Newsletter - 4th May 2018



Last chance to save at Findmypast ENDS SOON

Get a free LostCousins subscription

New family history show launches in April 2019

Knowledge of family history is good for kids

Family history articles for your parish magazine

An insider's guide to Civil Registration

Industrial schools

Which DNA test, and which company?

Mother's Day offers

Win a free DNA test!

Review: The Phantom Atlas

Peter's Tips

Stop Press



The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous newsletter (dated 28th 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!



Last chance to save at Findmypast ENDS SOON

Until Sunday 6th May you can save 10% on a NEW top-level 12 month subscription at Findmypast's UK, Ireland, and Australia sites, and because Findmypast reward loyalty, you'll have an opportunity to renew at a discount (currently 15%) in a year's time! The subscriptions listed below all provide access to the same records even though the names are different:


SAVE 10% on 12 month Pro subscriptions at

SAVE 10% on 12 month World subscriptions at

SAVE 10% on 12 month World subscriptions at


All of these subscriptions include virtually unlimited access to all of Findmypast's historical records and newspapers from around the world, including the 1939 Register, their fast-growing Catholic records collection, military records, migration records, and parish registers for many counties in England and most of Wales (plus transcribed records for many other counties). They also have an amazing collection of Irish records, and an impressive collection of records from Australia and New Zealand.


Unfortunately Findmypast couldn't offer a discount on 12 month subscriptions to their US site, but they did come up with a pretty good offer - 50% off the first month when you buy their top monthly subscription:


SAVE 50% on 1 month Ultimate British & Irish subscriptions at


Note: these offers are for new subscribers only (though I suspect that lapsed subscribers can also benefit); if you have an existing subscription neither Findmypast's offer nor my offer below will apply. But bear in mind that if you have an existing 12 month subscription you'll qualify for Findmypast's Loyalty Discount for renewals (currently 15%). Finally PLEASE read the next article BEFORE making your purchase!



Get a free LostCousins subscription

LostCousins can only benefit if you use a link that I've provided. So I'm once again offering a free subscription to members who go out of their way to take up Findmypast's offer using my links and ensure that your purchase is tracked - this means that the total savings you make can be as much as £28. But please read the terms and conditions below so that nobody misses out - if you qualify you will get a subscription which last for 12 months or 1 month, depending which Findmypast subscription you purchased.


To claim your LostCousins subscription (which will run from the date of purchase of your Findmypast subscription, unless you already have a LostCousins subscription, in which case it will be extended), please forward to me the email receipt that you receive from Findmypast. Screenshots are sufficient - I need to know the precise time of your purchase (so write it down, in case the emailed receipt doesn't arrive). You can use any of the LostCousins email addresses, including the one I wrote from when telling you about this newsletter.


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, so it's up to you to make sure that doesn't happen. For example, if you use an adblocker the link may not work; if you have disabled tracking in your browser the link will appear to work, but Findmypast will ignore it, so won't pay us any commission (this is the most common problem - if youíre not sure ask for my advice before making your purchase, afterwards is too late!). Make sure your Internet Security software doesn't prevent tracking - in Kaspersky it is called Private Browsing, but other programs may use different terminology. Commission isn't paid on renewals, and may not be paid on upgrades.



New family history show launches in April 2019

The demise of Who Do You Think You Are? Live left a big hole in the calendar (and, I suspect, in the hearts of many ardent family historians).


So I was delighted to hear that a new show is stepping into the breach. Family Tree Live will take place at London's iconic Alexandra Palace on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th April 2019 - that's the weekend after Easter.


Organised by Family Tree magazine and the Federation of Family History Societies it promises "two days of lectures, workshops, displays and stands - suitable for all levels of family history experience."


But let's hope that they can manage without the stands offering orthopaedic mattresses, or soliciting donations for charities unrelated to family history!



Knowledge of family history is good for kids

My wife recently came across some research published in a psychological journal in 2008 which found that knowledge of family history "is significantly correlated with internal locus of control, higher self-esteem, better family functioning, greater family cohesiveness, lower levels of anxiety, and lower incidence of behavior problems".


The research paper itself is behind a paywall, so I canít link to it, but this article from the New York Times draws on the same research, as does this follow up article on the Huffington Post site. Of course, trying to persuade children to research their family tree isnít practical when there so many other competing demands for their attention, but telling them about the family's history - both the ups and the downs - is all that's needed.


Tip: the Huffington Post article includes a questionnaire - I wonder how many of those questions you could have answered before you began your research?



Family history articles for your parish magazine

I've started writing a series of short articles about family history for the Stansted Mountfitchet village magazine (you can see the first one here - itís on page 37). Based on the Beginners Guide on the Help & Advice page at the LostCousins site it's designed to introduce people gradually to the wonderful hobby that we all find so fulfilling (even if we are sometimes spotted tearing out hair out!).


I'd be happy to supply the same articles to other parish magazines - just pass on my contact details to the editor. There is, of course, no charge.



An insider's guide to Civil Registration

Former deputy registrar Anthony Marr, now a professional genealogist and frequent contributor to family history magazines has a 7-page article in the latest issue of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine which looks at the history of civil registration and gives an insider's view of the topic.


I found this sentence particularly revealing: "ÖI had the opportunity to work as a part-time deputy registrar in the county of Buckinghamshire, and was amazed to discover more about registration in the four weeks of my GRO training that I managed to learn in 20 years of research."


A useful tip to bear in mind is that for registration purposes a woman's name is the name in which she first contracted a marriage, which is not necessarily the name she acquired at birth.


Later this month, on 22nd May, Anthony Marr will be talking to West Surrey Family History Society in Walton-on-Thames - non-members are welcome (there is a suggested donation of £2). There are more details here.


Tip: you can save 40% on an annual subscription to WDYTYA magazine if you follow this link (if you live outside the UK the best value is a digital subscription, also available through the same link).



Industrial schools

Another article in the May issue of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine looks at Industrial and Reformatory schools. Both Ancestry and Findmypast have records for some of these schools, but if you want to know more about why these establishments existed, and what their role was I'd recommend an article which has just been posted on the Essex Record Office website - you'll find it here.



Which DNA test, and which company?

If youíre considering using DNA to solve mysteries in your family tree read this article carefully - it could save you a lot of money!


There are three types of DNA aimed at genealogists: Y-DNA, mtDNA, and atDNA. Y-DNA and mtDNA tests look at just one out of your thousands of ancestral lines - the paternal and maternal lines respectively.


Note: sometimes people gain the mistaken impression that Y-DNA tests can help solve any mysteries on their father's side of the tree, and mtDNA tests can do the same on their mother's side. This is wrong: Y-DNA is only passed from father to son, and mtDNA is only passed from mother to child.



Y-DNA tests can sometimes help, not least because Y-DNA is inherited in the same way as surnames. This means that even if you canít figure out how youíre related to the people you match with, just knowing their surnames might be useful. But Y-DNA tests are relatively expensive, and to pay so much for so little is hard to justify now that autosomal tests are available.


Note: I tested my Y-DNA in 2012 but even after 6 years haven't managed to figure out how I am related to ANY of the people I've been matched with, despite upgrading to the 111 marker test.



Harder still to justify is the cost of an mtDNA test. Even if you get an exact match the chances are the common ancestor lived so long ago that it was before parish registers began.


Note: I tested my mtDNA in 2012 - it was a waste of money, because I've learned nothing and I don't expect I ever will find out anything useful.


The time to resort to Y-DNA and mtDNA tests is when you have someone to compare against - but even then it's usually possible to answer the question using autosomal DNA, and you'll find out lots more besides!



Autosomal DNA tests are now the cheapest as well as the most popular tests - even though the test is more comprehensive. For example, whereas my top-of-the-range Y-DNA test looked at just 111 markers, autosomal DNA tests typically look at between 650,000 to 700,000 pairs of bases.


But the real value for money comes from the large number of matches you'll get. Why so many? Partly because more people have taken atDNA tests, but primarily because you can potentially get a match with any cousin on any line.


How many matches you get depends mainly on how many results there are in the database of the company you test with. Ancestry have by far the largest database - over 7 million according to the last reported statistic, but probably closer to 10 million today. Only 23andMe come anywhere close, but many of their customers tested for medical purposes and aren't interested in genealogy.


You can see figures for all of the major providers in this table on the ISOGG wiki. As the prices of tests have fallen an increasing number have been bought as gifts, so donít expect all of your genetic cousins to have a family tree - nor should you assume that just because they havenít linked a tree to their results they don't have one.


DNA testing is all about finding cousins in order to knock down 'brick walls', and the more matches you get, the more 'brick walls' you'll be able to knock down - and the easier it will be. This means that you ideally need access to Ancestry's massive database of results - and the only way to do that is to buy the Ancestry DNA test. Donít make the mistake of buying another test because it's cheaper - if youíre price-conscious wait for the next Ancestry sale and buy your test then.


Tip: if you test with Ancestry you can transfer your results to other sites to find more cousins and make use of additional tools; but if you test with a different company you cannot transfer your results to Ancestry.



Mother's Day offers

Next weekend it will be Mother's Day in North America. Ancestry have announced a sale in Canada starting today, 23andMe have an offer in the US and Canada, whilst Family Tree DNA are discounting prices worldwide on Family Finder and mtDNA tests.


Save $30 on Ancestry DNA in Canada when you click here (starts Saturday, ends 8th May)


Save $30 on Ancestry DNA in Australia & New Zealand when you click here (ends 13th May)


Save 20% or get 3 for 2 with 23andMe in the US and Canada - click here (ends 13th May)


Save on Family Finder and mtDNA with FTDNA when you follow this link (ends 14th May)


I'll update this article if any more sales are announced before the next newsletter is published.



Win a free DNA test!

As mentioned in the last issue, I've decided to mark the 14th Birthday of LostCousins on Tuesday 1st May by giving away a free Ancestry DNA test to a lucky member.


At the end of May I'm going to pick ONE of the readers of this newsletter - but to be chosen you need to have supported my work by doing ALL of these things:


   Logged-in to your LostCousins account at least ONCE between 28th April and 31st May

   Entered on your My Details page EITHER a secondary email address that I can use to get in touch if your primary address fails OR your full postal address

   Added at least ONE relative to your My Ancestors page between 28th April and 31st May

   Purchased at least ONE LostCousins subscription since first joining


(Members who live in France are excluded as DNA testing is illegal there.)


If youíve already tested your DNA you can give the kit to a family member or cousin.



Review: The Phantom Atlas

Subtitled "The Great Myths, Lies, and Blunders on Maps" this lavishly illustrated book by Edward Brooke-Hitching looks at the multitude of mistakes that were made by map-makers and explorers, some of which were only corrected quite recently. One non-existent island in the Coral Sea was only removed from the charts in 2012, whilst polar explorers were reporting discoveries of territories that didn't exist in the early 20th century.


Having admitted in the last issue that I failed O-level History, I now have to admit that I didn't even get as far O-level in Geography - which might explain why I was somewhat underwhelmed by the stories. Nevertheless it was interesting to see how misconceptions and miscommunication led to so many of these misapprehensions, and in that respect I was very much reminded of the pitfalls and pratfalls we experience during family history research.


But donít listen to what I say - look at the reviews on Amazon, where 93% of the 57 reviewers give it 5 stars, and the primary complaint of the only person to give it less than 4 stars was that the dust jacket was on round the wrong way when he received it!


The retail price of the hardback is £25, but I'm sure I didnít pay that much for my copy - and indeed as I write, you can buy it at for less than half that price (excluding shipping). If youíre not in the UK, try The Book Depository as their prices include worldwide shipping.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††† The Book Depository



Peter's Tips

Did you know that if you registered a Power of Attorney in England or Wales between April 2013 and March 2017 you are entitled to a partial refund of the fee paid? You'll find out more on this government web page, and for the background to this welcome news see this article at the Which? website.



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......



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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?