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Newsletter – 30th June 2022



Party like it’s 1921 – half-price access to the census 24 HOURS ONLY

Sussex parish registers online at Ancestry

Half-price Ancestry.com subscription offer ENDS TUESDAY

The sound of silence

Do you belong to Essex Society for Family History?

Oldchurch Hospital

Do you have ancestors from the Caithness area?

Photos of London and Londoners from the 1950s

Unusual crafts provide inspiration

Last day of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine offer ENDS TODAY

Widower may become father

Must organ donors remain anonymous?

Masterclass: Before you ask for help….

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 18th June) 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!



Party like it’s 1921 – half-price access to the census 24 HOURS ONLY

I grew up in the Swinging Sixties, but most of the books I read then were set in the Roaring Twenties: for 24 hours you too can go back to the 1920s with half-price access to the 1921 England & Wales census!


Not only can you find out where your relatives were living and what they did for a living, you can find out who their employers were and precisely where they worked – information that you’re very unlikely to find on previous censuses (nor is it usually given in the 1939 Register). The articles in my 6th January and 10th January newsletters tell you all you really need to know about this important resource.


The offer runs from noon (London time) today, Thursday 30th June, until noon tomorrow, Friday 1st July. As ever, searching at Findmypast is free: you only need to pay to view transcripts or images, and since all the information in the transcripts is available from the images I recommend you focus on the latter – especially since corrections and other alterations to the census schedule often provide insights that you can’t possibly get from a transcript.


Please use the relevant link below so that you can support LostCousins:


HALF-PRICE 1921 at Findmypast.co.uk

HALF-PRICE 1921 at Findmypast.com

HALF-PRICE 1921 at Findmypast.com.au

HALF-PRICE 1921 at Findmypast.ie

Tip: if you really want to get in the mood, learn to dance the Charleston in under two minutes with this YouTube video.   



Sussex parish registers online at Ancestry

Last month Ancestry added more than 11 million birth, marriage and burial records from Sussex. The county is now split into two for administrative purposes, and the records are split between the two halves of the county:


East Sussex, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812

East Sussex, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1920
East Sussex, England, Church of England Confirmations, 1813-1927

East Sussex, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1936

East Sussex, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1995


West Sussex, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812

West Sussex, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1920

West Sussex, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1936

West Sussex, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1995


Although these records are described as exclusively available at Ancestry, in the past it has been possible to view some Sussex parish registers at FamilySearch, and this week I was still able to view the baptism register entry for Frederick James Lemon at St Nicholas, Brighton in 1869. However the quality of the Ancestry image was vastly better because it had been scanned in colour; it was also much easier to find – FamilySearch took me to image 1 of 701, whereas the entry I was looking for was on image 697.


Note: Frederick James Lemmon was my 1st cousin twice removed – he married his 1st cousin Alice Calver (my great aunt) in 1895. It’s one of the few marriages between cousins in my tree – there are, however, many examples of two brothers marrying two sisters.



Half-price Ancestry.com subscription offer ENDS TUESDAY

From 3pm Pacific time (11pm London time) today, 6 month subscriptions will be discounted by 50% at Ancestry’s US site, Ancestry.com – the offer ends at 7pm Pacific time on Tuesday 5th July. Please use the link below – which will become live only when the offer starts (the start had been delayed when I last checked):


Ancestry.com – SAVE 50% on 6 month Ancestry Memberships ENDS TUESDAY


This offer is not, to the best of my knowledge, restricted to US residents – but it won’t be open to you if you have an existing Ancestry subscription, even at a different site. If you live outside the US make sure you know what the exchange rate is before you make your purchase (I generally look-up exchange rates here). Also watch out for taxes, which will be added to the total (these will depend on where you live). You might find that your local site is cheaper, even at regular prices.


Tip: if you purchase a World Explorer membership, which includes all of Ancestry’s records, you should be able to use it at any of Ancestry’s worldwide sites.



The sound of silence

Have you ever wondered why some family historians don’t respond to emails or messages? I’m not talking specifically about LostCousins members, since most people who join do so in the hope of making connections, but even amongst LostCousins members there are some who suffer from social anxiety. One of them bravely contacted me, and agreed to write about how it affects them, in the hope that other researchers will be more understanding:


Finding ‘lost cousins’ – what a marvellous idea. And what a great job Peter has done in setting up a website that allows people to do just that.


Except for me, there’s a problem. I suffer from social anxiety, a disorder which impacts greatly on my ability to communicate directly with people who I don’t know. The thought of contacting total strangers, even if they are ‘lost cousins’ – or indeed of being contacted by them – fills me with dread.


So why join LostCousins in the first place, you may ask, if I can’t fulfil one of its basic aims, namely that of expanding my own family tree and helping others to expand theirs by locating missing ancestors?


My answer is simple. Researching my family history is a perfect pastime for me in this age of the Internet that we live in. So much is now available online and I have managed to amass an amazing amount of information, in some cases tracing my ancestors back several hundred years. I am comfortable with, and very much enjoy, this kind of solo research, even though not communicating with others means that I may not be getting the full picture. Also, the information in the newsletters, plus the useful Masterclasses, outweigh for me the disadvantage of occasionally being reprimanded by Peter in his newsletters for not completing my own ‘My Ancestors’ page!


I am grateful to Peter, though, for giving me the opportunity to try and fight my own particular demons by writing this piece. I’m aware that social anxiety can be a difficult condition for non-sufferers to understand and, like so many other mental health issues, it comes with many nuances. However, I hope that highlighting it in this way will also encourage any others out there with similar afflictions to know there are many ways we can connect to our past – and enjoy ourselves in the process. Ultimately we’re all pursuing the same goal, it’s just that some of us have a slightly less conventional method of achieving it.


I know that there will be many people reading this newsletter who also suffer from social anxiety – but perhaps one of you has come up with a way of overcoming your anxiety when it comes to communicating with fellow family historians (whether they are your cousins or not)? If so I’d encourage you to write to me, in the hope that your method of coping might work for some of the others.



Do you belong to Essex Society for Family History?

At 2.30pm (London time) on Saturday 2nd July I’ll be speaking via Zoom to members of the Essex Society for Family History (ESFH)  – so it’s particularly appropriate that in June there have been two articles in this newsletter about my Essex ancestors. A complete coincidence, perhaps, but a very convenient one.


If you’re a member of ESFH I hope you’ll be able to make it – and if you have Essex ancestors, but have yet to join the society, there’s just time to do so (follow this link – wherever you live it’s only £8 a year if you don’t require paper copies of the magazine).



Oldchurch Hospital

Talking of Essex, I was contacted this week by a LostCousins member who revealed that her mother used to be a midwife at Ilford Maternity Hospital, where I was born in 1950 (a fact I had mentioned in a previous newsletter). She wasn’t working there at the time of my birth, but she was in 1953 when my sister was born – so might well have met my mother, and may even have assisted with the delivery.


The following year I was confined to bed in a different hospital, Oldchurch Hospital in Romford – I spent 6 weeks there after breaking my leg. Towards the end of my stay this photograph was taken – I’m the one standing behind the chair and looking anywhere but at the camera.


There are four other children in the photo – most of them older than me, and all of them more photogenic – plus a smiling nurse. I wonder if anyone reading this newsletter might recognise one of them? It would have been October or November 1954, which is a long time ago – almost a lifetime, in fact.


These days neither Ilford nor Romford is considered to be in Essex – they’re both in east London. And I don’t suppose that professional photographers are allowed into hospitals any more – except, perhaps, when Royalty or other dignitaries are visiting.


According to the stamp on the back this particular photo was taken by H Collins of 126 Park Lane, Hornchurch who claimed to offer “Quick Service” and “Reasonable Prices”. Looking up the address reveals that it’s now a private house – and may well have been back then.


There must be other copies of this photo in existence – perhaps even in one of your photo albums. After all, what parent could refuse to buy a photo of their sick child? I couldn’t find out how much a photo like this would have cost in the 1950s, but I did come across a site that gave prices for other periods (and has links to lots of other sites, including the one featured in the next article).


Note: if you have a favourite photo site please post details on the LostCousins Forum – although I’ve selected a couple of sites to inspire you, the forum is a much better channel for sharing location-based resources. If you’ve qualified to join the forum you’ll find a link and a coupon code on your My Summary page ad the LostCousins site – and if you haven’t qualified yet, that’s probably because you haven’t completed your My Ancestors page.



Do you have ancestors from the Caithness area?

The Johnston Collection includes the work of three generations of Caithness photographers who captured images of life in and around the area between 1863 and 1975. During that period they produced around 100,000 glass plate negatives of which around 50,000 survive and are held in trust by the Wick Society. Over 41,000 of the photos are online, and you can buy high quality reproductions at reasonable prices.



Photos of London and Londoners from the 1950s

The Rook Collection has some wonderful photos from 1950s London – I particularly liked this one.



Unusual crafts provide inspiration

Yesterday evening my wife and I watched the final of The Great British Sewing Bee – a series which always reminds me of my mother, who lived and died in an era when making one’s own clothes was not only normal but expected (I’m not sure that Mum ever bought a dress for herself in a shop).


Coincidentally – or perhaps not – the Guardian this week published an article about men and women who are helping to keep alive crafts that are so rare that in some cases there are only a handful of practitioners remaining. Or only one, if you’re the UK’s remaining glass eye maker – though even in 1911 there were just 6 recorded in England & Wales, all in the Birmingham area, and 3 in the same family.


Although there are now more people researching their family tree than ever before, thanks to programmes like Who Do You Think You Are? and innovations like consumer DNA testing, the vast majority have never set foot inside a records office, or handled a centuries-old document. And there are bad influences at work too – popular TV series like Cash in the Attic encourage people to sell their family heirlooms for 30 pieces of silver (or the modern equivalent, a conservatory or a cruise).


What can we do to make sure that our own heirlooms remain in the family, and continue to be appreciated for what they represent? One simple thing that we can all do is photograph our prized possessions, and write about where they came from, and what they mean to us. For example, this battered magnifying glass may have lost its handle and most of its silver-plated finish, but it was passed to me by my father, who told me that it used to belong to his father.



Last day of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine offer ENDS 30TH JUNE

This is the very last day that you’ll be able to take advantage of fantastic savings on Who Do You Think You Are? magazine – so please don’t delay if you want to get 6 issues for a miserly £9.99 (in the UK) or save between 49% and 64% in the rest of the world. Follow this link - NOW!



Widower may become father

The High Court in London has determined that a widower may try for a baby with a surrogate, using the last remaining IVF embryo he created with his late wife, who died during pregnancy. The regulatory body, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority had rejected his request – and may yet appeal against the judgement. You can read more about the circumstances in this BBC article.


In earlier centuries it was, sadly, far from unusual for a woman to give birth after the death of her husband – I came across an example only this week – but our ancestors would have been astounded to learn that a dead woman could be the mother of a child. There are a lot of things that future generations of genealogists will have to take into account!



Must organ donors remain anonymous?

Like it or not, low-cost DNA testing has effectively removed the anonymity that sperm donors were promised (and, in some cases, exposed frauds where doctors used their own sperm).


Whilst it’s far less practical to identify organ donors and recipients using DNA, there are many who feel that contact between recipients and the families of donors can be helpful, and should be allowed if both wish it: see, for example, this article.


Note: while there is a chance that donor DNA may show up when a recipient takes a DNA test, it’s not something that most genealogists need to worry about right now.



Masterclass: Before you ask for help….

As experienced family historians we’re used to knocking down ‘brick walls’, but sometimes we need the help of an expert. In this Masterclass – written by Dr Janet Few, author and genealogist – you’ll learn to prepare for your encounter with an expert, so that you make the best possible use of their valuable time. I’d added a few notes and tips of my own, shown in italics.   

I belong to many family history forums and most days I receive several emails with family/local history enquiries. I am afraid this isn’t an invitation for you to send me your queries – I am already at capacity! Nor is it meant to be a complaint about those who do ask questions. There are no silly questions and we should all be trying to increase our knowledge. This is meant to help people to frame those questions in a way that is more likely to get a satisfactory response.

It is highly likely that you can answer many questions yourself and if you can’t, there are steps you can take before you ask your question. Often I am asked “Where can I find such and such a record?” or “Are there any records for …..?” type questions. Sometimes I know the answer straight away. If I don’t, I type the question into my search engine of choice and – guess what – there, in a matter of moments is the answer. The questioner could have done the same.

Tip: the Research Guides on the website of the National Archives cover a great number of topics and sources; local record offices often have excellent guides on their own websites.

Show me a family historian and I will show you someone who has a ‘brick wall’ ancestor, those folk who appear to have been beamed down from outer space, or who disappear without trace. I often offer to help with a bit of demolition. Frequently, the enquirer hasn’t exhausted all the possibilities themselves, or there is a more productive way that they could set out their question. By reassessing the problem, they might be able to move that brick wall back a generation without any suggestions from me.

So, before you ask someone for help with your ‘brick wall’ (whether you’re engaging a professional genealogist, asking an expert at a family history event, or simply posting on a forum) here are some simple steps to follow:

1.      Decide exactly what the problem (the research question) is. Just pick one specific thing, not ‘more about John Brown’. For example, ‘I want to find John Brown’s parents’ names’, or ‘I want to know where and when John Brown died’, or ‘I want to find John Brown in the 1881 census.’

2.      Next, reassess everything that you already know about John Brown. There may be a clue in some aspect of the documentation that you already have. Create a timeline of John Brown’s life using all this information. Include the sources for that information, as some sources will be more reliable than others. Please note that ‘Ancestry’ is not a source, although ‘family tree compiled by x on Ancestry’ can be. Ancestry (or FindmyPast or Family Search etc.) may be the way that you accessed the source but the source will be an original document, a transcription or an index.

3.      See if you can fill in any gaps. Do you have John Brown’s birth AND his baptism, do you have him recorded in every census? Have you looked recently to see if there is new information available online that was not there when you last searched for John Brown?

4.      Make a note of any possible further research that might be helpful but which you cannot do at the moment, perhaps because the records are not online, or you can’t visit that repository, or afford to buy copies.

5.      Make a list of where you have already looked and what you have searched for.

6.      Finally, make sure you include a place and a time frame. Those who post on international genealogy forums seems to be particularly poor at this. There seems to be an assumption that, if no place is mentioned, it must be the US. There are genealogists elsewhere! Please avoid using abbreviations; these might be meaningful to you but ambiguous to others. Is WA Washington state or Western Australia?

To give you an idea of what I mean, I have given an example below. This is a genuine example, apart from the ‘searches completed so far section’.

When and only when, you have reached the end of step 6, share your problem. Family historians love a good mystery and a fresh pair of eyes can often help. If they can’t, then at least it might be comforting to know that you have done all the right things.

An Example

Brick wall ancestor – Mary Cardell 2 x great grandmother

Research Question

I would like to find the full names of Mary’s parents.


Mary Woolgar née Cardell is my 2x great grandmother. On her marriage certificate and the birth certificates/registrations for her four children, her surname is consistently spelt CARDELL. The marriage certificate suggests that she signed her own name. Earlier generations may not have been literate, so the name might be rendered differently and my searches have included all phonetically likely variants of the name, of which there are many! It is even possible that it is a corruption of McArdle.

The evidence suggests that Mary, or at least whoever provided the information to the  census enumerators, was convinced that she was born in Highgate, Middlesex. Ignoring the 1841 census evidence, when ages were rounded down in any case, the suggested dates of birth from the other sources are consistent. If all ages are correct, then Mary was born on 4 or 5 April 1817. It seems fairly certain that she was born between 1816 and 1818.

Other clues are provided by her marriage certificate to Philip Woolgar, which I obtained from the General Registrar. As it was a handwritten copy, I also consulted an image of the original parish marriage register, to ensure there were no copying errors at any stage between the church and the certificate that I received. The information was the same and assuming it is accurate, Mary’s father was James Cardell, a gardener. There is no indication that either of the fathers were deceased at the time of the marriage. Searching surrounding entries, suggests that whoever filled in the register did not make a habit of noting if the fathers were deceased, so we cannot be sure James was still alive. The witnesses were William Groves and Catharine Cardell who has been shown to be Mary’s sister.

Timeline (working backwards)

Sources are in red, possible further research is in blue. I have omitted the full document references here to simplify matters.

  1. 18 January 1892 buried Islington. Deceased OnlineI need to check the original burial registers and possibly locate a gravestone, if one survives. It seems odd that she was buried the other side of the river, albeit only seven miles away. Islington is however nearer to Highgate.
  2. 13 January 1892 died 153 Railton Road, Lambeth (the home of her daughter Caroline) death certificate age 74 – born 14 January 1817 to 13 January 1818
  3. 1891 census age 74 born Highgate, Middlesex – born 6 April 1816 to 5 April 1817
  4. 1881 census age 63 born Middlesex – born 4 April 1817 to 3 April 1818
  5. 1871 census age 53 born Highgate, Middlesex – born 3 April 1817 to 2 April 1818
  6. 1861 census living Rosendale Road, Lambeth age 44 born Highgate, Middlesex – born 8 April 1816 to 7 April 1817
  7. 7 Sept 1855 son Philip James born Figs Marsh, Mitcham son’s birth certificate
  8. 1851 census not located
  9. 5 Mar 1848 daughter Fanny Amelia baptised Highgate, ‘of Highgate’ baptism register
  10. 5 Feb 1848 daughter Fanny Amelia born, the exact address is unclear but appears to read ‘Cookers Haven’, Finchley daughter’s birth certificate
  11. 1 Feb 1846 daughter Mary Ann baptised Highgate, ‘of Highgate’ baptism register
  12. D Q 1845 daughter Mary Ann born registered Barnet RD (as Wodgar) born Finchley GRO indexes, census returns for daughter. I could purchase this birth certificate.
  13. 27 Nov 1842 d Caroline baptised in Highgate, ‘of Highgate’ baptism register
  14. J Q 1842 daughter Caroline born registered St Luke’s district (Caroline’s census entries say born St. Lukes (1861/1871/1901) Clerkenwell (1881 NB husband b Clerkenwell) London (1911)) GRO indexes I could purchase this birth certificate.
  15. 1841 census living Turnpike road, Finchley age 25 born Middlesex – born 7 June 1811 to 6 June 1816
  16. 1 May 1841 marriage certificate ‘of full age’ – born before May 1820. Father, James Cardell, gardener. I have also checked the parish register entry for the marriage and the details are identical to the marriage register.

Searches completed so far (not a genuine example)

I have searched the indexes at Ancestry, FamilySearch and Findmypast for James Cardell (and variants) between 1750-1805 in London and Middlesex.

If you want to know more about my actual long and inconclusive search for Mary’s parents, there have been several posts about it on my blog, including the sorry tale of how I nearly adopted a very exciting (but sadly wrong) set of ancestors for Mary. Of course, if you can find Mary’s parents for me, even better!





Thanks, Janet, for an article that is literally thought-provoking: there were two expert sessions to be won in my 2021/22 Competition, and I know that both prize winners benefited enormously from following the advice reproduced above. I mentioned earlier that Janet Few is an author was well as a highly-experienced genealogist, and you can find out more about her books by following the links below (most are available either as paperbacks or in Kindle format):


Amazon.co.uk                            Amazon.com                                         Amazon.ca                                  Amazon.com.au


Note: Janet has asked me to re-iterate that she is not in a position to take on additional clients at the moment, so please don’t send her your ‘brick walls’ – she has enough of her own! Mind you, if you can tell her who Mary Cardell’s parents really were, she might be persuaded to return the favour….



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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2022 Peter Calver


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