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Newsletter – 10th May 2023



A new beginning

Children with three parents

Can you help? Gayle reaches out….

Perfidious Albion

Internment of aliens in WW1 – some amazing discoveries

Was your ancestor imprisoned in Scotland?

DNA tracks escaped American murderer to Australia

Save on Ancestry DNA in the US, Australia, and Canada ENDS SUNDAY

Marriage law under the microscope

Did they remain nameless?

Big savings on Who Do You Think You Are? subscriptions EXCLUSIVE OFFER

Review: Coronation Bible

Peter’s Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 30th April) 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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A new beginning

As I watched the Coronation on Saturday it struck me that whilst there have been many more Kings than Queens of England over the past 200 years, six compared to two, between them the two great Queens – Victoria and Elizabeth II – reigned for 134 years, twice as long as their half-dozen male relatives.


So it isn’t just people under 70 who have only ever known a Queen on the throne, the same would have been true for some of our 19th century ancestors – Queen Victoria reigned for almost 64 years, whereas life expectancy at birth in 1850 was just 42 years. Whilst this figure was depressed by the level of deaths in infancy that we’re sadly all too familiar with from our own research, even those who made it to the age of 5 would, on average, live only another 52 years.


I still find it difficult to think of KCs (King’s Counsels) as opposed to QCs (Queen’s Counsels), and as two of the drama series that my wife and I have been watching recently feature the legal profession – Justice starring Margaret Lockwood from the early 70s, and Rumpole of the Bailey, which began a few years later – it’ll probably take even longer to mentally adjust!


I’ve seen pictures of the first postage stamps to bear the head of our new King, but I’ve yet to see one on a letter. And we’ll be using coins and notes with the head of Queen Elizabeth II for many years to come – in the 1950s and 1960s there were still coins with the head of Queen Victoria circulating (the oldest coin that I found in my change as a boy was a penny dated 1860).


Queen Elizabeth II was the first monarch to appear on Bank of England notes, but not the first to appear on English bank notes (despite this assertion on the Royal Family’s own website). You can see an example of an earlier note, bearing the head of George V, if you follow this link.



Children with three parents

Some of you may recall that in 2012 I published an article entitled Could a child have THREE parents? which described how advancing technology could alleviate the misery of the children who are born with faulty mitochondrial DNA (usually referred to as mtDNA).


Now, more than a decade later, it has been revealed that the first baby with three genetic parents has been born in the UK – you can read more in this BBC News article.


Fortunately mtDNA is of relatively little value to genealogists – it is of most use to archaeologists, and was utilised to help identify the remains of King Richard III – so I don’t think we’ll need to worry too much about the implications for the family historians of the future.



Can you help? Gayle reaches out….

In my Christmas/New Year competition I offered one lucky member the opportunity to ‘reach out’ to LostCousins members in an attempt to solve a longstanding mystery. The prize was won by Gayle in Australia, whose Shropshire lads and lasses have proven problematic:


My second cousin, Paula and I have been researching our Morris family for a number of years, planning to create a family book and organise a family reunion in the near future. We started with handwritten family birth, marriage and death records passed on to us, then utilised other sources to confirm our carefully constructed Morris tree traced through six generations living in the surrounds of Norbury, a small parish in Shropshire. Of course, there is missing information, as well as dates and names that we have been unable to confirm – which is why I am asking for help to solve the puzzles.


Firstly, is it possible to confidently find ancestors before our first confirmed family members?


Our Morris family begins in Shropshire with John MORRIS, who was christened at Ellesmere on 27/6/1675, and buried at Norbury on 19/11/1731. From the baptism record we know that his father was Edward Morris.  A possible sister for John is Jane, who was christened at Ellesmere on 4/7/1674; her parents are shown as Edward and Mary Morris.


Searching the Shropshire registers I found a possible marriage entry, for Maria GEORGE to Edward Morris on 21/11/1673 at Chirbury, though it is 30 miles from Ellesmere. I was unable to find the birth of Maria, but she may be the Maria Morris who was buried at Bishop’s Castle in 1681, and there is a burial for an Edward Morris at Acton Scott in 1693 (though it may be significant that both parishes are a lot closer to Chirbury than to Ellesmere).  The search for baptism records for Edward brought up too many results; it was the same if I searched for marriages without specifying the bride’s forename.


Likewise, researching the family of John’s wife has proved inconclusive. John Morris married Elizabeth FRANCIS on 26/11/1702 at Highley, Shropshire. Elizabeth was christened at Ellesmere on 17/10/1675, only four months after John, so they may have known each other since childhood.


© Image copyright Shropshire Archives. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


Elizabeth’s father’s name is given as Rogar FRANCIS, but you can see from the following entry that ‘Rogar’ is the vicar’s preferred of the forename we know as ‘Roger’. He may have thought the name derived from the Latin verb ‘rogare’, from which we get ‘Rogation Sunday’, or he may have known that the name Roger introduced by the Normans replaced the Old English name Hroðgar.


A possible christening for Roger is 19/03/1636 at Wellington, Shropshire with parents Richard Francis and Newill. There are other children of a Roger Francis baptised at Ellesmere in 1678 and 1682 but no mother’s name is given to help find the name of Elizabeth’s mother.


Secondly, where were the women born?


There are no baptisms in the area for an Eleanor JARRET, who married Richard Morris (christened 19/5/1716, Norbury) at Clunbury, Shropshire on 4/6/1753. Eleanor and Richard seem to have had only one child – John who was baptised at More on 8/6/1756 – so it’s possible that Eleanor was older than usual for a first marriage. She also pre-deceased Richard – she was buried at More on 16/2/1781 and Richard was buried there on 16/5/1793. They lived at Bent Farm, More.


Eleanor may be an unrecorded child of one of the three Jarret families who were baptising children at Lydham between 1719 and 1735. Lydham is only 1 mile from More and two of the mothers, Elizabeth and Ann Jarret, were unmarried: the children who are recorded in the register were baptised in 1734 and 1735. Elizabeth and Ann are both recorded in the register as daughters of Edward Jarret, so in one sense it wouldn’t much matter which of them was Eleanor’s mother. There are also Jarret(t) baptisms in Church Stretton, about 12 miles from More.


Next is Sarah who at Norbury on 7/7/1827 married William Morris (baptised 2/8/1801 at More). In the handwritten family record her surname is ADEN but as you can see she signed the marriage register as HAYDON:


© Image copyright Shropshire Archives. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


However I should mention that the GRO index entries for the births of the youngest children show the mother’s maiden name as HEYDEN.  In the 1841 Census Sarah was shown as aged 40, but as ages were usually rounded down to the nearest 5 years in that census she could have been as old as 44. The census also shows that she was not born in Shropshire, which fits with the 1851 Census which gives her place of birth as Keinton, Devenshire and her age as 52.


There is no such place as Keinton, nor any record of a birth for a Sarah Haydon in Devon, though I did find a Sally Haydon who was baptised at Tedburn St Mary in 1797. Sally is a pet form of Sarah, and Sarah Morris was shown as aged 60 when she died on 31/10/1857, which fits with a 1797 baptism. (Her husband remarried to Mary Anne ANSTEY, at Ludlow on 6/10/1859, and lived until 30/5/1883.)


Lastly, what is the best way to find more information about the properties in which the Morris families lived when one is researching from Australia?


The Census records give farm houses and inns where the Morris families were born and worked for generations in Shropshire.


1. Hardwick Farm, also called Hardwick Hall – a manor house built in the 14th or 15th century – is a listed property in Norbury, where in 1841, 1851 William Morris then in 1861 his son George lived and farmed 290 acres.


2. Upper Bent Farm or The Bent, More, Clun - Thomas Morris in 1851, 1881 and Richard Morris.


3.  Norbury Farm with 116 acres farmed by Phillip Morris and family in 1881.


4.  The Crown Inn, Wentnor is still operating and Thomas Morris was a maltster there in 1881.


5.  More Arms Inn, More, Clun with 1871, 1881 John and Sarah Morris as maltsters (appears to no longer exist).


What a challenge, Gayle! But with so many experienced and resourceful family historians reading this newsletter, I hope that some of the questions will be answered. Please post your suggestions here in the LostCousins Forum so that other members can build on your findings.


Also, by a complete coincidence, next month my wife and I will be in Shropshire for a few days holiday in a converted barn near Clun – so we might stumble across some clues during our travels!



Perfidious Albion

The death of Thomas Barefoot in 1869 is recorded as follows in numerous Ancestry trees:


His death certificate confirms the location, and reveals that he died from liver failure – I’ll leave it to the medical doctors reading this to assess whether his occupation may have been a contributory factor:



Whilst there’s no doubt where he died, if you search Ancestry public trees you’ll find numerous results suggesting that he died in Staffordshire:



What’s going on here? The problem is that when the Ancestry software sees a location that it doesn’t recognise, it attempts to find the closest match – but not the closest in a geographical sense, as you can see from the example above, where the word ‘Albion’ has been picked out, even though it’s the name of a public house.


If this was an isolated occurrence one might suspect that the programmers at Ancestry spend too much time watching soccer (West Bromwich Albion, one of the oldest English teams, took their name from the Albion district of West Bromwich, then in Staffordshire), but it isn’t – guess what happened when I gave the birthplace of one of my ancestors as Cornwall Street, which is in London.


And the wedding of one of my ancestors who married at the parish church of St Leonard’s in Shoreditch, London has been relocated in the search result from my cousin’s tree to a place called St Leonard’s in Tasmania (St Leonards in Sussex might have seemed more plausible, don’t you think?).


The problem from the point of view of tree owners is that they’re unlikely to realise how their entries appear to others – so it’s up to the rest of us to make allowances when we’re viewing searching results. Caveat inquisitor!



Internment of aliens in WW1 – some amazing discoveries

My German ancestors arrived in England during the Napoleonic Wars, when we had a Hanoverian king and Prussia was a key ally – by the time we were at war with Germany, a century later, they had assimilated into the population. But those who arrived a century later were not so fortunate, as LostCousins member Ian Mercer explains:


Was your ancestor or family member interned in the UK in the Great War? If you have some clues or, as I did, a ‘family secret’, and you need guidance, there are immediate sources of help.


One is the Anglo-German Family History Society (AGFHS) and another is the Knockaloe Centre for WW1 Internment with their excellent Visitor Centre on the Isle of Man, and WW1 Civilian Internee Database. The internees were mainly ordinary men who found their lives turned upside down. Depression, or “barbed wire disease”, affected many, not knowing when the war might end and they could go back home. Many never did, as they were ‘repatriated’ permanently to Germany after the war and never saw their wives, lovers, children, workmates again.


The Knockaloe centre’s archive is a central point of reference for descendants of any enemy alien interned in WW1. It incorporates a list of WW1 internees in the British Isles, including Knockaloe and Douglas on the Isle of Man, as well as camps such as Alexandra Palace. Their work collates stories behind each internee. The database, archive and collections remain offline to ensure information collected and collated by the Charity and shared by descendants, private collectors and other archives, remain safe and not open to commercialisation. I have therefore donated four letters that Erich Jacobs, my grandfather, wrote from Knockaloe camp in the weeks before his repatriation to Magdeburg in 1919, plus his original life-story photo album given to me by my ‘discovered’ German second cousin.


[The photo on the left shows Erich at the camp – he is on the right in the picture]


Erich was sent to England in about 1912 by his father to learn about the hotel business. He worked as a chef at the great Hotel Cecil in the Strand, one of London’s most famous streets. Here he met a good-looking young lady who served in one of the restaurants: he and Agnes, my mum’s mother, fell in love. But this was not part of his father’s plans! From the moment of their parting at Agnes’ hometown of Oakham early in 1914, Erich and Agnes were never to meet again. Erich was sent by his father to work on a cruise liner, and on its return journey from New York it was impounded at Falmouth in Cornwall – on the very first day of the war. Erich was taken to the workhouse at St Columb Major, then later transferred by boat to Douglas on the Isle of Man, then to Knockaloe – where he remained until after the war was over.


My first breakthrough was at the AGFHS stand at a family history show at London’s Olympia: the name Erich Heinrich Gustav JACOBS was on a database as “PoW 24500, release 22 FEB 1919 Knockaloe, IoM.” Then came a roller-coaster of help and information from ace researcher Corinna Meiss and archives in Magdeburg and Hamburg. I was then able to piece together the amazing, bittersweet story in a book which I called She Didn’t Wave – a tale of love and war, which is available from the Knockaloe website. Each person tells their own story, including my own journey of discovery, sewing together surprising, sometimes shocking tales.


Many thanks to Ian for a wonderful introduction to a part of British history that’s all too easily forgotten. Even if you don’t have a family connection to Knockaloe, do take a look at the website.



Was your ancestor imprisoned in Scotland?

ScotlandsPeople has added more than 80,000 entries from 1798-1853 from prison registers for two Edinburgh gaols and one in Largs, Ayrshire. Don’t assume that just because your ancestors came from England or Wales they couldn’t have ended up in a Scottish prison – when I searched the database by country of birth there were nearly 4000 results for England as well as 122 for Wales (and a surprisingly high proportion were women, which surprised me).


There is a guide to the prison registers here.



DNA tracks escaped American murderer to Australia

In 1958 a 16 year-old teenager shot his parents dead at the family home in Omaha, Nebraska when they refused to let him borrow their car. William Leslie Arnold was sentenced to life imprisonment, but escaped in 1967 – never to be seen again.


53 years later an investigator persuaded the killer’s brother to take a DNA test, and in 2022 there was a match with a nephew in Australia – you can read what happened next in this article on the CNN website.



Save on Ancestry DNA in the US, Australia, and Canada ENDS SUNDAY

I can’t guarantee that you’ll track down a murderer when you take a DNA test, but if you’re in the US, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada you can save a fistful of dollars if you’re quick.


Ancestry.com (US only) – save up to 30% on Ancestry DNA – ENDS 14TH MAY

Ancestry.com.au (Australia & New Zealand) – save at least $30 on Ancestry DNA – ENDS 14TH MAY

Ancestry.ca (Canada) – save $50 on Ancestry DNA – ENDS 14TH MAY


I’m not currently aware of a discount offer in the UK but please use the link below rather than any that you might find in earlier newsletters, as those older links may not work at all.


Ancestry.co.uk (UK & Ireland) – Ancestry DNA



Marriage law under the microscope

Professor Rebecca Probert, the renowned expert on marriage law in England, has co-authored a new book entitled Belief in Marriage: The Evidence for Reforming Weddings Law. The chapters of the book can be downloaded free in PDF format if you follow this link – family historians are likely to find chapter 3 of most interest.


On 17th June Professor Probert will be speaking in London, at the British Academy Summer Showcase – she is giving a 10 minute presentation entitled What can we learn from family history, in which she will be (in her words) “talking about the fabulous contribution made by readers of LostCousins”.


The following month she will be taking part in a two-day symposium at Macquarie University in Australia on the topic Bigamy Across Borders: Paths, Patterns, Connections - How did couples navigate marital breakdown when divorce was unavailable? Researchers from around the globe discuss c19th and c20th bigamy.


It’s a hybrid event – you can attend in person or online, and it’s free (but do please allow for the difference in time zones).



Did they remain nameless?

The terms ‘baptism’ and ‘christening’ are, for most purposes, synonymous so the one thing you won’t see in baptism registers is an unnamed child – unless, perhaps, the vicar left a blank space because he couldn’t read his own notes.


But when civil registration began in England & Wales in 1837 it was sometimes the case that children were not named within the first 6 weeks of their life – so if the parents wished to register the birth without payment they were unable to provide a forename. These children appear in the contemporary quarterly indexes as ‘Male’ or ‘Female’, though in the GRO’s new online index of births the name field is simply left blank.


Tip: because the forename field is blank, you cannot search specifically for unnamed children in the new birth index – however this shouldn’t be a problem because unnamed children (if any) appear at the top of the search results.  


In the days when the indexes hadn’t been digitised I assumed that most of the children who were unnamed had died before they could be named, but it subsequently became apparent that the number of births with no name far exceeded the corresponding number of deaths. For example, when I searched for female Calvers in the indexes from 1837 to 1845 there were 4 births but no deaths.


So if you’re looking for the birth of a relative, consider the possibility that they didn’t have a forename at the time their birth was registered.


Note: the 1836 legislation allowed for names given at baptism to be added within 6 months after registration of the birth of a child, but in practice this rarely happened – the cost may have been a factor.



Big savings on Who Do You Think You Are? subscriptions EXCLUSIVE OFFER

The exclusive offer I’ve arranged for LostCousins members is still running but please note that it applies only to print copies, not the digital edition.


I've been a reader of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine ever since issue 1, and I can tell you from personal experience that every issue is packed with advice on how to research your family tree, including how to track down online records, how to get more from DNA tests, and the ever-popular readers' stories. Naturally you also get to look behind-the-scenes of the popular Who Do You Think You Are? TV series.


There's an extra special introductory offer for members in the UK, but there are also offers for overseas readers, each of which offers a substantial saving on the cover price:


UK - try 6 issues for just £9.99 - saving 68%

Europe - 13 issues (1 year) for €65 - saving 33%

Australia & New Zealand - 13 issues (1 year) for AU $99 - saving 38%

US & Canada – 13 issues for US $69.99 – saving 59%

Rest of the world - 13 issues (1 year) for US $69.99 – saving 41%


To take advantage of any of these deals (and to support LostCousins) please follow this link.



Review: Coronation Bible

On Saturday King Charles III swore his Coronation Oath on a leather-bound Bible which included the unamended text of the  original King James Version, published in 1611.


Only three copies of that Coronation Bible were produced, but on Sunday I had the pleasure of handling my own, almost identical copy, also leather-bound, which I had purchased at Amazon the previous afternoon.


There is an article about the King James Bible on the British Library website which includes a photo of the frontispiece of the 1611 edition – but apart from the fading of the paper it looks no different from the photo on the left, which is from my own copy, published by Oxford University Press in 2011 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Authorised Version.


The 2011 edition is not a facsimile – the text was reset in a modern font for readability – but it retains the decorative capital letters, the spellings, and even the mistakes of the original. There were around 350 errors according to Professor Gordon Campbell of the University of Leicester, who prepared the modern version, but in a book of 1520 pages and around a million words that is, perhaps, forgivable given the poor conditions that our ancestors would have laboured under.


I was brought up with the King James Bible, but I didn’t realise that there had been many minor alterations to the text over the centuries. The 2011 version reverted to the original wording and lettering, and even retained the almanac and calendar. Glancing at the calendar I noticed that the entry for July 6th was annotated ‘Dog Dayes’, which sent me scurrying to Google for an explanation…..


Also included are the Apocrypha, and page after page of Biblical genealogies, which are described in some detail in this academic article from 2018. I hadn’t realised that the gospels of Matthew and Luke set out different ancestries for Jesus, or appreciated how this created problems for Biblical scholars – though it’s the sort of conundrum that family historians like you and I have to deal with almost every day!


My copy of this Bible is in very good used condition, complete with slip-case, and cost me just under £40 – not such a lot of money these days (it’s now over £1 to send a First Class letter). Unlike most of the books that I buy and review I have read this one before, and of course I have other Bibles – but none quite like this. In fact it’s one of the most beautiful books I will ever own!


New copies are available in the UK for around £60 including shipping, and prices are similar in other territories (allowing for the exchange rate differential).


Amazon.co.uk                            Amazon.com                                         Amazon.ca                                  Amazon.com.au



Peter’s Tips

Royal Mail definitive stamps without a barcode will no longer be valid for postage after 31st July, but if you still have any left you can exchange them under the Swap-Out scheme (more details here). The change was prompted by the large number of forged stamps that were finding their way on to the market, but sadly forged stamps with barcodes are already being sold on eBay. Some sellers describe them as being for collectors only, or for decorative use, but that doesn't fool anyone.


Of course, if the barcode isn’t genuine that’ll show up when a letter goes through the mail, potentially landing the recipient with a bill and the sender with a prison sentence – but it’s just a shame that eBay aren’t able to stop the fraudsters at source.


There were all sorts of strange regalia at the Coronation, but the one thing I didn’t see in Westminster Abbey was a mask – whether the statement from the World Health Organisation that COVID-19 no longer represented a ‘global health emergency’ was a factor in the decisions made by the individual attendees one can only surmise, but I suspect that most would have felt it was worth taking a risk for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


I would probably have felt the same way had I been invited to the Coronation, but otherwise my wife and I are continuing to take appropriate precautions. And if my brief visit to the supermarket a couple of weeks ago is anything to go by, it’s probably just as well that we remain cautious – the checkout girl sneezed just as she was scanning my bag of spinach, and though she thoughtfully put her hands in front of her mouth, she didn’t sanitise them before handling the remaining purchases.


The 2% of the British population who wear masks in shops contrasts starkly with the 98% of drivers who wear seatbelts when they’re behind the wheel, even though the number of people dying each day from COVID-19 (not just with COVID-19) exceeds the number who die on the roads by a factor of 10 or more. Perhaps something to ponder when you’re next queuing at the checkout?



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......



I hope you’ve enjoyed the first issue of our 20th year – and if you’re wondering why there hasn’t been a gardening article recently, it’s because my wife has been so busy in the garden!


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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2023 Peter Calver


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