A picture containing company name

Description automatically generated

Newsletter – 8th February  2024



The Family History Show Online HALF-PRICE TICKETS

AncestryDNA Plus subscription launches

ScotlandsPeople: the happy ending

The suffragette who became a registrar

Competition winners

Extra cousins make it all worthwhile

Breaking down ‘brick walls’ with DNA

Peter’s Tips

Stop Press



The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 29th January) 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!



The Family History Show Online HALF-PRICE TICKETS

Around 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…..


Whilst 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.


Because 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.



AncestryDNA Plus subscription launches

On 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


The new subscription has also been introduced in Australia, where the cost is higher than in the UK at $39.99 for 6 months,


Will 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.



ScotlandsPeople: the happy ending

Earlier 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 the dark.


To 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.


The story began in August 2023 when I received an email from ScotlandsPeople which said near the top that I had 90 credits:



Up 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.


When 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.”


I 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 more questions:


….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 when?


“Checking 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.


“I 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 sent?”


I ended my email with the comments:


“If 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.”


You’ve probably guessed the response that I got:


“As 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.”


I was little annoyed, but in these situations a little politeness goes a long way:


Dear 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."


Freedom 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 to publish.


There is more information on the site of the Scottish Information Commissioner:



That’s 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.



The suffragette who became a registrar

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.


I wonder how many other lady registrars there were in the 19th century – do you have one in your family, by any chance?



Competition winners

More 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.


This year there were 4 Star Prizes to be won, all of them highly sought after:






Winner: Clare in Sussex (joined 2023)

The 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 competition.


Apart 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.






Winner: Jennifer in Canada (joined 2017)

With 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 elsewhere.


This prize was generously donated by The Genealogist.






Winner: Pete in Buckinghamshire (joined 2022)           

I’ve 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!


This prize was donated by the publishers.




Winner: John in Hampshire (joined 2006)

John 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 Masterclass.



Extra cousins make it all worthwhile

Between 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.


Finding 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 have available.


LostCousins 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.


But 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!



Breaking down ‘brick walls’ with DNA

Megan 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.”


Next 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 Ancestry DNA.


Note: if you’re on the list of attendees please enter any questions you might have in the Comments section on your My Prizes page.



Peter’s Tips

Have 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!


I 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.


Now, 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.


The 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.



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......



Description: Description: peter_signature


Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2024 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?


Many of the links in this newsletter and elsewhere on the website are affiliate links – if you make a purchase after clicking a link you may be supporting LostCousins (though this depends on your choice of browser, the settings in your browser, and any browser extensions that are installed). Thanks for your support!