Newsletter - 22nd November 2019



Last chance to save an amazing 30% at Findmypast EXTENDED? SEE STOP PRESS

Save at the British Newspaper Archive EXTENDED? SEE STOP PRESS

Army records: when at first you donít succeed....

It's only an index!

The absent father

Another amusing birth registration

The illegitimate, doubly baptized, incestuous orphan

Home children: another moving tale

Hansard (and parish registers)

How would you deal with this conundrum?

Peter's Tips

Stop Press



The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 18th November) 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):



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!



Last chance to save an amazing 30% at Findmypast EXTENDED? SEE STOP PRESS

Until midnight, London time, on Saturday 23rd November you can save between 25% and 30% on all Findmypast 12 month subscriptions. For example, at their UK site the Plus subscription comes down from £120 to just £84, or less than 25p a day - whilst the Pro subscription drops from £156 to £109 (that's a little over £2 a week, the price of a cup of coffee) for virtually unlimited access to all of their billions of historical records, newspaper articles, and even modern electoral registers. And unlike some previous offers, this one IS open to lapsed subscribers as well as new subscribers.


Warning: donít buy a Starter subscription - it is only suitable for outright beginners, and even if you are a beginner at the moment, you'll outgrow it long before the 12 months is up (especially if you continue reading this newsletter).


Findmypast's offer isnít exclusive to LostCousins members - but if you want to support the LostCousins project to connect cousins around the world and help the LostCousins newsletter remain independent, with all the benefits that brings to readers, you can ONLY do so when you use my links and follow the advice below. The discount should be automatically applied, but if not enter the relevant code in the box which you will find near the bottom of the page, then click Apply to display the reduced prices.††††††††††††† Discount code: FW30ALL19††††††††††††††††††† Discount code: FW25ALLIE†††††††††† Discount code: FW25ALLAU††††††††††††††† Discount code: FW25ALLUS





Unfortunately simply clicking one of my links doesnít absolutely guarantee that you'll be supporting LostCousins when you make your purchase, because these days quite a few people use adblocking software, or have disabled tracking in their browser. Whether you've done this deliberately or inadvertently, it can have a big impact on small independent websites like LostCousins - in effect youíre telling the big website that you're buying from to ignore the information about which site you just came from. This prevents them from paying any commission on your purchase - great news for the big website, since it adds to their profits, but very tough on the small genealogy websites that depend on that income.


If you help LostCousins then LostCousins will help you. If we receive commission on your Findmypast subscription purchase then you will get a free 12 month LostCousins subscription worth between £10 and £12.50 (the latter covers two linked LostCousins accounts, typically husband and wife). The subscription will commence on the day you bought your Findmypast subscription unless you already have a LostCousins subscription, in which case I'll extend it by a year.


First make sure that your purchase is going to be tracked. If you normally use Firefox, Opera, or Safari I suggest you load up this newsletter in a different browser, such as Chrome or Microsoft Edge, before clicking the link above and making your purchase. All major browsers are free, so it makes sense to have a choice (many problems can be solved by using a different browser).


Tip: some websites for newspapers and magazines only allow a limited number of free articles each month; if you have two browsers you can usually have a double helping!


I also suggest you use a computer rather than a smartphone or tablet, but whatever device you choose, stick to it - clicking my link on one device and making your purchase on another won't work.


You'll find the 'Do not track' switch under Advanced Settings in Chrome - the default setting is OFF, as shown below, and this is what you want:



The switch should be to the LEFT and appear grey. If the switch is to the right (and blue) then please move it to the left.


In Edge you'll find the switch under Privacy & Security settings, and it works in the same way. If it appears blue with a white dot, move it to the left so that it is grey with a black dot.

Once you are satisfied that your purchase is going to be tracked, click the link and make your purchase, noting the EXACT time of the purchase, without which I cannot confirm that you quaify. You should receive an email receipt from Findmypast - simply forward this to me to claim your free LostCousins subscription. If the email doesnít arrive send me an email quoting the precise time (and date) or your purchase (including the time zone), and the price you paid for your subscription.





Save at the British Newspaper Archive EXTENDED? SEE STOP PRESS

There are two ways of getting unlimited access to the newspapers in the British Newspaper Archive - one is to take out the top Findmypast subscription (a Pro or Ultimate subscription), the other is to subscribe to the British Newspaper Archive directly.


Until midnight on Saturday 23rd November you can save 30% on a 12 month British Newspaper Archive subscription, bringing the cost down from £80 to just £56 - which is good value when you consider that you're getting access to almost 35 million pages and well over 400 million articles - numbers that will continue to grow during the period of your subscription.


Of course, there's nothing worse than having to plough through page after page of search results that you've seen several times before, which is why being able to restrict your search to articles added between two dates, or after a given date, is so useful. This is just one of the extra search options that you get when you subscribe to the British Newspaper Archive directly - it makes an enormous difference, especially if you have common surnames in your tree (or, like me, surnames that are also place names).


To save 30% on your subscription - and support LostCousins at the same time - please follow this link and enter the discount code RFA2019ACQ



Army records: when at first you donít succeed....

Over the Remembrance Day weekend Denise made a wonderful discovery:


"I must send you a message to say a BIG thank you for letting us know about the free access weekend at Find My Past. I have just finished downloading my Grandfatherís Army record.


"You do not know how much this means to me, because a good many years ago I contacted the records office to do with the World War 1 records and they informed me they hadnít got any of my Grandfather's records on file as they were amongst the WW1 ones destroyed in a fire.


"Imagine my sheer delight when I entered his details into the search field this afternoon on Find My Past within the records you highlighted. There before me was page, after page, after page, of all his attestation and historical records of his army service! It has even got my Grandmother's information and where they got married and the date, because to date I have not been able to ascertain that, plus the address they lived at after their marriage. It even shows that my Grandmother was in the W.A.A. C, (which we had no idea about) and that she was working in the camp at Alnwick, just a possible ďstoryĒ that she had worked at Alnwick Castle.


"You do not know how much this means to me to be able to discover all of this."


I know just how Denise felt - when I couldn't find my grandfather's records at Ancestry I assumed that they were among the 60% that had been lost in WW2 - but when Findmypast launched their WW1 records a few years ago I was delighted to find that this wasn't the case!


It just goes to show that even when two sites have the 'same' records, there can be differences.



It's only an index!

Nobody thinks it's strange that there are two entries in the GRO indexes for every marriage - one for the bride, and one for the groom - but finding two entries for a birth or a death can strike some people as extremely odd, not to say suspicious.


The important thing to remember is that multiple entries in an index don't necessarily mean there are multiple entries in the register (and if there are, it will be obvious, because the references will be different). The reason you'll find a marriage indexed under two surnames is so that you can find the register entry, even if you only know the name of one of the parties - which is very often the case, especially when we're researching the branches of our tree. But in England people can perfectly legally change their name at will, or be known by more than one name. This especially applies to married women, who might still be known by their maiden surname even after they marry, and divorced women who might or might not retain their husband's surname after their divorce. I have all of those in my own family!


But there are plenty of other reasons why someone might be known to some under one name and others under another - and it doesnít matter what the reason is, if - and only if - an alias is recorded by the registrar, then the entry will be indexed under both names.


Until fairly recently the surname of a child born in England or Wales wasn't shown in the birth register - only forenames (if any) were recorded. We look at the entry and assume that the child took his father's surname (or his mother's surname, if no father was shown), but that's just convention.


My birth certificate doesn't show my surname, although ironically this is because it is a full certificate - short certificates have always shown surnames, as you can see from the example on the right, which is my father's original birth certificate. Of course, that's because the name of the father and mother aren't shown on a short birth certicate - all that's shown is the name of the individual and his or her date of birth.


Nowadays many births are indexed under two surnames - that of the father and that of the mother - but it doesnít mean there are two entries in the register. The important thing to remember is that an index is simply a finding guide - it isn't intended to be an authorative source, even though we family historians often regard information in the GRO's indexes that way.


The same applies to transcripts of records. Leaving aside the certainty that there will be occasional transcription errors - or even frequent errors if the source is particularly difficult to transcribe - a transcribed record of a baptism or other event is often incomplete. Indeed there's no reason why it should be complete, because the main reason that records are transcribed is so that a searchable index can be created.


Even if every detail is faithfully transcribed, if you donít look at the source document you can't put the entry into context. For example, my great-great-great grandfather was baptised in 1820 at the age of almost 5 - but if I hadn't looked at the baptism register I wouldn't have known that his half-sister was baptised on the same day. Why? Because she had a different father, so she was indexed under a different surname.


Similarly, if you look at a baptism register you might notice that some of the entries are marked with a 'P', which can indicate either a private baptism or the baptism of a pauper child. Only by looking at the register pages can you properly interpret the information.


Transcription errors are common and inevitable, but they rarely prevent an experienced and wily researcher from finding the entry. The biggest danger is not the transcriber who makes an error, but the inexperienced researcher who fails to realise that "it's only an index"!



The absent father

Peter in Australia sent me this example of a Scottish birth registration from 1855, the year in which they were introduced - it shows far more information than we get on English and Welsh certificates, and more even than on modern Scottish certificates:




It's the second birth on the page that is of particular interest - the mother was married but her husband had been abroad for 20 months by the time the child was born.


I've blown up the relevant section so that you can read what was written there:



Peter tells me that the husband must have been home by the beginning of 1856, for in February that year the Supreme Court of Scotland handed down a decision finding that Alexander Murdoch Samson had ďÖ. seduced and committed adultery with Jane Hunter or Glover.... Samson was to pay £2000-00-00 damages which was an enormous sum in 1856 although Samson came from a wealthy ship owning family.


The Measuring Worth website suggests that in relation to incomes in 1856, £2000 was the equivalent of nearly £2 million today.



Another amusing birth registration

When Robert Gouldstone registered the birth of his third son (and fourth child) in 1870 he must have been wondering how he would manage to feed the sixth member of his family on a labourer's wage, and as you can see from this GRO birth certificate he named him 'One Too Many'.



Later that year the child was baptised at St James, Walthamstow - but this time he was accorded some proper names, 'Robert William', as you can see from the transcription at Ancestry, which is confirmed by the 1871 Census entry (below). I also noticed that the baptism register gave his date of birth as 29th June, not 30th June as shown in the register of births - I suspect that mothers have a better memory for such details than fathers!.



I donít suppose Martha Gouldstone was particularly happy about what her husband did in 1870, and one way or another she made sure there were no shenanigans when their next child - another son - was born in 1872:




The illegitimate, doubly baptized, incestuous orphan

I donít have any Dutch ancestors (yet) but from time to time I find interesting articles on the Dutch Genealogy site run by Yvette Hoitink - take a look at this article from 2015.



Home children: another moving tale

This moving story was sent in by Susan:


"I have just read with great interest the article about Home Children (I read all your articles with great interest).


"My great-great grandfather Levi Gates was born in Toxteth, Liverpool in 1860 to Thomas and Hannah, and was one of 8 sons. I found him on all but the 1881 census, and have all the relevant certificates. I discovered that his mother died in January 1873 and Thomas remarried (his 3rd wife) and had further children. I managed to find what happened to most of the brothers, all bar 2, George (1866) and Edward (1869). I failed to locate them on the 1881 census but also could not find them on further census, nor a record of a death.


"I did a general search on Ancestry using the parents' names, and the results showed that they appeared in the family tree of a lady in the USA. When I contacted Penny through the Ancestry service, she confirmed that Edward was her ancestor. When their mother died, father Thomas Gates abandoned his children. Those old enough to fend for themselves, like Levi, who was almost 13, made their own way. Baby Robert was sent to live with Thomasí brother and family. But George and Edward were placed with the Liverpool Sheltering Home. Also placed there was the daughter of Thomasí new wife by her previous marriage.


"On 21 March 1876, aged just 9 and 6, the two brothers left Liverpool for Halifax Nova Scotia in a party of children cared for by Mrs Birt. On arrival in Nova Scotia they were placed with separate farming families. George stayed in Canada and married but had no children that I can find. Edward ran away when he was old enough and made his way to the USA, where he raised a family. He related his story to the family and Penny tells me that Edward told her he was treated very badly on the farm. I am now in regular contact with Penny, who is my mother's second cousin. Penny is now a very involved member of her local historical society, and sends me a copy of their newsletter.


"It seems the practice of children's homes sending their young charges abroad continued for many years. I have also read the book 'Oranges and Sunshine', also known as 'Empty Cradles' It seems Pennyís great grandfather was lucky compared to those who went to Australia."


In those days, when a parent died the surviving spouse was often faced with an impossible situation - they couldn't both earn a living and look after the children. Thomas Gates probably did what he thought was best - otherwise they could all have ended up in the workhouse.


In fact, when my own great-great grandfather died in 1885, my great-great grandmother was left alone with 10 children aged from 8 months to 23 years, so she was in much the same position - and she came up with a very similar solution, which involved some of the children going into the workhouse.


Whilst so far as I can ascertain none of those children were sent overseas (one just disappears), I do know from talking to the daughter of one of the youngest, just before she died, that her father didn't even know that his oldest brothers and sisters existed - the family had been sliced in two. It's not what anyone would have wished, but our ancestors did their best in trying circumstances.



Hansard (and parish registers)

This year many of us have been glued to our television sets watching the proceedings at Westminster, but the televising of Parliament is a fairly recent phenomenon - it was in 1989, just 30 years that the cameras were allowed in to the House of Commons, though there had been experiments in the House of Lords.


But 250 years ago, not only were there no TV cameras, it was illegal to report on proceedings in Parliament - this followed a decision taken in 1738. Some, including Dr Johnson, got around the restriction by publishing parodies of the proceedings, but in 1771 the ban was lifted. However the problems for journalists didnít end there - it wasn't until 1783 that journalists were allowed to take notes, so were forced to rely on their memory.


Thomas Hansard acquired the contract for keeping records of debates in 1812, and you can now access much of the information online - the records go back to the early 19th century. I always thought Hansard was a verbatim record, but in fact it is edited to remove hesitations and repetitions (though not, as far as I know, deviations).


It's amazing what you can find in Hansard - I discovered a 1971 debate in which Lord Teviot drew attention to the problems of parish registers and other historic records languishing in local churches, "many of which are being allowed to rot, to be stolen, burned or blown up, [so] may be lost for ever".


It's well worth reading the debate and reflecting on the extent to which things have, and haven't, changed over the intervening half century.



How would you deal with this conundrum?

Most historic parish registers are now safely in the care of the diocesan record office, which in most instances is the county record office; only a handful are still held in churches, though I frequently get emails from members who are planning to travel half-way round the world in order to go their ancestors' local church in the hope of looking at the registers - a myth that is perpetuated by some of the writers of genealogical fiction.


But supposing you discovered that an historic parish register was in the possession of an ordinary citizen - what would you do about it? It's not a hypothetical question - I was approached recently by a LostCousins member who was in that precise situation.



Peter's Tips

I was amazed to discover that the Black Friday sale at Amazon has already started. Itís not too late to sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime, but if you do, please use the links in my last newsletter (you'll find them here). In the same article you'll find the details of the Dog DNA discount offer which started yesterday (Thursday).


And whether or not you sign up for Amazon Prime, please use one of the links below to visit their Black Friday Sale - you can save money ans support LostCousins at the same time!††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††



Stop Press

Good news! At noon (London time) on Sunday 24th November the Findmypast.and British Newspaper Archive offers were still running, although it was necessary to enter the relevant discount code on order to secure the reduced prices. UPDATE: the discount codes were still working at 9.55am on Monday, but please remember to use the link in the article above!



I hope you've been enjoying reading Ignoring Gravity, the free genealogical mystery novel from Sandra Danby which I gave away in the last issue. If you haven't downloaded your free copy yet you'll find all the details here. Enjoy - and see you again soon!


Description: Description: peter_signature


Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2019 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?