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Newsletter – 31st May 2024



Save on Ancestry DNA NEW OFFERS

GRO increases prices for online services

The 1961 Census

Review: Counting Heads

Where were your ancestors in 1851?

So good they named him twice

Don’t forget the Masterclasses!

Invasion of the body snatchers

Police history online

What happened to Quarter Sessions?

Who Do You Think You are? magazine LAST CHANCE – ENDS TODAY


Peter’s Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 24th May) 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!



Save on Ancestry DNA NEW OFFERS

There are big savings on Ancestry DNA tests for readers who live in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand – and whilst Ancestry’s tests certainly aren’t the cheapest, they are very definitely the best (and I’ve tried all of the tests from all of the major companies). Even if you had to pay twice as much – as I did when bought my first Ancestry DNA test – it would still be worth it.


The offers have already begun, and will run until 6th June at Ancestry.com.au and until 16th June at the UK and Canada sites. Wherever you live, and wherever your ancestors came from, it’s a great opportunity to fill in some of the gaps in your family tree using the ONLY record that doesn’t lie! Please use the appropriate link below so that you can support LostCousins with your purchase – if it doesn’t work first time please log-out from Ancestry and then click the link again, just to make sure:


Ancestry Canada
Canada Father’s Day Offer: Save up to $65 on AncestryDNA®.


Ancestry UK
UK Father’s Day Offer: Save 30% on AncestryDNA®.Offer ends 16 Jun 2024


Australia: Delve Deeper with AncestryDNA - Save Up To $54*.


Of course, while DNA doesn’t lie, it’s possible to misinterpret the results if you don’t know what you’re doing – so ensure you not only read my DNA Masterclass, but also follow the simple, straightforward steps that you’ll find there.



GRO increases prices for online services

There’s bad news for family historians with ancestors from England & Wales: with effect from 28th May the cost of viewing historic birth and death entries online has gone up significantly. The Online View service, which provides instant online access, was launched last July at £2.50, but from now on you’ll have to pay £3 (an increase of 20%). Ironically the latest annual inflation figure is just 2.3%, though as we all know to our cost it has been much higher than that for most of the past three years.


At the same time the cost of PDF copies of entries has increased from £7 to £8 (it was £6 when the service was first trialled in November 2016). There is usually a turnaround time of just under a week for PDF copies, which are also delivered online – the delay and higher cost reflect the human involvement in the process.



The Registration of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Fees and Records) (Amendment) Regulations 2024 can be found here – you will see that there are also increases in the cost of some other services (for example, a certificate now costs £12.50 when ordered online, or £17 when ordered by phone or by post). This Explanatory Memorandum is easier to follow.


Note: we now know why the GRO site was closed for ‘scheduled maintenance’ two weekends ago.



The 1961 Census revealed

Early this month I shared with you a blank household schedule from the 1951 Census – I hope you’ve downloaded a copy for your records. I’m glad to say that I’ve now found a site with a PDF copy of the household schedules used in England and Wales for the 1961 Census – you will find them on this page.


In 1961 a 10% sample of households were given a more detailed form to complete – Part I had the same questions as on the standard schedule, Part II asked for academic and/or professional qualifications as well as occupational information (similar to the 1921 Census), Part III asked for information about people who were temporarily absent.


If you followed the link to the page I recommended above you’ll have seen a picture of the IBM 705 mainframe computer that processed the results – or rather, part of it, because it would have filled a room. If it was the top of the range model it would have had 80k of memory, and whilst that’s 10 times the memory of the first home computer I bought (in 1978), and 5 times the minimum memory of the first IBM PC (launched in 1981), it’s trifling in modern terms (you’d need 100,000 times as much memory to run Windows 11). The 700-series of computers was valve-based – before long it would be chips with everything.  



Review: Counting Heads

Do you remember the short Look at Life documentaries that were produced by the Rank Organisation and shown in the Gaumont and Odeon cinemas? Hundreds of them are now available on DVD, and I recently purchased volume 5 in the series, which has 64 films in the ‘cultural heritage’ category. I chose this volume because the first film on Disc 2, entitled Counting Heads, takes a look at the 1961 Census. You don’t have to be interested in family history to enjoy this nostalgic look at the way things were done then, but if you are then it’s particularly fascinating. And it’s amazing how much they can fit into a 10 minute documentary!


And there are 63 other films, most of which I’ve yet to watch – but it’s certainly a nostalgic feast for the eyes (and the ears – commentators don’t speak that way any more!).  You can see a list of all the titles with a brief description of each if you follow this link (they’re in the review by Colin Smith – it was the top review when I checked just now).


If you’re lucky you may catch some of these films on TV – Stephen, the member who recommended Counting Heads to me, caught it by chance on the Talking Pictures channel. But I prefer to watch things at my leisure, and £17 for over 10 hours of nostalgic viewing isn’t a bad deal.



Where were your ancestors in 1851?

This month The Genealogist added the 1851 Census to their innovative Map Explorer, which already features the 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911 Censuses, as well as the 1939 Register.


Of course, they’re not miracle workers – if the census doesn’t give the address of the property it won’t be possible to identify the precise location – but when it works it’s really impressive! Just to give you a flavour of what you can expect, there’s a 20 minute video on YouTube where Mark Bayley demonstrates Map Explorer. It’s well over a year old so won’t show the full current capabilities, but you’ll nevertheless get a feeling for how it works.


I’ve arranged an exclusive discount offer with The Genealogist – you can get their top subscription, a 12 month Diamond Subscription, for just £89.95, a saving of £50 – and you’re guaranteed to pay the same reduced price so long as you keep it going (they call it a Lifetime Discount). And as an extra bonus, in the first year you’ll also get a 12 month subscription to the online magazine Discover Your Ancestors (worth £24.99).


To take up this offer please follow this link.


Tip: at The Genealogist you can search in ways that users of other sites can only dream of – it’s the site I turn to if I’m really desperate to find someone in the census.



So good they named him twice

It’s not unusual for the eldest son to be named after his father and it’s perfectly normal for children to take their father’s surname. But this example from 1867 is just a little bit different:


© Image produced by permission of Manchester City Council and reproduced by kind permission of Ancestry


Scholes Scholes, the eldest son of Scholes Scholes was baptised at St Andrew’s, Ancoats, Manchester in September 1867. In fact, he came from a long line of Scholes Scholes – not only was his father Scholes Scholes, his grandfather was also Scholes Scholes. And yes, you’ve guessed it – his great-grandfather was also Scholes Scholes.


Looking at that baptism register entry cold you might possibly have misread ‘Scholes’ as ‘Scholar’. Funnily enough in the 1881 Census the 14 year-old Scholes Scholes was indeed a ‘Scholar’:


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


 I wonder what it was like for Scholes Scholes, scholar, at school – did he get mocked and bullied because of his name? But even if he was, it didn’t prevent him from giving his own eldest son the same name in  ceremony at All Saints, West Gorton in 1888:


© Image produced by permission of Manchester City Council and reproduced by kind permission of Ancestry


No doubt the question uppermost in your mind is “Did the youngest Scholes Scholes continue the family tradition?”. Sadly we’ll never know whether he planned to do so – he died on 3rd March 1912, 9 months to the day after his marriage to Emily Phillips. His posthumous son was born on 27th June 1912:



As you can see, he was registered as Samuel, but we can only speculate as to whether that would have been his father’s choice.



Don’t forget the Masterclasses!

A lot of people are attracted to LostCousins by the newsletters, which are designed to appeal to serious researchers like you and me - and by all accounts it seems that readers find them enjoyable as well as informative. On 4 or 5 occasions each year the newsletter includes a Masterclass – usually an updated version of the previous edition from a year or two earlier.


The aim of the Masterclasses is to set down on paper just about everything there is to know about a particular topic – not so much to educate, because we’re all experienced researchers, but to remind us of the basic principles and the key resources, things that were once second nature, but are all too easily forgotten as we learn more sophisticated techniques. And you will occasionally come across something you didn’t know about before, whether because it’s a newly-released resource, or maybe as a result of your research taking a different turn and ending up in uncharted territory.


If you are a LostCousins subscriber, ie you’ve paid a subscription, you’ll have access to the Subscribers’ Only page, which has links to the latest edition of each of the Masterclasses, as well as to key issues of the newsletter which comprehensively dealt with new resources such as the 1939 Register, which is a bit like a census but is different in more ways than most people realise (even though it was released nearly 7 years ago, I still get emails from people who are getting to grips with the differences!).


Of course, you don’t have to pay a subscription to access the Masterclasses – they’re free for everyone, and you can find them simply by putting the word ‘masterclass’ into the customised Google search near the top of any newsletter. But if you are supporting LostCousins by contributing it’s that much easier (and you can be sure you have found the latest revision).


So please make use of the Masterclasses – not only will it be to your advantage, it will allow me to spend more time writing newsletters and dealing with truly exceptional problems. And maybe, just maybe, spending some time on my OWN family tree!



Invasion of the body snatchers

My wife recently came across this fascinating online article about body snatching in the Essex village of Little Leighs, in 1823. Just one of the culprits was caught, and he wasn’t convicted of stealing the body of poor Joanna Chinnery – only of stealing her clothes. Nevertheless, when Samuel Clarke was found guilty at Essex Quarter Sessions in January 1824 he was sentenced to 7 years transportation. Several of the newspaper reports of this case in the British Newspaper Archive are free to view – you can see them here, on the Findmypast site.


Note: you will need to log-in or register at Findmypast, but you won’t need to take a free trial or provide any payment information. Over a million articles are free to view, and you can restrict your search to free articles if you wish.


Body snatchers (sometime called ‘resurrectionists’) sold the corpses to medical schools for use in training doctors. But William Burke and William Hare couldn’t wait for people to die before stealing their bodies: they murdered 16 people in Edinburgh rather than stealing the corpses of people who had already passed away. Hare was offered immunity from prosecution in return for turning King’s Evidence: Burke was hanged, following which his body was dissected and his skeleton displayed in the Anatomical Museum of Edinburgh Medical School (where it remains – you can see it here).


The exploits of Burke and Hare inspired others to emulate them – the newspapers of the day called them ‘Burkers’, as you can see from this 1831 article, also free at Findmypast. Their exploits led to the passing of the Anatomy Act 1832, which imposed restrictions on the supply of corpses. You can find out more about body snatchers in this PDF document on the National Archives website – though designed for schoolchildren, it’s far more interesting and informative than anything we were given in our history lessons in the 1950s and 1960s!



Police history online

When I wrote about the history of women in policing a month ago I didn’t realise quite how much information there is online about police history generally. For example, the document about the Little Leighs body snatcher is just one of more than 60 free PDF documents on the website of the Essex Police Museum – there is a list of titles here.


Was The Essex Bungalow Murder a title inspired by Horace Rumpole’s most famous case – The Penge Bungalow Murders – or was it the other way round? John Mortimer’s novel was published in 2004, though it was set in the 1950s, and frequently alluded to by Rumpole in Mortimer’s earlier writings (it was his greatest triumph – Rumpole’s, not Mortimer’s).


In that earlier article I provided a link to Greater Manchester Police Museum. In the capital, London’s Metropolitan Police doesn’t have a lot of information online, but there is an excellent research guide which you can download here (it includes links to records at the National Archives, some of which can be downloaded free of charge). If you are aware of resources for police forces in other areas, please post then on the LostCousins Forum.


Tip: if you qualify for membership of the forum you’ll find a link on your My Summary page.



What happened to Quarter Sessions?

In England the first Justices of the Peace (JP) were appointed following a 1327 statute. Chosen for their standing in the community, rather than their legal know-how, they would try people for minor crimes such as petty theft or drunkenness at Petty Sessions, but refer more serious crimes to the Quarter Sessions which were held 4 times each year in the main towns in each county.


At the Quarter Sessions two or more JPs would hear cases in the presence of a jury, but crimes which were punishable by death were referred to the Assizes. During the 1700s the number of capital offences increased significantly, so many prisoners were tried before a visiting judge at the Assizes, which were also held in the main county towns. As early as 12th century six judicial ‘circuits’ were established, and ‘circuit judges’ are so called because they literally go round the circuit, trying cases at the Assizes. I understand that in terms of seniority they are below High Court judges, but above district judges.


Note: this page on the Bar Council website shows the areas covered by each circuit.


The records of Quarter Sessions are usually held in the local record office, so you are very likely to have come across them, either when visiting in person or online. For example, if you follow this link you can see what Ancestry have on their site, or use this link for Findmypast – but you’ll also find that some record offices have indexed their quarter sessions records, or have done so with the help of volunteers (see this Staffordshire index), and there are some other indexes on line – for example, there is a partial index to West Kent Quarter Sessions for the period 1692-1713 (it was created by a LostCousins member in Canada using the LDS microfilm).


But if you’re wondering why we don’t hear about Quarter Sessions in modern times, the Courts Act of 1971 replaced them (and Assizes) with Crown Courts – this followed the recommendations of a Royal Commission chaired by Lord Beeching, better known as Dr Beeching during his brief tenure as Chairman of British Railways in the early 1960s. (Prior to this two Crown Courts had been established in the 1950s, in Liverpool and Manchester.)



Who Do You Think You are? magazine LAST CHANCE

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.


Tip: these offers were due to end on 31st May, but were still live when I checked on the morning of 1st June.




In late 2007, a few years before my father and my mother’s sister passed away, I recorded interviews with them so that I wasn’t reliant on hastily-scribbled notes or my all-too-fallible memory. Re-watching the recordings over the past week I’ve picked up things that I missed the first time round.


For example, when I was talking to my father about his schooldays – which were cut short when he contracted TB – he mentioned the names of some of his schoolfriends at Ilford County High. One name in particular stood out at the time because it was so unusual that I asked my father to spell it – and though he couldn’t remember the boy’s first name, the surname Chacksfield was so unusual that I had no difficulty identifying him in the 1921 Census and the 1939 Register (resources that, sadly, only became available years after my father’s death).


I wish I had been able to look them up at the time because it transpired that in 1921 the elder brother of Robert Chacksfield (my father’s pal) was working as a compositor for Waterlow & Sons – the printing company that my father worked for in the late 1950s (long before Robert Maxwell took them over and ran them into the ground). My father had run his own small printing business, but when he joined Waterlow it was as a printer’s reader (or, more quaintly, a ‘corrector of the press’).


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


I then discovered that until Robert Chacksfield’s father, Edgar, had died from TB in 1919 he had been a printer’s reader – and quite possibly for Waterlow & Sons, given his son’s subsequent employment there. It seemed a remarkable coincidence, but perhaps it wasn’t coincidence  at all – perhaps it was my father’s friendship with Robert Chacksfield that inspired him to join the printing industry in the first place?



My father had to leave school when he was in the 4th form after he too contracted TB. He went into the Harold Wood Sanatorium not long after his brother Horace, his only sibling, came out – that may not, of course, be a complete coincidence. Horace never fully recovered, and died of TB at the age of 25. Had Horace not contracted TB in his late teens he would have been the first of our family to go to university – instead that honour fell to me, 40 years later. Dad spent 10 months in the sanatorium – it was normal for someone who contracted TB to be sent away for treatment, not that there was very much they could do in the days before antibiotics.


What will you discover when you re-watch (or re-listen to) the recordings you made of relatives who are no longer around to answer questions? Will you, like me, pick up on things that were insignificant at the time, but now have new meaning?


And what legacy will you, in turn, pass on to future generations by recording your own memories while you still can? I used a camcorder back in 2007 but these days it can be done more easily – and better – using Zoom. See this article from 2022 in which I explained how easy it is to share your knowledge and your knowhow with your relatives, present and future, using Zoom.



Peter’s Tips

Although my wife grows spinach in her kitchen garden, the slugs probably get to eat as much of it as we do, so I still buy baby spinach leaves from the supermarket – a 250g pack goes a long way, so at £1.15 it’s a good buy. However I used to have a problem with it going soggy in the fridge, especially once it went beyond the ‘use by’ date. There are lot of articles online that recommend using layers of kitchen towel, but fortunately the first suggestion I came across was much simpler – open the pack, add a single sheet of kitchen towel, then reseal. It really does work!



Stop Press

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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2024 Peter Calver


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