Newsletter – 8th
The Family History Show Online HALF-PRICE TICKETS
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The Family History Show Online
30 years ago I was fortunate to see how virtual exhibitions might look when
broadband (or ADSL, as it was then called) was being trialled by British Telecom
using prototype modems that cost £2000 each to build. But for most of us it
took a pandemic to make those dreams a reality…..
there’s nothing quite like turning up to a physical event – as I did when I launched
LostCousins on 1st May 2004, handing out leaflets to people queuing for the Society
of Genealogists Annual Show at the Royal Horticultural Halls in Westminster – virtual
events are open to a much wider audience. So this Saturday (10th February) I’ll be ‘attending’ The
Family History Show Online – and you can be there too, for just £5 – half the
usual ticket price – when you buy your ticket in advance using this link.
of other commitments I won’t be able to listen to all of
the presentations live – but that’s not a problem, because they’ll be available
for 72 hours afterwards.
Christmas Day I revealed
that Ancestry.co.uk were planning to limit what DNA features non-subscribers
could access, and showed a page from Ancestry.com which referred to an
AncestryDNA Plus subscription costing $29.99 for 6 months. The good news is
that an AncestryDNA Plus subscription will cost users in the UK just £14.99 for
6 months which, bearing in mind it includes VAT, is about half the price at Ancestry.com
new subscription has also been introduced in Australia, where the cost is
higher than in the UK at $39.99 for 6 months,
this new subscription discourage some people from testing with Ancestry? Perhaps,
but not very many – after all, if someone else is
managing your test you might even log into Ancestry. It might even help some
people – a low cost subscription which allows them to
view the trees of their matches might be all they need.
this month I reported
that, although ScotlandsPeople suspended the expiry of credits between April
2020 and January 2023, I for one didn’t receive any notifications – either that
my credits (which had been due to expire in October 2020) had been extended, or
that they were due to expire after January 2023. And judging from the responses
I’ve received so far, I wasn’t the only one kept in
be fair, they didn’t have to suspend the expiry of credits just because there
was a once-in-a-century pandemic going on but, having done so, it was somewhat iniquitous
that I and others were neither told what they had decided to do, nor warned when they were about to expire.
story began in August 2023 when I received an email from ScotlandsPeople which
said near the top that I had 90 credits:
to that point I thought my credits had expired, so this was good news! I logged into my ScotlandsPeople account full
of expectation, only to see the 90 credits disappear before my very eyes – it
was rather like the scene in Mr Bates vs The Post Office where Jo Hamilton
follows the instructions she has been given over the phone, and instead of fixing
the problem, the deficit doubles.
I contacted ScotlandsPeople I was told:
“The remaining balance of 90 credits
had expired and were removed after you had logged in. The reason why your
un-used credits were removed from your account are that credits purchased at
www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk have a validity period of two years, which is
detailed in our terms and conditions.”
was aware that credits had a limited life, but I also remembered that when I’d
bought my last batch of credits it was in response to an email warning that some
older credits were about to expire (buying new credits extends the life of
existing credits). It was all rather confusing, even for someone like me who
has been working with computers for nearly half a century, so I went back with
“….it's interesting that ScotlandsPeople would send out
emails telling customers them that they have credits, only to snatch them away
when they log-in. I'm sure I'm not the first person to point out this flaw in
your systems - is there a plan to fix the bug, and if so
my records I can see that the last time I purchased
credits was on 16th October 2018 when I bought 30 credits in order to preserve
the 60 credits already on my account. This was done in response to an email
received from ScotlandsPeople earlier on the same day warning me that my
credits would expire.
didn't receive a similar email reminder 2 years later. Is that because
ScotlandsPeople no longer reminds customers that their credits are about to
expire, or was it because of COVID? If there was a change in policy, when did
it come into effect, and when were customers notified? If it was because of
COVID, why did you not extend the validity of credits until reminders could be
ended my email with the comments:
necessary please treat these questions as Freedom of
Information requests. For the avoidance of doubt please note that any response
may be published in whole or in part.”
probably guessed the response that I got:
you have indicated that any response I send regarding
your enquiry may be published in whole or in part, I am unwilling to respond to
your enquiry unless you confirm that it will not be shared or otherwise
published without permission of the NRS.”
was little annoyed, but in these situations a little politeness goes a long way:
Xxxx, if you refer to my previous email
you'll see that I also said "If necessary please treat these questions as
Freedom of Information requests."
of Information means just that - you or one of your colleagues will respond,
because that is the law, and I will decide whether or not
is more information on the site of the Scottish Information Commissioner:
how I eventually found out about the extension of credits during the pandemic. And
there was a happy ending – not only did ScotlandsPeople resuscitate my lost
credits, worth £22.50, they did the same for at least one other LostCousins
member who wrote to them after reading my earlier article. Perhaps you could do
the same? It’s worth checking – especially if you haven’t visited the site
since the 1921 Scotland Census was released.
I’m so used to Victorian officials being male
that I was surprised to discover that there was a female registrar of births
and deaths in the Manchester area in the late 1890s – especially since the lady
concerned was none other than Emmeline Pankhurst, who took on the role in 1898 when her
husband Richard died.
wonder how many other lady registrars there were in the 19th century
– do you have one in your family, by any chance?
than 2000 members entered this year’s competition, which ended on 31st
January. Already more than 300 entrants have been invited to attend one of 8
exclusive Zoom presentations that I have organised as part of this year prizes,
and by the end of this month there will have been over 1000 invitations issued
to lucky entrants.
year there were 4 Star Prizes to be won, all of them highly sought after:
PRIZE: 12 MONTH FINDMYPAST PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION – NORMALLY £199.99
Clare in Sussex (joined 2023)
Findmypast Premium subscription, offering exclusive online access to the 1921
England & Wales census, as well as billions of other records from Britain
and around the world was won by Clare, who joined LostCousins just last year.
Whilst Clare entered relatives from all three of of
the England & Wales censuses that we use, she wisely focused on the 1881
Census, which is the one that leads to almost 90% of matches – and it was one
of those relatives from 1881 who won Clare the top prize in this year’s
from the billions of records Clare will be able to search the modern Electoral
Register as well as the billions of names in the British Newspaper Archive – by
far the largest online collection of British newspapers and periodicals the
world has ever seen. This prize was generously donated by Findmypast.
PRIZE: 12 MONTH DIAMOND SUBSCRIPTION TO THE GENEALOGIST – NORMALLY £139.95
Jennifer in Canada (joined 2017)
the biggest online collection of tithe maps and tithe records, and a growing
collection of maps and records from the ‘Lloyd George Domesday’ survey of
1910-15, The Genealogist offers the opportunity to discover records that you
won’t find anywhere else. It’s also a
great place to find missing ancestors in the England & Wales censuses,
because not only does The Genealogist have better quality images of many census
records, there are search features that you won’t find
prize was generously donated by The Genealogist.
PRIZE: 12 MONTH UK SUBSCRIPTION TO WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? MAGAZINE
Pete in Buckinghamshire (joined 2022)
read every single issue since the magazine was first published, and I always
learn something new. If you didn’t win take a look a the special offer I’ve
arranged as a consolation prize!
prize was donated by the publishers.
PRIZE: ANCESTRY UK DNA KIT
John in Hampshire (joined 2006)
has already tested – he chose this prize so that one of his cousins can test. CollaboratIng with cousins is the key to knocking down ‘brick
walls’ using DNA.
For more DNA advice see my DNA
the announcement of the competition on 8th December and the closing date
of 31st January there were hundreds more connections made between ‘lost
cousins’ than usual – which is, of course, why I run the competition.
a ’lost cousin’ is the best prize of all - when we have so many brick walls’ in our trees, finding experienced researchers who
share some of those ‘brick walls’, and then collaborating with them, is the
only way we can achieve more than is humanly possible in the limited time we
exists to make connections between cousins all over the world, but I can’t wave
a magic wand – members can only be matched when they both have entered
the same relative from the censuses, and it helps if now and again members have
an added incentive to sit down and enter their data.
when one competition ends, another begins – relatives you enter now will count
in next year’s competition, so there’s no reason to delay – especially if you’re
one of the lazy so-and-sos who haven’t entered any relatives at all!
in Australia wrote recently to tell me how taking the Ancestry DNA test had
paid off for her:
“Like you I repeatedly spent fruitless hours
at FTDNA, beginning some 11 years ago. Retesting at Ancestry has been a revelation.
I've been grateful for your Masterclass and I can tell
you that the strategy of searching my matches by surname was what ended my
erstwhile fruitless search for the family of my great-grandfather William
Millar. He was a Scot who married and settled in England. But looking for the
family of Bill Millar/Miller via documentary research in Scotland had been
about as fraught as looking for that of John Smith in England. DNA has now
provided me with a bucketload of the right Millars, many of whom translocated
to England, Australia, New Zealand and even equatorial
Africa; a prolific and adventurous family who, once I've tracked them all down,
will end up at Lost Cousins before this next year is done.”
week I’ll be telling the audience at DNA for Beginners how I managed to knocked down one of my oldest ‘brick walls’ thanks to
if you’re on the list of attendees please enter any questions you might have in
the Comments section on your My Prizes page.
you ever been offered a free trial when you’ve made a major purchase? For
example, after I bought a new Samsung phone last year I
was offered a free 6 month Disney Plus subscription. I didn’t activate it immediately
because we had lots of other programmes to watch, but last Friday I took a look at the email I’d received and realised that the
offer had expired 2 days earlier, on 31st January. Whoops! Undaunted
I clicked the link anyway – nothing to lose – and was pleasantly surprised to
find that it worked!
then remembered that when I bought my laptop 2 years ago HP had offered me a
free 12 month subscription to Adobe Premiere Pro,
which I’d rather fancied trying out – but hadn’t done anything about. Would this
offer still be valid? Sadly when I read the small
print I discovered that it had expired in July 2022 – but encouraged by my
success with the Disney offer I decided to give it a try. And once again it worked!
Not bad considering it normally costs £21.98 a month in the UK.
I’m not suggesting you should do what I did, and dilly dally until offers have
run out – but I would recommend that you don’t discard an offer just because it
has passed the expiry date.
mystery of the disappearing Lapsang Souchong teabags has been solved – it seems
the smoking process can create carcinogenic chemicals. It’s probably just as
well I like my tea weak! There are some companies still offering teabags online,
but I’ve got enough leaf tea to last until the end of April, and perhaps by
then Waitrose will have found another supplier.
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
© Copyright 2024 Peter Calver
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