Newsletter - 9th March 2018

 

 

Why you might want to connect to your cousins

Who wants to be a millionaire?

27 year-old man wants to be adopted

Forced migrants to receive compensation?

Not everyone went to Canada unwillingly SATURDAY

Can researching your family tree protect against dementia?

Snow news could be good news

News from RootsTech

British Newspaper Archive offer ENDS 17TH MARCH

Ireland birth & marriages indexes enhanced at Findmypast

England & Wales birth indexes also being updated

New York Catholic records go online

DNA on the radio

Ancestry DNA offer ENDS SUNDAY

DNA: reader questions

Are Ducks and Mallards dying out?

Dad's Army 50th anniversary

Review: How We Lived Then

Stop Press

 

 

The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous newsletter (dated 26th February) 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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Why you might want to connect to your cousins

The aims of connecting with living cousins who share the same ancestors are manifold, and include: to confirm past research; eliminate the unnecessary duplication of research and resources; and allow the sharing of things that have passed down one family line, such as original certificates, family Bibles, correspondence, and sometimes stories.

 

Like most experienced researchers I am in contact with many cousins, most of whom are also researching our shared ancestors. And yet, because I now have over 100 'brick walls' in my tree (those of you who have been longer than me will no doubt have even more), I continue to search for cousins - both using research-based methods (such as the My Ancestors page at LostCousins) and using DNA.

 

For example, I recently knocked down one of my oldest 'brick walls' with help from DNA. This put me in contact with the widow of a cousin in New Zealand, and she was able to send me copies of research her husband had been sent many years ago by a cousin in South Africa who had employed a professional genealogist in England over 40 years ago! Naturally I'm not going to take the research at face value - I don't regard anything as proven until there is overwhelming evidence - but it will inevitably save me time, time that I can spend on other parts of my tree.

 

Of course, as an experienced researcher it's likely that, overall, I'm going to be helping my cousins more than they are able to help me. But I don't see that as a problem - they are my cousins, after all, so why wouldn't I want to help them? And even if they're unable to help me with conventional records-based research, they may well be in a position to help by testing their DNA, or putting me in contact with another cousin from their branch of our tree who has inherited the DNA that I need to sample in order to knock down a 'brick wall'.

 

The other thing to consider is that none of us will live for ever. Only by sharing our research with others from the next generation who are equally conscientious in their research methods, and equally determined to find the truth, can the research we carry out during our lifetimes live on.

 

 

Who wants to be a millionaire?

When Stella Knott died on 5th February 2016 she left her £3.5 million fortune to her only child, her son Roy. The only problem? When Roy was born on 16th February 1964 Stella was an unmarried mother, and he was given up for adoption - nobody knows where he is or even who he is - and if he doesn't come forward to claim his inheritance within 3 years of his mother's death the estate will pass to another family member.

 

The solicitors acting for the estate put out an appeal, which was published by the Leamington Courier and The Yorkshire Post last Friday - the only problem is, they didn't give Roy's correct birth name - they described him as Roy Philips, though his mother's maiden surname was actually PHILLIPS (ie with two Ls):

 

 

The correct spelling was confirmed when I found the 1965 marriage of Stella E J Phillips to Reginald J Knott

 

 

 

It would be a great shame if Roy - or whoever he is now - were to miss out on a fortune because of a missing letter!

 

Stella came from a Catholic family, so it's likely that Roy's adoptive parents would also have been Catholics. But they wouldn't necessarily have been British - anyone who watched that wonderful film Philomena, which told the true story of an Irishwoman's search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption half a century before, will know that Roy could have ended up in another country. And was he really adopted or, perhaps, shipped to one of Britain's overseas dominions like Harry?

 

Some adopted children have no interest in their birth parents, but those who do can be hampered by a lack of basic information, especially if their adoptive parents have passed away by the time they begin their search. But DNA can fill in the gaps in the paper trail - so there's a good chance that Roy, who by now would be 54, has taken a DNA test, and in this case it's very likely that someone reading this newsletter has been connected with him. But how would you even know - if you tested with Ancestry you'll have over 10,000 matches?

 

The clue is the identity of his mother - that's the one thing we do know, and I quickly found her birth registration in the 2nd quarter of 1943:

 

 

This led me to the 1934 marriage of William T Phillips to Emily P Connelly, also in Hereford registration district, and to their entry in the 1939 Register:

 

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

 

Note that Emily's forenames were initially recorded as Emaley J P, then amended to Primula Emily G, but as we'll see shortly that wasn't quite right, either. William's year of birth is shown as 1905, but in fact he was born in 1907, as can be seen from his death registration in 1985, and from the 1911 Census, which confirms that Henry Phillips at Rock Farm was his father:

 

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

 

The birth registrations for the children reveal that Jessie's maiden name was Turner, which enabled me to find her marriage to Henry in the second quarter of 1894, confirming the years of marriage shown in the census.

 

I also found Emily's family in the 1911 Census - the family were living with her father's parents:

 

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

 

Peter Connelly, her grandfather, seems to have put her down as Primella, though her birth was in fact registered as:

 

This entry from the new GRO birth indexes shows her full forenames but has the wrong surname; nevertheless the mother's maiden name enabled me to find the marriage of her parents, Owen Rowland Connelly and Catherine Rosetta Barnes in the second quarter of 1900.

 

The 1911 Census schedule for the extended Connelly family contains an impressive number of errors: Peter Owen Connelly married Emily Tibby, also known as Emma G Tibbey, towards the end of 1874, so they'd been married for 36 full years by the time of the 1911 Census, not 31. His birth was registered in the third quarter of 1853, so he was 57 years old, not 54 and his children were all older - Owen Rowland was born in 1875, Albert James in 1878, Thomas Ethelbert in 1881, and Gertrude's birth was registered as Emmaley in the first quarter of 1883, making her 6 years older than the census implies.

 

The march of time had another impact on the Connelly family firm - from carriage builders in 1901 they had morphed into carriage motor builders by 1911. An article in the Summer 1999 issue of The Carriage Journal reports how Connellys were quick to spot the potential of motor transport, and mentions that in 1904 they won the contract to supply motor cars when King Edward VII opened the Elan Valley waterworks. When Peter Owen Connelly died in 1920 he left a fortune of over £20,000 - though when his widow Emmaley died in 1944 her estate was valued at just £149 19s 2d, so perhaps most of the money went to their sons.

 

But I digress - the primary purpose of this article is to help you figure out whether you have any connections to the late Stella Knott, and in particular whether you have any genetic cousins who might possibly be the missing heir? I'm sure that you will be well-rewarded if you help "Roy" to claim his inheritance!

 

 

27 year-old man wants to be adopted

Nathan Sparling is seeking a change in Scottish law so that he can be adopted by his stepfather. In the UK itís only legally possible for children (ie under 18s) to be adopted, and whilst Nathan was only 16 when his mother remarried, by the time he looked into the possibility of being adopted it was too late. Under inheritance law in Scotland adopted children are treated like natural children, but stepchildren have no inheritance rights, so there are practical implications of a change in the law.

 

You can read more in this BBC article.

 

 

Forced migrants to receive compensation?

An independent enquiry has recommended that the 2,000 survivors of the 4,000 British children sent between 1945-70 to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Southern Rhodesia should be compensated because they had been put at risk of abuse. According to the report the governments of the day failed to respond to allegations of abuse, and the failure to accept responsibility continued even after the scheme had ended. You can find out more in this article on the BBC News website, but also see my recent book review on the same topic.

 

 

Not everyone went to Canada unwillingly SATURDAY

The export of British children to the colonies began hundreds of years ago, but not everyone who went overseas was forced to go. On Saturday 10th March Dr Judy Hill will be speaking at the Society of Genealogists about Surrey in the 19th century and one of the topics she'll be focusing on is the Petworth Emigration Scheme, which ran from 1832-37 and helped 1,800 men, women, and children emigrate to Upper Canada (now part of Ontario). There were still places left when I last checked - for more details see the SoG website.

 

Note: my great-great uncle emigrated to Ontario in 1910, taking with him his wife, Emily, and most of their 15 children. For many years I tried unsuccessfully to track them and their offspring using BMD records and newspaper reports, but since re-testing my DNA with Ancestry I've already made contact with two of my Canadian cousins, both of whom are family historians like us.

 

 

Can researching your family tree protect against dementia?

A research study led by Professor Becca Levy at the Yale School of Public Health has found that those who have positive beliefs about old age are half as likely to develop dementia as those who have negative beliefs - even if the people concerned have a gene variant which increases the risk. You can read the paper here.

 

One of my cousins is still taking a keen interest in his family tree as he approaches his 94th birthday - indeed he tested his DNA just before Christmas - and if that's not a sign of a positive attitude towards old age, then I don't know what is! I suspect that keeping up one's interest in any hobby is good for you, but the added intellectual stimulation that comes from the puzzle-solving element of family history must surely be a bonus?

 

Exercise is also good for our health as we get older - yesterday a study reported that some long-distance cyclists in their 80s have immune systems that are as robust as those of 20 year-olds! I don't use my bike any more, but I have a Desk Cycle that allows me to exercise while sitting down - so I can work on my family tree at the same time.

 

How about that - I can research my ancestors, boost my immune system, and stave off dementia all at the same time!

 

 

Snow news could be good news

My talk to the North West Kent Family History Society scheduled for Saturday 3rd March had to be postponed because of the weather but, looking on the bright side, those of us who were stuck indoors had a good chance to get up to date on our family history - and clearly many readers of this newsletter grasped the opportunity because the number of 'lost cousins' found shot up!

 

My talk wasn't the only significant event scheduled for last Saturday - and in Scotland it looked as the wedding of Cameron and Angela Watt would also have to be postponed when the planned venue near Loch Lomond was cut off by snow, but a helpful registrar came to the rescue, and they were married in front of Stirling Castle (you can read all about it here).

 

But my favourite snow story took place a couple of days earlier when members of the BBC Concert Orchestra, marooned in an hotel in Skegness after a performance, offered to provide the music at the wedding of Reece and Lisa Brown (you can see part of the performance here - have a handkerchief at the ready!).

 

 

News from RootsTech

Findmypast have acquired Twile, the startup genealogy company they've been working with for some time. It's not yet clear to me how experienced family historians are going to benefit from this collaboration, but you can read more in this blog article.

 

Living DNA announced Family Networks, a new feature launching later this year which promises to make life easier for those of us who have tested our DNA but are struggling to figure out how our matches fit onto our tree - this could make it easier to document matches with distant genetic cousins, and they say it will work even for those who transfer their results from other sites, so for now my recommendation is to stick with Ancestry (who have provided me with some wonderful discoveries since I tested less than a year ago). However if you're looking for ethnicity estimates that might actually be useful, the Living DNA test is well worth considering, and in the UK the price is currently reduced to £109 (excluding delivery). Just don't expect to find many cousins - the Living DNA database is still very small.

 

Tip: there also discounts at Living DNA in the US and Canada.

 

 

 

British Newspaper Archive offer ENDS 17TH MARCH

Until midnight (London time) on St Patrick's Day, Saturday 17th March you can save 30% on a 12 month subscription to the British Newspaper Archive, bringing the cost down to under £56 (or about 15p a day). It's worth reminding ourselves that despite the name, the BNA includes many Irish newspapers.

 

If you've only ever searched this enormous (more than 24 million pages) and still growing collection via Findmypast you'll be amazed how much more powerful the BNA search is. For me the best feature is being able to search pages added to the collection after a certain date - this avoids the tedium of ploughing through hundreds of search results you've seen many times before in order to pick out a handful of new ones (I wish all sites offered this feature!).

 

Tip: if you have a Findmypast subscription which includes British newspapers (ie a Britain, Pro, or any World subscription) you could use a free search at the BNA site, then switch to Findmypast once you've found what youíre looking for.

 

To take advantage of this offer, and support LostCousins at the same time, please use this link (the offer code will be inserted automatically). As far as I can see the offer applies to former subscribers as well as new subscribers, but I'm afraid it's unlikely to apply to current subscribers.

 

 

Ireland birth & marriages indexes enhanced at Findmypast

Findmypast have considerably enhanced their indexes to the birth and marriage records at the free IrishGenealogy.ie site - for example, you can now search births using the names of both parents, and even the father's occupation!

 

Ireland Civil Birth Registers Index

Ireland Civil Marriage Registers Index

 

 

England & Wales birth indexes also being updated

Some of you will have noticed that Findmypast are updating their pre-1911 GRO birth indexes with maiden names. So far only a small minority of entries have been updated, but it's an interesting improvement.

 

Are they taking the information from the new indexes at the GRO site? I really donít knowÖ..

 

 

New York Catholic records go online

Findmypast have launched indexes to 8 million sacramental records for the Archdiocese of New York, the second largest in the US. Digitised images of original documents will be added later this year.

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DNA on the radio

Did you hear You & Yours on Radio 4 two weeks ago? In response to a query from a listener, DNA expert, speaker, author and blogger Debbie Kennett explained why ethnicity estimates have little practical utility for genealogists - something I learned from Debbie years ago, and which in turn I've been telling you ever since. If you're in the UK (and perhaps even if you aren't) you can hear the interview by following this link.

 

Note: Debbie Kennett is an Honorary Research Associate at University College London, a member of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, and a co-founder of the ISOGG wiki. And, last but not least, it was precisely 12 years ago today that she joined LostCousins - congratulations, Debbie!

 

 

Ancestry DNA offer ENDS SUNDAY

Ancestry.co.uk are still offering a 20% discount on DNA tests, but the offer ends on Sunday 11th March. The offer is only applicable if you live in the UK or Ireland and you'll only be supporting LostCousins when you use the appropriate link.

 

Tip: the £20 shipping charge might seem rather high, but it includes return postage, and it only applies to the first kit; buy more than one and the charge for the second and subsequent kit is only £10 (thus £20 for 1, £30 for 2, £40 for 3 and so on). You donít need to decide who is going to test when you place your order - you can figure that out later.

 

UPDATE: Ancestry also have DNA sales in Canada and Australia - they run until 18th March. In Canada you can save $30 and pay just $99 plus shipping when you follow this link; in Australia you can take advantage of Ancestry's best ever price of just $90 (plus shipping), saving a massive $39 against the standard price of $129, when you follow this link. Meanwhile at Ancestry.com the price is just $79 plus shipping when you follow this link (the price goes back to $99 on 9th April).

 

 

DNA: reader questions

Although you'll find most of what you really need to know about DNA in these newsletters, from time to time something pops up that I havenít covered.

 

Q "What does cm (or is it cM) mean in the context of DNA matches - presumably not centimetres given how small DNA must be?"

 

A DNA segments are measured in centiMorgans, usually abbreviated as cM, and whilst it isn't a measure of physical length like centimetres, it doesnít do any harm to think of it that way (indeed, when human DNA is unravelled it extends to over 2 metres!). If you want to know more this page on the ISOGG website will tell you - but it isnít something you really need to know.

 

Q "I have a match at AncestryDNA with 13.2 cM over 2 segments. I can see the match in our trees, in fact Ancestry gave me a hint, and it is on my motherís side. Looks like a perfect match in our trees. However my motherís DNA match to this same person is only 9.2cM over one segment! I think that the only explanation for this is that I got one of those segments from my father. Is there any other explanation?"

 

A Consumer DNA testing is not an exact science - you can't expect a test that looks at 1.4 million bases for under £100 to be 100% accurate - there will be a handful of missed readings. All DNA testing companies use complex statistical algorithms to maximise the chance of identifying DNA segments that genuinely match, whilst eliminating as many false matches as possible, but there will always be errors of classification. I suspect that in this case a second matching segment was identified when the mother's DNA was compared with that of the cousin, but that it was classified as a false match - a difference on just one base out of hundreds could have swayed the decision.

 

Q "My cousin and I tested with two companies, but the amount of DNA that we share differs significantly depending who you believe. Is the company that shows the greater amount of shared DNA doing a better job?"

 

A You might think so, but if you look closely youíre likely to find that there are very small segments included that the other company ignored. Whilst it's true that small segments are more likely to be genuine matches when there is already a proven match between two cousins, that's an argument for lowering the threshold, not removing it entirely.

 

 

Are Ducks and Mallards dying out?

I recently mentioned that I have some Ducks in my family tree - I also have Partridges, and whilst both are families that my cousins married into, I also have Partridge ancestors in a different part of my tree. This got me wondering whether names that might prompt a chuckle (or even a snigger) have a tendency to die out, either because the holders chose to change their names, or because eligible ladies are discouraged from marrying someone with a surname that makes them feel uncomfortable. For example, I discovered after her death that my late stepmother refused to marry her first husband until he changed his surname from Coffin to Collins.

 

As an experiment I searched for the surnames Duck and Mallard in the 1881 Census and compared the results against the numbers in the 2002 Electoral Register - in each case they had become less popular. The same was true of the Goose surname - though Partridge bucked the trend.

 

Straying into sniggering territory, I noticed that Bottom has become decidedly less common, whilst Bastard has been almost eliminated (though in name only - the number of children born out of wedlock far exceeds anything our ancestors achieved).

 

 

Dad's Army 50th anniversary

Those of us who are "of a certain age" remember with affection watching Dad's Army in the 1970s (some of us are still watching the re-runs). In fact the first episode was broadcast in 1968, which makes this year the 50th anniversary of this classic comedy.

 

As I was looking through my list of ancestral surnames this week it struck me that I have the names of two of the key characters amongst my direct ancestors - Pike, the youngest in the platoon (played by Ian Lavender, who is only 4 years older than me), and Godfrey, who was the oldest of the actors (Arnold Ridley was born in 1896). I also have a direct ancestor called Pritchard, though Colonel Pritchard wasn't one of the key characters.

 

Can anyone do better?

 

 

Review: How We Lived Then

I only recently discovered the late Norman Longmate's wonderful How We Lived Then, a history of everyday life during the Second World War, but it stands out just as proudly as it did when first published in 1971. Hundreds of people, most of them - sadly - no longer with us, contributed memories that have been cleverly interleaved so that each of the 40 chapters deals with a key aspect of the war.

 

Reading about the experiences of different people on the first day of the war I couldn't help but be reminded of what my father had told me about his own experiences - he was an ARP stretcher bearer, but of course there were no air raids on that first day, and it wasn't until 4 days later that the Germans attempted to mount an attack. Every aspect of the Home Front is explored and, because there were so many contributors, from all over our green and pleasant land, many of you will have known one (or more) of them.

 

The main part of the book extends to more than 500 pages, but there are 16 pages of sources, organised by chapter, and 8 pages crammed with the names (and towns) of individual contributors, organised by letter of the alphabet. To supplement the general index there is an index to places mentioned in the book - it is encyclopaedic in its approach as well as its coverage.

 

It's probably not a book to read through from beginning to end, rather one to dip into, a chapter or two at a time - or even to use for reference. For someone writing a novel set during the war I cannot imagine a better starting point! For those of us trying to reconstruct our family history and put into context the stories and evidence that we've collected it's crammed with answers to the questions that we wish we had asked, but didn't.

 

For the many reading this who lived through the war it is, in the words of the Times Literary Supplement "not merely a refreshment of memoryÖ but also an enlargement of experience; how other people we did not meet lived then."

 

I bought a new paperback copy from Wordery, but you might be tempted by a second-hand copy from Amazon - theyíre all second-hand once we've read them! If you use the links below you'll be supporting LostCousins (even if you end up buying something completely different from the same website):

 

Amazon.co.uk†††††††† Amazon.com ††††††††† Amazon.ca††† ††††††††† Wordery †††††† The Book Depository

 

Note: I don't provide links to Amazon's Australian site because they don't currently have an affiliate scheme; of course, you should still buy from them if their prices are the best but do also check Wordery and The Book Depository, both of which offer free worldwide delivery and support LostCousins.

 

 

Stop Press

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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins

 

© Copyright 2018 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?