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Newsletter – 29th April 2024



Unjustly imprisoned

PoW camps in the UK

Marriage banned

More name changes

Man of mystery

Female ‘bobbies’

Bourn in Lincolnshire

A double dose of DNA

Ancestry DNA offers MOTHER’S DAY SALE

Easier Said Than Done

Surrey Land Tax Records for 1910-15 now online

WW1 Red Cross volunteers at Ancestry

British Home Children: In their own words

Will falling birth rates lead to our extinction?

Do you remember Green Shield stamps?

Peter’s Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 24th April) click here; to find earlier articles use the customised Google search between this paragraph and the next (it searches ALL of the newsletters since February 2009, so you don't need to keep copies):



To go to the main LostCousins website click the logo at the top of this newsletter. If you're not already a member, do join - it's FREE, and you'll get an email to alert you whenever there's a new edition of this newsletter available!



Unjustly imprisoned

Following the attack on Pearl Harbour on 7th December 1941, many people of Japanese descent were unjustly incarcerated. Ancestry have just added a list of more than 125,000 individuals which was originally compiled by the Irei Project and published in a 1000-page book at the Japanese American National Museum. Information typically includes name, date of birth, and place of incarceration.


These records are available free to all registered users, as are nearly 350,000 in related datasets:



Note: this article on the website of The National Archives explains in some detail the UK’s policy of internment during World War 2. In hindsight it seems grossly unfair – I’m just grateful that my German ancestors arrived in the late 1700s, and not in the 1930s.



PoW camps in the UK

While I was researching internment during WW2 I came across a list of hundreds of PoW camps in the UK – you’ll find it here.


Note: the map in that 2010 article no longer works.



Marriage banned

When Charles Piaggio and Isabel Mackay arrived at the parish church of St Clement’s, in Barnsbury, north London, on 31st March 1888 they were looking forward to getting married.


But as you can see from the marriage register, the bells of St Clement’s did not ring:


  © Image copyright London Metropolitan Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Ancestry


The groom was not resident in the parish, and because he was unable to prove that the banns had been read in the parish where he lived the vicar refused to marry them. The course of true love never did ruin smooth…


Note: they did get married in the end – but in the register office.



More name changes

This week the actress Emma Stone revealed that she wished people would call her by her real name, Emily. Like many actors and actresses she was forced to choose a new name to avoid confusion with another actress called Emily Stone. Another recent example of an actor who had to change his name is David Tennant, whose real name is David McDonald.


The British film actor Stewart Granger had the misfortune to be christened James Stewart, so had no choice but to choose a new moniker: apparently Granger was his grandmother’s maiden name, although I read some years ago that it was inspired by Farley Granger. Perhaps it was a bit of each.


When I was researching Angela Redgrave (see the articles in the previous two issues) I discovered that her second husband had changed his name. This is his entry in the 1939 Register:


© The National Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


The London Gazette entry reads:


NOTICE is hereby given that by a deed poll dated the 28th day of April, 1944 and duly enrolled in the Central Office of the Supreme Court of Judicature on the 1st day of May, 1944 Brampton Orley Phillips (otherwise and sometimes known as Reginald Brampton Orley Phillips) of 28 Cleveland Avenue, Hampton-on-Thames in the county of Middlesex Vocalist a natural born British subject renounced and abandoned the use of his surname of Phillips and assumed the name of Philip and surname of Cautley-Phillips and intends henceforth to sign and use the names of PHILIP BRAMPTON ORLEY CAUTLEY-PHILLIPS in lieu and in substitution for his former name of Phillips.—Dated this 5th day of May, 1944.


In earlier times it was unusual to register a change of name – even now it is not a legal necessity, nor is it necessary to execute a deed poll, though you might have trouble getting a bank account if you don’t.


The Cautley-Phillips surname has also been added to the 1939 Register entry for Angela Redgrave, who is shown as Grace Rickards, living with her then husband John Rickards:


© The National Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


Note that both are described as Proffesional (sic) entertainers; I think the word in brackets afterwards is ‘Travelling’, but I can’t be sure. John Rickards was old enough to be her father – then again, her father was old enough to be her grandfather!



Man of mystery

Keeping up the theme of people who changed their name I’d like to share with you this story which was sent in by Tony, a regular correspondent:


I enjoyed the identity quest in the latest newsletter. A similar quest ignited my interest in Family research.


My father wrote a family history in 1973. His grandfather William Reynolds was much loved and left a trove of material, pics, letters and memorabilia. I still use his Turner's "Encore" scissors which he greatly valued (you can see a similar pair here on eBay).


It was known that Reynolds was not his birth name, so about 25 years ago I determined to find his real identity and  update my father's family history. The GRO card index revealed a likely name (his older brother) and I wrongly assumed I had found my man – but he appeared in subsequent records which ruled him out.


My big breakthrough was the now defunct Black Sheep Index which held copies of the Great Patriotic Fund records – his father was a Crimean War casualty and his dependents were supported by the Great Patriotic Fund for widows and orphans of the war. It listed the family and great grandfather was shown as David Samuel Dowsett, the name he was baptised with in Chester in 1852.


He enlisted as a boy entrant artificer in the Royal Navy in 1868, but deserted after striking an instructor and went on the run which took him all over the world serving in the merchant marine under his new assumed name for about 40 years. Being a merchant seaman was one of the most hazardous occupations – much more dangerous than, for example, mining. Many of the ships he served on were subsequently lost – in one case with all hands.


I had assumed that he spent his life looking over his shoulder due to the desertion, but to my amazement he served in the Royal Navy Merchant Navy Volunteer Reserve for 20 years from 1882. According to his Volunteer record he was proficient in "big guns", Rifle and Cutlass. His travels – I have an almost complete record of all the ships he served on – and his life story are extraordinary – he went all over the world. His letters are very revealing about the dangers he faced.


As the icing on the cake I found that I was a DNA match for Grandpa's brother's descendants in Canada. The research took a very long time but the results were extremely satisfying. It is amazing how many records are still out there waiting to be found.



Female ‘bobbies’

The history of women in policing goes back a long way, to May 1883 when the Metropolitan Police (the force that covers the London area) appointed a lady to visit women convicts on licence and under police supervision. However, since the  Metropolitan Police had been founded in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel, it took 54 years before this first formal appointment – previously the wives of serving policemen sometimes carried out duties that were considered inappropriate for a man.


The first women police officers were known as ‘Police Matrons’; the Metropolitan Police appointed a second matron in September 1886, and by March 1889 there were 14, all of whom had family connections to the police.


There’s a useful summary of the History of Women in Policing on the website of the Greater Manchester Police Museum and Archives – you’ll find it here. For a more in-depth look at the topic this MA thesis includes lots of references, including one to A Woman at Scotland Yard, a book by Lilian Wyles – who became, in 1921, the first female detective. Although Agatha Christie’s first novel had appeared the previous year, Miss Marple didn’t make an appearance until 1927.


[Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD – used by permission of Findmypast]


The clipping appeared in the Dundee Evening Telegraph on 12th February 1949, the week before Detective Inspector Wyles retired at the age of 63, having served for 30 years. Her book was published in 1952, but it’s out-of-print and even second-hand copies are hard to come by.



Bourn in Lincolnshire

Lilian Mary Elizabeth Wyles was born in Bourn, in the registration district of Bourn in Lincolnshire: her father was a brewer, but he may well have celebrated the birth of his first and only daughter with something a little stronger!



At the time of the 1911 Census Lilian Wyles was staying with her parents in a boarding house in London’s St Pancras area. Both she and her mother have lost a few years – Lilian is shown as 22, though she would have been 25 at the time of the census; Julia, here mother, is shown as 50, though her birth was registered in 1854. Even Joseph’s age is a year out (he was born in 1853), and they’d been married for 35 years, not 30. Even the number of children born to the marriage is wrong – Joseph and Julia had only two children.



© The National Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


The errors in age continued in the 1921 Census, where Julia had lost another year, whilst Lilian had apparently aged by just 4 years since 1911, and was shown as 26, though she was actually 35. Although Julia and Lilian are once again away from home, I don’t think the proprietors of the hotel can be blamed for the discrepancies – if you look at the entire schedule you will see that each of the guests filled in their own information.


At least Julia was still alive – despite the evidence of these two censuses, some online trees show her as dying in 1907!


© The National Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


Note that Lilian had already reached the rank of Sergeant in the Metropolitan Police – in fact she had been promoted to Sergeant on 31st March 1919, just 6 weeks after joining the force! However at the time of the census she had not yet moved across to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) – that was to come later in the year.


By the time of the 1939 Register Lilian had attained the rank of Detective Inspector, and clearly come to terms with her age since the correct date of birth is shown:


© The National Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


Lilian’s mother had died earlier that year but there was another member of the Wyles family staying with Lilian, also single, and I was curious as to how they were related.


This proved to be more complicated than I had anticipated, because when I looked up Agnes birth in the GRO indexes it turned out that her mother’s maiden name was Symons – which was also the maiden name of Julia Wyles, Lilian’s mother. My first thought was that perhaps two brothers had married two sisters, something I’d seen more than once in my own tree – but the plot thickened further when I downloaded the birth register entry for Agnes Wyles, because her father was shown as Joseph Wyles, which was also the name of Lilian’s father!



I soon discovered that the Joseph Wyles named in the birth register was Lilian’s half-brother – he was her father’s son by his first wife, Marian Gray (who had sadly died not long after her son’s birth). It took rather longer to figure out how Agnes Mary Symons was related to Julia Symons, Lilian’s mother, but I eventually established that they were 1st cousins – their paternal grandparents were Frances Symons and Cordelia Bold.


It’s probably just as well that the 1939 Register doesn’t list relationships because anything shown for Lilian and Agnes would have just muddied the waters. Since their mothers were 1st cousins, Lilian and Agnes were 2nd cousins on their mothers’ side, but on their fathers’ side they were from different generations, which meant Lilian was half-aunt to Agnes.



A double dose of DNA

When two people are related through more than one line the amount of DNA they share tends to be greater, and you can get a reasonable estimate of how much DNA they are likely to share by referring to the table at the end of my DNA Masterclass and adding together the average shared DNA for each relationship.


For example, because Lilian and Agnes were 2nd cousins on their mother’s side they would, on average, have shared 229cM of DNA inherited from their mothers; because they were half-aunt and half-niece they would have shared an average of 871cM of DNA inherited from their fathers.


At first sight It might be surprising that the latter figure is nearly 4 times higher, even though Lilian and Ages are only half-aunt and half-niece – but if you refer to the table again you’ll see the relationship is equivalent to 1st cousin in terms of the amount of DNA that is shared.


The chances are there are people in your tree who are related to you in more than one way, and sometimes it’s not immediately obvious that this is the case.


For example, my great-grandfather married two sisters: I’m descended from the first wife, so the descendants of the other children of the first wife are my 2nd cousins. However the descendants of the second wife are not only my half 2nd cousins (half because they only share one great-grandparent), but also my 3rd cousins (because although we have different great-grandmothers, they were sisters).


Tip: when you want to work out how two people in your tree are related, first identify the common ancestor(s), then count the number of generations separating each of them from the common ancestor(s). If you get the same answer in each deduct 1 and that gives you the degree of cousinship For example, if you and a cousin have the same great-great grandparents, ie 4 generations back, you are 3rd cousins. If the number of generations differs, take the lower number and subtract 1 to get the degree of cousinship; the difference between the two numbers equates to the number of times ‘removed’. Normally there is a pair of common ancestors, but if there is only one you are half cousins.


As if the previous example from my tree wasn’t complicated enough, my grandfather and his brother married two sisters. This means that the descendants of the brother and his wife are my double 2nd cousins – because we share two pairs of common ancestors, ie two pairs of great-grandparents.


So some of the descendants of my great-grandfather are my double 2nd cousins, some are just 2nd cousins, and most are half-2nd cousins (as well as 3rd cousins). But whilst it’s complicated, it’s something that only needs to be worked out once – so it’s worth spending the time it takes to get it right!



Ancestry DNA offers MOTHER’S DAY SALE

Ancestry charge a little more for their tests, but in my experience they’re ten times more useful than tests purchased from other companies (and, believe me, I’ve tried them all!).


The good news is that until Sunday 12th May readers in Australia and New Zealand can save at least $30 on DNA tests from Ancestry.com.au – please use the link below so that you can support LostCousins when you make your purchase (if it doesn’t seem to work at first, log-out from Ancestry then click the link again).


Save up to $44* on AncestryDNA® and give Mum the gift of her family story. *AUD Offer ends 12 May 2024.


There’s also an offer in Canada – again there are big savings on DNA tests:


Give Mom the gift of her family story. Save up to $65 on AncestryDNA®. CAD. Offer ends 12 May 2024.


Note: although this is billed as a Mother’s Day Sale, anyone can take the AncestryDNA test. And you don’t have to decide in advance who’s going to take it – so if you’re keen to make the most of DNA discoveries you might want to do what I do, and order an extra kit so that you have it on hand when you need it.  



Easier Said Than Done

Although DNA offers by far the best hope of knocking down longstanding ‘brick walls’ in your tree, just because something is possible doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy. Most of the time we have to work just as hard to get results from DNA as we do when we go down the conventional route.


You might think, why bother with DNA if it’s not going to be any easier? Remember that the main reason we have ‘brick walls’ at all is because we’ve been let down by the records, either because they haven’t survived, or because they’re misleading. Often DNA is our only hope.


Working with DNA is very different from working with records, so it’s crucial to follow the advice in my DNA Masterclass – all of it, not just the bits you think are important. It will take time – usually weeks or months rather than hours or days, but. But if you’ve spent 20 years failing to knock down a brick wall’, isn’t it worth putting in the time and effort to finally solve it? With DNA you have thousands of clues – but making the most of them is easier said than done, hence the importance of the Masterclass!


Easier Said Than Done was the title of a record by ‘The Essex’ which topped the charts in the US but, because it only reached No.41 in the UK, I never heard it at the time. It probably didn’t help that it was the ‘B’ side of the record, but the fact that pirate radio stations didn’t start broadcasting until the following year was another factor – there wasn’t much opportunity to hear pop music on the BBC.


If you can spare two minutes to listen to the song here on YouTube I think you’ll agree that we really missed out in the UK!


Note: ‘The Essex’ recorded a second phenomenal record which didn’t make it over here in 1963 – but another group got to No.6 in 1974 with the same song, and that’s the version most of you will remember. I’m not going to tell you what it was, but here’s a link to the original version….



Surrey Land Tax Records for 1910-15 now online

By the early 20th century my ancestors, who had all moved to London in the 18th and 19th centuries, were in the process of moving from London into Essex – so I’m hoping that before long The Genealogist will add Essex to their Lloyd George Domesday collection.


But if you have ancestors who were living in Surrey, you’ll be delighted to hear that over 200,000 owners and occupiers from Surrey have been added to The Genealogist’s collection, which now extends to over 2.6 million records.


Counties previously added are Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Middlesex and Northamptonshire, as well as the Greater London boroughs.


To coincide with this new release The Genealogist are offering their Diamond subscription for £114.95, but as a reader of this newsletter you can get an even better deal when you follow this link (however you’ll have to be quick as the offer ends soon).



WW1 Red Cross volunteers at Ancestry

Ancestry have added records of over 90,000 British Red Cross volunteers from the Great War. I suspect these records are also available elsewhere, but they’re free to view at Ancestry, so take a look here.


Tip: there are billions of records at Ancestry which are available at other sites – most notably FamilySearch – but the advantage of searching them at Ancestry is that you can easily attach them to the relevant individuals in your tree. And, of course, Ancestry can only provide hints to the records in their own database, so if you make use of hints (not everyone does) that’s an additional bonus.



British Home Children: In their own words

Earlier this month I published some letters from Emma Newman, who had been sent to Canada as a ‘home child’. Here is another extract from the correspondence:


Letter from Emma Newman   21 April 1895  c/o Mr Aaron Read  St Catherines Ontario

Dear Alex

I was glad to get your letter, but I must tell you that I didn’t get the handkerchief nor your picture. You couldn’t have sent them the right way, for I received a note from the General Post Office, London the same time as I got your letter, and I don’t know what to do about it and so I thought it best to send it to you and you could look after it. It says something on the note about sending 9d, and I don’t know how to send that.


If I was up town I might find something out from the Post office, but as I am four miles out of town, I don’t only get up about once in three or four weeks, and you must excuse me for not having the hat band made, as I haven’t been able to get the materials to make it with. And I don’t quite understand what you mean, at first you said you wanted something made for the peaks of your caps, and then you said not to mind as they would be already on, but to make something for your costume and for it to be in white and you didn’t say whether you wanted your own initials or the initials of the club.


I don’t think you means the same kind of a thing as I do, but I will have one made by the next time I write and will do it how I mean and put (A.D.) onto it, and then when you write you can explain a little better how you want it, I have never seen any in white yet.


You wanted to know how the pen was broke. Well the end of it was all bent out of shape and broken right off, but it is all right now. When I wrote to Mr Grestock I said something about coming back if they wanted me, I suppose that is what they have been telling you, but I don’t believe if I did come back, that I would even be content to stay there now.


You say you would like to be out in the open air, why don’t you come out here, there is lots of fresh air here. And I have seen John since I wrote to you last and he has left the place he was at, and he has gone up where Will is and so they are both together again. He was here about three days, and is taller than I am, but although I hadn’t seen him for over six years I knew him the minute I put my eyes on him. He had to work pretty hard where he was, and then only got his board and clothes, and then nothing extra, and they gave him three dollars and paid his way here when he left working.


Working hard and lifting things, and him growing so fast, has pulled him all out of shape, he is awfully round shouldered, I made him get a pair of shoulder braces to straighten him up. He said he never went out anywhere’s and you ought to have seen the boots he had on when he came here. Looked as though he had come from the back woods, he said that he had another pair but he was afraid tht he might spoil them in the mud.


He didn’t seem to care much how he looked. I told him I’d have a little pride about me if I was him and he said he had pride enough to keep his nose clean. They say I am proud but I am not, but I believe in making yourself look decent if you can. One year he went to school in the winter, and he had to make up for it by getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning and working until nine at night, and that is all the schooling he has got since he came here. But I think he will have a better time now he has gone where Will is, he walked from here to where he is twelve miles.


He thinks Will is in a good place, he (Will) is getting 125 dollars a year, and then of course it is like home to him now, he has been there so long and John is going to get 60 dollars for eight months and something for the rest of the year. If he had been around a little sooner he would have got more, for it was getting late and most every body had the men hired that they wanted, and so he has done well in getting what he is. And I think any way it was better for him to get a little less and for them to be together, for they were together more than I was ever with them.


When I come to think, I have only lived with them about three weeks all put together, since I was eight years old. What do you think about coming out here, it won’t be hard on you like it was on him because you are old enough to look after yourself.


I think I have told you about all I can think of now, only next time you write a long letter please use thinner paper, as I have to pay 10 cents nearly every time you write a long one, I don’t know whether you have to pay anything on mine or not, I suppose it must be over weight.


Good-bye and give my love to all, and you will be able to send Florie’s picture next time and don’t be long in answering, as I am anxious to know about that handkerchief I have counted it on being about three weeks, before I will hear, you will see that it has never left London yet, I will say good-bye again hoping you are all well. I have a cough that is all that is ailing me now. I remain your affectionate cousin


Emma Newman


Letter from Emma Newman  17 June 1895 c/o Mr Aaron Read

St Catherines Ont Box 807

Dear Alex

Received both your letters, photos and handkerchief, alright. I like your picture, of course I can’t tell whether it looks like you or not, but I think it is a good one all the same. And thanks very much for the handkerchief. I will wear it inside the collar of my coat in the winter.


We have just got through house cleaning, That is turning every thing upside down, and putting them back in the right place again. You didn’t tell me any thing about what the house is like that you have just moved in.


The fruit growers had an excursion across the lake to Toronto last Wensday, and I went and had a very good time, it rained a little in the morning, but then it was nice coming back in the evening. The lake wasn’t a bit rough.


I was out for a boat ride the other night, and I was thinking I would like you to be here and see you out rowing on the lake, you know we are only half a mile from the lake, and it’s nice to go there on a hot day. We have had some awful hot dry weather lately everything seems to be drying up for the want of rain.


I haven’t had a word from Will or John since I wrote to you before. I don’t know what the reason is, unless they are waiting for me to write first, but it’s their turn to write to me. But I will write to them soon, as soon as I find I can spare the time.


I had a letter from Mr & Mrs Grestock in April, and only just answered it last week, they seem to be very busy like every body else.


22 June 1895

I am beginning to feel kind of ashamed for keeping you waiting so long for an answer. I started to write this letter last Monday night and I went to sleep over it, so I thought I had better go to bed and finish some other time, and I didn’t find time till to night.


I have been out picking strawberries nearly all day today, and yesterday, and my legs feel so stiff I can hardly move them. You said you was going to write me a long letter and you didn’t. Will is getting his board and lodging besides the $125 a year & I wouldn’t think it much if he didn’t. I have heard them tell here, that they get ever so much bigger wages out here than they do in England. And when John was here, he said that you would get more if you was here in Canada and then not have to work so late. Of course farmers work all times, but then I don’t suppose you would be a farmer.


And I told you to tell me how you wanted that hat band and you never said a word about it. Maybe they don’t wear them in England, but I have made one just like they do here, only, I never seen any worked in white before, but that’s what you wanted, it is not quite so pretty, if you don’t like it I will make you another one, if you will let me know, it will want pressing out a little bit before you put it in your hat.


I didn’t get Florie’s picture yet. I supose I will get it allright when she sends it, that is if she don’t forget all about it. I am afraid she will. Goodbye dear Alex give my love to all and don’t forget yourself.

I remain

your ever loving cousin

Emma Newman

Emma Newman 10 Sept 1895   c/o Aaron Read  Box 807 St Catherines, Ontario

Dear Alex

I received your letter about three weeks ago, and I was very glad to get it, as I haven’t had a letter from any one since you wrote last, I mean the time before last. I have written to Will and John but they have never answered yet, and it is nearly three months now, since I wrote, so I have never heard how John likes it up where Will is. I don’t even know whether he ever got there or not.


You wanted me to tell you how I liked the handkerchief I meant to tell you when I


wrote before. I think it is a very nice one, and I was real pleased with it, but they don’t wear that colour here, they mostly all wear white, but they may wear colours next winter. When you want me to work your initials you must send a piece of paper the size of the cloth you want me to work on, and write the letters on it, so that I will know something about how you want it.


Toronto is about forty miles from here, I have been there twice this summer. They had pretty large fires but they weren’t any ways near burning the whole town down. And those that live in Canada are not called Americans they are Canadians but they that live in the United States are the Americans or Yankies. I thought you was in the printing business, but you seem to have changed your occupation for you were telling about having a big crop of fruit.


I don’t remember much about Covent Garden. I know I have been there and that is about all, and I remember going there on a Sunday and when anyone was talking could hear their echo. It seems to me though that a long time ago when father was alive, that I went through there one Sunday with some of you boys to stay at your place for the day.


I think my mother and father and uncle and aunt were going away somewhere and I had to stay with you for the day. Tell Uncle I remember him taking me to a Lord Mayor’s Show one day and he had me sitting on his shoulder so as I could see over the crowd of people. That was when we used to live in Bedfordbury Court, maybe he has forgotten all about it, but I haven’t.


I nearly forgot to tell you how I got beat out of $10. There was a couple of pedlars selling gold watches and they had a great story how that they came with the watches. Of course we thought that they was all right, they said the watch was worth $40 and the chain $6 and they kept knocking the price down until they got to $10 and then I was silly enough to go and buy it. I didn’t really want it, I wouldn’t have thought of going to buy one but we thought it was such a great bargain.


So I took it to a jewelers store to find out what it was worth, and it wasn’t worth five dollars. I have left it with a man in town and he is going to try and sell it for me. It looked like a fine watch, it was marked 18k and government stamped. Just regular fraud, there was lots more got cheated besides me too. It will learn me a lesson I won’t buy no more from fellows going around. I had just seventeen dollars in the bank when I bought that thing and I had to borrow some money to buy it, and so I haven’t any now until I get payed for this month. I just owe three dolars and so I will have two left until the next month is up.


I have $43 in the bank now, but I am not going to take any of it out, $32 of that I have saved since I came here. How much money of ours did Mr & Mrs Grestock have? I don’t think it was very much was it? Since I started to write this letter I have been out for a drive, with some of the neighbours that live near here, and it just struck half past 10 as I came in and is after 11 oclock now, so I will have to hurry up and get to bed as I have to get up early in the morning.


We had our harvest home last Sunday and I had to sing in the choir for the occasion.


I believe I have told you all I can think of now. There were two girls went to England from here last week, I didn’t know them though, I think that if nothing happens I will come back in three years and see how I like it. Give my love to all and accept the same yourself, and I hope you have found out who took that photo of Florrie’s. I suppose you have been to the seaside and back by this time. I hope you had a pleasant time. How is Fred you never say anything about him any more.


Goodbye from your affectionate cousin

Emma Newman


Many thanks to Martin for transcribing the letters and allowing me to share them with you. I hope to include further extracts in future issues.


Note: if you want a broader picture, LostCousins member Jackie Cooper has researched the lives of 130 British Home Children, including two of her great-uncles who were sent to Canada on the SS Carthaginian in 1909. You can buy the book she wrote here.   



Will falling birth rates lead to our extinction?

According to this BBC article, official figures released in 2022 showed that record numbers (50.1%) of women were reaching the age of 30 without having had any children.


None of us would be here if our parents hadn’t had children. At the same time there is a limit to how many people the world can reasonably support, so it’s good news that in many countries birth rates are falling, sometimes to the extent that the populations of some countries are falling, or are projected to fall in the coming decades. It has been estimated that by 2100 as many as 97% of the countries of the world will have below the 2.1 level sufficient to keep the population constant.


Research published last year used genetic analysis to calculate that the world population may have fallen to as few as 1300 humans at one point, nearly a million years ago. Other scientists disagree, but there is general agreement that the population in earlier times was far lower than it is today – a less controversial estimate is that there were 55,000 humans 1.2 million years ago, and that the global population might have reached 1 million humans between 50,000 and 20,000 years ago.


Note: it is thought that the Neanderthal population never exceeded 10,000 – so it’s perhaps not surprising that today we typically have just 1%-4% Neanderthal DNA today.


Realistically, if the human race does die out, it’s unlikely to be because families have been having fewer children – even if the population fell by 99.9% there would still be as many humans on the planet as there were in 5000BC.



Do you remember Green Shield stamps?

My mother used to shop at Sainsbury’s so we didn’t often have an opportunity to collect Green Shield Stamps, but I know that they were an important part of family life for many.


Green Shield stamps are one of the nostalgic items on the Memory Box website, which was originally set up by the Wessex Heritage Trust and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. As it says on the site “Sharing your memory might help spark a memory of someone else, creating connection and helping to build a repository of stories which may otherwise have been lost to time.”



Peter’s Tips

We have a thriving U3A here in Stansted, including a Creative Writing Group. In the November 2023 issue of our parish magazine there was a superb short story which brilliantly expresses the frustration that some of us experience when dealing with the NHS – you can find it here. Even if you don’t live in the UK you might well find parallels with some of the public services in your own country!


Did you see the story about the airline passenger who, at the age of 101, is treated like a baby because the computer system at American Airlines can’t handle centenarians? So many people assume that when you get to a certain age you’re no longer able to do normal things, but it’s not true – not long ago I was corresponding with a LostCousins member who was nearly 103, but still actively researching his tree.



Stop Press

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This is the last newsletter of our 20th year! But I’ll be back next month with the first issue of our 21st year.



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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2024 Peter Calver


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