr Tallerman for his underhand tactics. As a poignant postscript Evelynís entry in the 1939 Register gives her occupation as 'Inventor of medical dry air baths and electric pads' - the Sheffield Hot Air Treatment was obviously an achievement she felt very proud of.


"Happily her achievements have been recognised by the Womenís Engineering Society, which now regards her as a very early pioneer. In the centennial year of this prestigious society Evelyn is due to be acclaimed as ďEngineer of the weekĒ on her birthday (7th September). She will also have her biography added to their 'Magnificent Women' site. Celebration of this remarkable woman is long overdue."


© Copyright Tony Martin


Eliza Sheffield (nee Fairchild) was clearly a remarkable woman as well as a talented engineer, though unlike Ada Lovelace she wasn't considered for the reverse of the new £50 note. Her long life overlapped with that of another remarkable and talented woman, the folk singer Peggy Seeger, though I doubt that when she wrote the feminist song I'm Gonna Be an Engineer she had Eliza (or even Ada) in mind. I had the pleasure of hearing and meeting Peggy in 1971 or 1972, when I was at university, and I've been to see her on several more occasions since then (most recently in 2017). At some of the earlier concerts she was accompanied by her husband, the late singer/songwriter Ewan McColl, whose most famous composition (The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face) was written for Peggy. Many of you will be familiar with the Roberta Flack version, which reached No.1 in both the US and Canada, though only made it to No.14 in the UK; hearing Ewan McColl sing the song a capella was extremely moving.


For some of you the reference in Tony's story to the Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn will be the first you've heard of this crackpot organisation, but coincidentally I also read about them in the book reviewed below.....



Review: Tracing Your Freemason, Friendly Society & Trade Union Ancestors

Daniel Weinbren's new book covers what, at first sight, seems to be a rather mixed bag - but there is underlying logic. The connection between freemasonry, friendly societies, and trade unions is that they're all organisations which sought to improve the lot of their own members.


However, there are some important distinctions between them. Friendly societies were an important support for workers who, in the days before National Insurance, would have had no way of supporting themselves and their families if they were unable to work as a result of illness, accident, or unemployment - there were no losers, except when one of these mutual bodies ran out of funds as a result of miscalculation, embezzlement, or some upheaval which affected a large number of members.


The other two types of organisation had both good and bad sides: they could produce losers - whether they were the employees passed over for promotion because they weren't masons, members of other unions, or workers who were unable to carry out certain tasks because of protectionism. For many years most of them were closed to women - some still are. Others were restricted according to ethnicity or religion.


Many of our ancestors will have belonged to one or more of these organisations during their lifetimes: membership of a friendly society would have been the only way for many to ensure that children who died had a proper burial; trade unions helped to stop the exploitation of workers by unscrupulous employers; in some careers becoming a freemason was often the only way to 'get on'. The book provides excellent guidance on where to look for the records that have survived, as well as many interesting examples - and whilst I feel the author has misinterpreted the meaning of the parable of The Good Samaritan, this doesn't affect the value of the book to family historians.


I read the paperback version but it is also available in Kindle format. If you decide to buy the book please use the links below so that you can support LostCousins with your purchase - it won't cost you any more:††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Wordery



1000th anniversary of St Benet's Abbey

The sparse remains of St Benet's Abbey lie alongside the River Bure, in Norfolk - and each year an open air service is held which is led by the Bishop of Norwich, who also holds the position of Abbot of St Benet's. This year, as in previous years, the Bishop arrived by river then he and his procession picked their way through the undergrowth, as you can see from my photos below. My wife and I attend the annual service when we can; last Sunday's service was a particularly special occasion, because it marked 1000 years since King Cnut donated the land on which the abbey was built.



One sentence from the Bishop's sermon really struck home, because I'd just finished reading the book reviewed above, about organisations whose primary role was to help their members. Referring to the remains of the abbey the Bishop said "Itís a place that reflects better than many the spirit of Jesus Christ who sought out the lost, who welcomed the sinner, and urged us not to limit our generosity and affections merely to our friends."


Goodness knows, we could do with more of that in the world right now!



A most unusual burial entry

You can learn a lot from the discussions on the LostCousins Forum - for example, one member discovered this unusual entry in the registers of the municipal cemetery in Blackburn, Lancashire (which can be found online at the DeceasedOnline website, which has the largest online collection of burial and cremation registers: :



Why would someone's amputated leg be buried? I suspect itís to do with the integrity of the corpse - for example, some religions used to forbid organ donations. However, it's not certain that James Marsden was reunited with his leg when he died the following year - his body was buried in a different plot, and there's no readily-available evidence that his missing leg was exhumed.


After the passing of the Anatomy Act in 1832 unclaimed bodies of those who died in the workhouse could be sold for dissection, at least until 1844 - another reason to belong to a friendly society, perhaps?



Peter's Tips

Hard to believe, but this week was the 50th anniversary of the famous Abbey Road photoshoot for the cover of the Beatles album - fans from all over the world came to recreate the image. Some years ago, when the pedestrian crossing was accorded Grade 2 listing by English Heritage, I read that it had changed position since 1969 - so I decided to find out whether or not this was the case. I didn't, however, have to go to London - I discovered the answer in this excellent blog article.



Stop Press

The article about offers on DNA tests has been updated to make it clear that you DON'T need to be an Ancestry subscriber to make use of an Ancestry DNA test.



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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2019 Peter Calver

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