Newsletter - 20th February 2016
How to view individuals by registration district PETER'S TIP
Free weekend at Ancestry ENDS SUNDAY
Find your Scottish cousins ENDS TUESDAY
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 8th February) click here; to find earlier articles use the customised Google search below (it only searches these newsletters, so you won't get spurious results):
Whenever possible links are included to the websites or articles mentioned in the newsletter (they are highlighted in blue or purple and underlined, so you can't miss them). If one of the links doesn't work this normally indicates that you're using adblocking software - you need to make the LostCousins site an exception (or else use a different browser, such as Chrome).
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!
As I announced on 20th January the 1939 National Register is now included in all 12 month Britain and World subscriptions to Findmypast. The 1939 Register Special Newsletter, which I published last weekend tells you everything you need to know about searching the register, including who was and who wasn't included. The information in that newsletter has been updated so that it supersedes some of the information I've published in earlier newsletters, as well information on Findmypast's own website.
Sadly fewer people read the special newsletter than a normal newsletter - so just to encourage the rest of you I'm going to blow my own trumpet with some quotes from the members who did read it:
"Peter, you are the most fastidiously clever, precise and interesting family historian one could find ANYWHERE; believe me, such a missive as the 1939 Register so wonderfully informing has me gobsmacked; it must have taken you hours (and more hours) to create; I thank you so much for explaining it in so much detail...." Diana in New Zealand
"I've been a member of Lost Cousins for a while and very much enjoy your newsletters. I wanted to say that in your latest on the 1939 register you surpass yourself! The background is extremely helpful and I've learned so much from it." Margaret in Ireland
"Just wanted to thank you for the link included in your reply. I have just started to use the 1939 Register since FMP included it in my subscription and your detailed advice could not be more timely. So thanks for all the hard work in compiling the Special Edition newsletter. It is both useful and fascinating." Lin (who wasn't a member but read about the newsletter on the Society of Genealogists mailing list)
At the time as opening up the register to subscribers, Findmypast have introduced a Browse option, which is an ideal way to explore an area looking for familiar names - perhaps neighbours or shopkeepers who you remember from your childhood. Or you might simply be interested in finding out who the ARP wardens were!
Every enumeration district was assigned a four-letter code which you'll see at the top left of the register page - and Browse allows you to view all of the register pages for that district (typically there are 10-20 of them). You can also search by piece number, by borough, or even by county (although this will usually produce too many results to be useful).
How to view individuals by registration district PETER'S TIP
Browsing the register pages is great - but sometimes it's more convenient to see an index of entries sorted by surname (or by forename, or by birth year). However, the Person search doesn't normally allow you to enter just the piece number - you have to enter the item number (effectively the folio number) as well, for example:
If you were to carry out this search you'd see the results for just one page; if you were to omit the item number you'd get an error message. But here's what I do - I edit the URL that's shown, for example, if it started off like this:
I would change it to this, by simply deleting the characters at the right-hand end:
While the cursor is still on the browser command line hit Enter, which produces a list of all the open records in that piece, whichever page they're on.
You can use the same technique to jump from one page to another within the search results:
In this example changing '2' to '21' would allow me to skip to page 21 more quickly than I could do any other way.
Tip: it's best to be on page 1 of the search results when you change the sort order.
You won't find these tips in last weekend's special newsletter - but it's about all that's missing!
I know a lot of readers bought a Findmypast subscription ahead of the price rise on Tuesday - at least two waited until the 11th hour (literally), buying their subscriptions just minutes before midnight on Monday evening - but life is full of challenges, so I also know that there will be some who missed out thanks to other commitments.
Of course, it's worth remembering that even at the new price of £119.95 a Findmypast Britain subscription is still 20% cheaper than in autumn 2009, so we can hardly complain (for comparison the basic state pension in the UK has increased by 21% over the same period). Still, nobody likes paying more so perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised to get a couple of emails accusing Findmypast of making extortionate profits (in reality they lost money in their last financial year).
Whilst I can't turn the clock back, what I can do is make an unprecedented offer - if you purchase a Findmypast Britain or World 12 month subscription at the new price before the end of February using one of the links below you'll be able to claim a free 24 month subscription to LostCousins worth up to £25:
Please note that ALL World subscriptions are exactly the same - you will have access to the same records whichever site you subscribe through (though the prices may differ because of exchange rate fluctuations and other factors); however, if you want a Britain subscription you can only buy it through the British site.
How to ensure you qualify: your subscription is funded by the commission that Findmypast pays LostCousins, so you must click the relevant link above immediately before subscribing. If you click a different link to Findmypast, or go directly to their site, we won't receive any commission and you won't get your free subscription; the same will apply if you've disabled tracking.
How to claim your free subscription: to verify your entitlement I need the precise time of your purchase, the date, and the cost; the easiest way to provide this information is to forward the email receipt that you receive, but I suggest you write down the time, because the receipt may not arrive. You can send it to any of the LostCousins email addresses, including the one I wrote from when I told you about this newsletter. Your subscription will run from the day you buy your Findmypast subscription, so I recommend you claim immediately. If you're an existing subscriber your expiry date will be extended.
Free weekend at Ancestry ENDS SUNDAY
Until midnight (London time) on Sunday 21st February you can search all of Ancestry's UK records absolutely free - just follow this link.
Tip: my tests suggest that you can only access the records free at Ancestry's UK site - so if, after you click the link, Ancestry recommend going to a different site more local to you, don't!
Of course, in one weekend you won't be able to look up everything you want (which is quite possibly why Ancestry are doing this), but my advice is to focus on parish registers that are exclusive to Ancestry, such as London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Surrey, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire and Dorset.
Find your Scottish cousins ENDS TUESDAY
Ancestry is currently the only website that offers subscription-based access to indexed transcriptions of the Scottish censuses from 1841-1901 and provides the references that you need to enter your Scottish relatives on your My Ancestors page.
If you don't have an Ancestry subscription the only online alternative is the ScotlandsPeople site, which is pay-per-view - so this weekend is a rare opportunity to add relatives who were recorded on the Scotland 1881 census to your My Ancestors page without it costing you a penny.
So I'm going to match Ancestry's offer and double it - until midnight on Tuesday you won't need to have a LostCousins subscription to contact a new cousin who shares your Scottish roots (ie if you have a match through the Scotland 1881 census), which gives you a real incentive to enter your Scottish relatives.
Tip: whilst the Findmypast website also has indexed transcriptions of the Scottish censuses it doesn't give the references. For Findmypast subscribers who have already looked up their relatives it's a great opportunity to add the missing details.
Earlier this month I explained how easy it is to check your entries from the English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish censuses simply by clicking the arrow symbol () alongside the entry - and as Ancestry is free this weekend it's a very good time to check your existing entries from the Scotland 1881 census.
Note: about 3% of records have a Registration number which ends in a letter, eg 329-B; these will initially produce no results, but if you edit the Ancestry search to remove the hyphen the search will work correctly. Do not change the entry on your My Ancestors page.
I had a wonderful response to my revelation that there are thousands of Sussex parish registers hidden at FamilySearch - and for some LostCousins members it has clearly transformed their research.
Something I didn't mention in the original article is that because what we're seeing are digital versions of the microfilms, the information is set out in the same way - and this means that often there will be more than one parish on a single roll of film. They tend to be organised alphabetically, so it's not difficult to work out how to find the parish you're looking for, but I thought I'd better mention it, since it can be confusing if the film starts with a different parish from the one you were expecting!
Also, as several readers pointed out, whilst the Sussex transcriptions say that there are no images available, they do give the film number and image number - so that's potentially a timesaver. I haven't had a chance to check whether all of the records in the registers that are online have been transcribed, but my guess is that they haven't. So don't assume that, just because you don't find the entry you're looking for when you search the transcriptions, the relevant register it isn't online.
Tip: although you can't download the images, because the button is disabled, you can right-click on the image, then choose 'Copy image' (or the equivalent in your browser). I then paste the image into the free Irfanview program that I've used nearly every day since it was originally recommended to me many years ago by a LostCousins member. There are other ways of doing it but that's the best, in my view.
LostCousins member Sue sent me through this wonderful story, and whilst it wasn't intended for publication I persuaded her to allow me to share it with you. I hope you find it as inspiring as I did!
My family research hit a 'brick wall' when I could not trace back from my maternal great grandparents - despite having a copy of their marriage certificate. I then found out that there was a possibility both were orphans. I found an entry in the 1881 census for both names at the Foundling Hospital in London. I contacted the Foundling Hospital Museum who referred me to the London Metropolitan Archives who held all their past records. This produced a veritable gold mine of information! It appears that the Hospital only accepted babies after a rigorous background investigation as to their circumstances. Interviews with the mother to establish that she was of previously 'good character', quite graphic accounts of how she became pregnant, and general investigations were all carefully logged and preserved. The babies were then baptised by the Hospital and given a totally new identity. They were fostered out and returned to the Hospital aged 5 to be educated and at 14 they were apprenticed into a trade. In my case, because my great grandfather remained working for the same company he was apprenticed to for much of his adult life I was able to verify that I had the right 'foundling'. With all of this new information I was finally able to piece the story together.
In June 1869 a young, destitute and heavily pregnant entered the Islington Workhouse. Margaret Strachan had been employed as a domestic servant in a large house in Islington. The father of her child was the son of her employer - he had promised to marry her, the banns having already been read in the local church. Just before the wedding he disappeared without trace. Margaret's employer dismissed her and refused to help. The baby, a girl, was born in the Workhouse. Unable to support herself and a child, Margaret was forced to give the child up for adoption. The Foundling Hospital took the 4 week old baby, gave her a new name and identity and educated her.
A similar story emerges involving another young woman - Eliza McLennan. Herself an orphan and employed as a domestic servant, Eliza found herself pregnant and destitute. The father of her child had promised marriage and then promptly disappeared. Eliza's son was born in the Westminster Workhouse in December 1870. She too was forced to give up her 3 week old son to the Foundling Hospital.
The two children, now known as Charlotte Pocock and Edward Clayton appear as classmates, aged 10 and 11 at the Foundling Hospital in the 1881 census. Four years later, aged 13 and 14, they leave and go their separate ways - Edward apprenticed as a Clerk and Charlotte into domestic service.
The next entry for them is 26 December 1899 at a church in Hornsey, London. Now aged 29 and 30 it is their Wedding Day! Although Charlotte is 3 months pregnant, this time history does not repeat itself and the marriage goes ahead. Their first child is Lilian, my maternal grandmother.
Nothing of this story was known to our family previously - my grandmother died in 1942 when her children were still young and this has remained the 'family secret' until now! The Foundling Hospital obviously did wonderful work - both the children were well educated and my great grandfather had a successful career as a surveyor after serving his apprenticeship. The LMA records were comprehensive and the detail they contained amazing - much of it in my ancestor's own hand - so you really felt you were touching history - 'goose bump' stuff!
As I mentioned to Sue, I've actually been to the Foundling Hospital Museum, but didn't realise that there are so many records held by the London Metropolitan Archives. Congratulations to Sue on her discoveries, and thanks too for sharing them with us. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some more 'brick walls' knocked down as a result of this article!
I've written before about how important the relationships with friends of the family can be when we're growing up - and I've previously mentioned my 'Auntie' Margaret, who became my mother's best friend during the war, when they both worked at the Ship Carbon factory.
Her future husband, 'Uncle' Les, was my first mentor - he was so patient, and so generous with his time. I wish he could have seen me in 1982 at the height of my success, but sadly he died 20 years earlier at the age of just 39.
My 'cousin' Chris was sorting out her mother's papers recently when she came across this postcard that my mother had sent to her mother in 1950, when she was still in the maternity home after giving birth to me.
There were two things that stood out for me - first I noticed that had Mum signed the note "Lilian & Baby". Clearly I had yet to be named - or at least, if the decision had been taken, my parents were keeping quiet about it.
And then I saw the P.S in the top left corner:
"He is a lovely baby!"
How wonderful to read that after 65 years - and almost 40 years after my mother passed away. To think that this pencilled postcard was kept for all that time - could either of them have imagined what joy it would bring to that "lovely baby", now old enough to collect his pension.....?
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 Ctrl-F5) then check here before writing to me, in case someone else has beaten you to it......
That's all for this issue - apologies for not including the promised adoption story this time, but it will be in the next issue, along with my review of a new book on adoption.