Newsletter - 22nd June 2018
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The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous newsletter (dated 15th June) click here; to find earlier articles use the customised Google search below (it searches ALL of the newsletters since February 2009, so you don't need to keep copies):
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Summer savings END SUNDAY
Whilst the Father's Day offers finished long ago, there are two attractive offers still running - but you'll have to be quick, because they both finish at midnight (London time) on Sunday.
At Ancestry.co.uk you can save 20% on DNA tests. The shipping costs arenít discounted, but you can save on shipping when you order multiple tests, because the cost reduces from £20 to £10 for each kit after the first, ie £20 for 1, £30 for 2, £40 for 3.
At Findmypast you can save 10% on most 12 month subscriptions, and get 15% off when you renew next year, and get a free LostCousins subscription worth up to £12.50! Please follow the instructions in my last newsletter carefully, otherwise LostCousins won't receive any commission and you wonít get your free subscription.
Note: the Findmypast offer applies at ALL of their websites - see the last issue for details of which subscriptions are included.
It's over two and a half years since Findmypast launched the 1939 Register - according to my diary it was 2nd November 2015, which seems like a lifetime ago when I consider how far my research has come since then. I was on my computer in the early hours of the morning hoping to be one of the first, and you can still read what I discovered during the first week at the special website I set up, 1939register.info
The recent launch of Ancestry's version of the register was a bit of an eye-opener - not because I found records that I'd previously missed, but because I discovered that a significant minority of LostCousins members had never accessed the 1939 Register before, even though it had been online for well over 2 years. As a result many readers of this newsletter arenít familiar with Inside the 1939 Register, a special edition of the newsletter which explores this unique resource in great detail, focusing particularly on how it differs from censuses. First published in January 2016, but updated and greatly expanded since, it's a veritable goldmine of information.
If youíre new to the 1939 Register you probably won't be aware that there are additional search options at Findmypast - in particular, you can search by address. This is a handy feature that Findmypast first introduced for the censuses, and it really comes into its own in 1939 - because for some researchers 1939 is within living memory, so they know where their family were livingÖ.. or think they do (there was a war on, after all).
You never know what you're going to find in the 1939 Register - Frances spotted this entry in Bath:
© Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England - used by kind permission of Findmypast
Do you know how some of the soldiers who survived the Great War came to take on the name 'Old Contemptibles'? Apparently it was based on a remark of Kaiser Wilhelm, who reputedly referred to the British Expeditionary Force in 1914 as a "contemptible little army", though no evidence has been found that he actually said it. The last of the 'old contemptibles' was Alfred Anderson, who died in 2005 at the age of 109 (you can find out more in this BBC article).
Tip: if the discounted offer of a 12 month subscription has come at the wrong time, cashflow-wise, donít worry - you can now get unlimited access to Findmypast's version of the 1939 Register for just £12.95 when you purchase a 1 Month Plus subscription (just remember to change the setting if you donít want to renew automatically).
Last week Findmypast added 691,000 records to their collection of medical records from WW1, provided by the National Archives. I haven't found any of my relatives in the collection yet, but I shall keep trying! You can search the collection here.
Several improvements have been made to the online service provided by the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages - when searching for historic events the search results now include the precise date. There are tips on searching the indexes here - and whilst the cost of a digital image at $21.40 makes the PDFs in England & Wales seem cheap by comparison, there's no waiting.
I was able to find 6 children born to Charles Sylvester, my 1st cousin twice removed, after he and his wife Martha emigrated to Queensland in the 1880s - and with luck I'll be able to find some of their grandchildren too (births more than 100 years ago and marriage more than 75 years ago are regarded as historic).
An interesting new feature is that instead of purchasing a digital certificate, researchers can - at a similar cost - get an image of the original registration form completed by the informant. And before you ask, to the best of my knowledge these have not survived in England & Wales.
There are two types of people with an interest in family trees - there are researchers, and there are people who expect everything to be handed to them on a plate. I doubt that anyone reading this newsletter fits into the latter category, but I'm sure you've all have come across people who do.
Having established that youíre a researcher, let's have a think about what some of the key attributes of a researcher are. First and foremost a researcher has an enquiring mind: curiosity may have killed the cat, but it's a big advantage to a researcher. True, there are times when you may go off on a tangent, but think of all the serendipitous discoveries you've made as a result of following up leads.
Secondly, you need to have determination - if you give up simply because the answer doesnít land in your lap then you wonít get far in your research (or in life, for that matter). At the same time you need to be flexible - there's no point banging your head against one particular 'brick wall' just because you've got a bee in your bonnet about it, when there many other 'brick walls' in your tree that deserve your attention (and there always are). Flexibility and open-mindedness go hand in hand - don't dismiss evidence simply because it doesn't fit your theory, because it may be that the evidence is right, and your theory is wrong.
And whilst this might seem blindingly obvious, I'm going to say it anyway. You can't be a researcher unless you are prepared to research - which means finding out what records exist that might help, hunting them down, then looking them up. As far as possible you need to do things yourself, rather than relying on others - distance might prevent you visiting a particular record office, but it doesn't stop you looking up their website and searching their online catalogue to see what they have in their collection. It's only by doing things yourself that youíre going to gain experience - so when youíre wondering whether records of this or that have survived, and if so where they might be found, donít send me an email or post a question on a forum unless you've already done the basics yourself.
Here are some things you can (and should) do yourself before asking someone else for help:
A word about forums - a good proportion of the information posted on forums is either misleading or completely wrong, so don't believe anything you read unless you have checked it out. The LostCousins Forum is rather different - the information has been verified (but even so it could be out of date).
Tip: if you've earned the right to join the LostCousins forum you'll find a link and a code on your My Summary page; if you donít yet qualify you can still read what others have written by following this link.
A court in Romania has ruled that Constantin Reliu is dead, even though Mr Reliu was standing in the court. After going to Turkey to find work he lost touch with his family, and in 2003 he was declared dead - but it's now too late to appeal against the issue of the certificate. You can read more about the story in this article on the Guardian website.
A story in the news this week that caught my eye was that of the man in his 50s who was stolen from his parents as a baby, but later reunited with themÖ or so it was thought. In fact DNA proved that he was not the child of the couple he grew up with, and eventually he found out who he really was (though there are still many unknowns, not least the whereabouts of the baby stolen in 1964). You can read all about this fascinating story on the BBC website - you'll find it here.
The Registrar General for England & Wales is currently engaged in a High Court case in which a transgender individual who was born a woman, but gave birth after s/he had legally become a man, is asking to be recognised as the father of the child, rather than as the mother. According to this BBC News report the man is accusing the GRO of discrimination and breaching "his human right to respect for private and family life".
Why were thousands of Mexicans baptised at Chester-le-Street during the 19th century? Here's just a few of them:
There are many more - just follow this link to FamilySearch (you'll need to log-in to your free account).
Surprised? You should be - and it just goes to show how important it is to check images, rather than simply relying on transcriptions. In reality these individuals didnít travel to England at all - they were baptised in Mexico, but somewhere along the line the database has become corrupted.
They say that "if you can remember the 1960s" you weren't there, though I was and I can - but itís certainly true that there's nobody alive today who can remember the 1600s, the 1700s, or even the 1800s. Researched, collected, and compiled by Edward Armitage, with help from his son Richard, The Way We Lived Then charts the changes in everyday life between 1600 and the late 20th century using recollections that have been published elsewhere.
Whilst it's true that some of the pieces selected have been taken from works of fiction, such as Lark Rise and Akenfield, they're generally books that are acknowledged as being semi-autobiographical. I'm not so sure about Towers in the Mist - Elizabeth Goudge is not an author I'd previously heard of, but as she was born in 1900 she clearly can't be writing from memory about things that happened 300 years earlier. But whatever the provenance, most of the pieces left me wanting to know more - and that's always a good sign!
I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the worlds in which their ancestors lived. I paid just under £3 (including shipping) for my second-hand copy in excellent condition, and when I last checked there were several used copies available at Amazon at similar prices. Donít confuse it with other books of the same name (though they might, for all I know, be equally good).
A lot of readers have written to thank me for the tip about refunds in respect of Powers of Attorney registered in England or Wales between April 2013 and March 2017 - some are getting more than £100 back! If you missed my original article you'll find it here.
Another surprisingly popular tip was the one in the last newsletter for the little roller - I initially didnít include a link and was swamped with emails from member asking me where they could buy it!
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......
© Copyright 2018 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?