Newsletter - 11th December 2015



Christmas Competition

How to be a winner

Shape the Scotland 2021 Census

The three Johns

Take a peek at the 1939 Register SAVE 20%

Family Tree Maker to be discontinued

Masterclass: Extending your tree beyond 1911

Finding living relatives in the Electoral Register

Contacting living relatives

GRO invite arrives

Gift subscriptions

New South Wales 1891 Census now online at FamilySearch FREE

75 years since 'The Blitz' and 'The Battle of Britain'

Review: In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors

Review: The America Ground

The Grand-Daddy of All Mysteries?

Builders find 1930s letter to Santa

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 27th November) 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 2012-14 click here. Or do what I do, and use the customised Google search below (it only searches these newsletters, so you won't get spurious results):



top 100 genealogy website 2015Whenever 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). If one of the links doesn't work this normally indicates that you're using adblocking software - you need to make the LostCousins site an exception (or else use a different browser, such as Chrome).


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!



Christmas Competition

There are some excellent prizes in this year's competition, and the great thing about it is that to win, you only have to do what comes naturally - search for your 'lost cousins'.


Every direct ancestor or blood relative you enter on your My Ancestors page between now and midnight (London time) on Twelfth Night (Tuesday 5th January) represents an entry in the competition. Shortly after midnight I'll start picking relatives at random from all those entered during the period of the competition, and the lucky members who entered those relatives will be able to choose a prize from the list below (the first person out of the hat gets to choose first, the second person has next choice, and so on).


This year's wonderful prizes include.....


THREE 12 month World subscriptions to Findmypast, each one supplemented with 300 credits to enable you to access the new 1939 Register (donated by Findmypast, Britain's leading family history company)


With a World subscription you can access any of Findmypast's historic records and newspaper articles, as well as their modern (2012-14) UK Electoral Register - and you can do this at any of the Findmypast's four sites around the globe.


ONE Printed Family Tree to the value of £45, showing up to 500 of your relatives (donated by Genealogy Printers, Britain's leading tree printing company)


If the winner has wall space for an even larger family tree it will be possible to upgrade by paying the difference. Genealogy Printers can accept files from just about any family tree program - if your program isn't on the list just ask.


ONE copy of Family Historian v6 (donated by Simon Orde, the designer and lead programmer of Britain's leading family tree program)


If the winner lives outside the UK the prize will be a downloaded copy; winners in the UK can choose between a downloaded copy and a boxed copy (they function identically). Check out Family Historian now with a free 30-day trial - just follow this link.


TEN 12 month subscriptions to LostCousins


If you already have a subscription I'll extend it by 12 months


Even if you don't win one of these prizes, there's a far greater reward at stake - you could find a 'lost cousin'. Every single relative you enter is a potential link to another researcher who shares your ancestry - and whenever you click the Search button the LostCousins computer will compare every single entry you've made against the millions of entries made by other members!


Tip: unlike some websites, which update their databases at intervals, the LostCousins database is updated instantly - there is no waiting, whether you're entering a new relative or updating an existing entry.


This year the odds are better than ever before - for example, when you enter a household from the 1881 England & Wales census there's 1 chance in 18 of an immediate match!


How to be a winner

The more relatives you enter on your My Ancestors page between now and Christmas, the better your chance of winning one of the prizes on offer. But what if you've already entered all your relatives?


My advice is to think again - because, if you have mostly British ancestry, thousands of your relatives would have been recorded on the 1881 Census, and last time I checked there were only a handful of LostCousins members who had entered more than a thousand from that census.


Who are all these missing relatives? They're the brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, and cousins of your direct ancestors - in other words, the very people from whom most of your 'lost cousins' are descended. To track down your ancestors' 1st cousins you'll need to go back two generations, to their grandparents, then work forwards; to track down their 2nd cousins you'll need to go back a generation further, to their great-grandparents.


Important: to ensure that you'll be matched with your cousin (and qualify for a prize if your entry is picked out of the hat) make sure that your entries are correct by carefully following the advice on the Add Ancestor form. It takes only a second or two to verify the census references for relatives living in England, Wales, or Ireland - simply click the Click to check the references against the census button alongside the head of the household.


Shape the Scotland 2021 Census

It's not only in England & Wales where we need to ensure that the interests of family historians are taken into account in the 2021 Census - Scotland are also considering the matter. There is currently a consultation that will be open for comments until 16th January - you'll find it here.


The three Johns

In most cases where multiple children in a family are baptised with the same name they are 'replacements' for older children who have died - but John came across a most unusual will, that of Raulfe Billott of Corsham, who in his 1566 will bequeathed legacies to "John my eldest son, John my son which is called middle John, my son William and my youngest son John".


John - the LostCousins member, not the eldest, middle, or youngest - originally posted this information on the Society of Genealogists mailing list, where there are some very interesting discussions - indeed, for me it's one of the biggest perks of SoG membership. He wasn't the only SoG member to have discovered something like this in his research - and I'm willing to bet he wasn't the only LostCousins member, either!


Take a peek at the 1939 Register SAVE 20%

Thanks to the 1939 Register, which was released last month, I've filled in lots of gaps on my tree (especially dates of birth) and made some interesting discoveries - such as the cousin who was living with a man who wasn't her husband....


I've also been able to add dozens of new relatives, thanks to the marriages I've identified - and all of this has been achieved without spending a penny on certificates, which at a minimum of £9.25 a time are a bit of a luxury at the moment.


However there are still a lot of people who have yet to open up a record from the 1939 Register - if you've been wavering, then you might like to know that you can purchase the 60 credits to view your first household at a 20% discount by following one of the following links:


Findmypast Britain

Findmypast Ireland

Findmypast Australia


GRO invite arrives

You may recall from the last newsletter that I was a bit miffed not to have received an invitation to the consultation meetings that the GRO are organising in Southport next Friday, and in London the following Monday.It seems there was no need to worry - this week I received an invitation to a third meeting which is being organised especially for people in the genealogy industry.


Family Tree Maker to be discontinued

This week Ancestry made the shock announcement that they will stop selling Family Tree Maker at the end of this month. They have pledged to support existing owners until 1st January 2017, but whilst this sounds like a long time away, it's only just over a year from now.


I've never used Family Tree Maker myself, though I've often recommended buying it purely to get the free 6 month Ancestry subscription that is included with the Platinum and World editions - nevertheless I can understand why some family historians found Family Tree Maker and Ancestry an attractive combination.


Understandably publishers of other family tree programs are keen to pick up the pieces - for example, Family Historian are offering a 20% discount to users of Family Tree Maker until the end of January, which gives you time to download the 30-day free trial and check it out first.


I had hoped to be able to provide some definitive advice in this newsletter, but the information is constantly changing. I would recommend that if you're affected by Ancestry's announcement you follow this discussion on the LostCousins Forum - but don't be panicked into taking precipitate action because you have all of 2016 to get it right.


Masterclass: Extending your tree beyond 1911

This is an updated version of an article published a year ago

If your family comes from England or Wales, and you have either a or subscription, you'll not only have access to fully transcribed GRO birth, marriage, and death indexes but also to the complete England & Wales 1911 Census. By combining these two resources you'll probably find that you can add dozens of new relatives to your family tree - without spending a penny on certificates!


Here's how I generally go about it:


(1) Where there are married couples on the 1911 Census and the wife is of child-bearing age (typically up to 47) I search the birth indexes for children born to the couple using the family surname and mother's maiden name. The rarer the surnames the more confident I can be about identifying the entries, especially if I also take into account the choice of forenames, the timing of the births, and the districts where the births were registered.


Tip: even if the surnames aren't particularly rare, the surname combination might be - a search for marriages where the bride and groom have the same surnames will help you gauge how likely it is that the births you've found belong to your couple.


(2) I then check to see whether I can identify marriages involving relatives who were single in 1911. This is generally only possible when the surnames are fairly uncommon (but see below).


(3) Having identified these post-1911 marriages, or possible marriages, I look in the birth indexes for children born to the couple using the technique described in (1) above. Sometimes the choice of forenames will help to confirm whether or not I've found the right marriage.


(4) I next look for the deaths of the couples whose children I've been seeking. If the precise date of birth is included in the death indexes, as it is for later entries, this often helps to confirm not only that I've found the right death entry, but also - in the case of a female relative - that I've found the right marriage. Even if I don't know exactly when my relative was born, the quarter in which the birth was registered defines a 19 week window (remember that births can be registered up to 6 weeks after the event). Why does this work best for female relatives? Because they will have changed their surname on marriage, so their birth will be registered in one name and the death in another - and there will be a marriage that links the two.


Tip: probate calendars can also provide useful clues - often one of the children, or the surviving spouse, will be named as executor or administrator. You can search the calendars from 1858-1966 at Ancestry, or from 1858-1959 at Findmypast; if you don't have access to either of these sites, or want to search for more recent wills, you'll need to use the free Probate Service.


(5) Now I start on the next generation, the children who were recorded in 1911 or whose births I have been able to identify as belonging to my tree. I look for both marriages and deaths, because if I find the death of a female relative recorded under her maiden name, this usually indicates that she didn't marry, and even for a male relative the place of death might help to determine whether a marriage I've found in an unexpected part of the country.


(6) Having identified marriages I then look in the birth indexes for children born to those marriages - and continue this process until either I reach the present day, or I get to a point where I can't tell with reasonable certainty which entries relate to my relatives. Mind you, when it comes to more recent generations there are all sorts of additional sources of information - including social networking sites, Google, searches of the electoral roll (see the next article) or even the phone book (not everyone is ex-directory).


Here are some key dates to bear in mind when searching:


2nd April 1911 - Census Day


1st July 1911 - from this date the mother's maiden name was included in the birth indexes


1st January 1912 - the surname of the spouse was included in the marriage indexes


1st January 1966 - from this date the first two forenames are shown in full in the birth indexes


1st April 1969 - the precise date of birth was included in the death indexes and the first two forenames were shown in full


During the 20th century middle names are more consistent than they were in the 19th century - there is less of a tendency for them to appear or disappear between birth, marriage, and death. Unfortunately, for more than half a century after 1910 only the first forename was shown in full in the birth and death indexes, and the marriage indexes only show one forename for the whole period after 1910 - so a perfect match on the second forename is only possible if the relative was born before 1911 and died after March 1969.


What can you hope to achieve by following the techniques I've described? In my case I was able to extend some lines forward by as many as four generations, although three is more typical. In the process I added hundreds of 20th century relatives to my family tree, the majority of whom were still living.


Since the 1939 Register was released I've been able to extend my tree further by confirming that many of the marriages I'd noted as possible marriages did indeed involve my relatives (the fact that precise birthdates are given is a really big help).


One of the best things about the 1939 Register is the way that it continued to be used after the War - and so the surnames of many women were updated to reflect marriages (and divorces) that took place in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s or even later. This makes the 1939 Register more useful than a static census, and since it was released I've added dozens more relatives to my tree, most of whom must still be living.


Note: there will often be other resources that you can draw upon, including parish registers (some online collections extended beyond 1911), newspaper announcements (iannounce

 is good for recent events, the British Newspaper Archive - also at Findmypast - for early 20th century events). Burials recorded at Deceased Online are another great source (for example, there may be other family members in the same grave). Historic Phone Directories up to 1984 are online at Ancestry. Ancestry and Findmypast each have historic Electoral Rolls - Findmypast covers much of the country, but Ancestry is best for London.


Finding living relatives in the Electoral Register

At one time you had to pay extra to search the UK Electoral Register at Findmypast, even if you had a subscription - now this valuable feature is included in both the Britain and World subscriptions.


The database covers the period 2002-14, but many of the results you get will be for 2002, with no later record. This isn't a fault - it's because after 2002 it was possible to opt out of the published Electoral Register. Fortunately people haven't moved house as frequently in recent years, so you'll often find that the 2002 address is still current. Where a range of years is shown this relates to the person you searched for - other occupants listed may not have lived there for the entire period, and you'll need to search for them separately to confirm their years of occupation.


Tip: some records give full middle names, most give only the initial; as long as you tick the 'name variants' box (it's ticked by default) you'll find both when you search using the full middle name. Sometimes an initial will be shown in the search results even though the record shows the full middle name(s).


Where you see several different surnames in a household this can indicate a shared house, but it may also indicate a care home or similar residential facility. Googling the address will often help you to discriminate between the two.


Note: the procedure for compiling electoral registers has just changed - householders will no longer be responsible for signing up their households and in future it will be up to individuals to register. This may well mean that the information we see changes in format.


Often an 'Age guide' is shown - this seems to be present age, rather than age in 2002 (or whenever). It isn't always accurate, but when it is, it helps to reduce the number of search results.


Contacting living relatives

Bear in mind that if you decide to contact a living relative you've identified in this way you're relatively unlikely to find that they share your interest in family history - though there's a fair chance that they'll be able to tell you of someone else in their part of your tree who is doing research. Be sure to approach them carefully and thoughtfully - there are so many scams around that some people can be extremely hard to convince, so you shouldn't be offended if they seem suspicious, or the initial exchange is somewhat terse.


Of course, it's usually very different when you find a living relative through LostCousins, because you know they're interested in family history - otherwise they wouldn't have joined, and wouldn't have had the necessary census information. Nevertheless you shouldn't assume that the other member will be able to drop everything in order to reply - don't ask too much, or you may find that they put your message on one side until they have more time to spare.


Tip: always check the My Contact page for the relationship before making contact so that you understand how the two of you are connected, and how closely you are connected.


Gift subscriptions

What do you buy for the man or woman who has everything? Perhaps you might want to consider a gift subscription to the British Newspaper Archive - it's something that will be of interest to many people who are interested in history, but not necessarily family history.


You can currently get a 20% discount on a Gift subscription when you follow this link and enter the promotion code DASHER (the name of one of Santa's reindeer, I believe). You'll be provided with a voucher code to pass on to the recipient, and since the subscription won't start until they activate it by entering the code, you can be certain that they'll get a full 12 months.


Tip: even though you can also get access to the newspapers with a Findmypast subscription, many people find that the search at the BNA site is more powerful.


New South Wales 1891 Census now online at FamilySearch FREE

Over 1.1 million individuals were recorded in the New South Wales 1891 census, though unfortunately the household schedules have not survived - only the Collectors' Books are available, so the only names listed are those of the heads of household (and there's also no personal information, such as age or birthplace).


This census has been available unindexed on New South Wales State Records website, and indexed at Ancestry, but the free access to indexed records and images at FamilySearch will make it more readily accessible. I also noticed that there seem to be rather more records at FamilySearch than at Ancestry.


The 1851, 1861, 1871 and 1881 New South Wales censuses haven't survived in any form: 1841 is an exception but again, only the heads of household are listed (although household schedules have survived for a couple of areas). This census has been indexed by State Records staff and can be searched here.


75 years since 'The Blitz' and 'The Battle of Britain'

The December issue of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine has a three page article on the Blitz, which began 75 years ago in the autumn of 1940.The Bomb Sight project, which I wrote about in December 2012, is still a key source of information - its interactive map shows where bombs dropped on London and the suburbs between 7th October 1940 and 6th June 1941, and its significance has increased now that so many of us know from the 1939 Register where our relatives were living the year before.


I recently purchased a fascinating book from the National Archives - The Battle of Britain is a facsimile of the Ministry of Information's 36-page propaganda booklet that sold for just 6d in 1941. The modern edition is priced at £4.99, nearly 200 times the original price, though it's undoubtedly printed on better quality paper than would have been available during the War. I bought mine in the TNA bookshop's Black Friday sale, but they've now sold out - however you'll find copies at Amazon for as little as 1p (lower than the 1941 price), although this excludes delivery.


Review: In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors

Anthony Adolph is a professional genealogist who has written many family history books, but I wasn't quite sure what to expect from his latest book, In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors. Having read it I'm still slightly shell-shocked by the range of topics that he covers, from the origins of the universe and life on Earth to the present day DNA analysis that aims to answer some of our questions about our past. And everything in between!


Underlying the book is the simple truth that his ancestors are also our ancestors - we all share the same ancestors, which means that the history of the human race and its predecessors is equally relevant to all of us.


This isn't a book for the average family historian - at times I felt as if I was on University Challenge - but then LostCousins members aren't average family historians. If you're looking for a book that will get you thinking - and, perhaps, challenge some of your preconceptions about who we are and where we came from - then this could be for you.


Review: The America Ground

The latest Morton Farrier book from the fingertips of Nathan Dylan Goodwin is The America Ground, a story that centres on a piece of land in Hastings that was at one time declared to be part of the United States of America by its inhabitants. It's available either as a Kindle book, or as a paperback - I read the Kindle version as I was travelling.


As the story begins Morton is at last planning to explore his own family history, and hopefully discover who his father really was - but everything changes when he's asked to help a friend of a friend research the background to a painting from the early 19th century. At first it seems like a simple assignment, but then he discovers that the woman in the picture was murdered, and.... well, you'll have to read it yourself to find out what happened next.


Like most genealogical mysteries this book has several threads, cleverly woven together by the author - and there are plenty of surprises for the reader as the story approaches its conclusion. A jolly good read!


Tip: if you decide to buy the book you can support LostCousins by using one of the following links:†††††††††††††††††††††††††


The Grand-Daddy of All Mysteries?

Jess Welby, author of The Daddy of All Mysteries - which I reviewed in April, wrote last week to tell me a heart-warming story that began when Marianne in Montreal read her book:


"Marianne was researching on behalf of a friend who was trying to solve a 100 year-old family mystery about his grandfather who had gone missing in the early 1900s, leaving his grandmother to raise two daughters alone.The story passed down the generations was that his grandfather had been killed in a freak accident, but this was unconfirmed.


"Marianne recognised the names of her friendís great grandparents in my book & contacted me. We exchanged information & this resulted in the family mystery being solved after over a 100-year of heartache.


"So the Daddy of all Mysteries found the granddaddy of all mysteries & Iím now in touch with relatives in Canada."


Note: if you read my review of Jess's book you'll see that at the time it wasn't available in Kindle format - but now it is (just follow this link).


Builders find 1930s letter to Santa

I was touched by this story of the discovery by workmen of a 5 year-old girl's letter to Father Christmas that had been in a chimney since the late 1930s - especially when I realised that they'd found the author, now a sprightly 82.


Peter's Tips

Tesco still can't get it right with their discount coupons. Like many of you, I suspect, I have a bad cold at the moment so the offer of £1 off when I spent £4 "on any cold and flu product bought over the counter" seemed irresistible. The pharmacist recommended Sinutab and I added a couple of packets of Paracetamol to bring the cost over the £4 barrier.


But did my coupon work? I had no more success than I did in the summer (see my August article). To be fair, they didn't have to give me a coupon in the first place - it was their choice - but why on earth do they choose to annoy customers by giving them coupons that don't work?


At least there's one big organisation that gets it right most of the time - Nationwide Building Society (I suspect the fact that they don't have any shareholders helps). They've added yet another benefit for holders of their main current accounts - a regular saver account that pays 5% interest, a very attractive rate these days. If you'd like to take advantage of this and the many other benefits that Nationwide offers then I'd be very glad to refer you - because if you do open an account we'll each benefit to the tune of £100. It's not a fortune, but as Tesco used to say, "every little helps".


That phrase also explains how I've managed to lose over a stone in weight since the summer, bringing my Body Mass Index into the Healthy range for the first time in years. Although exercise has helped, to lose even one pound would require me to exercise vigorously for 5 or 6 hours, so cutting down my food (and drink) consumption by reducing the size of portions has been a much more significant factor. And, actually, it wasn't very difficult - I soon became accustomed to the smaller helpings.


The sale at Family Tree DNA is continuing - you can save on Y-DNA, mtDNA, and atDNA tests (follow this link to support LostCousins).


Finally, if you're starting to plan next year's holidays look out for my next newsletter, when I hope to feature an exclusive discount offer at the beautiful Rocha Brava resort where Genealogy in the Sunshine was held in March 2014 and March 2015.


Stop Press

This is where any last minute updates and corrections will be highlighted - if you think you've spotted an error (sadly I'm not infallible), reload the newsletter (press Ctrl-F5) then check here before writing to me, in case someone else has beaten you to it......


Description: Description: peter_signature


Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2015 Peter Calver


Please do not copy any part of this newsletter without permission. However, you MAY link to this newsletter or email a link to your friends and relatives without asking for permission in advance - though why not invite them to join LostCousins instead, since standard membership, which includes this newsletter, is FREE?