Newsletter – 27th August 2021



LostCousins is completely FREE ENDS WEDNESDAY

Australia & New Zealand DNA sale ENDS 5TH SEPTEMBER

Untangling a mystery

Late baptisms

Section of Hadrian's Wall discovered in Newcastle

Slavery in the UK

To boost or not to boost? That is the question

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


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



LostCousins is completely FREE ENDS TUESDAY

From now until midnight on Wednesday 1st September the LostCousins site will be completely free, allowing ALL members, old or new, to initiate contact with the relatives they've found. It's useful to know that whether your 'lost cousin' replies before the deadline doesn’t matter – it's when you send the invitation that counts.


Now's the time to add to the entries on your My Ancestors page – every single entry is a potential link to a 'lost cousin', but bear in mind that entries from the 1881 Census are the most likely (by far) to match with your cousins' entries, so it's better to track collateral lines from 1841 to 1881 if you possibly can.


Some of you might be surprised to learn that as many as three out of every four readers of this newsletter are currently missing out – because they haven't added anyone at all to their My Ancestors page, or have only entered a small subset of their relatives. Are you one of them? Whilst it's your prerogative to turn your back on your cousins it goes against everything that LostCousins stands for, so I suspect that it's not a lack of willingness but a perceived lack of time.


If time is of the essence then I'd urge you to remember that the reason we connect with our 'lost cousins' is to SAVE time. Let's face it, if you and your cousins are researching independently there's going to be a lot of duplicated effort – whereas if you connect and collaborate you can share out the responsibilities, saving time and allowing you all to achieve more.



Australia & New Zealand DNA sale ENDS 5TH SEPTEMBER

If you live in Australia or New Zealand now's the time to order DNA tests for yourself or your cousins – until Sunday 5th September the price is cut from $129 to $99 (prices are in Australian dollars and exclude shipping). Although it's a Father's Day sale it's worth reminding you that Ancestry DNA tests are suitable for both males and females.


Please use this link so that LostCousins can benefit from your order. But don’t forget to follow the advice in my DNA Masterclass, otherwise you'll be wasting your time as well as your money!



Untangling a mystery

In the last issue I passed on John's story of a 'brick wall' he knocked down. This week I discovered that reading that article had inspired Peter in New Zealand to solve a tangled mystery - here's what he told me:


"On 30th May 1843 Richard NICOLL married Sarah Elizabeth ROBERTS in St Mary, Newington. Banns were published three weeks earlier, his name written as Nicholls with the 'h' and the 's' crossed out. Children followed: Elizabeth Sarah (1843), Martha (1848), Phillis Eliza (1850), Ann (1852), Richard (1853) and Caroline (1854). Richard’s marriage certificate lists his occupation as fisherman and in 1851 he is away from home. Sarah NICOLL is at home in Barking with the first three daughters. All the children were born in Barking, Essex.


"The 1861 census presented the first problem as the page covering this part of Barking is missing, nor can the family be found elsewhere. They arrived in Auckland, New Zealand on 20th October 1862 on the Romulus with all the children except Elizabeth Sarah. Of those who migrated all but Caroline have subsequently been traced through marriages and deaths in New Zealand and Australia.


"But what happened to Elizabeth Sarah? She did not appear to have married or died prior to the family leaving England. She would have been about 19 years old when the family left: perhaps she had left home and was working - except there is no sign of her in the 1861 census and only the missing page would tell us if she was still at home.


"I found a marriage on 20th March 1869 in St Peter’s Stepney between Levett BAIN, a 31-year-old Solicitor’s clerk, and Elizabeth Sarah NICOLL, spinster aged 25. Her father is named as Richard Nicoll, occupation 'Merchant'. The Richard Nicoll I was researching had been described as a fisherman in 1843 and a ship rigger on arrival in New Zealand, though I do know that in 1868 he had shares in a gold mine.


© London Metropolitan Archives. All rights reserved. Used with the kind permission of Ancestry.


"Theorising that this might be the right Elizabeth Sarah, the 1871 census has Levett Bain living with his wife Elizabeth (born in Barking). So this is beginning to look like the correct Elizabeth. A search of the 1871 census did not turn up any other Elizabeth born 1843 in Barking who fitted the pattern.


"It was now time to follow the couple through the censuses looking for confirmation. 1881 – no sign of them, but a birth for Edwin Levett Blamey Bain, mother's maiden name Nicoll was registered in Brighton in the Dec Quarter of 1881 - so she is in England at that point (which is after the census). Edwin Levett Blamey was baptised in St James, Piccadilly on 4th June 1881 to parents Levett and Elizabeth Sarah,and shown as  born 1 January 1881 (but clearly not registered until 9 months later). The place of abode shown was Fountain Court.


"However, on the 1891 census Levett Bain is living in Earl Street with wife Marion and children Edith Alice, aged 15 and born Holborn, and Charles W, aged 11 and born Battersea. These children must have been born before Edwin but neither birth is registered as BAIN. Nor is there a marriage between Levett and Marion. So – where is Elizabeth?


"Nothing shows up until a court case in 1913 in which Edwin Levett Blamey BAIN petitions for a declaration of legitimacy (this can be found in the England & Wales, Civil Divorce Records, 1858-1918 at Ancestry). Levett Bain had died the year before and a large number of Bain relatives are named as interested parties - obviously, money was at stake. The petition appears to have been rejected.  Included in the file were a marriage certificate for Levett and a birth certificate for Edwin, naming Levett as the father. However, of more interest to me was the address on the birth certificate – 5 Fountain Court, the same address as his baptism.


"What next? I tried searching the 1881 census for the address (one of the options at Findmypast). Living at 5 Fountain Court is Elizabeth Sarah BLAMEY shown as the head of household, married, aged 30, born Barking with an unnamed 1 month old son born St Leonards, London. Next, I found an application for a marriage licence dated 31 January 1878 between Edwin Hast BLAMEY and Lily Sarah Bain NICOLL, shown as a spinster (you can see the application at Ancestry here). However the marriage never happened and he instead wed Amelia SMITH on 22 September 1883.


"I also searched the 1881 census for Levett’s alleged children Edith Alice and Charles. They appear in a family consisting of William Bain (whose details all match Levett), wife Mary Ann, daughter Edith Alice, (6, born Holborn and son Charles William, (2), born Columbus, Ohio USA British subject.


" I was still uncertain as to whether I had found the correct Elizabeth Sarah Nicoll, and there it rested UNTIL the 17th August issue of the LostCousins newsletter in which there was a paragraph regarding the hulks at Sheerness in the late 1700’s, and mentioning a family named MOCKETT.


"I knew that Elizabeth Sarah Nicoll’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth MOCKETT, was born in Sheerness in 1800. I contacted John, who had written about the hulks, and together we pieced together a family which included Elizabeth’s siblings. Unfortunately it did not appear that our Mockett families were connected at this point as his probably come from Kent and I can trace Elizabeth’s to Ninfield in Sussex through her father, William Mocket who is with her in the 1851 census. However I now knew the names of Elizabeth’s siblings, so tracked them through marriages in London. One of these marriages proved particularly fruitful: Ann Harriet MOCKETT born 1812 married Benjamin HAY in 1854 – and in 1881 they are at 5 Fountain Court, in the same household as Elizabeth Sarah BLAMEY. It cannot be a coincidence.


© Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England. Used with the permission of Findmypast.


"This discovery surely confirms that I was following the right Elizabeth Sarah Nicoll!


"To summarise: Elizabeth Sarah Nicholl married Levett Bain in 1869, but the marriage didn't last. In 1880 she became pregnant by Edwin Hast Blamey who reneged on his promise to marry her (perhaps because he realised the marriage would be bigamous). When the child was born she named Levett Bain as the father – he was, after all still her husband - which ultimately led young Edwin to make a claim against Levett's estate.


"None of this would have come to light had it not been for the article in the LostCousins newsletter."


Not everyone follows collateral lines, but they can provide a wealth of information for the diligent researcher, as the experience of Peter in New Zealand demonstrates.


Tip: if you want to find fellow family historians who are researching the same ancestral lines track the branches of your tree and enter the relatives you find on your My Ancestors page. Remember, ALL cousins are descended from collateral lines!



Late baptisms

Most children were baptised within a few months of their birth, though longer delays are not unusual – there are plenty of instances in my tree of two siblings who were not twins being baptised on the same day. Some people were baptised as teenagers, which can cause all sorts of problems for their descendants; others were baptised just before marriage, or on the same day as their eldest child(ren).


But when Andrew directed me to this snippet from the baptism register of St Mary's, Uffculme in Devon, it was the first time I'd seen someone in their 80s:


© Image courtesy of South West Heritage Trust and Parochial Church Council. Used by kind permission of Findmypast.


Were John and James seeking eternal salvation, or simply trying to secure a place in the graveyard?



Section of Hadrian's Wall discovered in Newcastle

Workmen have discovered a previously unrecorded section of Hadrian's Wall under a busy street in Newcastle. You can read more about the find in this CNN article.



Slavery in the UK

At the time that the Domesday Book was compiled in the late 11th century perhaps 10% of the population were slaves – see this National Archives guide to the social order in those days.


But by the time of the 1939 Register slavery had long since been abolished – except, it would seem, on the farm of Robert Willson in Kent:


© Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England. Used with the permission of Findmypast.


The occupation of Lizzie Willson, presumably Robert's wife, is given as 'Farmers slave', though as you can see it was later amended to 'Unpaid domestic duties'.



To boost or not to boost? That is the question

I've avoid writing about COVID-19 in the last couple of newsletters because I know that some readers feel I should stick exclusively to historical matters.


However, I can't understand why it's OK for me to write about my great-great-great grandfather who died of cholera in the 1840s, my great uncle who died of typhoid of the 1890s, or my uncle who died of TB in the 1930s, but wrong to mention the current scourge. After all, what we're living through now will be studied by future generations of family historians!


So here's my latest take on the decisions facing the UK and other countries which are at a similar stage in their vaccination programme……


The vaccines have proved more effective than anyone dared hope, especially when it comes to stopping severe illness (and worse). They're also very safe – see this BBC article. But because the delta variant is much more transmissible than the original virus or previous variants, the chance of eliminating COVID-19 is remote. We're going to have to live with it, just as we live with flu and colds.


In the UK well over 90% of the adult population have either been vaccinated or have been infected in the past. Most children have not been vaccinated, but I've seen it estimated that between 40 and 50% have some immunity as a result of prior infection. It also appears that people who have been both vaccinated and infected – in either order – have better resistance than those who have had one or the other; that's clearly very encouraging when we look at the longer-term, though I wouldn't recommend that anyone reading this deliberately exposes themselves to the virus!


For a long time we've anticipated that there would be booster jabs later this year, and given what we've been told about how easy it is to alter the vaccines to cope better with new variants it's a little surprising that I've heard nothing about this recently. Nevertheless the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is currently considering who in the UK will be offered a third dose in the autumn – possibly starting as soon as next month.


My inexpert opinion is that most people will benefit more from having a different vaccine for their third jab, but I'm happy to go along with whatever the experts recommend. However some high-profile people are suggesting that it's immoral for rich countries to have third jabs when most people in poorer countries haven't even had one.


I can understand where they're coming from, but personally I think they need to look at the bigger picture. COVID-19 is far from the only threat to the lives and livelihoods of the populations of poor countries, and dealing with the other problems (from malaria to starvation) often depends on financial and practical help from rich countries – assistance that rich countries are far better able to provide, practically as well as politically, if their own economies are functioning normally.



Peter's Tips

Prior to the pandemic I would take pleasure in shopping for groceries, but thanks to online ordering I've only twice been in a supermarket since March 2020 (and both of those visits were very brief).


However, whilst the service has been generally efficient there have been a handful of occasions on which I've been over-charged for my order. Most recently I took advantage of an offer for Finish dishwasher tablets which offered a double discount: a price reduction per pack, plus an additional £5 saving if I spent £15 or more and entered a discount code. I ordered three packs of the 'original' tablets, and agreed to accept the 'lemon' version as a substitute as these were also included in the offer.


When the order was delivered there were three packs, one 'original' and two 'lemon' – so I should still have qualified for the £5 saving – however it didn’t appear on the delivery note, and checking the amount I'd paid confirmed that it hadn't been credited. It seemed that the substitution had somehow unlinked the code from my order. Fortunately I had an email confirming the order which proved that I'd entered the code, so a call to Tesco Customer Services soon sorted the problem out – nevertheless, I wonder how many customers didn’t spot the discrepancy?


On a previous occasion I ordered 6 bottles of wine to take advantage of a 25% discount, but only 4 were delivered due to stock shortages, and again the discount didn't appear on the delivery note. This time the person I spoke to tried to convince me that I didn’t qualify for the discount, even though it was their fault that only 4 bottles had been supplied instead of the 6 I ordered (there had been no warning that their stock was limited). Eventually I had to ask that my enquiry was escalated to a manager, only to be told that the person I was speaking to was a manager. But by now I had the bit between my teeth, so insisted that he referred me to his boss – whatever his title was.


When I got a call back and explained the issue there was absolutely no problem getting the discount, indeed I was informed that the first person I'd spoken to had 'made a mistake'. Perhaps if he'd had a bit more common sense he might have realised that himself!


These were relatively small amounts - £5 and £9.75 – but it's a big company with many millions of customers, so I suspect that in the course of a year there are tens of millions of pounds which ends up in their coffers when it should have remained in their customers' bank account!



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......



The sun is shing here, though whether it will last is anyone's guess - English Bank Holidays are renowned for the unpredictability of their weather! But wherever you are, and whatever the weather, I hope you'll spare some time for your cousins…..



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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2021 Peter Calver


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