Newsletter - 10th July 2015



Irish parish registers go online NEW

BMD certificates: it's time to share NEW

Have you any dead certs?

FreeREG launch new site

Error or clue?

Using FamilySearch maps

Extra information in parish registers

Where did your ancestors marry?

Your chance to tell the Society of Genealogists where to go

Nick Barratt moves from National Archives to University of London

WW1 merchant seamen go online NEW

More criminal records at Findmypast

Understanding the censuses

1901 census site is closing

Who was Margery Booth from Wigan?

The new Morton Farrier book EXCLUSIVE

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 29th June) click here, for an index to articles from 2009-10 click here, for a list of articles from 2011 click here and for a list of articles from 2012-14 click here. Or use the customised Google search below (that's what I do):



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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!



Irish parish registers go online NEW

Towards the end of last year there was a momentous announcement from the National Library of Ireland - they were planning to make all of the Roman Catholic parish registers in their library available online during 2015. And this week they did - you can view nearly 400,000 register pages from over 1000 parishes completely free of charge if you follow this link.


Unfortunately the records haven't been indexed, nor - to the best of my knowledge - has any organisation announced plans to index them. However, I would be very surprised if there wasn't someone somewhere planning this right now - many people don't know which part of Ireland their ancestors came from, and it simply isn't feasible to search so many records at random,


There's an excellent guide to what's available at Claire Santry's Irish Genealogy News site, but as she says: "The site is so easy to use, I really don't think anyone who's ever used a genealogical database needs a tutorial."


BMD certificates: it's time to share NEW

The new My Contact page that I wrote about recently has gone live - you can now see whether the members you've been matched with have the birth, marriage, or death certificates of the relatives you share. Why spend £9.25 or more on a certificate if one of your cousins already has it?


There was an illustrated article in the 20th June issue showing how this new feature works - I hope you find it useful.


Unlike most sites, where you pay to download information, LostCousins is all about people with common interests sharing information. After all, what sort of person wouldn't want to share information with their own cousins?


Tip: when you're updating your My Ancestors page to show the certificates you hold, I suggest you give priority to the relatives who have already been matched with other members.


Have you any dead certs?

There are a number of websites where you can post details of birth, marriage, or death certificates that you've bought by mistake - but sadly the chance of someone who is related to the individual getting in touch is very low.


Why? Because the chance of somebody finding the certificate they want is so slim - usually less than 1 in 1000 - that it's rarely worth them spending the time searching. When you compare this with the chance of finding a match when you enter a relative from the 1881 England & Wales census on your My Ancestors page - better than 1 in 19 - you might wonder why I haven't come up with a way for you to use LostCousins to dispose of your unwanted certificates.


I'm glad to say that I have! If you can identify the individual on one or more of the censuses we use at LostCousins you can enter them on your My Ancestors page using the 'Dead cert' category. Remember to indicate which certificate(s) you hold - and also that the 1881 Census is the one most likely (by far) to lead to matches.


Tip: we don't always have time to help others, especially people we aren't related to - so I'm going to provide you with an incentive to give away the 'dead certs' that you've accumulated. If during 2015 you give away one of your unwanted certificates to a LostCousins member you've found using the 'Dead cert' feature I'll give you a free LostCousins subscription worth up to £12.50 (if you already have a subscription I'll extend it by one year).


FreeREG launch new site

For years I've been saying that the FreeBMD project should invest more of its resources in the FreeREG project, and at last they've done something about it - you can find the new website here.


At the moment I'm in two minds about the new site - it looks better, but trying to find out which records are held for a particular parish seems to be more difficult. The old site is still available here, and I'm not aware of any plans to close it, although this must ultimately be on the cards.


Error or clue?

For some time now one of my 'brick walls' has been my great-great-great-great grandfather, Edward Noakes, a wheelwright. Finding his marriage wasn't difficult, because even though the family moved to London before the 1841 Census, in 1851 he gave his birthplace as Fyfield, Essex - and thatís not only where he married in 1808, it was also where 8 children were baptised between 1809 and 1823.


However, finding his own baptism proved much more difficult. Fyfield baptisms have been transcribed by FreeREG for the period 1733-1812 so if he had been baptised in Fyfield finding him ought to be easy - furthermore, Essex Record Office has digitised all of its historical registers and placed them online (at Essex Ancestors - £10 for 24 hours, £85 a year).


In the 1841 Census Edward was shown as 55 years old, suggesting that he was born between 1781 and 1786; in 1851 he's shown as 68, which points to either 1782 or 1783; and when he died in 1866 his age was given as 81 - though information on death certificates often isn't reliable, and in this case the death was registered by a neighbour, not a family member. But it's reasonable to conclude that he was probably born between 1781-85.


At this point you're probably wondering why I haven't mentioned the 1861 Census. I simply didn't trust the information: his surname was shown as Nokes, his birthplace was shown as Fyfield, Sussex, and his forename was shown as Newman, not Edward! I had 8 baptism register entries, two marriage register entry (he married again in 1837, weeks before the introduction of Civil Registration) and his death certificate - all showing that his name was Edward, so Newman was clearly a figment of the enumerator's imagination (or the result of some very poor handwriting).


Last weekend my wife and I should have been in Boulogne - we'd bought tickets for Eurotunnel, paid in advance for the hotel, and cleared our diaries. But the day before we were due to travel the national news was full of stories about strikers and migrants causing chaos at Calais, whilst the local news was dominated by the travellers who had encamped half a mile from our home, and were being blamed for a spate of robberies. We knew that we couldn't have a relaxing weekend if we went away, so we didn't go - an expensive decision, because none of the money we'd paid was refundable, but the right one nonetheless. And it meant I had a spare weekend......


So I logged on to Essex Ancestors and started going through the registers for Fyfield. There was no sign of Edward's baptism, even going back as far as 1781, the earliest year that was consistent with the dates in the records. But I kept going, and suddenly I spotted this entry:



It was the baptism I had been looking for! There were 11 original documents and 2 censuses showing his name as Edward - but had it not been for that highly questionable 1861 Census entry I'd never have been able to identify this child as my ancestor.


Incidentally, although the entry had been transcribed by FreeREG, it hadn't been picked up by my searches because they don't allow wildcards, and the Soundex search doesn't regard 'Noke' as equivalent to 'Noakes', or even 'Nokes'. Even the new site has the same limitations.


Having found Edward/Newman's baptism, and the marriage of his parents, I turned my attention to his wife, and discovered that both her parents came from large families - her father was one of 14 and her mother one of 17, though sadly most of the children died in infancy. By the time I abandoned my research to write this newsletter I had managed to add 12 new direct ancestors (and dozens of cousins) to my family tree, discover 6 new family lines, and turn 2 of my long-standing 'brick walls' into 8 brand new ones. I'd also discovered that some of my ancestors came from the quaintly named Essex parish of Shellow Bowells - a name to conjure with - which I'd never heard of before, even though the village is only 17 miles from where I now live. There were just 134 residents in 1848, and looking through the parish registers I realised that on some pages over half the people listed were relatives of mine!


In summary, it was a very good week for my research, and all because I kept a piece of information that some might have discarded. I may not be a "new man" but my ancestor certainly was! Perhaps there are clues that you've passed over because they didn't seem relevant at the time? Maybe if you go back and take another look you'll knock down one of your 'brick walls'?


UPDATE (November 2017): it doesn't look as if Newman and Edward are the same person after all, although as they were both wheelwrights born in the same village around the same time it's quite possible they were brothers. Fortunately most of my discoveries that weekend were on Edward's wife's side.....


Using FamilySearch maps

As I was researching my Essex ancestors I had one browser tab open at the FreeREG site, one at the Essex Ancestors site, and other on the FamilySearch maps page - which I find is absolutely essential when I'm researching in England.


You'll remember me saying that I'd never heard of the village of Shellow Bowells - well, I'd probably still be ignorant of its existence were it not for FamilySearch. When I couldn't find my ancestors in FyfieldI needed to know which other Essex parishes were nearby, and there are two simple ways to do this using the Options tab of the menu that pops up when you click on the map:




'List contiguous parishes' is a good way to start, because it shows all the adjoining parishes, but if that doesn't provide a solution the next thing to try is 'Radius place search', which lists the parishes within a certain distance (5 miles is the default setting) - it was the second option that led me to Shellow Bowells, less than 2Ĺ miles away.

Tip: when you click on the map it will display information for the parish that you're pointing to - so make sure you click within the highlighted area if that's the parish of interest.


Extra information in parish registers

If you've spent any time looking through parish registers you'll know that they're not bland lists of baptisms, marriages, and burials - sometimes there will be additional comments, such as the trade of an individual (which could well indicate that there was another person with the same name), or the fact that the person baptised was an adult.


Looking through the baptism registers for the Essex village of Norton Mandeville I came across a copy of the 1801 Census listing all the 'Housekeepers' in the parish by name - and whilst there are some discrepancies between the totals shown in the register and the statistics that were later published (for example, the number of inhabited houses decreased from 20 to 18) the fact that we don't have this information for most parishes makes it all the more interesting when it has survived.


Pasted inside this register was a handwritten note, possibly dating from 1904 (as another pasted note in the same handwriting is dated 30th January 1904), which reads "The Stamp Act was Repealed 1789", clearly referring to the Act which imposed a tax of 3d (three pence) on each entry in the baptism, marriage, and burial registers from October 1783 - but in fact this tax continued to be collected until 1794. This just goes to show that you can't trust everything that you find in a parish register - or even this newsletter (I said in the last issue that the tax was collected for 10 years, but I should have said 11).


The register itself is quite unusual - most baptism registers from this period are unprinted, and you'll often find baptisms and burials in the same register - but this one was printed by the London firm of T & W Lowndes, 77 Fleet Street, London, and includes a space for the date of birth to be entered (normally only a minority of vicars entered this additional information). Lowndes printed these registers in response to the introduction of the tax, and offered to provide registers, or sheets, in respect of which the stamp tax had already been paid.


Another gem from the Essex registers: in 1838 a baby girl who was baptised at Fyfield was shown as aged 16 hours! I've seen similar ages in the census, but this is the first time I've seen one in a baptism register.


Where did your ancestors marry?

According to canon law - the law of the church - marriages were supposed to take place in a parish where at least one of the parties was resident, but until Lord Hardwicke's legislation came in to force on 25th March 1754, this requirement was frequently flouted, as Professor Rebecca Probert explains in Marriage Law for Genealogists. Although such marriages were technically 'clandestine', they were still valid - and there were plenty of innocent reasons for marrying in a different parish (as Professor Probert explains on pages 137-141).


Some parishes attracted more than their fair share of couples from other parishes - as I was working my way through Essex registers I noticed that the parish of Good Easter seemed to be extremely popular, so I wasn't surprised to find that my ancestors David Bates and Ann Shuttleworth married there in 1735-36, even though both were resident in Shellow Bowells. In fact, of the 10 marriages that took place at Good Easter that year, only one involved a couple who both lived in the parish - 6 were of couples who both lived elsewhere.


There could well be similar parishes in the counties where you're researching - if so, this is just the sort of information I'd like you to post on the LostCousins Forum (see your My Summary page to find out whether there's an invitation waiting for you).


Your chance to tell the Society of Genealogists where to go

Founded in 1911, the Society of Genealogists is Britain's premier family history society. Reading the Journal it's easy to get the impression that the society is full of academics and people with connections to nobility, but believe me, that isn't the case - they even let me join!


Things have changed a lot since 1911, and the Society is beginning a series of public consultations in order to determine how to best meet the needs of genealogists in future. The first stop in this process is a survey which is open to all - not just members.


If the opportunity to tell the SoG where they should be headed isn't a sufficient incentive to invest 5 minutes of your time, you might like to know that one lucky respondent will win 4 books from the My Ancestor.... series. You'll find the survey here.


Nick Barratt moves from National Archives to University of London

Nick Barratt, one of the best-known figures in the world of genealogy (and a long-time friend of LostCousins), is leaving TNA after two and a half years to take up a key role at Senate House Library, the central library for the University of London.


WW1 merchant seamen go online NEW

With the help of volunteers working from home, the National Archives have completed a project with the National Maritime Museum to transcribe the Crew Lists and Agreements from the Merchant Navy for 1915. Because there are no surviving files for merchant seamen it's an opportunity to identify family members whose contribution to the war effort might otherwise pass unnoticed.


There are details of 36,000 voyages and 750,000 seamen in the database; you can search the transcribed records free here (there are no images online).


Tip: The National Archives also has over 155,000 medal index cards for WW1 merchant seamen - you can search them free here, but there is a charge of £3.30 to download an image.



More criminal records at Findmypast

This week Findmypast added 96,000 criminal petitions which are held in HO18 and HO19 at the National Archives - these records have been scanned in colour, and some are quite extensive. A petitioner might beg for release from prison, a reduction in sentence, or a free pardon - and sometimes they'll refer to family members.


In all there are over 3 million criminal records for England & Wales in Findmypast's collection, covering the period from 1770-1935.


Tip: the first page of the record may be blank apart from a reference number - use the right arrow to move to the next image.


Understanding the censuses

Because the 1911 Census is the only one where we see the Household Schedules, some researchers make the assumption that in earlier censuses the enumerators collected all the data and wrote it directly on the Enumeration Schedules (which are the documents we see from 1841-1901).


However forms have been handed out to householders ever since 1841 - although it was a late decision, taken after the death in 1840 of John Rickman, who as a clerk in the House of Commons had been involved in the drafting of the Census Act, 1800, and had subsequently been largely responsible for the first four censuses.


If anyone had ever doubted that Household Schedules were using in 1841, the recent discovery by LostCousins member Don Davis of a cache of surviving schedules in the Shropshire Archives provided definitive proof. However you can also download PDF copies of the censuses forms for 1841-1901 from the Office of National Statistics website if you follow this link.


When I recently pointed out that respondents haven't been asked to provide precise birthplaces since 1951 some readers of my newsletter were sceptical - but you can see for yourself by downloading copies of the census forms for the 1911-2011 censuses from the ONS website after following this link.


1901 census site is closing

It was the release of the 1901 England & Wales Census in 2002 that got me researching my family tree - and it could be said that I haven't looked forward since!


In those days the 1901 Census was pay-per-view, and when the site first opened the credit would expire very quickly - it may have been as little as 24 hours - as a result of which I spent £150 in the course of 12 months accessing this single census! These days you can pay a lot less for a year's UNLIMITED access to 8 England & Wales censuses, transcriptions of 7 Scotland censuses, fully transcribed GRO indexes for England & Wales, millions of parish records, millions of military and migration records, and hundreds of millions of historic newspaper articles.


Anyway, those were the days - and they're coming to an end with the closure of on 23rd July.


Who was Margery Booth from Wigan?

Born in Wigan in 1905, Margery Booth became a singer - and in World War 2 she would entertain British troop. But there's a big difference between Margery and that other Lancashire lass, Gracie Fields - Margery was singing to soldiers in German PoW camps.


In 1928 she joined the Berlin State Opera, and when Hitler met her for the first time in 1933 he was enchanted, giving her 200 roses wrapped in a swastika; in 1936 she married a German, and during the war the Nazis thought that if she entertained the PoWs some of them might be persuaded to switch sides, as she appeared to have done (she was publicly disowned by her family in 1941).


However, she remained loyal to the country of her birth, always finishing her concerts with "Land of Hope & Glory", and on one occasion helping to conceal secret documents destined for British Intelligence by hiding them in her underwear. After the fall of Germany she provided information that helped lead to the capture of William Joyce, better known as Lord Haw Haw. You can read more about Margery Booth in this 2011 article from a magazine published by Wigan Heritage Service (also in the same issue there's a fascinating article about clogs!).


The new Morton Farrier book EXCLUSIVE

If, like me, you've been reading Nathan Dylan Goodwin's books about forensic genealogist Morton Farrier you'll be just as delighted as I was to hear that he's close to finishing the next novel in the series!


I can exclusively reveal that the new book will be called The America Ground (and if you're wondering what it might be about, I suggest you ask Google).


Although this new work will be the third novel in the series, it's actually the fourth book to feature Morton Farrier - there was a novella, The Orange Lilies, published at Christmas. Click on any of the book covers below if you've missed out - Nathan's books are available as paperbacks or in Kindle format (Note: please use this link if you're in the US, or this one in Canada).


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Peter's Tips

Wednesday 15th July is Prime Day - billed by Amazon as "more deals than Black Friday" - so now must be an excellent time to take a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime by following this link (if you're in the US use this link, in Canada use this one). Warning: I started with a free trial and now I can't give it up!



As you well know, I have an eye for a bargain. A couple of weeks ago I went to the supermarket only to discover when I arrived that I'd forgotten my credit cards - all I had was £4.38 in cash, and everyone knows that these days you can't buy much for under a fiver. But I'd timed my visit so that it coincided with the 'final' markdowns of the day so all was not lost - here's what I was able to get:


2 x medium fillet steaks

4 x packs of five bagels

1 x pack of nectarines

1 x pack of sliced cabbage and leek

2 x packs of asparagus

1 x large loaf of bread


What would you expect that lot to cost - £20, £25? Well, when I got to the check-out the total cost of my purchases was a mere £3.83, so I even had some change left over!


Obviously only a small percentage of supermarket customers can pick up bargains like these, but I'd like to think that most of them are LostCousins members - all you need to do is figure when your favourite supermarket makes its final markdowns (it's just after 7pm where I go, but I'm sure there are wide variations).


Banks have become quite unpopular - even the Co-Op has blotted its copybook - which is one reason why my personal account is held with the largest surviving building society, Nationwide. Because there have no shareholders they operate for the benefit of their customers, and they're so keen for customers to have their say that they're giving a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support for every customer who votes on the resolutions at this year's AGM.


During July you can qualify for a £100 bonus by switching your account to Nationwide when I refer you, provided the account transfer is completed by the end of August (if all goes well I'll also benefit).


This offer applies to the free FlexAccount, free FlexDirect account, and the premium FlexPlus account (which is the one I have - because the benefits I get more than outweigh the cost). You can see the details of all of these accounts here. If you think this offer might be of interest to you simply email me your name and date of birth - although I don't publish my email address, all LostCousins emails come to me, and you can use any of the email addresses (including the one I wrote from when telling you about this newsletter). By the way, even though Nationwide isn't a bank, your money is still covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme - so you get the best of both worlds.


Finally, my apologies to anyone who didn't receive my last newsletter - unfortunately one of the words in a book title triggered some content filters. If you're one of this who missed out, click here (and, by the way, I understand there all still stocks of the Fire Phone available - if you're quick).


Stop Press

This is where any last minute updates and corrections will be highlighted - if you think you've spotted an error (sadly I'm not infallible), reload the newsletter (press F5) then check here before writing to me, in case someone else has beaten you to it......


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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2015 Peter Calver


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