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Newsletter – 16th September 2022



1921 Scottish Census should be out before the end of the year

Remember what happened in 1952

How to get used to singing “God Save the King”

Name changes

Why was the Queen Mother’s birthdate wrong?

Access to the 1939 Register for Scotland

Church of Ireland parish registers

Wales and North America – historic links

Queen Elizabeth II: what the newspapers said in 1926

Did my cousin invent the digital scanner?

The King Father?

Absolute cognatic primogeniture

Peter’s Tips

Stop Press



The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 10th September) 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):



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1921 Scottish Census should be out before the end of the year

At one time it was hoped that the 1921 Scotland Census would be released before the end of 2021, but now ScotlandsPeople is indicating a release date towards the end of 2022:


Preparations for the publication of the 1921 Scottish Census on the ScotlandsPeople website and in the ScotlandsPeople Centre towards the end of this year are well under way. In January, work began on the transcription of the index to publish the records and digital images on ScotlandsPeople. Once this is complete, a full transcription of the remaining information from approximately 4.8 million individual records will be created.


This is a large scale and complex project that involves the transcription of individual records followed by extensive quality assurance. To date we have transcribed over 3 million index entries and continue to work on the quality assurance of these while progressing with the technical preparations on the ScotlandsPeople website. As we continue to proceed with this project, we will announce its publication as far in advance as possible via our digital channels.


We appreciate how patient people have been waiting for this important release. This is a key priority for NRS and considerable resources are being devoted to ensure these records are released to the public as soon as possible.


It’s interesting to see that it is described as ‘a large scale and complex project’ because the corresponding England and Wales census, released by Findmypast on 6th January this year, was 8 times larger. It just goes to show what a magnificent achievement that was!



Remember what happened in 1952

Hundreds of thousands of mourners have paid their respects to Queen Elizabeth II, or are queuing across London in order to do so. In 1952, when King George VI lay in state, times were very different – we still had rationing in the aftermath of World War 2 – but the sense of loss felt by the nation was no less.


When King George VI came to the throne it was at a time of crisis: crisis for the Royal Family, because the eldest son of King George V wasn’t prepared to put his duty to the British Empire before his personal wishes; crisis for Europe, because of the rise of Hitler and his Nazi henchmen.


His early death, coming at a time when the destruction wrought by the War was still very visible, was a great blow.


When Queen Elizabeth II died it was at Balmoral, her Scottish residence; when King George VI died it was at Sandringham, his Norfolk estate where on fine days he would go shooting. For 4 days his coffin lay in the church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate guarded by members of his staff, who later received typed letters of thanks signed by Her Majesty the Queen.


One of those letters is in my collection and can be seen on the right – it’s the only example I have of the Queen’s signature.


In 2022 we can see what’s happening on the Internet, or on TV, in glorious colour. But in 1952 there was no colour television: indeed there was no television at all in most homes – we got ours for the Coronation, but it was rented (my father continued renting a TV until he was well into his 80s). But there is some colour film footage that you can see online, including these two clips on Twitter. Notice how foggy it was – that was typical of London in the 1950s. There are also several black-and-white Pathé newsreels that you’ll find on YouTube – you could start with this one.



How to get used to singing “God Save the King”

By all accounts it has been proving difficult for loyal subjects of His Majesty King Charles III to remember to sing “God Save the King” when the National Anthem is played – most have only known a Queen on the British throne.


Back in October 2013 I shared a link to this Pathe News film of Julie Andrews singing “God Save the King” at the age of 13 in front of an audience at the London Palladium which included King George VI and his consort, Queen Elizabeth (mother of Queen Elizabeth II). Perhaps if you practice singing along with Julie Andrews you might manage to avoid getting it wrong when it really matters?



Name changes

The 2013 article wasn’t the first time I had written about Julie Andrews, whose performances as Mary Poppins and as Maria in The Sound of Music were part of the backdrop to my early teenage years (both films came out in the UK when I was 14 years old).


In 2011 I wrote about the fact that her name had changed – not because she became an actress, but because her mother had remarried when she was a young child. Her original name is shown on her birth certificate:



I bought this certificate many years ago in an attempt to discover whether there was any connection with my family – Wells was my mother’s maiden name, and some of the branches settled in Surrey – but as so often happens, there was no link.


According to LostCousins member Jean, Julie Andrews attended Moor Lane School in Chessington, where Jean’s father was deputy head – Petula Clark was another pupil, but their paths may not have crossed since Petula was evacuated to Wales during the war, to live with her maternal grandparents in the village of Abercanaid, near Merthyr Tydfil, though it appears that she and her sister were still living with their parents at the time of the 1939 Register:


© Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England and with the permission of Findmypast


Whether or not the two girls knew of each other in those early years, perhaps there was something about the school that encouraged both of them to become singers?



Why was the Queen Mother’s birthdate wrong?

One consequence of the death of our Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II, will be the opening up of her record in the 1939 Register. She and her sister, Princess Margaret, weren’t living at Buckingham Palace on Registration Day, as you can see from the entry for the Royal Household:


© Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England and with the permission of Findmypast


In fact the two Princesses were in Scotland, staying on the Balmoral Estate – see the next article for details of how one would go about ordering a record from the 1939 National Register for Scotland.


But the thing that really stood out for me when I read this entry was the incorrect date of birth shown for the Queen Mother – it was recorded as 24th August 1900, and only later corrected to 4th August (probably at Windsor in 1942 judging from the annotation). What an amazing error!



Access to the 1939 Register for Scotland

The 1939 Register for Scotland is not online, and compared with the arrangements for England & Wales the process of obtaining entries is not only slower, but more expensive.


This page from the National Records of Scotland website explains how to order an extract; you can download a PDF copy of order form here (this must be completed in writing and returned by post).  


Note: extracts from the 1939 Register for Northern Ireland are available free of charge – but only in theory. See this article on Claire Santry’s website for more details.



Church of Ireland parish registers

On Claire Santry’s website I found a link to this invaluable PDF document which lists the location of surviving Church of Ireland parish registers.



Wales and North America – historical links

My wife is three-quarters Welsh (93% according to Ancestry), and spotted an interesting page on a Welsh government website. The claim that a Welsh explorer discovered America might be hard to prove, but the more recent historical links are just as interesting.



Queen Elizabeth II: what the newspapers said in 1926

As I was watching mourners file past the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall, I wondered how her birth had been greeted. Searching at the British Newspaper Archive I discovered a page from The Civil and Military Gazette dated 23rd April 1926, two days after the birth of the future monarch.


All Rights Reserved; image created courtesy of British Library Board, used by permission of Findmypast


I found it particularly interesting because it not only records the time of the birth (2.40am), a detail missing from many modern sources, but also quotes from several London newspapers. For example, it reports that according to the Evening News the new princess was to be christened Mary Victoria Elizabeth, though when she was christened a month later it was as Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. Somewhat more presciently the Star had written that the princess, though third in line, was much closer to the throne than generally believed.   


Tucked away in the corner, probably unnoticed by most readers at the time, is a development that represented a small – but important – step towards the world in which we now live: “A cheque made out in London and transmitted by wireless has been honoured by a New York bank.”


In the next article I’ll take a closer look at how and when images were first transmitted electronically…..



Did my cousin invent the digital scanner?

The cutting on the right, taken from the South Gloucestershire Gazette of 24th April 1926, gives more details about the first wireless transmission of a cheque referred to in the previous article:


All Rights Reserved; image created courtesy of British Library Board, used by permission of Findmypast


Incidentally, whilst most newspapers correctly recorded the cheque as being for $1000, the Daily Mirror described it as being for £200 – a courtesy, one supposes, to their readers.


Whilst this may have been the first time that an image had been transmitted wirelessly across the Atlantic, it was far from the first time that an inventor had come up with the concept of sending images in a digital format. In the late 1870s, Shelford Bidwell, an English physicist and inventor, had come up with a system for scanning images using a selenium photocell – his work was described in an article in Nature in February 1881.


Shelford Bidwell wasn’t the only inventor working in this field – the Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell, considered by many to be the inventor of the telephone, experimented with a ‘photophone’. However that device was designed to send speech in the form of light, so was arguably the forerunner of optic fibre technology (perfected a century later a few miles down the road from LostCousins, at the STC laboratories in Harlow, Essex).


I’m particularly interested in Shelford Bidwell because I have Bidwell ancestors; in 1788 my great-great-great-great grandfather William Calver married Mary Bidwell at Fornham St Martin in Suffolk, less than 10 miles from Stanton, where Shelford Bidwell’s mother Georgina Bidwell was born in 1815. My researches also suggest that William’s grandfather, another William, was born in Stanton a century earlier.


I should mention that Shelford’s parents were both Bidwells, as you can see from this birth register entry:



I’m not sure that this doubles the chance that my Bidwell ancestor was a relative of theirs, but it certainly doesn’t do any harm to the hypothesis. If only I could pin down where and when my 4G grandmother Mary Bidwell was born – but I suspect that only DNA can answer that question.


You can read more about Shelford Bidwell’s experiments in this article on the website of the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, Yorkshire.


Incidentally, had I not looked more closely at the article from The Civil and Military Gazette, then followed up on the brief story about the electronically-transmitted cheque by searching for other articles on the same topic, I would probably never have come across Shelford Bidwell. He may not be a relative of mine, but in the course of investigating that possibility I’m likely to get closer than ever before to solving my Bidwell ‘brick wall’.


It's also an example of how researching one topic for this newsletter can easily lead to another article on a completely different subject – it’s things like this that transform it from a chore to a pleasure!  



The King Father?

Shortly after King George VI died in 1952 his widow, Queen Elizabeth, became known as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, to recognise her position as the mother of the new Queen, and to avoid the confusion that would have arisen had there been two Queen Elizabeths.


At the time Queen Elizabeth II succeeded to the throne her grandmother Queen Mary was still living, so for a while there were three Queens. Had they all been called Elizabeth, would the eldest have been the Queen Grandmother?


Prince Philip died last April, 2 months short of his 100th birthday. But had he outlived his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, might he have become the King Father when his son became King Charles III?


In practice this wouldn’t have happened – partly because Philip has never been a King, though as a great-great grandson of Queen Victoria he was in the line of succession to the British throne, and at the time of his birth he was in the line of succession to the thrones of Greece and Denmark. But even if he had been King Philip, there would have been no chance of confusing him with his son.



Absolute cognatic primogeniture

Some of you might know what I’m talking about, but you’d be in the minority – even I only came across this term when I was writing this newsletter.


Many of you will know that in 2013 the United Kingdom abolished the system of male primogeniture which had determined the line of succession to the British throne for hundreds of years. Absolute cognatic primogeniture is the replacement – the eldest child of the monarch inherits the throne irrespective of gender.


This change only applies to heirs born after 2011, but as King Charles only has sons, and the first child of each of those sons was male, there will be little practical difference for a long time to come. Indeed, the last time that a son was chosen ahead of an older sister was in 1901, when Edward VII succeeded Queen Victoria.


It’s interesting to ponder what might have happened had the throne instead passed to Princess Victoria, who had become Crown Princess of Prussia and Empress of Germany as a consequence of her marriage to Frederick III. She was also the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who succeeded his father in 1888. Had she become Victoria II in January 1901 on the death of her mother it would have been a short reign – she herself died in August of that year – so she would have been succeeded as monarch by her eldest child, Wilhelm, who would presumably have been styled King William V of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.


In those circumstances it’s quite likely that the course of early 20th century European history would have been very different, but let’s suppose that for one reason or another King William V abdicated in 1918, when Kaiser Wilhelm II gave up the German throne, and that his descendants were barred from succeeding him (as was the case when Edward VIII abdicated in 1936). Next in line would have been his eldest sister, Charlotte of Prussia and Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen – but that too would have been a short reign because she died in 1919.


Charlotte’s heir was Princess Feodora Viktoria Auguste Marie Marianne of Saxe-Meiningen, her only child, and had she ascended to the British throne it’s likely that she would have become Victoria III. She died childless in 1945, so would have been succeeded by a descendant of Princess Victoria’s 3rd child, Prince Henry. Henry himself had died in 1929, and only one of his three children outlived Feodora – the other two had inherited the haemophilia which afflicted so many of Queen Victoria’s male descendants.


Prince William Victor Charles Augustus Henry Sigismund of Prussia was styled Prince Sigismund of Prussia during his lifetime, but let’s suppose he would have ascended the British throne in 1945 as King William VI. When William VI died in 1978 the British throne would have passed to his eldest child, Barbara Irene Adelheid Viktoria Elisabeth Bathildis, who had married Duke Christian Louis of Mecklenburg, and might have chosen to be known as Victoria IV.


When she died in 1994 she would have been succeeded by her eldest daughter, Duchess Donata of Mecklenburg, who was born in 1956 and is still living. Goodness knows what regnal name she would have chosen had she ascended to the British throne!



Peter’s Tips

We’re frequently reminded to keep our ‘food miles’ to the minimum, but at this time of the year it’s more like ‘food yards’ in our household, with fruit and vegetables from the garden and the hedgerows providing a large part of our diet. Currently we have a surplus of beans, courgettes, tomatoes, and aubergines.


Moussaka has long been one of my favourite dishes, but the calorie count is on the high side, so I’ve been looking for another way of using aubergines. This week I made a batch of Roasted Aubergine & Tomato curry following a recipe on the BBC GoodFood website which had very high ratings, and it was absolutely delicious (I used low-fat coconut milk to keep down the calorie count). I served it up with rice and a portion of the Pakistani Zucchini curry which I recommended last month; although I would struggle to become a vegetarian, I’m very happy to eat vegetarian food when it tastes as good as this!


Note: I ran out of ground coriander, which is an ingredient in both recipes, but have found a cheap supply at Amazon.


The bullaces that grow near us have a very sharp flavour, which makes them ideal for jam, but when we spend time on the Norfolk Broads we’re more likely to come across mirabelles, which are sweeter – we enjoy them for breakfast, poached with a little sugar and served with Greek-style yoghourt.


So far most of the apples we’ve consumed have been windfalls, which have been turned into apple sauce, or cooked up with blackberries and/or elderberries. Shortly I’m going to start making baked apples, a real autumn treat – stuffed with mixed dried fruit and muscovado sugar, and served with yoghourt (or occasionally cream or ice cream).


One of this year’s batches of Spiced Blackberry, Elderberry, and Apple jam turned out not to be properly set – rather like Bonne Maman conserves that I used to buy. It reminded me how much we used to enjoy having a teaspoonful with scrambled egg, so that was a breakfast treat earlier in the week. If you haven’t tried the combination (blackcurrant jam would also work well), you should!



Stop Press

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Although Monday, the day of the Queen’s funeral will be a sad day, it’s also the last day of National Mourning. We can start looking to the future, including the Coronation of King Charles III – now that will be something for your grandchildren to tell their grandchildren about!


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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2022 Peter Calver


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