Newsletter – 18th June 2022
One day left to save 25% at Findmypast ENDS SUNDAY
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 15th June) 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):
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One day left to save 25% at Findmypast ENDS SUNDAY
You can still save 25% on a Findmypast Pro subscription – but only if you’re quick. The offer ends at midnight (London time) tomorrow, Sunday – and if recent history is a guide, there might not be another opportunity for such savings before November (at the earliest). This offer is open to everyone, except those who have current subscriptions.
Findmypast’s offer is not exclusive to LostCousins – but only readers of this newsletter can get a bonus, a free 12 month LostCousins subscription. This will be awarded if we receive commission on your purchase – please click the appropriate link below, note the precise time of the purchase (to the nearest minute), and send me an email with the time, date, and amount paid. Your LostCousins subscription will run from the date of your purchase unless you’re already a LostCousins subscriber, in which case I’ll extend your subscription by 12 months.
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You may recall that in the last issue there was an article entitled Missing from the 1939 Register? followed immediately by another headed A double marriage with a difference, about the marriages between Herbert Jeapes and May Bond. The second article ended with a comment about the trivial sum that May left when she died in 1953, but my investigation into why that might have been was hindered by the fact that I couldn’t find them on the 1939 Register.
Why couldn’t I find them? Because I only looked on Findmypast, and not Ancestry – even though that was the core piece of advice in the first article! My only excuse is that those articles weren’t written in the order in which they appeared in the newsletter – indeed, when I wrote the article about Herbert and May’s double marriage I hadn’t planned an article on the 1939 Register.
I certainly can’t blame the transcribers – in each case their interpretations of the handwriting were perfectly feasible. What really hindered me in my search was the fact that Herbert and May weren’t together on Registration Day – May was in Surrey with her son Anthony and his family, whilst Herbert was in Buckinghamshire living in a big house with a housekeeper (many thanks to Maria who wrote in to tell me where May was living). What’s not clear is how permanent that arrangement was, though I couldn’t help noticing that the unmarried housekeeper had a 3-year-old daughter, and wondering who the father was. If Herbert and May were living separate lives by 1935 it would help to explain why May left so little when she died intestate in 1953.
I don’t mind admitting that I got it wrong – but I certainly won’t ignore my advice again. Will you?
The other case study in the last issue involved the amazing discovery that I’m related to one of my cousins on both sides of my tree (and both sides of his). I knew we were 2nd cousins on our mothers’ sides (though we’ve never met), but finding out that we were also 5th cousins once removed on our fathers’ sides was totally unexpected.
In 20 years of research nothing like this has ever happened to me before, so you could have knocked me down with a feather when I received an email from a LostCousins member who is the widow of a 2nd cousin once removed on my mother’s side, telling me that she’s also descended from Abraham Anthoney and Rebecca Denton, so we’re 6th cousins one removed on my father’s side. Two amazing coincidences in the course of a week – perhaps I should buy a lottery ticket this weekend?
Note: two other LostCousins members wrote in to tell me that they’re descended from Abraham and Rebecca – but that’s not nearly so surprising considering that the newsletter goes out to 70,000 experienced family historians with British ancestry, especially when you consider that we each have around 200,000 relatives who are our 6th cousin or closer.
Two weeks ago I was marooned at the end of the 18th century, working on this part of my tree on my own – now there are at least 5 of us puzzling over the same 17th century ‘brick walls’. Some blinkered people aren’t interested in finding such distant cousins – more fool them!
Of course, if the only way to find cousins researching the same lines was to get an article published in a large circulation newsletter or journal there wouldn’t be much progress made – but fortunately, as a LostCousins member you can make the connections much more easily, simply by completing your My Ancestors page; indeed, that’s how I would have connected with my own cousins had I not rushed into print.
However, do remember that ALL of your living cousins are descended from the collateral lines of your tree (what I normally call the ‘branches’), so it’s the relatives from those lines that are most likely to connect you to them. A good strategy is to start with all the relatives you know about in 1841, whether you can find them on that census or not, then track each branch and twig until you get to 1881.
If you live in the UK you can still save 25% on Ancestry DNA tests – and make discoveries like the ones I’ve written about (and the ones I can’t write about because they involve adoptees and others who didn’t know who their parents were).
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Tip: if the link doesn’t work first time please log-out and click the link again (even if the offer page appears when you log-out); also remember that you don’t have to specify who will be testing when you place your order.
In December 2013 I contracted dengue fever while on holiday in St Lucia – yes, I know it sounds glamorous and expensive, but it was the cheap season and my Tesco Clubcard Rewards vouchers covered most of the cost.
On the NHS website it says of dengue fever “The symptoms normally pass after about 1 week, although you may feel tired and slightly unwell for several weeks afterwards“. Make that a couple of years! In fact, more than 8 years later I still have some symptoms of the illness, thankfully minor ones – unless I’m right about my peripheral neuropathy being caused by the virus, something that all the medical experts pooh-poohed at the time, but now seems to be supported by more recent research papers.
The reason I’m dragging up this virus from nearly a decade ago is because my experience seems to be mirrored by that of many people who have caught COVID-19 over the past couple of years. It’s estimated that 2 million people in the UK are currently suffering from ‘long COVID’, and whilst that’s only a small fraction of the number who have caught the disease since the pandemic began, it’s not something one can ignore (it’s 8 times the number of people who have ME/CFS – chronic fatigue syndrome).
Infections are on the rise in the UK – well over half a million people contracted COVID in the latest week for which ONS (Office for National Statistics) survey figures are available, and this year’s figures compare unfavourably with 2021. It seems that the Omicron variants may be less likely to cause long COVID, but as an expert quoted in this BBC article points out, this is cancelled out by the greater transmissibility of the variants – which must be further enhanced by the considerably reduced level of social distancing and mask-wearing, and the fact that the level of protection against infection provided by past vaccine doses is virtually nil for those of us who have yet to be offered a 4th dose.
Almost exactly 18 months ago I reviewed Charles I’s Executioners by James Hobson, in which the author wrote about some the lesser-known characters of the English Civil Wars, providing a refreshing perspective on that troubled time. In his latest book, Radical Victorians: the Women and Men Who Dared to Think Differently, the author takes a similar approach in tackling the free thinkers of the Victorian era, picking characters whose views were so out of step with their contemporaries that it was only in the 20th century that they were acted upon.
That doesn’t mean that modern readers will find them sympathetic characters, nor that we will agree with their arguments – in some cases what was outrageous then is accepted now, but in other cases it’s considered even more outrageous than in Victorian times. A good example of the latter is Francis Galton, now mostly remembered for eugenics, and almost as reviled as Hitler (though the author argues convincingly that Galton has been unfairly condemned). Less controversial in our day are those who stood up for women’s rights – but whilst one of them has a surname that you’ll know well, he’s not one of the Pankhursts that you’d normally associate with that movement (he was their husband and father, the one who gave them their distinctive surname).
What I gained from this book was a much broader view of Victorian society than usual – and not just the middle classes, though most of the key characters did come from relatively privileged backgrounds. In the course of the journey I discovered answers to questions I’d pondered over many years – and to questions I’d never previously thought to ask. In terms of the insight it gave me into the period it bears comparison with the 6 week course (one evening a week) that my wife and I attended at the Victoria & Albert Museum in the mid-1990s – even though the subject matter was quite different.
I came to this book having recently watched the 26-part adaptation of Trollope’s Palliser novels, which are largely about politics in the mid-Victorian era – so it followed on quite well. Whilst it’s not written specifically for family historians you’ll encounter many familiar topics within its pages. Just don’t expect to sympathise with all of these radicals – you won’t!
I read the hardback edition, but it’s also available on Kindle. Out now in the UK (and discounted at Amazon), and at the end of the month in the US, but you might have to wait a little longer in other territories:
My wife has once again contributed an article on a subject that is proving very popular with readers – and she would like to thank all of those who have written in to say how much they’ve enjoyed previous articles. Perhaps in a year or so you’ll be able to send in a photo of a plant you’ve grown following one of Siân’s recommendations?
Last Saturday was much hotter than forecast and I soon gave up on the weeding to sit and admire a slightly sunken, south facing area of the garden that was planted up with shrubs and perennials about a year ago (I don’t bother with annuals except when growing vegetables). The idea was to create a ‘hot’ colour palate of summer blooms, with foliage ranging from the acid yellow of spirea japonica through to the darker plums of corkscrew hazel and dark-leaved roses. I added weeping crab apple and Cheals cherry for spring blossom, height, and a little shade. The combination sounds slightly chaotic- and it is already wonderfully so!
The number of roses planted was a surprise until I remembered having bought a dozen ‘lost label’ bare root roses that eventually needed somewhere to live. It was a large area to fill, so they went in at random. I was now wondering what they were, having noticed that some were substantially larger than others; all of them were stunning and highly fragrant.
As with genealogy, the internet has revolutionised and democratised gardening. We can discover in minutes what might once have taken several weeks of asking around, letter writing, or leafing through a limited range of books. Few people would have had the opportunity to substantially expand their knowledge or skills beyond what was already known locally. Within moments I was searching online to identify these anonymous beauties while still admiring them in the sunshine. A friend phoned for a chat; she was unimpressed and mystified as to why I would even bother. But it takes a lot of dedication to breed a rose of lasting quality. I wanted to understand something about their origins and character- and a rose with no name just doesn’t seem right.
It is possible to use a plant identification app, but I searched the internet based on features such as overall size, leaf colour, type, colouring and shape of bloom, fragrance and flowering season. There are thousands of registered roses worldwide, yet within 30 minutes or so I had a strong shortlist to match most of the roses. At this point, any genealogical researcher would caution against applying certainty to what sounds like unbelievable luck – I will study how the roses change over time to inform further research, but for now they all have tentative names which coincidentally lead back to the same rose breeder in France. If this is the case, then at a mere £3 each I am delighted – especially as they may be harder to obtain post-Brexit.
Another so-called ‘ground cover’ rose from an anonymous bulk pack has grown into a handsome glossy-leaved, delicate pale pink bush rose. I now believe it to be Our Beth, affectionately named in memory of a woman who worked in the offices of rose breeder Peter Beales for several years. Frankly, this seems more meaningful than naming a rose after a celebrity! My efforts to identify it also led to the realisation that many roses are edible – although sampling a few of my David Austin rose petals left a nasty taste in the mouth! I found this article which contains some amazing recipes, including one that looks deliciously tempting for all the wrong reasons – Rose Vodka.
Later that day, my research efforts prompted a moment of happy extravagance. I placed an order for some potted shrub roses from the German breeder Kordes for my nephew in Germany, having learned that he is keen to make his garden as lovely as his house. I knew of this breeder only by chance, having felt sorry for a half dead £5 supposedly “red climbing rose” in a DIY store. It grew into a nutmeg-sweet, yellow-apricot Kordes Westerland rose. The surprise delivery arrived yesterday, a few days after my nephew learned that one of his German uncles had passed away. Gardening is all about creating new memories: we plant today, often reflecting on the past, to create a more beautiful tomorrow. I could not have timed it better, and hope that planting his new roses brings him solace now, and pleasure for many years to come.
Yesterday I took delivery of two potted Nostalgie roses; substantial raspberry-ripple blooms held high on a neat bush rose which is perfect for a pot or gap in the border. They are about 2 ½ feet tall in their pots and covered in blooms. Highly recommended, but you’ll need to be quick: follow this link.
However, most of the plants delivered were ferns, also bought on special offer. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were large enough to divide before planting – which is best done with a wet root ball and working from the base upwards (and if necessary, using a small saw to cut through the woody bit at the top). Like all the shrubs and perennials planted in my garden, I give the root ball a light dusting of rootgrow (mycorrhizal fungus) just before planting. This is expensive but you don’t need a lot – and it does stimulate root growth. However it only works when the fungus is in direct contact with the roots, so don’t be tempted to just mix it into the soil or the water.
The fern offer (5 for £39.99) was still going when I checked just now. I have bought plenty because they are versatile, attractive in many shady locations, large enough to establish quickly – and pest-free. Their foliage lends an ethereal, timeless beauty lasting from spring to late autumn.
Talking of ethereal plants, a passing interest in the alpine Rapunzel flower led to me discover the sublimely delicate artwork of the botanical painter and author Mariella Baldwin. At some point I will study her paintings of flowers that have inspired folk stories more closely. Some of her work can be viewed here.
Now it might seem the very definition of madness (or obsession) to have been planting on the hottest day of the year, with the temperature in south-east England reaching 32C or higher yesterday afternoon. However, many people create beautiful gardens and grow food in warm climates around the world, and getting a plant into deep, damp ground is surely better than letting the roots cook in a black plastic pot. I spent the morning planting 6 large shrubs in a shady spot – and although this required extensive use of the hosepipe at each stage, they are now off to an excellent start. But I will wait for cooler temperatures before planting in sunnier locations. Plants waiting their turn are kept in a shady spot, stood in large plastic growbag (or greenhouse) trays where they can be easily watered and monitored for health. It’s a handy way to make the most of summer bargains – with the caveat that planting out and maintaining good moisture levels is harder work during the summer. Mulch can help a great deal with this.
There are some good summer bargains in the UK at present – especially roses and hydrangeas, but also hardy geraniums (cranesbills) and other valuable perennials. Hydrangeas are very forgiving to a point; they need plenty of water, but also adequate drainage. I almost lost a sizeable hydrangea paniculata Polar Bear by planting it in a dip. It has since been moved to an equally sunny spot with better drainage. Similarly, I moved a non-flowering mophead from shade to a sunnier patch where it formed flower heads within days. They instantly tell you what they need. I have read that paniculatas cope better in direct sunlight than the classic mopheads or the lacy woodland-edge serrulatas, which both prefer some shade during the day. The range of hydrangeas is extensive and if the football-sized white, blue, and yellow mopheads are not to your taste, I can recommend the lime-vanilla-blush palleted paniculatas, both for elegance and subtle colour changes from mid-summer through to the close of the season.
If you’re in the UK there some good offers on potted roses and hydrangeas at the moment. These highly desirable potted roses are well worth a splurge, and you’ll find large hydrangea plants at keen prices here (I can certainly vouch for their size and vigour!). Or for a more extensive selection of available varieties follow this link; the plants are smaller, but hydrangeas tend to grow faster than many other shrubs and will soon catch up.
Talking of size and vigour (as my wife was in the previous article), I don’t remember seeing this 2017 article at the time, but it’s quite astonishing to read how the bodies of British men changed over the course of half a century. Mind you, in 1967 I was already 7in taller and a stone heavier than the average adult male – though I was still legally a child.
When I started travelling to school by train in the early ‘60s my mother used to make me cheese sandwiches (with Ryvita, rather than bread) as it was quite a long day; inevitably the once-crisp Ryvita was well-soggy by the time I got to eat my mid-morning snack, but I wolfed it down all the same; these days I have to be more careful about what – or rather, how much – I eat. I was never a great fan of Ryvita, but by chance I recently discovered Finn Crisp sourdough rye thins, which are wonderful with cheese (and only 20 calories in each, though you won’t be able to stop with one).
These delicious crisp breads are on special offer in Tesco until Tuesday – just 93p per pack rather than £1.25 (though if recent experience is anything to go by, when the promotion ends the regular price will go up). Many of the food items I buy regularly have gone up by 10% to 15% since the Ukraine war began – I’m sure you’ve noticed the same. Thankfully I don’t have to buy diesel any more: charging my electric car costs less than £10 at the moment, though things will change when our fixed price electricity deal ends In August. That said, it could actually be cheaper – it all depends which EV tariff we switch to.
But one thing that won’t be going up, at least not if I can help it, is the LostCousins subscription – at just £10 for 12 months, the same price as in 2005, people tell me it’s a bargain (and who am I to disagree). Even better, if you really can’t afford £10 you don’t have to buy a subscription at all – genealogy shouldn’t be just for the landed gentry!
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