Newsletter - 22nd September 2017



GRO: new PDF trial soon?

Online birth indexes are a goldmine

Dublin electoral rolls at Findmypast

Society of Genealogists rejig membership

Exploring Ancestry's Card Catalogue

Queen Mary's autograph: winner announced

LostCousins: what it's really about

Have you been invited to join the forum?

Current DNA offers

What's in a name?

Couple married for 75 years die within hours of each other

Twins born 2 years apart

Would you subscribe to the Funeral Channel?

A rather unusual transcription

Is your email service ending?

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous newsletter (dated 14th September) click here; to find earlier articles use the customised Google search below (it searches ALL of the newsletters since February 2009, so you don't need to keep copies):



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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!



GRO: new PDF trial soon?

Although attendees at the meeting last Friday afternoon were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, I was able to get permission to release some brief details about the GRO's plans.


You may recall that back in January I wrote:


"I don't know what conclusions the GRO have come to, but a key surprise for them was the fact that the number of paper certificates ordered was unaffected (and that's probably why the turnaround time for PDFs gradually became extended). I suspect that the release of the enhanced birth and death indexes a few days before the trial was a contributory factor, and the fact that the trial was known to be limited will also have spurred some researchers to place more orders during the period than they might otherwise have done.

"It's possible that the GRO will decide to run another trial before committing to a permanent service. The November trial wasn't publicised by the GRO, and whilst many keen researchers will have found out about it from this newsletter, or from Facebook, there will be many who only found out after the trial had ended."


It turns out that I was right - the GRO do indeed want to run another PDF trial, effectively an extension of Phase 1, but limited to the historic birth and death entries which have been digitised and included in the GRO's own online indexes (ie births from 1837 to 1916 and deaths from 1837 to 1957).


The good news is that, assuming it goes ahead, the new trial will run for a considerably longer period than the 3 weeks of last November's trial, and there will be NO LIMIT to the number of PDFs that can be ordered during the trial (you may recall that in the original Phase 1 trial there was a limit of 45,000 PDFs, of which around 42,000 had been ordered by the time the trial ended). This means that, not only will it not be necessary to rush your orders in when the trial begins, you'll have an opportunity to follow-up with further orders once you have seen the information in the first batch of PDFs.


From the GRO's point of view, running a trial for an extended period would enable them to better gauge the impact of the PDF service on orders of paper certificates. With luck, if the extended trial goes ahead and is sufficiently successful, they might even make it permanent - though I understand this would require additional secondary legislation.


Note: I won't rush out a special edition of this newsletter when the trial starts - because there are so many readers it would risk a surge of orders, potentially causing problems for the GRO. I will, however, update the Stop Press of my most recent newsletter (which could be this one, by the way), so I'd suggest checking back now and then.


Online birth indexes are a goldmine

A few days before last November's PDF trial began the GRO launched their own online birth and death indexes, with additional data that didn't appear in the original quarterly indexes. In particular, the mother's maiden name - previously only given from September 1911 onwards, is shown in almost all birth index entries (the main exceptions being illegitimate births).


The natural first step is to identify children recorded as having died before the 1911 Census, and who - because they weren't recorded on any of the censuses - don't appear on your family tree. Jill wrote to me just this week to tell me about three children she'd been able to add - she was over the moon!


But why stop there? The infant mortality rate was high during much of the 19th century, and most mothers will have lost one or more children. It's worth checking every couple who might have had children after 1837 - for whilst children who died as infants can't have any descendants, the loss of a child can have a significant impact on a family. In other words, it's not just about adding an extra name to our tree, it's adding to our understanding of our ancestors' lives.


Tip: remember that ages at death aren't always shown correctly for infants; a child shown as 7 years old according to the indexes might in fact have been 7 months, 7 weeks, 7 days, or even 7 hours old at the time of their death. If the death occurred after 1865 you can check the age against the original indexes.


Dublin electoral rolls at Findmypast

This week Findmypast added over 400,000 records from Dublin city electoral rolls for the period 1908-15. As this period spans the 1911 Census, which we use at LostCousins, finding relatives in the rolls could help you in the quest to track down your Irish cousins.


You can find out more about the records and search them here.


Society of Genealogists rejig membership

Following the expansion of the Library with the acquisition of an enormous collection of FamilySearch microfilms, including wills and parish records, the Society of Genealogists has revised its membership structure. New members will be able to choose between Associate membership at £56 per year, which provides access to online resources, and Full membership at £80 per year, which also includes unlimited use of the Library, free 30 minute one-to-one sessions in the Library with the Society's experts, and entitles the member to vote at the Society's AGM.


Existing members will see their subscriptions rise gradually over the next decade - there won't be a sudden increase.


Exploring Ancestry's Card Catalogue

Users of Findmypast are all familiar with their A-Z of Record Sets, but did you know that Ancestry also have an index to their record sets, known as the Card Catalog(ue). You'll find it in the Search menu, or else click this link:


Card Catalogue

Searchable listing of all record collections

Results 1-25 of 1,824

Sort By                                                                   





England, Extracted Parish and Court Records, 1399-1795

Birth, Marriage & Death, including Parish



Shropshire, England, Extracted Church of England Parish Records, 1538-1812

Birth, Marriage & Death, including Parish



Bedfordshire, England, Land Tax Records, 1797-1832

Wills, Probates, Land, Tax & Criminal



Bedfordshire, England, Valuation Records, 1838-1929

Wills, Probates, Land, Tax & Criminal



UK, Royal Air Force Airmen Records, 1918-1940




London, England, Poor Law School District Registers, 1852-1918

Schools, Directories & Church Histories


London, England, School Admissions and Discharges, 1912-1918

Schools, Directories & Church Histories


There are a number of different ways to sort the entries - for example, to look at what has been added recently, choose Date Added from the sort menu. If youíre using the default is to show only record sets from the UK and Ireland; untick the box to show record sets from around the world.


Tip: the links in the table above work, so you can jump to any of those recently-added record sets with a click.


You can search for a specific record set either by typing words from the title, or by entering one or more keywords - if you use keywords then you'll get many more results, but they won't necessarily be the ones you're looking for! I suggest you experiment to see what produces the best results for you.


Queen Mary's autograph: winner announced

Thanks to everyone who entered my Summer Competition - I'm delighted to report that the 1st Prize was won by John in Berkshire, whose LostCousins account was opened just one day before the competition ended. I suspect that the entry was actually created by his wife Margret, who has been a member of LostCousins for many years and connected with numerous cousins - so well done to both of you!


Since John & Margret live less than an hour's drive from Windsor Castle I hope that the autograph of our present Queen's grandmother will have a special significance for them. As a bonus I've upgraded Margret's existing LostCousins subscription to a joint subscription covering both accounts, as well as extending it by 5 years as part of the prize.


There are 50 runners-up prizes of free LostCousins subscriptions, and I'll be writing to the winners in the coming days. But the real winners are the hundreds of members who found new cousins as a result of taking part in the competition - and, of course, the cousins they found. Congratulations everyone!


LostCousins: what it's really about

In the last issue I reminded members that LostCousins isn't just a newsletter. LostCousins is primarily a website where family historians who are researching the same ancestors can connect, exchange information, and collaborate on future research. The newsletter provides a great way for me to tell you about new records, useful techniques, and attractive offers - but without the website it wouldn't exist.


If you read this newsletter but aren't currently making use of the LostCousins website to connect with your living cousins, then not only are you missing out, you are penalising your own cousins. Understandably, given the 14 years of my life I've dedicated to the project, I take a very dim view of this - I believe that none of us can truly be interested in family history if we're not also prepared to help our own cousins with their research.


Just last weekend I had to be quite abrupt with someone who had been a member for many years, but hadn't done anything at all to help their 'lost cousins' connect with them. If they couldn't be bothered to help their own cousins, why should I bother to help them?


Note: this is the reason why membership of the LostCousins Forum is restricted to those who have completed their My Ancestors page - it's a privilege reserved for those who have done what they can to help their own cousins. Charity begins at home.


Searching for living cousins using your My Ancestors page is like taking an autosomal DNA test - but infinitely easier and a lot cheaper. DNA tests can match you up with thousands of supposed cousins, but as many as a third of them might not be cousins at all - and even after spending thousands of hours analysing your matches you might not know for sure which ones are cousins and which ones aren't.


By contrast, because LostCousins matching is based on records, not DNA, when you connect with someone you'll often know instantly how you're related, even before the two of you have said a word to each other!


Tip: one of the most important pages at LostCousins is one that most people have never heard of - it's the My Contact page. There's a My Contact page for everyone you've been matched with, and it's full of useful information about how the two of you are connected. To display the My Contact page simply visit your My Cousins page and click the name (or initials) of the other member.


Have you been invited to join the forum?

Hundreds of members have been invited to join the forum this week, but donít bother checking your email inbox - invites to the LostCousins Forum appear on the My Summary page at the main LostCousins site.


If you've been invited there will be a Coupon Code shown - you'll need to enter this when you register at the forum, otherwise your application to join won't be approved. If you haven't qualified for an invitation you'll see a reminder to add more entries to your My Ancestors page - entering relatives from the 1881 Census is the quickest way to get an invite (and itís also the quickest way to connect with your 'lost cousins').


Current DNA offers

It's understandable that companies which offer autosomal DNA tests are keen to grow their databases, because the more people in them, the more cousins there are to be found by new customers - and ultimately that's why family historians take the test.


Of course, many people who aren't family historians also test - some because they've been given a test as a gift, others because they're helping a family member who is researching their shared ancestors, and many more because at current prices autosomal tests are an impulse buy, costing less than a meal out at many a mediocre restaurant.


So when you do test, be prepared to discover that some of your cousins - perhaps most of them - haven't linked a family tree to their results. And remember, that - tree or not - they're still your cousins! Don't be dismissive of them just because they're beginners - we were all beginners once.



At the time of writing they've only notified me of a sale at their US site, but I've provided links for all of their main sites so that you can support LostCousins wherever you live:†††††††††††††††† $79 (reduced from $99)††††††††††††† Click link to see current price ††††††††††††††††††† Click link to see current price †††††††† Click link to see current price


All prices exclude shipping. You can generally save on shipping by ordering more than one test at the same time.


Ancestry have by far the largest database of DNA results (over 5 million) and whilst they don't offer many tools, they offer the simplest solution for those who are new to DNA.


Tip: you can download your results from Ancestry and upload them to other sites, including FTDNA and GEDmatch, to find more matches or carry out more detailed analysis. However Ancestry do not accept results from other companies - the only way you can get access to Ancestry's entire database is to test with them.


Family Tree DNA

FTDNA are currently charging $69, which makes it the cheapest autosomal DNA test from any of the companies I'd consider recommending. Another big advantage is that they offer the same price worldwide (although shipping costs slightly more outside the US), and their users are more likely to be keen family historians.


The downside is that FTDNA have a much smaller database of results than Ancestry, around 700,000. However, if you're also considering a Y-DNA test they can use the same sample for both tests (FTDNA are the only company I'd recommend for Y-DNA tests).


Living DNA

Living DNA have reduced their prices, but it's not clear whether this is a permanent change; please use the link for the area where you live:


USA                     Canada                            UK                       Europe               Australia


Living DNA provide a much more detailed analysis of ethnicity for those with ancestors from the British Isles, particularly England. However, the opportunities to connect with cousins are very limited - you can currently only do so by uploading your results to GEDmatch (using GEDmatch Genesis, which is in beta test).


Living DNA is best for people with British, or mostly British, ancestry who have already tested elsewhere but are looking for a more refined analysis of their origins.


What's in a name?

This week the Office for National Statistics, those horrible people who want to get rid of our census, published a list of the most popular forenames of 2016 - this article on the BBC News website summarises some of the key statistics.


Interestingly 8 of the top 10 names given to girls born in 2016 ended in 'a', with Olivia and Amelia (the 2015 winner) at the top. The fastest climber is Harper - chosen not, I suspect, in honour of the late author Harper Lee, who died in February last year, but to emulate David & Victoria Beckham, who bestowed the name on their daughter. However, since 'Posh' chose the name because To Kill a Mockingbird is her favourite book, it's an arguable point.


One might have imagined that, in the year of the Brexit vote, Nigel (after Nigel Farage) might have been a popular choice for boys, but fewer than three parents chose that first name for their sons (the ONS does not give the precise number when there are fewer than three). And Nigella was as unpopular with parents as the eponymous cook is with me.


Note: I couldn't help but be reminded of the 1979 song 'Making plans for Nigel' (which you can find here on YouTube).


There's a lot of diversity - only 51% of boys and 42% of girl babies were given a name that's in the top 100, and two-thirds of names were given to only one child. I suspect the latter statistic has something to do with spelling - I was amazed to see that the name Jaxon is now more popular than Jackson, though relieved to find that Jack is still far more common than Jac.


Note: talking of Jack, the play 'My Boy Jack', about Rudyard Kipling and the loss of his son in the Great War is being reshown on ITV3 at 10.05pm on Tuesday 26th September, and whilst on the subject of Kipling, the unusual name Rudyard was given to 5 boys in 2016, making it more than twice as popular as Nigel, and almost as popular as Jesus (as John Lennon might have said).


The diversity of naming doesn't seem to extend to all cultures - the name Muhammad is in the top 10 across England & Wales as a whole, and the most popular boy's name of all in some regions, even though fewer than 5% of inhabitants are Muslim.


Couple married for 75 years die within hours of each other

In an era when people only seem to be married for 5 minutes - if, indeed, they get married at all - it was heart-warming to hear of a couple who celebrated 75 years together, then died within a few hours of each other just a month later.


George Spears and Jean Tubbs met in a dance hall near London when George was stationed in England during WW2 - you can see their entry in the GRO marriage indexes here:



Jean travelled to Canada in 1944 to meet up with her husband, who was on his way back from Italy, but she returned to London in 2006 to collect an OBE for her work with war brides - she founded the first club for war brides in Canada. There are photos, and much more besides, in this BBC News article.


Twins born 2 years apart

Miranda and Felix are twins - they have the same parents, and they were conceived on the same day in the same laboratory. However, while Miranda was implanted into her mother's womb a few days later, the bunch of cells that were to become Felix stayed in the freezer for 2 years.


IVF has been around for a long time - Louise Brown, the first "test tube baby" is now 39 years old and has children of her own - but it took a while to become accepted. According to this Daily Telegraph article Louise's parents were swamped with hate mail - goodness knows what would have happened had the World Wide Web existed in 1978.


The technique that allowed John and Lesley Brown to bring a baby into the world was pioneered by two doctors working in Cambridgeshire; now scientists working at the Francis Crick Institute in London are using the gene-editing tool Crispr-Cas9 in an attempt to better understand why some pregnancies go wrong. Their work is also controversial, because they are experimenting on human embryos - you can read more about it here.


Would you subscribe to the Funeral Channel?

A company called Obitus is installing cameras in crematoriums so that those who are unable to make it to a funeral can view the proceedings from afar - around a fifth of the 281 crematoriums in Britain already have webcams, so in theory it would be possible to watch back-to-back funerals, all day, everyday.


Have you ever been a virtual mourner?


A rather unusual transcription

On the whole transcribers do a far better job than you or I could possibly manage, but every now and then a come across a transcription that makes me smile. At least, I assume itís a transcription error - I suppose it's always possible that the groom had a stammer?



Is your email service ending?

If your email address changes you can update it yourself on your My Details page - there's absolutely no need to contact me. Indeed, if everyone contacted me whenever their email address changed you wouldn't be reading this newsletter, because I'd have no time left to do anything else!


However, if the change is occurring because your existing email provider plans to close down the service or merge it with another one, it's likely that many other members are going to be affected. In this case I'd like to have the chance to remind them to update their own accounts, as I did when EE closed down their Orange and Freeserve addresses earlier this year.


So in those specific circumstances do please write to me, explaining what is happening and which addresses are affected. Otherwise I could lose touch with some of those members for everÖ..


Update: thanks to all those who notified me about the Vodafone NZ changes.


Peter's Tips

If you buy things by mail order, the chances are that you'll have come across a company called Coopers of Stortford, who are based just a few miles down the road from LostCousins. I occasionally buy things from their shop in Bishops Stortford, but they've just launched a new website and as they're a local business with a national reach I promised to give them a mention.


One of the more unusual items I came across recently - although not on their website - was a Tefal toaster that also boils or poaches eggs. It sounded to me like an April Fool until I looked at the reviews - and discovered that people really love them. Even better - or perhaps worse, depending on your culinary tastes - there's a model that also heats baked beans. Crikey - what will they think of next!


I guess that if the microflats that were in the news recently become popular (see, for example, this Independent article) there will be a demand for all sorts of space-saving gadgets.


Have you figured out which birth and death PDFs you're going to order when they become available again? I'm working my way through my tree, looking particularly for births and deaths just after 1837 which might provide insight into relatives who were born or married before the commencement of civil registration.


Remember to check the Stop Press below from time to time, to find out whether the trial has commenced.


Stop Press

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......


Description: Description: peter_signature


Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2017 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