A picture containing company name

Description automatically generated

Newsletter – 24th April 2024



Looking for something?

Frank about Jane Austen

Pride or prejudice?

Aberdeenshire records online NEW

Family history mysteries

Mission impossible?

One foot in the Redgraves

A. Rose by any other name: how a reader found her father's true identity

The ‘hidden’ parts of the GRO registers

Save on subscriptions to Who Do You Think You Are? magazine EXCLUSIVE

See where wills are kept

Find out what solicitors have in their vaults FREE

Peter’s Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 17th April ) 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!



Looking for something?

Although I publish these newsletters and create most of the content, unlike Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy I don’t have a brain the size of a planet. So when I need to find an article from a past newsletter, or if I want to check whether I’ve written about a particular topic or resource previously, I do the same as most of you – I use the customised Google search near the top of any newsletter.


It does have one limitation – it only goes back as far as February 2009 – but that’s still 15 years of newsletters (and four times as many words as there are in the English translation of War and Peace), all at your fingertips.


Tip: if you’re searching for a topic that is likely to have appeared frequently, sort the results by date.



Frank about Jane Austen

The Jane Austen museum in Chawton, Hampshire has recently acquired the memoirs of the author’s brother, Frank, who ended his career in the Royal Navy as Admiral Sir Francis Austen – and they’re looking for volunteers to transcribe the 78-page manuscript.


Based on the sample on their website it should easy-peasy for any experienced family historian, so if you want to offer your services you’ll find an email address on this page.



Pride or prejudice?

Genealogy is enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take it seriously. Indeed, the fact that you’re reading this newsletter suggests you’re as serious about your research as I am about mine. We want to know who our ancestors were, and understand as much as we possibly can about their lives – they may be long-deceased but through our efforts they live on. Most of them weren’t rich or famous, and they certainly weren’t all paragons of virtue – like us they were the products of their times and of their upbringing – but they are, quite literally, in our DNA.


We’re all proud of what we have achieved in our research, but that shouldn’t prevent us from collaborating with other experienced family historians who not only share some of our ancestors, but are researching them. We might not appreciate someone looking over our shoulder when we’re doing the crossword, or trying to solve a Sudoku puzzle, but those pastimes are just…. well, ways of passing the time.


Time is something that is in short supply – but we can make better use of our time by co-ordinating our research with our ‘lost cousins’, the distant relatives who share part of our tree and all of our enthusiasm for family history.


Completing your My Ancestors page, by entering as many as possible of the relatives you can find in the 1881 censuses will not only help you, it will help your cousins. It’s one thing to let yourself down, but please don’t let your cousins down!



Aberdeenshire records online NEW

Earlier this month Ancestry added three new record sets for Aberdeenshire totalling three-quarters of a million records. Most are from School Admission registers, which cover the period 1852-1927 but there are two smaller collections: Police Records from 1818-1948, and World War 2 records.


To find out more about these and other Aberdeenshire records at Ancestry please follow this link.



Family history mysteries

As I was writing the articles in the last issue about Angela Redgrave and her family I was conscious of the fact that many of you would have similar mysteries in your own tree: some solved, some still waiting to be solved, and – perhaps – some unnoticed. After all, we do tend to believe what it says on certificates and what’s written in parish registers, and most of the time we’re proven right.


However family stories and ‘facts’ that have been passed down are less reliable. Something that’s written down is either right or wrong, and that doesn’t change with time, whereas each time a story is re-told there’s the risk that it will be embellished or misunderstood.


I remember how, back in the early days of LostCousins, members who were struggling to find a birth often refused to consider the possibility that one of their relatives had given birth out of wedlock: “Granny was very religious”. I think that delusion has now been thoroughly dispelled – even before DNA testing became commonplace we’d all found things in our trees that our parents and grandparents had kept from us (or their forebears had kept from them).


My family were all churchgoers – my parents met through the church they both attended – and I suppose I imagined that this was something they’d inherited from their own parents and grandparents. I couldn’t imagine that any of my forebears would have been any different. But when I started my own research my Auntie Hala, by then in her late 80s, passed on a story she heard from her own mother – that her father had sired an illegitimate child between the death of his first wife in 1907 and his marriage to my grandmother in 1915.


That was quite a surprise! But it wasn’t the only family secret on my mother’s side of the family – my grandfather’s father had two wives, and whilst my aunt had always known that there was something fishy about the second marriage she didn’t know what it was. This time I was the one with the facts – I had discovered quite early on in my research that after my great-grandmother died, my great-grandfather had married her sister, which was illegal in 1897, but retrospectively legalised when the law changed in 1907.


In this newsletter I’m going to tell you more about Angela Redgrave’s fascinating family, including a marriage that was illegal in 1882, but would have been legal had it taken place in 2007 (or later). But first I’ve got a story that I found just as intriguing……



Mission impossible?

Alan wrote in with a fascinating story, and he has kindly allowed me to share it with you. Over to Alan….


I was interested to read your account in the latest newsletter about the vicar who fathered a child out of wedlock and the detective work you had to do to unravel it. I thought you might be interested in hearing the story of my late father-in-law.


Paul Hodgson was born on 4th October 1914. He grew up believing himself to be the son of two Baptist ministers, Frank Hodgson and Elizabeth Hodgson nee Bates. Elizabeth ran the South Street Mission in Hammersmith and worked with down-and-outs, alcoholics etc, similar to the Salvation Army (they even had a brass band). She was known as Sister Lizzie, and we have a book about her work called Road Making For The King, published before my father-in-law's birth. Frank Hodgson looked after another church elsewhere in London, and didn't live with his wife and son, which seems odd. Paul travelled to stay with Frank occasionally, but usually lived above the Mission building with his mother and aunt. He had a strange childhood, with church 3 times on Sunday and he played in the Mission band.


Paul told me many years ago that when he was 21 (probably just after Frank Hodgson's death) his mother, with tears in her eyes, confessed that Frank wasn't his father. Frank had married Sister Lizzie when Paul was about a year old to give her respectability, but his biological father was a married man named Harry Tune, who played in the Mission band. His mother at that time gave Paul his birth certificate, but in his rage he tore it up in front of her. Later on, when he needed a passport, he could find no record of his birth so he had to make a sworn declaration of his identity.


Paul found all this too upsetting to talk about, but after his death we decided to look into why he had no birth certificate. At first we wondered if Sister Lizzie had gone abroad to give birth (we know she had friends in France) but we eventually found the answer closer to home. He was born in London and registered as Harry Keith Leslie Tune, father Harry Tune (Teacher of music) and mother Elizabeth Bates (Independent Means). After Sister Lizzie married his name was changed to Paul Hodgson.


There are still so many questions left unanswered. How did Sister Lizzie hide her pregnancy from her congregation – maybe under a long flowing robe? According to a website about the South Street Mission Band, she was still leading marches and meetings in August 1914, when she would have been 7 months pregnant.


Did Harry Tune's wife and family know about his indiscretion? His eldest son was conductor of the band in which Paul played. And how on earth did Sister Lizzie explain the appearance of a child in her life a year before she married?


Many thanks to Alan for sharing this intriguing story – I don’t suppose we’ll ever know the whole truth. There are several photos of the South Street Mission Band, and one of Sister Lizzie in a PDF document that you can download here.



One foot in the Redgraves

As someone who has numerous ancestors from Suffolk, including some who were born or lived in the parish of Redgrave with Botesdale, it was partly the thought of finding a Suffolk connection that spurred me to start my investigation into the Redgrave family.


However, if you don’t know of this very small Suffolk parish (population 459 in 2011) the name Redgrave might instead make you think of the great theatrical family: Sir Michael Redgrave, his children Vanessa, Corin and Lynn, and his grandchildren Natasha Richardson, Joely Richardson, and Jemma Redgrave.


I’d always imagined that Michael Redgrave was the first actor in the family, but it seems that his father Roy Redgrave, was also an actor – both on the stage and in silent films. His mother, Daisy Scudamore, Roy’s second wife, was also an actress (she later used the name Margaret Scudamore).


Daisy wasn’t the only one to change her name: Roy’s birth had been registered as George Edward Redgrave in 1873. He was the son of George Augustus Redgrave, a tobacconist, and his wife Zoe Beatrice Elsworthy Pym:



However when he married for the first time, in Devon in 1894, he signed as George Elsworthy Redgrave, son of George Redgrave, Gentleman:


© Image courtesy of South West Heritage Trust and Parochial Church Council; used by permission of Findmypast


By 1894 his father was long deceased – he had died on 1st November 1881, leaving £205 to his widow:



© licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0


In the 1881 Census he had been described neither as a ‘Gentleman’, nor a ‘Tobacconist’, but as a ‘Bagatelle Maker’:



© The National Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Ancestry


It’s not easy to decipher the enumerator’s handwriting, but you might just be able to see that George, his wife Zoe, and their four children were living with George’s father, Cornelius, his second wife Fanny, and two of George’s siblings, Adelina and Hyman (or, as we know him, Hyma).


So that’s the connection between the two Redgrave families – they’re all descended from Cornelius Redgrave and his first wife Alice. Here’s the family in the 1861 Census – note that Cornelius described himself then as a Theatrical Agent:


© The National Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


Cornelius was clearly a man of many talents – he was described as a ‘gas fitter’ when his son was baptised 7 months earlier:


© City of Westminster Archives Centre. Used by kind permission of Ancestry


And just a few months before that, when the birth was registered, he was recorded as a ‘Billiard table maker’:



Note: ‘bagatelle’ was a forerunner of ‘bar billiards’ – so there is, in fact, a link between Cornelius’s occupation in 1860 and the one shown on the 1881 Census.  


Cornelius Redgrave’s change of occupation around this time may have been a product of his circumstances – in November 1861 he was declared bankrupt (London Gazette 26th November and 17th December 1861).   


Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed the differing spellings of Hyma’s name: ‘Hymen’ in the birth register, ‘Hyam’ in the baptism register, ‘Hyman’ in the 1881 Census and – believe it or not – ‘Amy’ in the 1861 Census. I think we can reasonably assume that on that occasion the enumerator misheard what he was told! There are also three different birthdays for the philandering vicar: 15th January in the baptism register, 21st January in the 1939 Register, and 22nd January in the GRO birth register.


Let’s summarise what we now know: ‘Roy’ Redgrave, father of Sir Michael Redgrave, was the 1st cousin of Grace Angela Redgrave, whose recent passing started me on this long, but very interesting journey. Cornelius Redgrave was grandfather to both of them.


However, Cornelius Redgrave was more than just a grandfather to ‘Roy’ Redgrave, he was also (briefly) his stepfather. Less than a year after George Augustus Redgrave was laid to rest, his father married his widow!


© Image copyright London Metropolitan Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Ancestry


The marriage was void from the start. Had they married prior to 1835 it would have been ‘voidable’, but only have been declared void if somebody had objected; after 2007 it was legal to marry a former daughter-in-law. But in 1882 it was very definitely not allowed, and you have to wonder why the vicar didn’t query it – perhaps he wasn’t aware of the precise relationship between them?


Someone must have pointed out that the marriage was illegal because the following year Cornelius married for the last time, to Louisa Myer or Myers (who as far as I know was no relation). The blushing former bride also remarried, this time to an actor called Adderley Howard – a name that clearly confused the enumerator in 1891:


© The National Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


There was certainly no doubt about Adderley’s gender – a few months earlier Zoe had given birth to a daughter with the splendid name Annie Elsworthy Oppenheim Pinto Howard:


© Image copyright London Metropolitan Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Ancestry


Goodness knows where little Annie was in 1891 – I can‘t find her on that census – but she was living with her mother in 1911, and the previous December they had both been confirmed on the same day:



© Image copyright East Sussex Record Office – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Ancestry


That’s all for now on the Redgrave family – though there’s a great deal more that I’ve discovered during my research. It’s appropriate to end with the Howards because (completely coincidentally) the next article also involves the surname Howard.



A. Rose by any other name: how a reader found her father's true identity

Anthea recently wrote from Canada to tell me how she had managed to knock down a ‘brick wall’ in her tree using DNA – I hope it will inspire you to break down some ‘brick walls’ of your own!


Dear Peter,


I was very interested to read the article about the person whose  ancestor changed their name and their true identity was found through DNA. I had the same situation except closer to home – it was my father who changed his name.


I knew my father as Arthur John Howard. He and my mother met c1941 and married in 1943. On their marriage certificate he gave his father's name as John Howard, journalist, which appears to have been pure fiction, but of course I spent many hours looking for him. We never met any of his family, he told my mother "they all died in the war".


As a teenager I was interested in family history which he was very reluctant to discuss. He did tell me that he was born in London on October 16, 1895, that his parents were John and Mary and that his mother died in childbirth with him. It wasn't until after he had passed away in the 1970s that I applied for his birth certificate ,only to find there wasn't one.


Over the years I checked out a few Arthur John Howards born about the same time with no success and spent my time researching my mother's ancestry and later my husband's ancestry.


Then came the advent of DNA – and all the time I had on my hands during 2020 because of Covid restrictions. I persuaded my brother to also take the Ancestry DNA test, and my first cousin on my mother's side had already tested which I felt would be a big help in separating my mother's family from my father's. There was a hiccup to start with that logic because it turns out I have a 2nd cousin on my father's side who is also related to my cousin on my mother's side through a different family line (both families were from Nottingham).


Disregarding that confusion, I was very surprised to see that my brother and I had no connections to people with the surname Howard. What I could see, by forming matches into groups, was that we had connections to several people with the surname Rose and several people with the surname Crouch. Eventually I was able to see where these two families connected and there was my father – born as Alfred Crouch Rose!



Sending for his birth certificate confirmed that he was born in Paddington, London on October 16, 1895, the son of Alfred Rose and Rose Crouch (who did indeed die within a few days of his birth):



The name change happened between 1922 and 1939 but I don't suppose I will ever know why*.


At first I couldn’t find him in the 1921 census under either name, but he is in Sussex in an electoral register in 1922 under his birthname, and checking the same address in 1921 I discovered why I hadn’t been able to find him - his forename and surname had been reversed by the transcriber. And the age written on the census form was a year out – he was shown as 26 years and 8 months old.


His next appearance is in the 1939 Register, but as Arthur John Howard. To change your name from Alfred Crouch Rose to Arthur John Howard is a big leap: it is another example of tracing someone who would have been impossible to identify without DNA.


* Some progress has since been made, using resources that have recently become available; many thanks to Anthea for allowing me to share her father’s story with you.


There will be more readers’ stories in future newsletters – thanks to everyone who has sent them in.



The ‘hidden’ parts of the GRO registers

When reading the preceding article you may have noticed the additional text beneath the death register entry for poor Rose Rose.


Although we tend to rely on the information we receive from the General Register Office (GRO), it’s important to remember that their registers are copies. Or, to be more precise, they contain copies of the original register entries.


Each quarter the local registrars would copy the entries in their registers onto loose pages that they could send through the post to the GRO, where the pages were numbered and bound into quarterly volumes (hence the references in the GRO indexes).


The additional text in the entry for Rose Rose is part of the declaration at the bottom of the page – it’s something that we would never normally see. In the days when all you could buy were paper certificates, and subsequently PDFs, the involvement of human beings in the process provided an element of quality control that doesn’t exist when we order low cost online images.


When I ordered an online image of a death entry in February 2022, during the first stage of the Online View trial, I was sent an image which showed no entries at all – but it did show a significant part of the declaration that the registrar had signed, and his superior, the Superintendent Registrar, had checked and counter-signed:



According to FreeBMD there is only one entry on this page of the GRO’s register, hence the blank lines in the image (there were actually 4 blank lines shown in the image I received, but I trimmed it for publication). Most of the time the last page of the submission will be incomplete since the number of registrations during the quarter is unlikely to be an exact multiple of 10


It’s over 2 years since I downloaded that image – I decided to share it with you now because it helps to explain what you can see under the death entry for the unfortunate Rose Rose.


And coincidentally, in the April 2024 issue of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine, there was a letter from a reader who had ordered a digital image of the 1892 birth entry for Hannah Fermalon, but received instead an image of the declaration at the bottom of the page.:



According to FreeBMD there are 10 entries on this particular page, including William George Sheward, part of whose name can be seen at the top right of the image above, and Leah Jones. The entry numbers shown (48 and 57 respectively) are the numbers of the Sheward and Jones entries in the local register – the other entries include Hannah Fermalon.


When the GRO are alerted to faulty digital images they withdraw them from sale – though the PDF option is usually still available. It’s frustrating on the occasions when we can’t get the images we want instantly – but at least the system works most of the time.




Save on subscriptions to Who Do You Think You Are? magazine EXCLUSIVE

I've been a reader of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine ever since issue 1, and I can tell you from personal experience that every issue is packed with advice on how to research your family tree, including how to track down online records, how to get more from DNA tests, and the ever-popular readers' stories. Naturally you also get to look behind-the-scenes of the popular Who Do You Think You Are? TV series.


There's an extra special introductory offer for members in the UK, but there are also offers for overseas readers, each of which offers a useful saving on the cover price:


UK - try 6 issues for just £9.99

Europe - 13 issues (1 year) for €74.99

Australia - 13 issues (1 year) for AU $125

Rest of the world - 13 issues (1 year) for US $89.99


To take advantage of any of these deals (and to support LostCousins) please follow this link.



See where wills are kept

We’re currently waiting for the government’s response to the wills consultation, which closed on 23rd February – let’s hope that whatever the outcome we’re able to get access to the original documents, even if only in digital form.


LostCousins member Jeremy wrote in recently to draw my attention to a short (4 minute) clip from a 2017 episode of the BBC programme Antiques Road Trip which you can view here.



Find out what solicitors have in their vaults FREE

An upcoming webinar from the Guild of One Names Studies could point you in the direction of records you’d never thought to look for. Where there’s a will, there’s a lawyer: using solicitor records for family research presented by Tricia O’Reilly explores why these records are so often neglected – and why genealogists and other historical researchers might want to give them a second glance.


For more information about this free online event, which starts at 7.30pm (London time) on 15th May please follow this link. If you are unable to attend on the day a recording will be available to non-members for one week.



Peter’s Tips

One of the best purchases I’ve made over the past year is a window vacuum that doesn’t fit our windows. The Karcher WV1 was highly recommended in a Which? magazine survey, and I realised it was just what we needed – not for our windows, but to remove condensation from our bathroom walls after taking a shower.


Previously we let the bathroom fan run until all the moisture had evaporated, but that’s an expensive option in the winter since it’s replacing the warm air in the house with cold air from outside. I also find it quite satisfying hoovering up the condensation!


Last year I was unable to buy jam sugar (sugar with pectin added) from my local supermarket when I needed it. Fortunately we had a bumper crop of apples last year, and I was able to use them as a source of pectin, but I’d rather not be forced into that situation.


So I decided to order early this year – but once again Tesco are out of stock in our branch, so I suspect the manager may have delisted it. Fortunately I discovered that I could order jam sugar direct from Whitworths, and not only was it cheaper, with an additional discount if I bought 10kg, shipping was free for orders over £20.  


Note: my mother used to use ‘Certo’, which is liquid pectin, and it’s still readily available – but because it’s only 3% pectin I find there’s more water to boil away, which adds to the time and the cost.



Stop Press

Just after this newsletter was published Ancestry.co.uk annnounced a short-term offer for their Pet DNA test (which is currently for dogs only). If you are interested please use the link below - the offer runs until Sunday.


National Pet Parents Day Special Offer: Know Your Pet DNA by Ancestry® for only £65.


Finally, can I urge everyone reading this newsletter to add more relatives from 1881 to your My Ancestors page ahead of our 20th Birthday on 1st May? Remember that the page might be called My Ancestors, but the relatives most likely to connect you to your ‘lost cousins’ are your ancestors’ siblings and cousins – and that’s how some of us have managed to enter more than 1000 relatives from the 1881 Census alone!


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!