Newsletter - 27th November 2015
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 14th November) click here, for an index to articles from 2009-10 click here, for a list of articles from 2011 click here and for a list of articles from 2012-14 click here. Or do what I do, and 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!
Almost a year after Baroness Scott proposed in the House of Lords that the GRO should be allowed to issue electronic copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates, and nearly 8 months after the change in the law received Royal Assent, the General Register Office this week invited some of the key people in British genealogy to provide their thoughts:
"I am writing to you as a member of the family history community regarding the certificate services provided by the General Register Office (GRO).
"Whilst at the current time the information held in the civil registration records can only be provided to customers in hard copy form, legislation came into force earlier this year that could allow GRO to issue copies of this information in ways other than a paper certificate. The provisions in the Deregulation Act 2015 will require further regulations to be made in order to allow any new products to be offered, and of course there are considerations around IT system changes and funding. However, GRO is currently analysing the different options available around implementation, and would welcome the opportunity to hear further the thoughts of those with a particular interest in the genealogical field."
Most of those invited to attend one of two events, to be held at the GRO in Southport on 18th December and at the Home Office in London on 21st December, are representatives of family history societies. Even so, I was rather disappointed that I wasn't on the guest list - since I've probably done more than most to make the case for change over the past 10 years.
Undaunted, I have responded to the invitation (kindly forwarded by a LostCousins member) in the hope that the GRO will allow me to be there. I'll let you know in due course whether I've been successful.
There are some amazing offers for family historians this year - I can't remember anything like it. These offers are not exclusive to LostCousins but click the relevant link and you will be supporting LostCousins as well as grabbing yourself a bargain!
SAVE 50% ON 12 MONTH SUBSCRIPTIONS TO FINDMYPAST
Note: Findmypast state that their offer is for new and lapsed subscribers ONLY; the offer ends at midnight on Monday 30th November.
If you live in the USA check out the amazing offer at Findmypast.com (World subscriptions only)
Ancestry DNA UK £69 (saving £30)
Ancestry DNA US $69 (saving $30)
Ancestry DNA Canada $119 (saving $30)
Tip: watch out for the shipping charge (it's £20 for customers in the UK).
Family Tree DNA are also discounting their DNA tests, and they charge the same price worldwide (although shipping varies):
Family Finder (similar to Ancestry DNA) $89 (saving $10)
Y-DNA 37-marker test $139 (saving $30)
To re-read my series of articles (which take the mystery out of DNA) start here and follow the links to the previous articles in the series.
Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - is a new arrival in Britain (I believe Amazon are primarily responsible for bringing it to our shores) but in the United States the term has been used since the 1950s.
Thanksgiving, a public holiday in the US, is always on a Thursday in late November (since 1941 it has been the 4th Thursday), and it became increasingly common for workers to take the next day off, often by calling in sick, in order to make a 4-day weekend. Enterprising retailers saw it as an opportunity to kick-off the Christmas selling season - and now it is established as a major event.
As genealogists we use DNA testing in order to learn more about our ancestors, but archaeologists use it as a way of learning more about the individuals whose remains they uncover.
At the Museum of London DNA analysis of skeletons from 2000 years ago has shown that Londinium - as London was known under the Romans - was predominantly inhabited by immigrants. This BBC article talks about one of them, a girl of about 14 who grew up in North Africa, but whose DNA is typically European; another skeleton analysed at the museum appears to belong to a gladiator - his DNA suggests Eastern European and Middle Eastern ancestry. In fact, only one of the skeletons analysed so far belonged to a native Briton.
On the day that the 1939 Register launched (2nd November) I submitted a request for my father's record to be opened. It would have been opened next year in any case, because he was born in 1916, but I wanted to see how long it would take if I submitted his death certificate.
It was 16 days later that I received an email from Findmypast to let me know that the record had been opened. As I had already paid to view the household where he was living (he was at home with his parents) it cost nothing extra to see the new information. I knew that he had been in the ARP before joining the army, because a few years before Dad died I filmed him talking about his experiences on the first night of the war, but I hadn't realised that he was a stretcher bearer.
Not only is my father's entry in the register now viewable, he has also been added to the index (however you may find that entries aren't added to the index immediately).
Incidentally, I understand that some researchers - although not, so far as I am aware, readers of this newsletter - have been confused about the difference between unlocking a household and opening a closed record. When you're searching the register and find a household that you think is the one you're looking for you will be shown a preview; typically this gives the name of the person you searched for and the name of the head of the household.
At this point you're also told how many other open records there are in the household, and how many closed records there are - here's an example (by the way, despite the surname, they're not my relatives):
When you Unlock the household, which costs 60 credits, you will be able to see all of the open records but you won't be able to see any of the closed records until they are opened. So, in this example you would initially only see 3 of the 10 people in the household.
Note: overall two-thirds of the records in the 1939 Register are open, and only one-third closed.
As I mentioned in the last newsletter, Findmypast are hoping to be able to match GRO death index information - which, from 1969 onwards, includes the precise date of birth of the individual - in order to open millions of records that are currently closed. However it isn't their decision - it's up to the National Archives (and, ultimately, the Information Commissioner) to determine what evidence is sufficient.
As you will probably know, in 2008 the General Register Office decided to stop selling indexes to births, marriages, and deaths - as a result of which the most recent official indexes that are online, eg at Findmypast, date from 2007. Wendy wrote from Canada recently to ask how to find more recent deaths:
"I have a third cousin who has been living in Widnes for more than 24 years. I have sent several e-mails with no response so I am wondering if she has died, but how do I search for deaths in England since 2012?"
These were my suggestions to Wendy:
Have you searched the electoral register to see whether she has moved (which is often when people change their email address)? Have you tried writing a letter? Have you looked for her in the phone book?
If all these fail the best option is to look for a will, or to try a Google search which might pick up a mention on an online obituary site (these are allied to local newspaper groups). There also some deaths since 2007 recorded in an index at Ancestry - it's not a complete index by any means. Or contact someone else in that part of your family tree - there must be dozens of relatives who are more closely related than you are.
The last resort is to ask a cousin in the UK to visit one of the seven libraries that hold up to date BMD indexes - there's a list of them here on the GRO website.
ScotlandsPeople have made available an online index to the Appeal cases of 5,820 men seeking exemption from military service between 1916 and 1918. You can find out more about the records here.
Whilst it was originally intended primarily for beginners to collect data from their relatives, there all sorts of uses for the blank Ancestor Chart that I've been providing since 2004 (you can download it free from the LostCousins site, and you don't even need to be a LostCousins member).
Rita wrote in this week to tell me how useful she'd found the chart:
"Have opened an account for my husband. I have to say I found your Ancestor Chart invaluable for working it all out, so much so that I am about to revisit my family's details to put my father's side on."
If you're trying to persuade a friend or relative to start researching their own family tree handing them this free chart could make all the difference!
Peter joined LostCousins just 2 months ago, but there are already 20 contacts listed on his My Cousins page. What's Peter's secret? It's very simple - he's entered all of the relatives in his tree who were recorded on the 1881 Census.
Meanwhile the 1939 Register has provided a fantastic breakthrough for Sheridan:
"I cannot believe it but I have gone some way to resolving a family mystery. When the 1911 Census came out, I was completely floored to find my grandmother living at the address I expected with some of her siblings and my great-grandfather - but with three more children I had never heard about plus a housekeeper. On obtaining birth certificates, these children (plus another born just after the census) proved to be the offspring of my great-grandfather and the housekeeper. Absolutely no-one in the family (including members of my father's generation) had ever heard mention of them, neither had my father (deceased) ever spoken of them to me so it would seem that this 'second' family was kept secret even though most of them were living together in 1911.
"I have always wondered about this 'second' family - don't think anyone else in the family believed me although I had all the birth certificates - but, try as I might, I could not find any trace of them after 1911 (my great-grandfather passed away in 1912).
"Until the 1939 release..... I have now found one of them! All the births were registered in the name of Evans (my great-grandfather's surname) BUT it now seems as if they reverted to their mother's name of Hammond. The one I have found was registered at birth as Bert, not Albert and I found a Bert Hammond in 1939 with the exact birthdate. His wife's name was Ivy and I found a marriage between a Bert (not Albert) and an Ivy Proud so I sent off for the marriage certificate. His father is shown as James Hammond (deceased) - my great-grandfather was actually James Evans - and his profession as brass burnisher - exactly what my great-grandfather did.
"At present, I still can't find the other children but this is a real breakthrough for me. I just had to join the others who have had success."
A summary of the responses to the recent consultation has been published here. A total of 592 responses were received from genealogists, 21 representing organisations and 571 from individuals - over half of all the responses, and nearly twice as many as responded to the previous consultation.
Of course, this doesn't guarantee that we'll what we asked for - the most requested addition being the place of birth of each person - but it does demonstrate how important the census is to the genealogical community.
The world's oldest newly-weds!
According to the Independent a "British couple has officially been recognised as the oldest in the world to marry with a combined age of 194 years and 280 days after their wedding day this summer, according to Guinness World Records. Proud groom George Kirby, 103, described how he proposed to his new bride Doreen Luckie, 91, on Valentine’s Day. Remembering the moment he asked the new Mrs Kirby to be his wife, he said: “I didn’t get down on one knee, because I don’t think I would have been able to get back up."
You can read more and see a picture of the happy couple here.
At the end of October I wrote that BBC1's Family Finders were looking for cousins who were about to be reunited. I wrote then that there were only looking for 1st cousins, but I've now been informed that they will also consider 2nd cousins. See the original article for more information - and do let me know if you're going to be appearing!
Two of the websites that I frequently use myself have Black Friday offers: The Book People (who solve a lot of my Christmas present problems) always have very low prices, but there's an extra 10% off today when you follow this link and use the code FRIDAY10
(I'd love to tell you what I've bought but my wife is reading this…..)
The other favourite of mine is AllBeauty, where the prices on fragrances usually beat anything you'll find in the duty-free shops at airports.
Of course there are also LOTS of offers at Amazon.co.uk - I'll leave you to explore.
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......
© Copyright 2015 Peter Calver
Please do not copy any part of this newsletter without permission. However, you MAY link to this newsletter or email a link to your friends and relatives without asking for permission in advance - though why not invite them to join LostCousins instead, since standard membership, which includes this newsletter, is FREE?