Newsletter - 4th May 2017



Who Do You Think You Are? Live Dead BREAKING NEWS

Three days to save at Findmy past ENDS SUNDAY

How to get a FREE LostCousins upgrade

My birthday present - a brick wall comes tumbling down!

Catholic parish registers online at Findmypast

Were your ancestors closet Catholics?

Remember Tinker Bell

Win an original 221 year-old document

Documents from the archives - school bills and receipts from 1897

From a reader's collection: certificates with a difference

Free online genealogy course commences 3rd July

Loyalty matters

What am I reading?

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 27th April) 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):



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!



Who Do You Think You Are? Live Dead BREAKING NEWS

After 10 years the world's biggest genealogy show is closing down - according a shock announcement on the website of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. Who Do You Think You Are? Live followed in the footsteps of the Society of Genealogists' annual fair and quickly attracted a new generation of researchers, but in an era when so much happens online it must be as difficult for organisers to make a profit as it is for High Street shops to compete against out-of-town and online vendors.


But perhaps there is an opportunity for someone else to fill the gap, possibly with an event that is less show and more conference? Let's see what happens in the coming weeks and months.



Three days to save at Findmy past ENDS SUNDAY

You've got just three days to save on World subscriptions at Findmypast's UK, US and Irish websites - and you can earn yourself a free LostCousins subscription by using one of my links.


With a World subscription you'll get virtually unlimited access to all 8 billion records in Findmypast's worldwide collections! The 2 billion British records include the 1939 Register for England & Wales, one of the most exciting and revealing releases of recent years, all the censuses (apart from the Scotland 1911 census, which is only available at ScotlandsPeople), and parish registers for Cheshire, Devon, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Plymouth & West DevonRutland, Shropshire, Staffordshire Westminster, most of East Kent, large parts of Yorkshire, and much of Wales. There are also tens of millions of transcribed parish register entries including the National Burial Index (which extends to 37 counties).


You also get unlimited access to the UK Electoral Registers for 2002-14 to help you track down living relatives - I use it all the time to track down LostCousins members who have forgotten to tell me about their change of email address.


Your World subscription will also give you access to the best online collection of Irish records, as well as nearly 100 million records from Australia & New Zealand, plus US records which include all the censuses, and millions of marriage records that you won't find anywhere else. If you're not already convinced, perhaps I should remind you about the more than 200 million newspaper articles in the British Newspaper Archive (to subscribe to the BNA on its own would cost nearly £80 a year), and the growing collection of Roman Catholic records?


Should you decide to take out a subscription please use the appropriate link below to ensure that LostCousins benefits and that you have a chance of getting a free LostCousins upgrade (see the next article for full details, and be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully).


Note: Findmypast's offer is for new and lapsed subscribers only - but don't worry, if you are an existing subscriber you are entitled to an automatic Loyalty Discount when you allow your subscription to renew automatically.


How to get a FREE LostCousins upgrade

When you buy a new World subscription from Findmypast using the link above you can get a bonus - a free LostCousins subscription worth up to £12.50! To claim your LostCousins upgrade forward the email receipt from Findmypast, making sure that the time and date are clearly shown (and time zone, if it isn't London time). You can use any of the LostCousins email addresses, including the one I wrote from when telling you about this newsletter.


Please read the important advice below before you make your purchase, and make a note of the precise time of your purchase in case the email from Findmypast doesn't arrive.


Terms & conditions: your free LostCousins subscription will be funded by the commission that Findmypast pay us; if we don't receive any commission on your purchase then unfortunately you won't qualify. If you use an adblocker the link may not work; if tracking is disabled in your browser the link will work, but Findmypast won't know that you clicked it, so won't pay us any commission. Don't use more than one device, and to give yourself the best chance of qualifying use a computer rather than a tablet or smartphone. Commission isn't paid on renewals or purchases that Findmypast regard as renewals, eg when a subscription has recently lapsed. You might qualify if you upgrade, but there are no guarantees. If you already have a LostCousins subscription it will be extended; otherwise your subscription will run from the day you purchased your Findmypast subscription.


My birthday present - a brick wall comes tumbling down!

For a family historian there's nothing more satisfying than knocking down a 'brick wall', and I was absolutely delighted to celebrate the 13th Birthday of LostCousins by knocking down one of my oldest 'brick walls'. I hope that by telling the story of how my wall came tumbling down I will inspire some of you to make similar breakthroughs - sometimes all it takes is renewed enthusiasm and a fresh pair of eyes.


For well over a decade I've been struggling to find the baptism of my great-great-great grandmother, Sarah Ann Vize, who - according to the 1851 and 1861 censuses - was born in Rotherhithe, Surrey around 1812. Rotherhithe is less than a mile from Tower Bridge, one of London's most famous landmarks, and in my younger days I used to drive through the Rotherhithe Tunnel to visit The Mayflower, one of the few pubs in central London that is actually on the River Thames (it's close to the mooring for the ship which brought the Pilgrim Fathers to the New World in 1620, hence the name). The area has clearly  been gentrified since the 1970s - The Mayflower is now a 'gastro-pub' in 'Rotherhithe village'. But I digress…..


There are several Vize families baptising children in Rotherhithe in the early 19th century but there's nothing to indicate which, if any, might be relatives of mine - and as William Pepperell and Sarah Vize chose to marry in 1836, a year before civil registration began, there are no clues to be gleaned from the marriage register (the two witnesses were obviously regular signers).


However, as so often happens, the vital clue turned up when I least expected it. When I was compiling this newsletter on Tuesday I noticed that Ancestry had recently updated their City of London and Tower Hamlets Cemetery Registers 1841-1966 record set, so I decided to check whether any of my relatives had been buried there. There was a good chance of success - all of my ancestors were in east London at some point during the 19th century - and naturally I started with the less common surnames. When I got to Pepperell there were several names I recognised, but I also realised that some were listed twice: when I investigated further I discovered that this was not, as sometimes happens, because duplicate microfilms had been indexed, but because one entry was for the burial register and the other for the register which recorded the ownership of the graves.


One of the latter entries told me that six people had been buried in grave 5395:


Sarah A Pepperell (née Vize) 1867

William J Pepperell (her only child) 1885

Mary A Pepperell (his wife, another of my 'brick walls') 29/4/01

Mary Hale & two infants, all in one coffin 31/1/68


At this point I had no idea who Mary Hale was, or who the two infants might have been - but what intrigued me most were the names of the addresses of the owners of the grave, who were Mary Vize and, subsequently, George Henry Vize. After all these years I had, at last, come across some relatives of Sarah Ann Vize!


I quickly discovered that George Henry Vize was the son of James Vize, who had been baptised in 1814 at the Albion Street Wesleyan Chapel in Rotherhithe according to the non-conformist baptisms at Ancestry - but the register started in 1812, and there was no mention of my ancestor, Sarah Ann Vize. A search for her by name was equally useless, and if I tried to search using a wildcard in the surname (eg V*) I was told there were too many results to display, which seems ironic given that it would allow me to search without any surname at all!


So, as I often do in such cases, I turned to an alternative source - Findmypast - who have also digitized and indexed the non-conformist baptisms in RG4 at the National Archives. And there it was - the record I'd been looking for all these years!


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


It turned out that my ancestor had been baptised in a different Wesleyan chapel, one in Bermondsey, just along the river. And whilst this record is certainly in Ancestry's database it's almost impossible to find with a search, and not just because the surname has been mistranscribed. I couldn't find it at The Genealogist either.


It just goes to show that a subscription to one, or even two, websites isn't enough to knock down the highest 'brick walls' - you need access to all the available online resources. So often we see that this or that website has added a new dataset and dismiss it on the basis that "so-and-so have had those records for years" - but I certainly won't do that again, and I trust you won't either!


Tip: for another example of 'missing' records turning up on a different website see this article from three years ago, in which I describe how I discovered my grandfather's WW1 records, which I had previously thought were amongst the many files destroyed in WW2.


Coincidentally I had an email today from Jacqueline, a LostCousins member who attended both Genealogy in the Sunshine events, to tell me how she had knocked down a 17 year-old 'brick wall' using the GRO's new online indexes of births. These revealed that when her great-great-great grandmother married in 1829 she wasn't a spinster, despite what it said in the marriage register. Most of her children were born before the commencement of civil registration in 1837, and the birth index entry for her youngest daughter, born in 1839 gave as her maiden surname the name that appeared in the marriage register.


But the entry for her youngest son, born in 1842, gave a different maiden surname, leading Jacqueline to the record of her ancestor's first marriage in 1817, and eventually to her baptism. A great result, though as Jacqueline reminded me, every time we knock down a 'brick wall' there are at least two more behind it!


Catholic parish registers online at Findmypast

Although there are now parish registers online for about half of English counties and most Welsh counties, many collections only include Church of England records. Earlier this year Findmypast announced that they were collaborating with the Catholic Church to make available online around 100 million baptism, marriage, and burial records from the UK and the US.


Last year Findmypast made available a collection of more than 10 million Catholic records from Ireland (and whilst these Irish records are also available at other sites, you'll know by now that searching at more than one site can be advantageous); then in February 2017 they launched exclusive collections totalling 3 million records from the Archdioceses of Philadelphia in the US, Birmingham and Westminster in the UK. Bear in mind that an Archdiocese can cover a wide area - for example, Birmingham includes the counties of West Midlands, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire (see this map).


You can find out which parishes are included in the collections using the following links - but remember that there are millions more records for the US and UK to come over the next 12 months:


England - Roman Catholic baptisms

England - Roman Catholic marriages

England - Roman Catholic burials

Ireland - Roman Catholic baptisms

Ireland - Roman Catholic marriages

Ireland - Roman Catholic burials

Archdiocese of Philadelphia - sacramental registers parish list


Were your ancestors closet Catholics?

I don't have any Catholic ancestors in my tree - or do I? A discovery I made this week has got me wondering…..


I decided to take a close look at Findmypast's records for the Archdiocese of Westminster before writing about them for this newsletter, and as I often do, I used some of the surnames in my tree for test searches. When I entered the surname Driesen, the surname of one of my German ancestors, I got 6 results. 5 of those results were the children of one of ancestor's brothers, so I presumed that his wife was a Catholic (although their marriage certificate shows that they married in a Church of England church), but then I noticed that in 1863 my great-great grandparents, Robert and Ann Wells (née Driesen), were the godparents of their niece Martha Driesen, who was baptised at the Catholic church of St Mary & St Michael, in Commercial Road, east London.


I then realised that one of the baptisms I'd found was for Ann's youngest sister, also Martha, who had been baptised at the same church in 1833. Was it possible that my great-great-great grandparents Francis Driesen and Elizabeth Keehner were Catholic? They married in the Church of England, though in 1812 they would have had no other option - but they choose to have their first child, Elizabeth, baptised at the parish church of St Olave, Southwark. Why would they have done this is they were Catholic?


Admittedly I'd been aware for some years that some of their children had been baptised at the German Catholic Chapel on London, but given the contradictory evidence of their eldest child's baptism, and the fact that all of their children married in the Church of England, I had always assumed that this was because they were more comfortable associating with others of German origin. Now I'm not so sure - I wonder what unexpected discoveries you might make as more and more Catholic records become available online?


Remember Tinker Bell

J M Barrie wrote in Peter Pan that "Whenever a child says 'I don't believe in fairies' somewhere a fairy falls down dead", and I'm sorry to say that this all too accurately reflects what happens when a family historian says that they don't believe in finding cousins, or even worse that they don't have any cousins to find.


We all have thousands of living cousins, but sadly neither we nor our cousins will live for ever - surely we should make an effort to connect with them while we still can? In the play, when Tinker Bell starts to fade, Peter Pan calls to the audience to demonstrate their belief in fairies by clapping their hands - similarly you can help your 'lost cousins', not by clapping or sitting on your hands, but by using them to compete your My Ancestors page.


I know you all intend to complete your My Ancestors page eventually, but I also remember what the economist John Maynard Keynes wrote: "In the long run we are all dead".


Win an original 221 year-old document

In the last issue I announced that to celebrate the 13th Birthday of LostCousins I was giving away an item from my collection - an original hand-signed and numbered English State Lottery ticket issued in London in 1796 - as the top prize in our Birthday Competition.


To take part you need only add entries to your My Ancestors page - which doesn't require any subscriptions, not even a LostCousins subscription! To find out more about the competition and the prizes you can win follow this link to the original article.


Documents from the archives - school bills and receipts from 1897

Because there's so much available online it's easy to forget that only a small fraction of the holdings of local record offices have been digitised. The Essex Record Office offers a regular reminder with their Document of the Month series, and I found this month's particularly interesting - you can find it here.


As it happens I not only have ancestors from Essex, I have ancestors from the Coggeshall area, and as many of them were baptised at the Congregational Church I suspect some of them also attended the Coggeshall Congregational School (though they would have been there long before 1897). But you don't need to have ancestors from the area to find the documents fascinating - just look at the prices on the invoices!


Does your local record office have a similar blog? 


From a reader's collection: certificates with a difference

I've seen many birth certificates in my time, but I don't recall seeing one quite like this example that Colyn shared with me recently - the information is the same, but it has been issued for a very specific purpose. Robert Redvers Baden Fairbrother was just coming up to his 13th birthday - and in the early 20th century there were restrictions on the employment for children of school age, governed by the Factory and Workshop Act of 1901 (you can download the original Act here).



The certificate which follows is self-explanatory - note that the small print at the bottom, which reads "If not so employed the child must attend School whenever it is open until the age of 14":



Items like these don't often survive, but seeing them doesn't simply provide insight into the lives of the individuals they relate to, it also tells us something about the society in which they lived.


Free online genealogy course commences 3rd July

Tens of thousands of family historians, ranging from beginners to experienced LostCousins members, have enjoyed the free FutureLearn course Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree - so I was delighted to learn that there's a fourth presentation starting in July.


You can find out more and sign-up here - and by the way, it really is free, no matter who you are or where you live.


Loyalty matters

Sometimes we may feel that we're being exploited by companies who don't deserve our loyalty and certainly don't reward loyalty when they get it - broadband suppliers and energy companies are prime culprits who have been in the news recently. So it was refreshing to receive this email:


Findmypast want you to keep enjoying their unbeatable Findmypast service. So when you come to renew your 12 month subscription, you will save by being on the lowest price available. Your subscription will automatically renew and when it does, they'll ensure you get:


15% OFF

You'll be paying 15% less than non-renewing customers will pay



This annual subscription price is not available to non-renewing customers - it's Findmypast's way of thanking you for your loyalty!


You don't need to do anything - just log in, check your card details are up-to-date and your auto-renewal is switched on.


What am I reading?

I'm currently reading The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell, who wrote the best-selling book that accompanied the Who Do You Think You Are? television series. Published in 2008 it was the first genealogical mystery I ever bought - and yet it has sat on a shelf in my library until now, for the simple reason that I bought a paperback, and I generally read fiction while I'm travelling, so prefer Kindle books. (It's now also available as a Kindle book - I'm not sure if it was when I bought my copy.)


I'm already half way through, so I hope to have a review in the next newsletter. In the meantime, a reminder that Steve Robinson's latest genealogical mystery is out today - you'll find my review here.


Peter's Tips

I don't know how many of you followed my example by making Sloe Gin last autumn, but you might be interested to know that I've yet to decant mine -  leaving the sloes in allows a richer flavour to develop, and it just seems to get better and better. I've done the same with half of the Shepherd's Bullace Gin that I made, and it too seems to be maturing nicely.


(In case anyone is wondering, I don't operate an illegal distillery - I buy London gin in the supermarket when it is on special offer and use that as the base.)


It's a while since I've written about supermarket bargains but I couldn't resist sharing my latest coup with you. As ever it's all about being in the right place at the right time, and in my local Tesco Superstore the right time is between 7pm and 7.30pm, when they mark down fresh food by up to 90%, as you can see from this receipt. I slow-roasted one of the shoulders of lamb last night  - it was delicious.


Not all supermarkets operate in the same way, but it's worth finding out when your favourite supermarket makes its final reductions - it's likely to be towards the end of the day (in the morning the discount could be as low as 10%).


Of course, it helps to have some space in your freezer! I tend to fill ours up with bread (another bargain buy at 8p to 13p a loaf), which I can move to the fridge when the space is needed.


Stop Press

This is where any last minute updates and corrections will be highlighted - if you think you've spotted an error (sadly I'm not infallible), reload the newsletter (press Ctrl-F5) then check here before writing to me, in case someone else has beaten you to it......


I hope you've found this, the first newsletter of our 14th year useful - and I trust there will be many more to come. After all, if Prince Philip can soldier on until the age of 96 I've got no reason to think about retirement!


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