Newsletter - 11th December 2017
Save on genealogical mysteries ENDS SATURDAY
Stop Press INCLUDES ANCESTRY UK OFFER
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous newsletter (dated 24th November) click here; to find earlier articles use the customised Google search below (it searches ALL of the newsletters since February 2009, so you don't need to keep copies):
Whenever possible links are included to the websites or articles mentioned in the newsletter (they are highlighted in blue or purple and underlined, so you can't miss them). 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!
Searching for cousins is always free, but to initiate contact with a new cousin normally requires a LostCousins subscription - however from Christmas Day to New Year's Eve the LostCousins site will be COMPLETELY FREE.
My advice is to complete your My Ancestors page in advance - don't leave it until Christmas, as you might find you have other things to doÖÖ
On 28th November I published an updated version of the 1939 Register Special Edition of this newsletter - you'll find it here (for convenience there's also a link from the Subscribers Only page of the LostCousins website).
The revised edition was published to coincide with Findmypast's introduction of new subscription packages at their UK site, which - for the first time - offer subscribers with 1 Month subscriptions access to the 1939 Register for England & Wales.
Note: the 1939 Register is included in the Plus and Pro subscriptions, but not the Starter subscription (which isnít really suitable for LostCousins members anyway).
If you've never searched the 1939 Register, or have only viewed records using credits, now is the time to catch up - it can cost you as little as £12.95! Bear in mind that all Findmypast subscriptions are renewed automatically by default, but you can unsubscribe at any time by unticking the box on the Personal Details tab of the My Account section.
You can support LostCousins by using this link to go to the Findmypast website.
New subscriptions at Findmypast's UK site
In the previous article I briefly mentioned the new subscription packages at Findmypast's UK site (there is no change at any of their other sites). This screenshot summarises what's on offer:
The key differences are:
The three new subscription packages are the only ones that will be offered to new or lapsed subscribers, but if you currently have a Britain subscription you can stay with it as long as you like (provided you set it to Auto-Renew).
You can support LostCousins by using this link to go to the Findmypast website.
Over the past year I've demonstrated how LostCousins members can get more out of Findmypast searches than anyone else by making use of the tips and tricks that I've discovered.
Well, it seems you weren't the only ones reading those articles: when Findmypast realised how their baptism searches could be made more powerful they set their programmers to work - and they've now enhanced the global baptism Search form to allow researchers to enter the forenames of the child's father and/or mother (where known)† This is great news for all Findmypast users, because most of the time we run up against a 'brick wall' itís because we canít find our ancestor's baptism - so I'm absolutely delighted that they 'nicked' my idea!
Tip: don't enter the parents' surnames as not all of the record sets include this information.
There's a very useful PDF guide to modern marriage regulations on the UK Parliament website which details the requirements for both civil and religious marriages - and describes the changes that were introduced in 2008 (in England) and 2010 (in Wales).
Prior to 2008 "a couple could generally marry only in the parish church of a parish where one or both of them were resident or one or both of them had their names on the church electoral roll. If a couple wished to marry anywhere else they generally had to apply for an Archbishop of Canterburyís Special Licence with the support of the Minister of the church where they wished to marry."
You can download the document here
Note: the information in the document on marriage in Scotland is more limited, but there are links to other sources of information.
The latest (November 2017) edition of the General Register Office's Guidebook for the Clergy goes into a lot of detail about the rules and regulations governing marriages, including the procedure for corrections, and the submission of quarterly copies to the GRO. It also deals with matters concerning baptisms and burials.
Although the regulations and practices in both of these documents will have been revised many times since the time of our ancestors theyíre a very useful guide to the issues we need to consider when trying to analyse our ancestors' decision-making.
When LostCousins member Andrew was presented with these results when searching marriages at FreeBMD he was understandably confused:
What a confusion of names - and to cap it all the surnames Peat and Moss are more reminiscent of something you'd find at the garden centre than a Register Office!
The first step is to remind ourselves that these are entries from the GRO indexes, ie the indexes to the registers held at the General Register Office. Each marriage involves two people - that's one of the few things that hasn't changed, at least in Britain - so the number of entries in the index for a given page in the marriage register should be twice the number of marriages on that page. Except in the early years of civil registration there are usually just two marriages per page (you can confirm this by looking up other page numbers for the same quarter) so you'd expect there to be just four names - but that isn't always the case.
For example, there might be alternative spellings of the names, as in these entries:
Note:The spouse's surname doesn't appear in the marriage indexes until 1912 - if it had there would have been two more entries on this page, whether it is was Isaac who married Sarah and James who married Emily or vice versa (actually it was James who married Emily - I found them on the 1881 Census).†
Another reason there might be more than twice as many index entries as marriages in the register is when one of the parties was using an alias. For example, if a couple who were living together as man and wife, but were actually unmarried, decided to regularise their relationship there would be two surnames for the bride, her actual surname and the one she was known by. Indeed, that's what seems to have happened in the example we started with - if Mabel Sharpe was living with Wilfred Peat and known as Mabel Peat, when they married both surnames would be shown in the register and on any certificate.
What makes that first example particularly confusing is that there's another Sharpe who married another Mabel (Moss), in the same location in the same quarter, and quite possibly on the same day. Was Thomas Sharpe the brother of Mabel? I suspect he was, but they're not my family, so I won't be ordering the marriage certificates.
Tip: if an alias is shown in the marriage register it's very likely that the marriage took place in a register office - it's certainly very rare to see an alias in a church marriage register. †
It's over 6 years since I first wrote about the Marriage Locator website, and in that time the coverage has greatly expanded. Set up by the Guild of One-Name Studies as a free service, the site aims to pinpoint where in England or Wales a marriage took place simply from the references given in the General Register Office indexes.
True, the indexes give you the registration district - but they don't tell you whether the marriage took place in the register office or a church, or which church it was, even though this information can often be deduced (because entries are grouped together - you can find out more here).
If you know that a marriage took place in the parish church it gives you the option of looking it up in the register at the relevant record office - or even online - potentially saving you the cost of buying a copy marriage certificate. I find it particularly useful when the registers are online, but unindexed - as is the case for Essex, for example.
Note: Marriage Locator is a continuing project so you wonít always get a definitive answer even within the years of coverage (1837-1945).
I was contacted this week by a member who has given a number of Ancestry users access to his tree, but with different levels of permission, ie most are Guests, who can see the tree but not make any changes, some are Contributors, who can add comments and stories, and a couple are Editors, who can add or edit people.
Unfortunately, the permissions appear to have become confused so that some people who were only Guests are now Contributors or Editors (the reader who contacts me suspects that an Ancestry site update has triggered the problem). If you have given anyone access to your tree(s) I recommend you check that the permissions are still shown correctly.
This might also explain why I recently discovered that one of my Ancestry trees was public - they're normally all private. I assumed at the time that I was the one who had made a mistake, but now I'm not so sure.
Although I donít have a public tree at Ancestry, nor would I recommend that LostCousins members do so, that doesn't stop me from looking at public trees from time to time, particularly when I'm helping members or researching an article. This week I searched for an 'Arthur William Smallwood' and was most surprised to see that the second search result (out of more than 16,000) was for someone called ' Umphery Posey Crone'.
I'm not quite sure how this aberration occurred, but looking at the tree in pedigree †view (below) it appears to have become very confused - so I'm wondering whether this is another example of corrupted data?
You'll also notice that the dates shown are impossible, and that the parents shown in the search results aren't the parents shown in the pedigree. Of course, this could have happened for any number of reasons, but it does remind me to warn you once again that your main tree should be on your own computer, rather than online. A good family tree program such as Family Historian can cost under £40, which is a small price to pay for the security it brings - and a tree program on your own computer is always going to be more powerful than one that's online.
Tip: when I save my family tree I include the date in the filename, which means that it doesnít over-write the previous version. I suggest you adopt a similar system if you possibly can.
I once tried a pizza called Sloppy Giuseppe, but I wouldnít recommend it - and the same goes for sloppy genealogies. Wishful thinking can be inspirational, but deluding ourselves and others is not only dishonest, it's ultimately pointless.
There's a wonderful article by Anthony Camp in the December issue of the Journal of the Society of Genealogists: George Gair (or Sutherland) alias Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg tells the story of the apparently fraudulent genealogy compiled by Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Gayre in order to support his claim to be descended in the male line from one Alexander Gair, even though he must have known that his own father was illegitimate, and inherited the Gair surname from his mother. It also seems that at one point he pretended that his father was dead, even though he was still very much alive.
It's amazing what lengths people will go to in order to fool themselves and - sometimes - others!
I'm delighted to announce that the Society of Genealogists have generously agreed to extend the 25% first year discount for LostCousins members who join, either as a Full Member, or as an Associate. You'll find more details here.
In World War 1 there was to be no food rationing in Britain until January 1918, the last year of the war - but in World War 2 bacon, butter, and sugar were rationed from 8th January 1940, just 4 months into the war, and many other foods were added to the list.
Ration books bore the same numbers as identity cards †- the references from the 1939 Register. There are some interesting articles about rationing on the BBC History website - this one is particularly good, and so is this one.
Considering that meat was one of the most sought-after foods you might have thought vegetarians would be well-placed to exchange their meat ration for other food - but in practice the Committee of Vegetarian Interests campaigned for special ration books to be issued (these offered extra cheese, and vegetarian margarine instead of butter). There's an interesting chapter on rationing which I found here, at Google Books, and there's also a good article on the Findmypast blog.
With Christmas fast approaching it's time to decide what we're going to give and - if we're lucky enough to be asked - what we want to receive. I suspect that for many people this year it's going to be a DNA test, given the enormous number that Ancestry sold between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but the gift that's most likely to light up the eyes of a family historian is more traditional and less commercial - it's the discovery of a new living cousin!
Connecting with a fellow researcher who shares your ancestors can transform your research - not just because it allows you to exchange past discoveries, but because it also offers the opportunity to collaborate on future research.
Finding genetic cousins is easy - you'll be matched with thousands of them - but trying to document how you are related to any one of them is usually very difficult and time-consuming. The best strategies are outlined in my recent Masterclass: What to do with your autosomal DNA results (you'll find it here), but anyone who thinks that DNA offers an easy answer hasn't been reading my newsletters. It will typically involve HUNDREDS OF HOURS of research, much of it ultimately fruitless.
Fortunately there is a simple, quick, and extremely cost-effective way to connect with other researchers who are your documented cousins - and it will generally start producing results in under ONE HOUR!
All you need to do is complete your My Ancestors page, entering as many relatives as possible from the 1881 Censuses. It might take you 5 minutes to enter your very first household (the illustrated Getting Started guide on the Help & Advice page shows what to do), but once you've got the hang of it you'll find that it only takes 1 minute (or perhaps 2 for a large household).
So donít be a Scrooge - do what you can to connect with your cousins this Christmas!
Note: DNA testing does have a place in the genealogist's toolkit - it's ideal for knocking down the 'brick walls' that can't be a solved by conventional records-based research, whether because the records we need don't exist, because there are two or more plausible candidates, or perhaps because an ancestor turns up in a big city with no evidence of his or her origins.
Ancestry have announced that in the four days from Back Friday to Cyber Monday they sold more than 3 times as many tests as in the equivalent period of 2016 - and since they sold they reported sales of 560.000 kits then, simple arithmetic shows that they most have sold upwards of 1.6m this year.
Whilst many of them will have been sold to people who don't have a family tree, and maybe never will, itís still an amazing statistic.
UPDATE: see the next article for the current offer in Australia and New Zealand and Stop Press for a UK & Ireland offer.
Tip: if you have tested with Ancestry be sure to follow the strategies set out in my recent Masterclass - it will make a world of difference to the results you get!
Although I originally tested with Family Tree DNA, I retested with Ancestry earlier this year in order to get access to the thousands of cousins in their database - and I'm very glad that I did, as I've made significant progress on some of the 'brick walls' that have been blocking my path for 15 years!
Although the Black Friday sales are over, Ancestry have decided to launch a very attractive offer in Australia and New Zealand ONLY, which runs until Friday 22nd December. Please use this link to support LostCousins. If you don't see the graphic above log-out from your Ancestry account and click the link again - and if you still don't see it, click the Ancestry logo in the top left corner of the page. That definitely works!
Note: the sale at Family Tree DNA is continuing - please use this link. Family Tree DNA is the only major company offering Y-DNA tests, and they're also the only company to charge the same price worldwide (only the shipping charge varies). Whilst their Family Finder test is equivalent to the Ancestry DNA test, you cannot transfer FTDNA results to Ancestry (which is why I had to re-test), whereas you can transfer Ancestry results to FTDNA.
Save on genealogical mysteries ENDS SATURDAY
Until midnight on Saturday 16th December readers in the UK and US can get the first three Jayne Sinclair genealogical mysteries as a Kindle set for just £1.99, less than the normal price of a single book. MJ Lee is one of my favourite authors, and the twists and turns in his most recent book kept my enthralled from beginning to end (you'll find my review here).
Please use the links below so that you can support LostCousins - it may only be a few pennies, but every little helps! Unfortunately this offer cannot be made available in Australia or Canada - nothing to do with me or the author, it's an Amazon thing.
Note: I understand that we might see the fourth Jayne Sinclair novel before Easter - which gives you just enough time to read the first three! I'll let you know more in due course.
I'm still working my way through Kat Arney's How to Code a Human - which has so much detail that it needs to be read in bite-sized chunks; in between I'm reading At Home by Bill Bryson, a 700 page history book that's absolutely crammed with fascinating facts and interesting stories.
Because there's so much happening in the world of family history these days I'm sending out many more emails than ever before. So to avoid cluttering up your inbox, from time to time I will be including information for LostCousins subscribers in the newsletter rather than sending out a separate mailing.
Recently added to the Subscribers Only page at the LostCousins website is the first draft of a new Beginners Guide for those just starting to research their family history. I'd appreciate it if you could let me know about any errors and omissions that you spot, as I'm hoping to launch the new guide in time for Christmas.
I doubt there are any readers of this newsletter who are directly involved in Bitcoin speculation, but whenever there's a crash innocent people like you and me can suffer, so I've been trying to figure out what the collateral damage might be on this occasion.
Whilst most will have speculated with their own money, itís inevitable that as a bubble reaches its peak some will use borrowed money. So, as a precaution, I've decided to temporarily reduce my involvement in peer-to-peer lending by turning off the reinvestment of repayments.
I've just been informed that Ancestry UK are discounting DNA tests from £79 to £63 (plus shipping) until Christmas Eve - although if you delay your order until 24th December don't expect to get the kit in time for Christmas! Please use this link if you want your purchase to support LostCousins.
I'm sure I'll be in touch again before Christmas, but just in case we miss each other, allow me to wish you all the best for the coming festive season, and for the year ahead.
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?