Newsletter - 5th December 2018



Record office charges users £80,000 a year EXCLUSIVE

Will Suffolk follow Essex and milk researchers?

Findmypast offer 15% discount for first-time subscribers

Adoption matters

Would you rather not know the truth?

Considering a paternity test? This TV company will pay!

When maternity is in doubt

Can a child inherit mtDNA from their father?

Some interesting DNA offers

Breaking down brick walls with Living DNA

Save on Gift Subscriptions to or

Family Tree Analyzer now available for Mac users FREE

TV heir hunter loses case

Transportation and marriage: postscript

Review: Blood Reckoning

Guest review: And Ordered Their Estate

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous newsletter (dated 26th November) 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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Record office charges users £80,000 a year EXCLUSIVE

Essex Record Office is receiving almost £80,000 a year in subscription fees paid by users of the Essex Ancestors service, which offers online access to high resolution scanned images of parish registers, wills, and electoral registers.


Note: this information comes from a Freedom of Information request I submitted last month - you can see the full response here.


It's a great deal for Essex ratepayers - but is it such a good arrangement for family historians with ancestors from Essex, who have to pay a subscription of between £10 (for 24 hours) to £85 (for 12 months) to access the unindexed records? For just over £100 a Findmypast subscription gives me online access to the registers and indexes for Hertfordshire, Devon, and east Kent where some of my other ancestors originated; for a little more an Ancestry subscription includes the registers and indexes for several other counties of interest: Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, and London (where all my ancestral lines converged in the 19th century, though I'm not sure that any of them originated there).


Note: I've only listed the counties of interest to me - there are many other counties whose registers are online at either Ancestry or Findmypast.


Researchers often complain about the cost of subscriptions to the major websites, but when I think of the billions of indexed records I get access to at Ancestry and Findmypast - all for not very much more than I pay Essex for a few million unindexed records - they seem quite reasonable by comparison. As someone who is both an Essex ratepayer and a researcher - around a sixth of my ancestors came from Essex - I'm worried that this 'tax' on parish registers is preventing my cousins from finding out about the ancestors that we share.


Not everyone can afford to spend extra on top of their existing subscription to Findmypast and/or Ancestry, and some may not even know that their ancestors came from Essex. Whilst I don't usually recommend 'All records' searches there are times when it's the only practical way to make serendipitous discoveries.


Because the images at Essex Ancestors are unindexed (and the indexes available elsewhere are far from complete), searching the registers takes just as long as it used to in the old days (though admittedly itís much more pleasant looking at colour images and working from home). It's not a major problem when people stay in the same parish for generation after generation but - despite what some may think - it usually didnít happen that way, and even those who did stay in the same parish often married someone born in a different parish.


Right now I'm up against a 'brick wall' on every one of the 20 Essex lines I've identified so far, and even if the baptisms and marriages I've been unable to find are in the registers (and some wonít be) it could take me several days to find even one of them.... all because the entries aren't indexed. At the National Minimum Wage rate of £7.83 an hour that's around £200 worth of my time just to knock down a single 'brick wall' - and considering that behind every 'brick wall' there are at least two more it's a pretty daunting prospect. OK, perhaps, for someone who would otherwise be spending their days watching Bargain Hunt and Escape to the Country, but I have many other demands on my time, as do most of the readers of this newsletter.


I'll admit that itís more satisfying to make a discovery the hard way - but then there's always the nagging doubt that there might be an entry in another parish that's an even better fit. Unindexed images ought to be a thing of the past!


Note: it's ironic that although Findmypast, Ancestry, and the British Newspaper Archive are ALL available free of charge when you visit an Essex library (and there are many other valuable resources available either in the libraries or from home to holders of library cards), libraries in Essex DON'T offer free access to Essex Ancestors.



Will Suffolk follow Essex and milk researchers?

It's perhaps a little unfair of me to pick on Essex, whose online registers I've benefited from for the past 7 years, when what really concerns me is that Suffolk might decide to go down the same route. You may recall that last month I reported that this was their preferred option, although no decision had been taken.


It's strange that there was uproar over the planned closure of Lowestoft Record Office, which will probably impact on no more than a few hundred people, but there has been relatively little attention focused on Suffolk's digitisation plans, which could benefit tens of thousands of researchers. Now, some might argue that for them to digitize their registers and make them available online is a step in the right direction, even if they are unindexed and only available on subscription - and, of course, they're right.... but it also represents a lost opportunity to make the information available to a far wider audience.


Let's look at some figures..... the number of subscribers to the Essex Ancestors service in a year is approximately the same as the number of LostCousins members who have entered direct ancestors who were living in Essex at the time of the 1881 Census. But when you consider that fewer than a third of the readers of this newsletter have entered all of their direct ancestors from 1881, and there are only 65,000 of you anyway, a quick calculation suggests that Essex are only reaching a few percent of the active researchers with ancestors from the county. It's unrealistic to think that Suffolk would be any more successful if they too chose to 'got it alone'.


And if they did, those who have ancestors from both Suffolk and Essex might be forced to make a difficult choice - I have even more ancestors from Suffolk than I do from Essex. In fact, at least a quarter, and possibly as many as one-third of my ancestral lines originated in the county - and just to complicate matters further, some of my relatives moved between the two counties. But itís not about me - I'm just using my own situation as an example. Many of those reading this will be in a similar position - and others of you might have ancestors from Essex and Suffolk but not be aware of this, simply because they arrived in London and inconveniently died before the 1851 Census.


Nevertheless there are two sides to every argument and there could be others who think differently - for example, members of Suffolk Family History Society might have mixed feelings because the society currently earns a significant sum from the transcripts they've licensed to Findmypast (and very useful they are, even though the coverage is far from complete). I imagine they also make a profit when they sell CD ROMs of their transcripts at £15.32 at time - it would cost over £500 for a set (and that's just for baptisms!).


I certainly sympathise with councils and their employees, who are forced to operate on ever smaller budgets, but they should remember that their success will also be judged by the quality of the services they offer - after all, shouldnít a public service be available to as many people as possible? Unless there is a complete transcription of Suffolk baptisms, marriages, and burials available online, those of us with Suffolk ancestors will ALWAYS be at a significant disadvantage whoever hosts the register images, and however much they charge.



Findmypast offer 15% discount for first-time subscribers

If you've never subscribed to Findmypast before you've got a treat in store - theyíre offering you the chance to save 15% on the regular price of any 12 month subscription.


Better still, when your subscription comes up for renewal in a year's time, you'll be entitled to a Loyalty Discount (currently also 15%), so provided there's no change in the price structure you'll pay exactly the same price next year. There aren't many websites that reward loyalty in this way - all too often the best deals seem to be reserved for new customers.


I should mention that Findmypast have just rejigged the subscriptions at the and sites - they now offer Starter, Plus, and Pro subscriptions. Pro subscriptions (or Ultimate British & Irish at are like the old World subscriptions - they include all the historical records and newspapers in Findmypast's worldwide collections, and so they're identical whichever site you subscribe to. Starter subscriptions vary from country to country, but theyíre not recommended for an experienced user like you - if you can't afford a Pro subscription (which is the only one to include newspapers) take a look instead at what the Plus subscription offers in your territory.


Can you take out a subscription at a site other than your local site if itís a better fit for your needs? Possibly - I can only suggest you try. Just make sure that you click the relevant link below so that LostCousins can benefit from your purchase:


Ensure it says 15% discount applied - if it doesn't, and you've never subscribed to Findmypast before, contact me for advice,



Adoption matters

One of the most interesting aspects of this series of articles has been hearing stories from LostCousins members who have been frequent correspondents over many years, but have never previously had occasion to mention adoption. The first story in this issue comes from one of those members:


"I am an adoptive parent of 2 boys now in their 30s whom we were lucky enough to adopt as healthy babies, one at 6 months and one at 2 months. They have had a happy, supportive childhood but to date, neither have wished to trace their natural parents.


"As a child, my younger son expressed an interest in searching for his natural mother when he came of age, but my older son has always rejected the idea outright. (The boys are not genetically related.) The elder boyís natural half brother (placed with a foster family who later adopted him) contacted him on 2 separate occasions aged 16 and 19 in a bid to find their mother, but my son had no interest whatsoever and on reaching 18, my younger son had lost interest in tracing his natural mother. Obviously, as an adoptive parent, I am happy that my sons feel content with the life we have given them and have no desire to find their natural mothers, but if they did want to at any time, I would support them fully in whatever capacity I could, because in their position, I think I would possibly be curious to know more about my heritage.


"Would I be hurt if my children did search for their natural parents? I donít know is the honest answer. I would like to think not, but it would depend upon the circumstances. If it was a matter of curiosity and the need to know where they came from, then I could understand that, but if it resulted from a breakdown in family relationships, then that would be upsetting and I would feel that I had failed them. In my experience, adopted children feel very aware of the fact that they have been rejected by their natural parents, so for some, I think it gives closure to find that the reason for their adoption was the motherís desire to give their child a better life or the demands of family that an illegitimate child is given away against the motherís wishes.


"In the case of my sonís half brother, he wanted to trace his natural mother and half brother in the hope of finding a close relationship with someone he could genuinely feel belonged to him. He was adopted into a family with 4 natural children and a set of adopted twins whom the family also fostered prior to adoption. He felt that the natural children Ďbelongedí and the twins had one another, but he often felt isolated, but didnít feel able to discuss the matter with his parents. Whether he eventually traced his mother, I donít know, as my son lost contact, but as adoptive parents, if the reason for tracing a natural parent was anything other than curiosity and a need to know where they came from, I would feel rightly or wrongly that I had failed that child in some way.


"Some adoptive parents I know well are totally against their daughter (now 40+) seeking her natural mother as they feel that they have brought their daughter up, looked after her and cared for her and the natural mother gave up her right to her daughterís affection when she offered her for adoption. They wonít pass on any details regarding the adoption and out of respect for her parents, the daughter has decided not to pursue the issue as she doesnít want to upset her adoptive parents, with whom she has a loving and supportive relationship. However, the daughter is still curious and I suspect will try to trace her natural mother after her parents have died, but currently knows that her parents will be deeply offended by her interest. Their daughter contacted me, as another adoptive parent and friend of her mother to ask what her motherís attitude would be, prior to starting the investigation process, as she suspected her mother would be very hurt.


"No parent or child knows what the search for natural parents will bring. Further rejection is an obvious possibility, in which case the adoptive parents need to be supportive, as I know this would upset both my children considerably. The formation of a strong natural mother/child bond could feel threatening to an adoptive parent, though where children have had a happy and loving childhood and remain close to their adoptive parents, hopefully this shouldnít cause problems as long as the child makes it clear that they are not seeking to replace their adoptive parents and there is an open dialogue during the process. After all, without the selfless actions of the birth mother, adoptive parents wouldnít experience the joy of having a child in the first place. However, the process is bound to be very emotional for all concerned and peoplesí feelings need to be very carefully considered.


"You have mentioned treading carefully with regard to contacting birth families Ė we were advised to bring our children up always having known they were adopted and to ensure that if they wished to trace their birth parents, it was done through the proper channels. However, if the fatherís name was never on the birth certificate and the mother is not alive or refuses to divulge his name, the only way to trace him might be via DNA and a reason for tracing natural parents might be to ensure that adoptees are not unwittingly romantically involved with siblings or half siblings. Another reason might be to find out family medical histories. Others may have very different attitudes and interests to their adoptive parents and as such might feel that they donít fit in, which again can make children feel that they want to seek natural parents, especially if siblings appear to have more in common with their parents and believe me, this is a difficult problem to solve, esp in the teenage years! Others can feel that their adoptive parents perceive that they are failing if they arenít very academic and it can be difficult to persuade them that it doesnít matter what grades they achieve, only that they have done their best. Frequently they feel in these cases that they might have more in common with their natural parents.........which can be upsetting to adoptive parents.


"Having adopted children often draws others to mention that they are adopted, but I have yet to find anyone who has made contact with their birth mother, despite knowing a lot of adoptees and adoptive parents. Most, it seems either have no wish to know anything about the person whom they consider rejected them or they think it might upset their adoptive parents, so donít want to pursue that route."


The second story looks at adoption from the point of view of the grandparents:


"Our grandchildren, a 6 year-old girl and a 3 year-old boy, are adopted. We were impressed that when our daughter and son in law were being Ďtrainedí we were required to fill in a detailed questionnaire about our background and our attitude to adoption and could have gone for an interview if we wished to discuss anything. Our other daughter and a nominated friend of the adoptive parents were interviewed in depth about their suitability.


"Our granddaughter was 16 months when she arrived and we met in a pub - because my daughter had been told not to have anyone else in their home for a week and she couldnít wait a week for us to see her! We were invited to go to Court when the adoption took place where the Judge included us in the welcome (my son in lawís parents are no longer alive) and gave our granddaughter a teddy bear with Ďadoption bearí on its T-shirt, then our granddaughter invited us to a celebration tea with a few other relatives at a posh hotel!


"While our daughter was on adoption leave we went every week and got to know the little girl well. I continued to go weekly when my daughter started work again, staying overnight and babysitting for two days. We have a close relationship with her and she calls us Gaga and Pa. My daughter was rather embarrassed and tried to persuade her to call me Granny, but Gaga is her name for me and I love it!


"Last year our 14 month-old grandson joined the family - his fifth home in his short life. The granddaughter had been longing for a Ďbabyí and they adored each other from the beginning - even now the highlight of his day is her return from school when he runs to hug her. Our grandson is particularly fond of my husband, and when I visited recently and rang the doorbell he opened the door and said ďhallo Gaga, whereís Pa?Ē When I explained he wasnít with me my grandson shut me out!


"Of course, we wondered how we would relate to adopted children - but if they were our flesh and blood we could not love them more or be more interested in their future."



Would you rather not know the truth?

Wherever you look these days there are stories about people who made unexpected - and sometimes unwelcome - discoveries as a result of DNA testing (you can see one of them here).


But finding out that our ancestors aren't who we thought they were doesnít change who we are - because we're so much more than a collection of DNA. Anyone who has brought up children of their own will know that you can't just sit back and allow your genes to do the work!


As family historians we're used to making discoveries that our grandmothers would have regarded as shocking - I've lost count of how many of my own direct ancestors were illegitimate! Sometimes the only clues about our ancestors' lives beyond the bare facts in censuses and registers are newspaper articles or other records of their misdemeanours - but it doesn't necessarily mean that our ancestors were bad people (as anyone familiar with Dickens' novels will know).


I'm not suggesting that discovering that our grandfather isnít who we thought he was is a cause for celebration, but nor should it be regarded as a major disaster - there are plenty of people who, prior to DNA testing, had no chance of finding out who their grandfather (or even their father) was. Even today there are adoptees for whom the only chance of discovering their parentage rests on DNA, because the records are closed, missing, incomplete, or inconclusive - if they ever existed.


A good researcher will follow the evidence - wherever it leads!



Considering a paternity test? This TV company will pay!

I have been contacted by a production company in London called Shine TV who are looking for people who are considering getting a paternity test done. It will not involve going on television - they're making a non-broadcast documentary pilot - but they will cover the cost of the test and are also offering aftercare. Itís for a new programme idea, "sensitively dealing with the realities of modern family circumstances".


If you need a paternity test to confirm or deny that someone is biologically related to you (or if you know someone in this position) then please get in touch with the Assistant Producer Elle, either by emailing or by phoning 020 7483 6752 - she'll be able to give you more information.



When maternity is in doubt

A recently-published article in Nature Human Behaviour warns that "With millions now using direct-to-consumer ancestry DNA tests, action is needed to deal responsibly with unexpected paternity issues". But sometimes when we're researching our family tree it's not always clear who the mother of a child was.....


For example, my great-great-great grandparents John Holmes and Hannah Read were blessed with an 11th child in 1851, by which time Hannah was about 43 years-old, and her husband a little older. They called the child Harriet Lydia, as you can see from the GRO birth register entry:



A year later Hannah died, and the coroner determined that the cause of death was apoplexy (a stroke), brought on by depression. Post-natal depression was as common then as it is now, and it seems that the motherless child was looked after by John & Hannah's second-eldest daughter, who was still living at home on the 1851 Census.


By the time of the 1861 Census the daughter had married, but she and her husband had no children of their own, so young Harriet appears to have been adopted by them - she is certainly shown as Harriet Clark in the census, and recorded as Edward Clark's daughter:


© Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England and used by permission of Findmypast


You can see that two of Harriet's brothers were living with them - and her sister Mary is living next door with her husband George Savage and their children. In the 1871 Census Harriet's middle initial 'L' is shown, confirming that it's the same child.


© Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England and used by permission of Findmypast


But has the penny dropped? Have you realised yet that Edward Clark's wife is also called Harriet - which means that when John & Hannah's supposed 11th child was named they had two living daughters called Harriet. It was certainly a popular forename in the 19th century, but even so I'm not sure that any mother would choose to have two children with the same first name......


However that's not the only mystery, because I found this marriage in 1869:


© Reproduced by kind permission of the London Metropolitan Archives and Ancestry


There was only one Harriet(t) Lydia Holmes whose birth was registered in England & Wales in the 19th century - and my John Holmes was a 'bricklayer', which to a layperson is pretty much the same as a 'builder'. And yet, if this is the same person, how come she's shown in the 1871 Census as unmarried? Was the marriage considered void, I wonder? I found a John C Richards on the 1871 Census who is a provision dealer (not that different from a cheesemonger) and he is also shown as unmarried - so did they hide the marriage from their parents (it wouldn't be the first time I've come across this during my research).


Trying to prove that the wrong parents are shown on a birth certificate isnít easy, especially after more than a century, but sometimes DNA can provide the proof - however, unless Harriet(t) Lydia has a living descendant I'll probably never know the truth.



Can a child inherit mtDNA from their father?

It's well established that children inherit their mitochondrial DNA from their mother - at least, that is what everyone believed until recently. But now there's evidence that occasionally a child can inherit mtDNA from both parents.


Fortunately mtDNA tests have always been the least useful for genealogists, so this discovery isn't going to revolutionise the way we use DNA - but it's further evidence that DNA can turn up in the most unlikely places!



Some interesting DNA offers

Although the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend is the time of year when you'll find the very best offers, some of the follow-on offers are quite attractive - indeed if you have been mulling over Y-DNA tests but didnít reach a conclusion in time you'll be pleased to know that Family Tree DNA are continuing their $99 offer through the holiday period.


Another offer that stands out is the $89 offer for Ancestry DNA in Australia & New Zealand - this is only $1 more than you would have paid on Cyber Monday. The Ancestry DNA test is the one I buy for my own cousins - so itís the one I would recommend to you (if you have ancestors from the British Isles you'll find far more genetic cousins at Ancestry than at any other site).


Please remember that you'll only be supporting LostCousins when you click one of my links to make your purchase. - £63 plus shipping until 11.59pm GMT on 25th December - $89 plus shipping until 11.59pm AEST on 25th December - $59 plus taxes & shipping until 24th December - $89 plus shipping until 11.59pm EST on 25th December



Family Tree DNA - $99 plus shipping for Y-DNA, $49 for Family Finder until 31st December



Findmypast are also discounting their DNA tests, though not by as much as on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Their tests - provided by Living DNA - offer the most detailed ethnicity estimates for those of us with mostly English heritage. See this article in the last issue for more details, and also the next article in this issue.


If you decide to order the Findmypast test please use the links below - the discounts last until midnight (London time) on 17th December, but if you are in Australia and want delivery before Christmas please order by 7th December; prices are in local currency:


UK - REDUCED FROM £79 to £69

Ireland - REDUCED FROM Ä89 to Ä79

Australia - REDUCED FROM $129 to $119

Canada - REDUCED FROM $99 to $89

USA - REDUCED FROM $89 to $79



Breaking down 'brick walls' with Living DNA

Ethnicity estimates are gradually becoming more useful, but can they help us knock down our 'brick walls'? My scepticism in the last newsletter prompted professional genealogist, author, and LostCousins member John Wintrip to tell me of his success:


"I managed to break down a long-standing brick wall when my Living DNA test revealed I had East Anglian ancestry that I was previously unaware of. As I had traced virtually every other line back into the mid-eighteenth century or earlier, I felt sure that this must relate to my elusive Cowling ancestry. This led me to look at records for that area in more detail than I would otherwise have done. I found that the date of death had been recorded in a pension record of Kilmainham Hospital for Thomas Cowling, born at Foxton in Cambridgeshire, was identical to the date of death of an individual of that name who had died in Berwick-upon-Tweed, who I had identified as a possible ancestor about 15 years ago.


"Without the clue from Living DNA it is unlikely that I would have looked at this record in sufficient detail."


Have any other readers been similarly successful?


Note: you'll find my reviews of John's excellent books here and here. If you want to emulate John's success see the previous article for the Findmypast test, which offers the same ethnicity analysis.



Save on Gift Subscriptions to or

You can save 20% on a 6 month subscription to Ancestry for a friend or relative (and support LostCousins) when you follow the links below - these offers run until Christmas Day: (UK & Ireland) (Australia & New Zealand)


Gift subscriptions are for new subscribers and cannot be used for renewals.



Family Tree Analyzer now available for Mac users FREE

Written by a LostCousins member, Family Tree Analyser is one of the most useful tools there is for family historians - and because it works with GEDCOM files you can benefit from FTA whatever family tree program you use.


But until now it has only been available for Windows - now Mac users can also benefit from this invaluable tool. Follow this link to the FTA website to find out more. There's a lot of support for FTA on the LostCousins Forum - if you've been invited to join there will be a Coupon Code and a link on your My Summary page at the main LostCousins site.


Note: the current Mac version doesn't produce print-outs, but I'm sure that will be fixed before long. Donít let it stop you installing the program - printing isn't essential.



TV heir hunter loses case

I donít think it would be fair to comment on this recent case, which has been widely reported - but if you haven't read about it, I suggest following this link.


Given the large sums of money that can be at stake it's not unusual for matters to end up in court - see for example this case from 2013 which involved another TV heir hunter, as did this case from 2014.


All of those cases involved reputable firms but - whilst they're not as common nowadays - there are still inheritance scams around. Almost 7 years ago I found a very convincing scam website - and fewer than half of readers who entered my competition were able to correctly identify which of the three sites I listed were genuine. (The scam site has long since vanished, but may have returned under a different name.)



Transportation and marriage: postscript

A couple of eagle-eyed readers realised that Joseph Raffe's plan (reported in the last issue) was even more half-baked than first appeared - because transportation to the Colonies had ended more than a year earlier.


To be fair, even if they could read, and many couldn't, most people in the 19th century couldnít afford to buy a newspaper (in 1841 fewer than 55 million newspapers were sold in the entire year) - so without Facebook, Twitter and TV their knowledge of news and current affairs must have been very limited. By comparison we live in a golden age - or rather, we would, if it werenít for fake news and the effects of filtering.



Review: Blood Reckoning

The third of Dan Waddell's novels to feature genealogist Nigel Barnes, Blood Reckoning begins with the death of a murderer in an apparent suicide - but Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster was involved in the original investigation 20 years earlier, at the start of his career, and not only does he suspect foul play, he sees it as an opportunity for him to tie up some loose ends.


Meanwhile Nigel Barnes is working on an apparently unrelated case when something happens that puts him in danger and sets him on the trail of the birth parents he never knew. It reminded me of Black Earth Rising, even though this book was originally written and published in French a few years ago, so can't have been inspired by it. In fact, there are several themes which chimed with recent events - it was quite spooky - and watching the first episode of the TV drama Mrs Wilson last week I was again struck by the similarities.


Once I started reading Blood Reckoning I couldn't put it down, and I suspect you'll feel the same way! But I strongly recommend that - if you haven't already done so - you begin by reading the first two books in the series, as they're far too good to miss. Follow these links to re-read my reviews of Blood Detective and Blood Atonement - and when youíre ready to place an order for any of the books please use the Amazon links below so that you can support LostCousins:††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††


In a future newsletter I'll be reviewing the novella Blood Underground - and I also hope to have an update on the 4th novel in the Nigel Barnes series, which Dan was already working on when I spoke to him last year.


Note: if the name Dan Waddell sounds familiar it's because he wrote the book to accompany the original series of Who Do You Think You Are?.



Guest review: And Ordered Their Estate

I donít have time to read and review every book that's recommended to me, so when Mary wrote enthusiastically about And Ordered Their Estate: A Fictional Account of the Tolpuddle Martyrs by Sheelagh Green. I asked if she would be prepared to write a review for the newsletter:


"I had heard of the Tolpuddle martyrs but knew no details. I borrowed this book from a friend who was sent it by the author.


"In England life around 1840 was very hard for those who were working on farms and estates.Cottages were tied to jobs so if a father died or could not work the family often became homeless.Pay was low and sometimes wages fell, making life so miserable for many.Poaching local game was common with very stiff penalties for the perpetrators. This is the background to what happened to the Tolpuddle Martyrs - a small group of workers who decided to meet and to get organised to make representation to the moneyed gentry for fairer wages.


"As the story is told in the book, once this became known one landowner coerced a worker called Seth Fielding to join the group and report back. Then a legal technicality was used to charge the six men, with the unfortunate Seth having to give evidence against them - or pay the consequences. The six were deported to Australia and their families were supported by a charity set up nationally to carry on their fight.


"After a few pages I got used to the old language, and off I went into the realms of history as seen by the poor who worked in rural England. The story flowed very well, and I liked the way the two narratives of the men in Australia and Seth in England intertwined. Very clever, and so readable. As it was less than two hundred years ago it was quite shocking to see how the settlers in Australia behaved to fellow settlers, convicts and the indigenous population. Life back in England was not a lot better but this book really made you feel you were there - it was so very well researched."


Like Mary, I vaguely remembered the story from school history lessons, but there's a lot of background information on the web, such as at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum website - however, itís probably best to read the book first. It's available as a hardback, a paperback, or an e-book, with the Kindle version costing just £2.32 in the UK.†††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††† The Book Depository



Stop Press

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'm afraid there's no room for Peter's Tips in this issue, but you wonít have to wait very long for the next edition. In the meantime, enjoy the articles, and don't forget that LostCousins isn't just a newsletter, it's a site where people who are researching the same ancestors can connect - just half an hour of your time could produce amazing results!


Description: Description: peter_signature


Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2018 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?