Newsletter - 29th November 2019
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 22nd 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):
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!
Nobody is perfect - we all make misteaks. If you come across an error, or something that you think might be an error, in the GRO's online birth or death indexes you might want to read this page at the GRO website (you can access it without logging-in)..
It's not unusual for parents to give their children hyphenated surnames - though one can only hope they donít expect their children to continue the tradition, otherwise their grandchildren could end up with a triple-barrelled surname like the explorer Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (or worse).
But in Australia a couple have decided to blend their surnames together - as you can read in this Daily Mail article, Courtney Cassar and Laura Sheldon have given their daughter Lyla the surname Casseldon.
This could be the start of something big - for some time parents in England & Wales have been able to give their child any surname they choose. Pity the genealogists of the future!
The Genealogist has added colour tithe maps for Bedfordshire to a collection that also includes colour maps for Warwickshire, Rutland, Huntingdonshire, Buckinghamshire, City of York, Middlesex, Northumberland, Surrey, Westmorland, and the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire (as well as black and white maps for most
You can save on a subscription to The Genealogist, and get a free subscription to Discover Your Ancestors online magazine if you follow this link.
I spend well over a thousand hours each year helping LostCousins members to research their family tree, or understand the basics of DNA - either through this newsletter or one-to-one emails. Many have never paid a subscription, and some never will, but I'm happy to give my help for free, as I always have.
But there is a quid pro quo - I do expect you to help your own cousins by connecting with them through your My Cousins page so that you can exchange information, photos, and memories, and maybe collaborate on future research into the ancestors you share.
Of course, your cousins donít miraculously appear on your My Cousins page - they get there as a result of the entries you add to your My Ancestors page. It's rather like the story of Aladdin - you provide the details of your old cousins who were recorded on the censuses (primarily 1881), and I'll give you new cousins in exchange. Not a bad deal, eh?
I want nothing, but I do expect you to do the right thing. An hour of your time isnít too much to ask, is it?
It's Black Friday, and the sales are in full swing. But just because something is cheap doesnít make it a bargain - though nor can you be sure that a more expensive alternative is going to deliver. When it comes to DNA tests you really do need to know what you're paying for, and my job is to guide you in the right direction.
There are all sorts of motivations for buying DNA tests, but if you're reading this article you're almost certainly a family historian - so the likelihood is that you see it as more than 'a bit of fun'. Indeed, you are probably hoping that DNA can do for you what it has done for so many others - knock down some of your 'brick walls'. The most popular DNA tests are autosomal DNA tests, which means they can provide clues to help you knock down 'brick walls' on any of your lines, typically going back up to 6 or 7 generations. This is potentially extremely useful, because there are very few people who know who all of their 128 5G grandparents were (I certainly don't!).
All autosomal DNA tests are very similar - they're based on the same technology. There are really only two things that matter - how many clues you will find, and how easy it will be to make use of those clues.
What are the clues? They're matches with genetic cousins, people who share one of more segments of DNA with you. How many matches you get is partly determined by where your ancestors came from, but mainly by which company you choose to test with. Matches are like lottery tickets - the more you have the more likely it is that you'll hit the jackpot - so it generally makes sense to choose the company that will deliver the highest number of matches, and that in turn depends mainly on how many people have already tested with that company.
The company that has sold the most DNA tests is Ancestry: in fact they've sold more tests to genealogists like you and me than ALL the other companies added together. You might be tempted to test with a different company simply because your one of your known cousins has tested with them - but there are two reason why this would be a mistake. Firstly because it's unknown cousins that you're trying to find (or 'lost cousins' as I would call them), and secondly because most of the other companies allow you to upload Ancestry DNA results to their sites.
Warning: although you can upload Ancestry DNA results to other sites to find extra matches, you cannot go the other way round - the only way you can compare your DNA against all of Ancestry's 15 million customers is to test with Ancestry. Test with someone else and you'll end up paying for two tests, like I did.
But as I said earlier, itís not just about how many matches you get, but how easy it is to make use of those matches - and that's where Ancestry win hands down. Ancestry aren't a DNA company that has come into the genealogy business, they're a genealogy company that has gone into the DNA basis - and one of the things they're particularly good at is family trees. In some cases they'll be able to tell you that you and a genetic cousin have the same ancestor in your tree - that's a 'shared ancestor' hint, and whilst you won't have many of those it's better than none (which is what you'd get at most other sites).
This year Ancestry introduced a feature called ThruLines which takes things a step further, making use of all the family trees in Ancestry's database, including the trees of people who arenít DNA matches (and might not even have tested) to deduce how you are related to some of your genetic cousins, even though those cousins don't have the same ancestors in their Ancestry tree. Opinions of ThruLines vary, but I have found them incredibly useful, and I suspect you will too.
What else can you do at Ancestry that's harder (or impossible) to do at the sites of other DNA providers? You can search the trees of your genetic cousins by surname or birthplace - this is a great way to focus in on the matches most likely to knock down 'brick walls', and because you'll have tens of thousands of matches you need to be able to pare them down. Even if Ancestry didnít have the largest database by far, the way that DNA and family trees interact makes it so powerful (compared to other providers)
The main criticism of Ancestry DNA that you'll often see cited is that they donít provide a 'chromosome browser'. However it's not such a big deal - I was using chromosome browsers for 5 years before I tested with Ancestry, but they didn't enable me to knock down any 'brick walls', and I suspect my experience is fairly typical.
Note: you donít need an Ancestry subscription to benefit from Ancestry DNA - the key limitation is that you won't be able to see your cousins' trees without asking their permission. You can also appoint someone else to manage your test. And finally, if you buy Ancestry DNA but don't have a current subscription there's a good chance you'll be offered one at an attractive discount.
Whether you have already tested your autosomal DNA, or place an order this weekend, don't miss out on my DNA Masterclass - it will save you hundreds of hours and endless frustration, as well as giving you the best chance of knocking down your highest 'brick walls'. You don't need to wait for your DNA results to come through or even for your kit to arrive, there's plenty that you can do right now, so be prepared!
Finally, if you're considering an mtDNA test, my advice is to save your money. But if you're thinking about a Y-DNA test see this recent article for in-depth advice.
I hope you'll follow my advice in the article above, but whichever DNA test you decide to buy you can support LostCousins simply by clicking the relevant link or banner below:
Ancestry.co.uk (UK only) - reduced from £79 to £49 (plus shipping) until 2nd December LOWEST PRICE OF 2019
Ancestry.com.au (Australia/New Zealand) - reduced from $129 to $88 until 2nd December LOWEST PRICE OF 2019
Ancestry.com (US) - reduced to just $49 until 2nd December
Ancestry.ca (Canada) - educed to $69 until 2nd December
Findmypast.co.uk - reduced from £79 to £59 until 2nd December
Findmypast.ie - reduced from Ä89 to 9 until 2nd December
Findmypast.com.au - reduced from $129 to $99 until 2nd December
Findmypast.com - reduced from $89 to $65 until 2nd December
Wisdom Panel Dog DNA - reduced by £25 until 2nd December when you use the code BlackFriday2019
The identities of more than 30 US servicemen who scrawled graffiti on a wall in Southampton 75 years ago have been revealed by researchers. More than 70 names were scratched in the wall by soldiers waiting to embark for Normandy following the D-Day landings. You can read more about this 20th century archaeological here.
ďThe Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on...."
I buy a lot of second-hand books, and itís quite common for books to be inscribed with the name of the original owner. This story on the BBC website tells the heart-warming story of how an eagle-eyed book purchaser succeeded in returning a book to the original owner, more than half a century later.
Tip: there are lots of old Rupert Bear annuals for sale on ebay - follow this link. I spotted one from 1950 the year I was born. Next year is the centenary of the first Rupert Bear cartoons - he's quite a survivor!
I'd heard of, but not read, Horrible Histories, a series of blood-curdling books by Terry Deary - and his latest work, The Peasants' Revolting Crimes, mines the same rich seam. It's anecdotal history, history in the style of QI rather than University Challenge.
At a time when half the population of Britain is trying to turn the clock back to 1973, this book is a reminder that you wouldn't have wanted to have lived in 1173 or 1373. The rose-tinted view of Olde Englande - young maidens dancing round maypoles, Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, chivalrous knights in armour - is soon dispelled in this light-hearted compendium of crime and punishment.
Although the subject is serious, the treatment is light-hearted and thankfully most of the events took place so long ago (the most recent tales are from the 19th century) that it doesn't seem overly cruel to amuse ourselves by reading of the misfortunes of the victims, and the - often gory - punishments levied on the alleged perpetrators.
The release of this book in time for Christmas is probably not coincidental - it's the sort of book that might well get a youngster interested in history, though I suspect most of the readers will be adults. Either way, at under £10 including shipping it'll prove a useful stocking-filler (see page 139 for the violent events that followed the passing of the Stocking Frame Act of 1812). If you live outside the UK it wonít be published until the New Year, but you can get it now from Wordery, whose prices include shipping anywhere in the world.
The author MJ Lee has penned some of my favourite genealogical mysteries - the likeable heroine, Jayne Sinclair, is a former police officer whose experience and contacts come in very useful. In the seventh novel of the series Jayne is commissioned to research the ancestry of a famous actress can trace her father's line back to 1066, but whose DNA test has revealed an unexpected surprise.
It's a race against time - the results of the DNA test are revealed on a TV programme which has already been recorded, and is due for transmission in a week's time. But as so often happens in these genealogical mysteries - there's someone who doesnít want the truth revealed, and this adds an extra dimension to the search. Donít worry, you wonít need to understand how DNA works to enjoy this book - indeed, Jayne herself seems to know next to nothing about it when the story begins, so it's just as well she has a friend who is an expert.
As usual MJ Lee has based his book around historical events, as you'll see when you read the Historical Note. Slavery was a blot on the British Empire, and itís only thanks to the efforts of men like William Wilberforce and their supporters, that the slave were eventually freed.
If - like me - you're a fan of MJ Lee's writing you won't need my encouragement to read this book. If you haven't tried his books before, why not start with the first book in the Jayne Sinclair series? If you follow the link below you'll find that you can buy the first three books in the series in Kindle format for the bargain price of £5.99 (less than £2 per book - there are similar offers in North America). You can, of course, also use the link to purchase the latest book, and if youíre in the UK, the US, or Canada you can support LostCousins at the same time.
Note: the new book will be available in paperback very soon - earlier books are already available in paperback format. But remember, you donít need a Kindle to read a Kindle book, only a computer, tablet, or smartphone - the software for your device is free.
I was hoping that there might a Black Friday offer on the Crucial X8 portable SSD - 7 times faster than a portable hard drive, and up to 100 times faster than a USB memory stick, it's an attractive solution for those who can never find the time to do backups of their valuable files. Sadly the best price I could find was here on Amazon - and it was no cheaper than when I last looked. Still, Christmas isn't far away (hint, hint).
As I'll be 70 next year I was delighted to read a recent article which suggested that "70 is the new 65". I hope they're right - nobody likes getting old.
I must admit I donít play as much sport as I used to, though thinking back to my childhood, my grandparents didnít do any sport, and what little sport my parents played was primarily to keep me amused. On the other hand, people used to do much more walking than most of us are inclined to do these days - I remember my grandmother, coming home and putting her feet in a large bowl of water to which she had added powdered mustard.
I recently discovered a racket sport called pickleball, which was invented in the US about half a century ago, but is only now starting to take off in Europe. I've only played for an hour, but it was great fun - has anyone else tried it?
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......
© Copyright 2019 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?