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Newsletter – 26th May 2022



Half-price Ancestry.com subscription offer ENDS MONDAY

Marriage confusion abounds

A gap in the market?

Learning from our mistakes

Free talks online

Peter’s Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 21st May) 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!



Half-price Ancestry.com subscription offer ENDS MONDAY

It’s not very often that I’m able to write about subscription discounts at Ancestry, so for me this is a red-letter day!


Until 10pm Mountain Summer Time on Monday 30th May (by which time it will be 5am on Tuesday 31st May here), Ancestry.com are offering half-price 6 month subscriptions to mark Memorial Day, when the men and women who lost their lives while serving in the US military are remembered. From 1868 to 1970 Memorial Day was always commemorated on 30th May, but since then it has been the last Monday in May – which this year also happens to be the 30th.


To take advantage of this offer please use the link below, or click on the banner (if you can see it). But please read to the end of the article first:


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


So far as I know this offer is not restricted to US residents, but make sure you know what the exchange rate is before you make your purchase (I generally look-up exchange rates here, and you can use the same site to calculate the equivalent in your local currency). Also watch out for taxes, which will be added to the total just before you pay (these will depend on where you live, and are charged whether or not there is a sale on, so you’re still getting a 50% discount).


If you want to make sure that your purchase will benefit LostCousins please click the test link near the top of your My Summary page – although it’ll take you to a different site it will allow me to confirm that your browser is set up correctly, and I’ll email you back to let you know. (If you don’t hear back from me with confirmation within 24 hours please send me an email quoting your LostCousins membership number, which is shown just below the test link.)


Please note that there are two alternative ways of paying for a 6 month membership, one of which is significantly more expensive than the other – my advice is to pay the whole amount up front as you’ll be committing to 6 months either way, and the effective interest rate when you pay monthly is around 40%. (If you need flexibility choose a monthly membership – but they’re not included in the offer.)



Tip: this could be an opportunity to try out an All Access Membership, which includes Fold3 and Newspapers.com



Marriage confusion abounds

The reaction from many readers to the articles in the last newsletter about the new marriage regulations was astonishment – how could this have happened? It may be that it’s one of the unwanted side-effects of the worst pandemic in a century, or perhaps it’s the unintended consequence of politicians and civil servants trying to keep all factions happy.


If it’s the latter then it won’t be the first time – indeed, one the things that I’ve learned from reading Professor Rebecca Probert’s latest book Tying the Knot: The Formation of Marriage 1836-2020 is that the Marriage Act 1836 was just the first piece of legislation that changed how, where, and when people could marry. The summary of marriage law on the Parliament website jumps from 1836 to 1929, but there were actually numerous pieces of marriage legislation in between (plus many bills which failed to be enacted).


This week I learned from a LostCousins member that when his daughter married the names of the groom’s parents weren’t recorded in the marriage register – for the simple reason that the form had been sent off to the local Register Office without this information. On my reading of the rules it will cost at least £90 to put that right, so it probably isn’t going to happen – I wonder how many other similar incidents there have been since the legislation came into force a year ago?



A gap in the market?

In the last issue I also highlighted secondary legislation that appeared to allow the GRO to provide for new services, which prompted one member to point out the gaping hole in the menu:



Let’s hope that we don’t have to wait much longer to find out what the GRO’s plans are – maybe they’re planning a surprise for the Queen’s Jubilee?



Learning from our mistakes

Someone commented recently that youngsters find it much easier to adapt to new technology, which reminded me of the assertion I once read about older people being resistant to change.


Of course, the reality is that people of my generation have experienced an enormous amount of change in our lives. When I was born there was food rationing, and most people didn’t have a telephone, a refrigerator, or a washing machine – let alone a television or a car. The reality is that, having experienced so much change in our lives, we’re in a better position than most young people to judge whether a new innovation is a good thing or not.


There is one area where young children get it right and their elders don’t – they’re prepared to risk making mistakes. The older we get, the fewer mistakes we make – and eventually we get to a point where the thought of making a mistake fills us with such horror that there are certain things we won’t even attempt. Of course youngsters seem more adept with technology – they made most of their many mistakes when we weren’t watching!


When it comes to family history we’ve all made mistakes during our research. I’m not going to embarrass myself by listing all the mistakes I made in the early years – the important thing is that I learned from those mistakes. Of course, I still get things wrong from time to time – but as the saying goes, “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.”


As family historians we mustn’t shy away from records just because we haven’t used them before, because they’re only available at a website we haven’t used before, or because we’ll have to learn how to read handwriting styles that we’ve never encountered before.


Nor should we eschew potentially valuable resources simply because the medium is one that we’re not familiar with – for example, when the pandemic hit in 2020 most family history societies switched to virtual meetings using Zoom, which offered members who were geographically remote, or otherwise unable to travel to meetings, an opportunity to attend, often for the first time. With Zoom you can’t go wrong, at least, not in public – because you can try it out in a test meeting (which you’ll find here).


YouTube is even easier to use – and yet there are people who won’t click on a link to YouTube video, even one in my newsletter. Indeed there are some people who won’t click on links at all, possibly because they’ve been brainwashed into believing that clicking a link will send all their personal data to North Korea – but more probably because they’re reading a printout.


Tip: some of the articles in the LostCousins newsletter are like icebergs – 90% of the information is hidden, and will only be revealed when you click on the link(s).


The biggest error of all is to miss out on opportunities simply because you’re worried that you might make a small error. Do take advantage of the fact that most family history societies are still hosting online events – many of which are free to members, and some of which are open to non-members. If you’re not sure how to get started with Zoom don’t be afraid to ask for advice, especially from fellow members of the LostCousins Forum, where you’ll find everyone from technophobes to techies. Or do what I often do when struggling with technology, and use a Google search – often there’s a short YouTube video that demonstrates what to do. Believe me, if there’s a mistake to be made, someone will have got there before you!


Tip: you can view the genealogy-related discussions and information pages at the LostCousins Forum even if you’re not a member – just type FORUMS.LC into the command line of your browser.



Free talks online

This week a reader mentioned the upcoming Chalke Valley History Festival, which isn’t the sort of event that I’d mention in this newsletter since few readers are likely to live within easy reach, and this year there doesn’t seem to be anybody speaking who I know and can recommend from my own experience. But I did discover that they have podcasts of talks from previous years, which are available for anyone to listen to.


Having recently watched the Downton Abbey film (the first one, not this year’s) I decided to start by listening to Fiona Carnarvon’s 2019 talk about how Highclere Castle supported the war effort in 1944 – you’ll find it here. Listening to the Countess of Carnarvon speaking I almost mistook her for Lady Mary, played by Michelle Dockery.


Those of you with long memories may recall that in 2013 I discovered that Michelle Dockery had been born in Romford, quite probably in Oldchurch Hospital – where I spent 6 weeks recovering from a broken leg in 1954 – and went to the school in the street where I grew up. But I don’t think I ever mentioned that Dame Maggie Smith was born in Ilford, quite possibly in Ilford Maternity Home – where I was born some years later.


It’s one thing to have a somewhat tenuous connection to the actresses who played the mothers of the fictional Earl of Grantham and Lord Downton, heir to the Earldom, but it would be quite another to find a connection to the real-life Countess of Carnarvon – and yet a few minutes of Googling revealed that Fiona Carnarvon’s father was somebody I used to know.


Ronnie Aitken joined Barker & Dobson as Chairman in January 1976, which was the same month that I began working as assistant to the Group Financial Director, Fred Carter (no relation to Jim Carter who played Carson in Downton Abbey – at least, so far as I know). The Chairman and I didn’t have a lot of contact – his was a part-time role – but I know he’d have been delighted had he lived long enough to see his eldest daughter marry into the aristocracy.


It's amazing what connections you can find – if only you look!



Peter’s Tips

Over the past month I’ve been talking about ways in which you can use the free Zoom software that you might not have considered before – but I’ve done so assuming that because family history societies have all been using Zoom during the pandemic that most of you would have used the software, even if you hadn’t gone so far as to sign up for a free account.


However wrong could I have been? It seems that there are far more people than expected who’ve never used it before, so I thought I should mention that there are different ways to use Zoom – you can have an app that runs on your phone, tablet, or computer, or you can set up meetings through your browser (which is the method I prefer). Because different devices have different screen sizes, and phones tend to be in portrait mode, the positioning of the controls varies between different versions – but they all have much the same capabilities.


If you’re using the Windows app you click the + symbol to schedule a new meeting, whereas in your browser (see below) you’d log-in at the Zoom site, click on your avatar at the top right, choose Meetings from the menu at the left, then look for the Schedule a Meeting icon at the far right:



There are lots of other features, most of which I don’t use at the moment, but perhaps some of them will prove useful in due course. Remember that if you want to record your Zoom session it’s best to set this up in advance, by going to Options (Advanced options in the Windows app), which is right down at the bottom when you’re scheduling the meeting. Don’t worry too much about the timing – if it’s only you at the meeting you can start it any time.


Finally, a warning for anyone who orders groceries from Tesco online using the Android app – I’ve noticed that it doesn’t accept voucher codes, eg the current £5 off £15 worth of certain laundry products. It’s fine on my computer, but I tend to use the app when I’m making last minute changes, and got caught out last weekend (I did get a credit, however).



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......



This issue is short because I’m aiming to get another newsletter out before my cataract operation on Tuesday as it could be the last one for a couple of weeks, depending on what the consultant advises….. however I didn’t want you to miss out on the Ancestry offer.


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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2022 Peter Calver


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