Newsletter – 28th October 2021
When will the 1921 Census launch? All is revealed BREAKING NEWS
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When will the 1921 Census launch? All is revealed BREAKING NEWS
Findmypast have at last confirmed that the 1921 Census for England & Wales will launch on 6th January, which is as I had anticipated – but the big surprise is that they're going to be charging slightly LESS to view the 1921 Census images than they did the 1939 Register pages in 2015, or indeed the 1911 Census schedules in 2009.
Nevertheless, for those of us who have a subscription and are used to virtually unlimited access to records, paying £3.50 to view each household schedule is going to force us to think carefully before clicking the button. Incidentally, it'll be an additional £2.50 for a transcript – but it's hard to see why experienced researchers would need those, unless there's important information included which isn't in the image (which seems unlikely).
When the 1901 Census was released I spent around £150 viewing records, but I don't imagine I'll spend anything like that sum on the 1921 Census: I'll want to see my father (my mother wasn't born until 1926), my grandparents, and the great-grandparents who were still alive, but that's only 6 households – and because I have a PRO subscription I'll get a 10% discount, bringing the total cost to just under £19, which is hardly a fortune. Indeed it's less than the cost of this year's Christmas turkey, which is currently occupying one of the shelves in the freezer.
Note: a few people have complained that the 1921 Census isn't going to be included in their Findmypast subscriptions, but it shouldn't be a surprise – this was foreshadowed in my February 2019 article.
In the 1921 Census we're going to find out who our ancestors were employed by, and where they worked – facts that will provide us with more insight into their lives than ever before. In some cases it will reveal how our ancestors met; in others it'll explain why someone who wasn't a family member witnessed a marriage. In every case it'll be an extra piece of the jigsaw, one that might solve a mystery – or create a new conundrum.
Note: employer details aren't given for domestic servants, though for live-in servants that will usually be obvious.
My mum's lifelong best friend was someone she met at work during the war, but I don't know anything about my grandparents' friends – there are names on the back of photographs, but I've no idea what the connection was. Were some of them co-workers? I may find out in January.
Another reason why I'll be interested to see the new census is because in 1911 my paternal grandmother was in Essex Lunatic Asylum – she was discharged the next day having spent 8 months there after giving birth to her first child, Horace (the uncle I never met who was my father's only sibling). Was she at home on 19th June 1921, I wonder? I'd like to think so, but I know from speaking to my father that she was often ill, though I don’t believe he ever knew the true nature of her illness. I have family photos which include Martha Gawthorpe (or Gawthorp) who used to look after my father when he was younger, though she wasn't the nurse who was looking after baby Horace in 1911. It will be interesting to see whether Martha was with the family in 1921 – I've so far been unable to positively identify her in other records.
The 1921 Census was originally scheduled for 24th April, but it was delayed by industrial action. As we now know, it was only deferred by 8 weeks, but at the time they considered holding it later in the year. The background to the choice of a June date can be seen in a note prepared by the Registrar General which you'll find online here. It's a little difficult to read and the server it's hosted on is often overloaded, so I've transcribed the key parts below:
"I have ascertained from the Labour Ministry that industrial holidays, which begin in July, go on right up to the end of September, and may possibly overlap a few days into October.
"In view of the fact that during June there will be to a growing extent a certain amount of middle class holiday taking, I consulted first Mr Knight and secondly Sir Frederick Willis as to how far this might produce an increase in the population of certain watering places which would raise difficulties in connection with any claim to county powers. Mr Knight mentioned the case of Scarborough as the only one that occurred to his mind. Sir Frederick Willis, however, expressed the view that the extent of the movement during June was not sufficient to give rise to any difficulties of the nature indicated."
In case you're wondering why Scarborough was singled out, it appears that to qualify as a county borough a population of over 50,000 was required; as you can see from this chart the population was over 45,000 in 1921, higher than in 1911 and 1931 (when the census was held on 26th April).
Note: another seaside borough, Southend-on-Sea, was awarded county borough status in 1914 having absorbed Leigh-on-Sea the previous year. Ironically it was in Leigh-on-Sea that the MP for Southend, Sir David Amess, was assassinated two weeks ago – a tragedy that prompted the Queen to award city status to the town.
In the 1920s the chance of dying in a road accident was a lot higher than it is today – in 1923 there were fewer than 400,000 cars in the UK, but in 1926 nearly 5,000 people were killed on the roads. Making allowance for the discrepancy in dates there was roughly one death for every 100 cars: even though there are now 80 times as many cars, road deaths in 2019 were one-third of the level in 1926 (and less than one-fifth of the peak in 1941).
These are simplistic comparisons – cars aren't the only vehicles on the road, and people riding bicycles, or horses, or walking are also at risk. But it does remind us that life was riskier in the past - if the number of deaths had increased after 1926 in line with the growth in car ownership the number of road deaths would be considerably higher than the number of deaths from COVID-19.
I was prompted to look up these statistics after reading an article about how risky it was for emigrants sailing to Australia in the mid-19th century – the author had calculated that they were, on average, over 4 times more likely to die on the voyage than if they had stayed at home for those few months (but it was still only 1 in 50 who didn’t make it). It's unlikely that there were any statistics available at the time that would have allowed the migrants to make an informed decision, but I'm not sure that it would have made any difference – they were, after all, emigrating because there was the promise of a better life. And they were right – the wealth of natural resources meant that they lived healthier and longer lives and, as anyone who has tested their DNA will have figured out already, they have more descendants alive today than the cousins they left behind.
There was an interesting article this week in which two leading statisticians questioned whether vaccination or prior protection provides greater protection against subsequent infection. It seems there's not a lot of difference in practice – both offer around 70% protection – but I'd recommend reading the article in full (it’s not very long and there's no paywall). It certainly suggests that the government strategy that I outlined in my July newsletter is a viable one, though so much depends on human behaviour that there are a wide range of forecasts. And the outlook can change in a matter of days – there was such a steep climb in UK cases that on Friday BBC News published an article headline 'Why are UK cases so high', but on Tuesday - just 4 days later – the tone had changed completely, in an article headed 'Are cases about to plummet'.
This week the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave his budget speech in Parliament – but even before he stood up he came in for criticism from the Speaker of the House of Commons because of the long list of announcements that had been made in advance.
There was a time when disclosing budget plans in advance would lead to the resignation of ministers – in 1947 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Hugh Dalton, was obliged to resign after carelessly letting slip some details of forthcoming tax changes to a reporter whilst on his way to the House of Commons to deliver his budget speech, whilst in 1936 James Henry Thomas resigned as Secretary of State for the Colonies after it was suggested that he had leaked budget secrets. The latter scandal prompted a journalist at the Guardian newspaper to write about a leak 55 years earlier, when W E Gladstone was Prime Minister and chancellor of the Exchequer – and to imply that Gladstone's secretary had been responsible for that leak. What the journalist hadn’t realised was that the secretary was still very much alive, and a libel suit followed, one which involved the newspaper paying out undisclosed damages. (This article from Tuesday's Guardian has clippings from 1936.)
The phrase 'beyond the pale' is often used to refer to language or behaviour that is considered unacceptable, but I don’t suppose more than a fraction of those who use it are aware of its origins.
'Pale' in this context has nothing to do with colour – it's a noun meaning a fence post or stake (the word palisade comes from the same root). The word came to mean any enclosed area, and eventually any bounded territory, but (other than in Ireland) survives only in the idiomatic sense with which we're all familiar.
Danish geneticist Eske Willerslev uses DNA to reconstruct the last 50,000 years of human history: for example, his research on a 24,000 year-old skeleton from Siberia proved that there was a link between Europeans and Native Americans. His latest discovery is also his most recent – by analysing DNA fragments in the hair of Sitting Bull, who led the warriors who defeated General Custer at Little Big Horn in 1876, he has been able to prove that 73 year-old Ernie LaPointe is the great-grandson of the great chief, who died in 1890.
You can read more in this article from the Guardian.
With the holiday season approaching Ancestry.com have launched some seasonal offers this weekend - you can save up to 30% on Gift subscriptions when you follow this link, and 40% on DNA tests when you click here.
A rare shilling coin minted in the New England colony in 1652 has been found in a sweet tin in Bywell Hall, Northumberland. Despite its poor condition it could fetch as much as £200,000 when it goes up for auction in London next month (according to this BBC News article).
Note: in England we used to call a shilling a 'bob', hence 'bob a job' week. Shillings continued in circulation for a short time after decimalisation but have now been replaced by 5p coins. Allowing for the increase in prices since 1652 a shilling then was equivalent to £7.88 today, but if you adjust it by reference to wages it's worth £123.50, reflecting the enormous increase in real wages over the past 370 years. You'll notice from the article that it was a Barker & Dobson sweet tin – coincidentally I worked for the company from 1976-79, initially in a temporary role at the group head office, then becoming Financial Controller of the retail division, which included the Oakeshotts grocery stores and the Lewis Meeson chain of newsagents. I suspect many readers of this newsletter were customers at some point!
Several of my ancestors married on Christmas Day – indeed, it was a popular choice of wedding date, as this article explains.
The blog is headlined "From London, England to London, Ontario…" which coincidentally was the route taken by the grandmother of my newest DNA contact. Note that I said newest contact, not newest match – I sent a message to my cousin via Ancestry nearly 2 years ago, but she didn’t see it until last week.
Morton Farrier, the forensic genealogist imagined by author Nathan Dylan Goodwin, is a favourite of mine. Like most of us he has mysteries in his own tree, and because in The Foundlings there's a family connection to the clients he's working for, it makes the story even more intriguing than usual.
Another factor that distinguishes the latest instalment in the series is Morton's use of DNA – indeed, it's only DNA that connects his clients to each other, and one of them to him. But don't worry if you're not au fait with DNA – it might be an important part of the story, but you won’t need to understand how DNA works to enjoy it.
After that introduction it won't surprise you to know that Morton's clients were abandoned as babies – they are the foundlings of the title. But who was their mother, and who were their fathers? This comes down to traditional records-based research, which is why you don't need to know about DNA to follow what's going on. As with most genealogical mysteries there are multiple threads which inevitably lead us to think that we can reach the solution before our hero – but as ever there were twists in the tale that I didn't anticipate. Rather like an Agatha Christie novel, in fact!
Of course, there's a limit to how much I can tell you about the story without either leading you up the garden path or spoiling the journey of discovery – suffice it to say that this is one of the best books in an excellent series, so you won’t be disappointed. Whilst you could read this book on its own it would be a great shame if you didn’t start at the beginning of the series, because Morton's discoveries about his own ancestry link the books together – indeed it's one of the reasons why, whenever I finish a book in the Forensic Genealogist series, I'm already looking forward to the next one.
Highly recommended – I suggest getting the Kindle version because it’s cheaper, and a mystery isn't mystery once you know the ending, so you're not likely to read it more than once (remember you don't need a Kindle – I read Kindle books on my phone). But whichever version you buy (both will be published on the same day, Saturday 30th October, however you can order them NOW), please use the relevant link below so that you can support LostCousins – it's only a few pence but, believe me, they add up and help keep LostCousins independent.
Note: if you want to see all of the books in the series please follow the link you'll find here. Also, if you’re in the UK, please note that the first book in the series, 'Hiding the Past' will be on offer for just 99p during the month of November, saving you £3.50 on the usual price.
My wife was very grateful for the feedback she received after her article in the last newsletter, and whilst she doesn’t have time to write an article for this issue (with winter approaching there's too much to do in the garden), she suggested I include this link for anyone who wants to know more about fruit trees, especially how to keep older trees in production.
The best laid plans of mice and men….. well, I mentioned a month ago that I was hoping that when our smart meter had been installed we'd be able to switch to a new two-rate electricity tariff, but the dramatic spike in wholesale energy prices has meant that we're going to be far better off sticking with our existing fixed rate tariff until it runs out next August. At 14.11p (plus 5% VAT) per kilowatt hour what we’re currently paying is lless than half the price of anything else on the market. Indeed, it's lower than the off-peak rate in the quote I've just received (whilst the standard rate is two-and-a-half times as much).
We only switched to EDF at the end of August after finding out how much Symbio Energy planned to charge us from 1st September onwards – Symbio went out of business not long afterwards when wholesale prices continued to rise, and for a while I was worried that our credit balance was at risk. Fortunately it has been confirmed that E-on, who are taking over Symbio's remaining customers, are also responsible for refunding credit balances to former customers – and given how many of the smaller suppliers have gone out of business there may well be some of you in a similar position.
Some people have suggested that gas and electricity prices should be subsidised but, as anyone who has studied micro-economics will know, this would increase demand and push up prices even further. The best way to protect vulnerable households is to give them a lump sum - as the government already does each winter to those who are above state pension age.
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......
I hope you've enjoyed this issue, but – and you know what I'm going to say next – LostCousins is not just a newsletter, it's primarily a website where researchers who share the same ancestors can connect and collaborate. Please don't let your cousins down – complete your My Ancestors page this weekend!
© Copyright 2021 Peter Calver
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