Newsletter – 21st August 2023
Big savings on Ancestry DNA UK & Canada only
More Lloyd George ‘Domesday’ records and maps go online EXCLUSIVE OFFER
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 3rd August) 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):
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!
Big savings on Ancestry DNA UK & Canada only
If you live in Canada or the British Isles you can save 25% or more on DNA tests from your local site. In Canada the price is reduced by $50 from $129 to $79 until 29th August, and in Britain the cost is reduced from £79 to £59 until 8th September (all prices exclude shipping). When you follow the relevant link below you’ll see details of other linked offers.
Ancestry DNA tests aren’t the cheapest, but they’re by far the best – because ONLY when you test with Ancestry can you benefit from their enormous database of existing tests, AND the clever way that they integrate DNA with family trees (which means you get better results for far less effort than at other sites). Furthermore, when you follow the simple steps and straightforward strategies in my DNA Masterclass you’ll get the best possible results with the minimum effort – and without having to understand the technology behind DNA.
Please use the relevant link below so that LostCousins can benefit from your purchase (note that you may need to log-out from Ancestry and click the link again):
AncestryDNA® is only £59 + Shipping! Offer ends 8 Sept 2023
AncestryDNA® Sale. Save up to $65 on the #1 selling DNA test. Ends 8/29/23
One of the great things about DNA is that the cousins we know can help us enormously without doing a thing – other than providing a saliva sample. They don’t even need to be interested in their ancestors – though no doubt some will be intrigued to know what you are able to discover.
However, one thing they will need to do – perhaps with a bit of help from you – is register with Ancestry. If you’re the one who will be analysing the results and corresponding with matches they won’t need a subscription of any kind – but they do need to understand how their DNA will be used, and provide their consent.
They’ll also need to give you access to their results so that you can view their list of matches, and manage their test (if they don’t want to correspond direct with matches). This isn’t difficult, but it’ll help if I set out the process for you in advance – by all means print out a copy for your cousin, or have this article beside you as you talk them through it on the phone.
First of all the person who tested needs to log into their Ancestry account, and click DNA in the main menu that runs across the top of the screen. This will display a dropdown menu:
Click the top option (Your DNA Results Summary), then look at the top right corner of the next screen for the Settings icon:
Click Settings then look for Visibility and Sharing on the next screen (it’s near the bottom of the page, so won’t be visible until you scroll down):
This example is from my own DNA settings, and you can see that I have shared my test with 4 other Ancestry users – all of them people I trust. To invite someone to view your DNA results click the > symbol at the end of the line, then click the blue Invite button that appears:
Nearly at the end – but this is the most important bit!
To invite someone else to view your DNA results you must either enter their email address or their Ancestry username. I recommend using their email address as there may be several people with similar usernames.
The final decision is the level of access that you give. Viewer allows another person to view DNA matches, but it doesn’t allow them to make notes against the matches – so it’s quite restrictive. In most cases Collaborator or Manager will be more appropriate – Collaborator is a good choice when two cousins are going to be working together, but if the person who tested doesn’t want to be actively involved it is better for them to appoint their cousin as Manager of their test.
IMPORTANT: only the Manager or the Owner (ie the person who tested) can download the raw DNA results. For a detailed comparison between the different roles follow this link to the Ancestry site, or refer to the table below:
The average LostCousins member has been researching their family tree for over 20 years, some as long as 70 years, so anyone reading this newsletter is likely to be faced with the same problem I have – too many ancestral lines to research, and too little time to do it.
At the last count I had identified well over 100 of my own ancestral lines, every one of them terminating in a ‘brick wall’ that I hope to knock down some day. But how can I possibly give each of those ‘brick wall’ ancestors the attention they deserve? Realistically…. I can’t.
A few of those ‘brick walls’ will come tumbling down when new records become available online, but since every ‘brick wall’ has at least two more behind it, the problem is only going to get worse for me – and it’ll be just the same for you. The more successful we are, the more there is to do. What a conundrum!
Fortunately there is a solution: we can collaborate with other experienced family historians who are researching the same lines. Why would they be researching the same lines? Because our ancestors are also their ancestors! Distant cousins who connect to our tree 4, 5, 6, or 7 generations back share our interest in knocking down the ‘brick walls’ that are 8, 9, 10 or more generations back.
Now you’ve identified the solution, it becomes a different sort of challenge: how can you find the cousins who are not only interested in their ancestry, but have been researching it for years – possibly even longer than you have?
You know as well I do that for every serious researcher there are dozens of beginners (plus many more who are simply interested in riding on the coattails of others). Of course, people have to learn somehow, but most of us learned by reading books and magazines, by listening to talks, and by knuckling down and doing the research ourselves – we didn’t expect to be spoon-fed, and if we had, we wouldn’t be the skilled, insightful researchers that we are today. (There might be dispute about the origins of the “teach a man to fish” proverb, but I doubt that anyone would argue with the principle that it enshrines.)
Fortunately for us there is a place where tens of thousands of experienced family historians congregate – LostCousins. And whilst only a small fraction of your cousins are likely to be members, they’re going to be the one-in-a-thousand cousins who are not only family historians, but serious researchers like you – perhaps the only ones that really matter when it comes to knocking down ‘brick walls’ in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
The official ScotlandsPeople website has been criticised for publishing information online that could lead to the identification of adopted children – see this BBC article for more details.
As family historians we want to have everything at our fingertips, and sometimes our interests can conflict with the privacy and security of living individuals. We might not care about our own security – just look at how many people post their holiday photos on Facebook – but we do need to consider the implications for others.
In earlier centuries death masks were used as way of preserving the looks of a celebrity so that they could be reproduced by a sculptor or painter – or used to create a waxwork effigy (see my review of Madame Tussaud – Her Life and Legacy).
Recently a team at the University of Dundee's Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification used death masks to recreate the looks of Charles Edward Stewart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie – you can see the results in this BBC News article.
These days we have photographs, and sometimes audio and video recordings, to remind us of our loved ones – but most of our ancestors would have had nothing but their memories.
Note: there are several versions of the traditional Scottish song ‘Charlie is my darling’ but the version penned by Robert Burns in 1794 (under the name ‘Charlie, he’s my darling’) is very definitely about Bonnie Prince Charlie – follow this link for the lyrics and background information in a PDF document on the website of the Royal Collection Trust.
The Royal Collection Trust has made available images of thousands of official documents, letters, and other written material from the Georgian era – you can see details here. I could spend hours browsing the collection….
More Lloyd George ‘Domesday’ records and maps go online EXCLUSIVE OFFER
Some of the unique records at The Genealogist include tithe records and maps from the 1840s, which now cover most of England & Wales, and the 1910-1915 Land Valuation, which is commonly known as the Lloyd George ‘Domesday Book’.
Oxfordshire records have just been added to the latter collection which now includes more than 2 million records – you can see the current coverage from the map below:
If you’ve yet to try The Genealogist you’ll be interested to know that I have arranged an exclusive offer for readers of this newsletter – when you follow this link you can purchase a 12 month Diamond subscription (the top level) for £94.95, a saving of £45, and you’ll also get a free one year digital subscription to Discover Your Ancestors (worth £24.99). The offer runs until Monday 4th September.
Note: you’ll benefit from the same discounted price so long as you continue to subscribe – so you won’t be faced with a big increase in 12 months’ time.
To the best of my knowledge Herefordshire registers aren’t online anywhere, but parish registers for Derbyshire can be found here at Ancestry.
Tip: when you’re trying to find a record a second index could prove invaluable, even if images aren’t available – in effect it’s a second opinion on what the cleric wrote in the register. You’ll also find that the information recorded varies – transcriptions by family history societies tend to be the most detailed (though some key facts may be lost if the transcriptions go online at a different site).
There have been many stories in recent years of mothers who took home the wrong babies, but this Canadian example stands out because the background of the two families was so different. Talk about accidents of birth…..
Note: some people say that examples like this demonstrate why you shouldn’t take a DNA test – I see it the other way round. Realistically the truth is going to come out at some point, whether you test or not – but if you’re the one who makes the discovery you’ve got far more control over the situation.
Delayed birth registration causes confusion
Writing recently in The Oldie Review of Books Lucy Lethbridge commented that the parents of the writer Inez Holden were “gentry in Warwickshire [who] drank bickered and neglected her. She was probably born in 1903 but no-one bothered to register her birth.”
As you can imagine this sent me scurrying to search the birth indexes and I soon found the errant registration – in the first quarter of 1904:
Since she was born on 21st November 1903 the 42 days allowed for registration of her birth extended – just – into the following year, though as you can see the eventual registration date of 11th January was outside this window, so the parents would have incurred a fine. No doubt that led to some bickering!
Note: the Wikipedia page for Inez Holden gives the same birthdate, and includes a photo from 1927 in which she is pictured with Cecil Beaton, Tallulah Bankhead, and other notable figures of the era.
In the last issue I presented a birth register entry which is possibly the most inaccurate of all time – it had the wrong name and the wrong gender for the child, as well as the wrong forename for the mother.
That example prompted Berry to write to me with an equally inaccurate death register entry:
The name is correct, and so is the gender, but it was William Braddock the silk draper who had died, and at the age of 43 years, not 3 months!
They did have a son called William, but he was coming up to 17 years old when his father died (and as he later became Berry’s great-great grandfather he was clearly very much alive). In contrast with the birth register entry I wrote about last time, on this occasion the informant was not illiterate – Harriet signed her name when they married – but with 7 children to look after, and a husband to bury, she must have been in quite a state. Clearly she was dependent on the support of the Poor Law system for, less than two months later, she was subjected to a Settlement Examination (which you’ll find here at Ancestry).
Note that the cause of death was certified by a doctor – I find it strange that there was nothing on the medical certificate to indicate that the deceased was an adult rather than an infant. Either way there seems to have been no difficulty burying William, as you can see from this entry, also at Ancestry.
The GRO marriage index for the last quarter of 1939 records shows that Mabel Diplock married in Maidstone registration district, and that the surname of the groom was Roberts:
However there is no corresponding entry for Mr Roberts, and a search at FreeBMD for entries on the same register page comes up with only 3 names rather than 4.
The 1939 National Register confirms that Mabel’s surname changed to Roberts, but as their marriage took place after the register was compiled her husband isn’t living in the same household.
It’s quite unusual to find that one side of a marriage is completely missing from the GRO marriage indexes – usually an apparent omission is the result of incorrect transcription. However, there was a war on, so I think the clerks of the General Register Office can be forgiven on this occasion!
Although getting married seems to be going out of fashion these days (see the next article), there are still a few romantics – including Stephen McCann, who found an impressive way to propose to his girlfriend, as you can see in this BBC News article.
I couldn’t manage anything as spectacular as that, but when I proposed to my wife in December 2002 I substituted the 1930s engagement ring I’d bought at auction a few days previously for one of the chocolates in an Advent Calendar. Somehow I managed to make it appear as if it hadn’t been opened and well, it clearly did the trick!
According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2022 the proportion of births in England & Wales that occurred outside marriage (or civil partnership) rose to 51.4%, the highest on record. By contrast, in 1901 – the year of Queen Victoria’s death – the corresponding figure was just 3.9%, the lowest since records began in the 1840s. You can download a year-by-year spreadsheet here.
Several of my own direct ancestors were illegitimate, so I know how challenging that can be for researchers. I dread to think how complicated it will be for the genealogists of the future – though at least these days it’s much more likely that the name of the father will be recorded in the birth register.
When family historians notice that a couple’s first child was baptised within a year of the parents’ marriage there is almost inevitably speculation as to whether the bride was already pregnant when she walked down the aisle – though if the date of birth is not recorded in the baptism register, and the birth pre-dates the introduction of civil registration there is a sizeable margin of error in the calculation.
Until recently I used to believe that the typical time between conception and birth was 9 months, or 39 weeks, but you’ll find all sorts of different figures quoted if you search online. Part of the confusion is caused by the fact that the gestation period is calculated from the first day of the mother’s last period, which is typically about 2 weeks before conception. So the 40 weeks often quoted is really 38 weeks…..
I was conceived around the end of the 1940s, but Children of the 1940s: A Social History by Mike Hutton is really about the children who were old enough to experience the war.
Born in the autumn of 1950 I can remember rationing, but only just – and most of what I know about the war came from the flood of books and films in the 50s and 60s. My parents didn’t talk much about the war, and it was only towards the end of his life that my father opened up about his experiences.
This isn’t the first book I’ve read about this period, so I was expecting to skim read some of the chapters – but in practice there were so many interesting memories that I read it from cover to cover!
For example, I’d never previously realised that when the V1 attacks began in June 1944 it was just one week after D-Day – a population that had thought the end was in sight was suddenly faced with a new deadly menace, one that was unpredictable and hard to counter. Then, just as Britain’s air defences were starting to neutralise a high proportion of the buzz bombs, Germany began launching V2 rockets – bigger, faster, and much more deadly.
The enormous cost of manufacturing Hitler’s V1 and V2 rockets drained the Axis resources at a time when Germany was already under great economic pressure – all for weapons that were of little military value. However, they undoubtedly had an enormous psychological impact on the British civilian population, of southern England especially.
The memories in the book are grouped by topic, including from the war years: life at home, evacuation, school, the Blitz, rationing, Saturday morning pictures, sports and games, comics, the wireless, the arrival of GIs, D-Day and the V1s and V2s with which Hitler responded, and eventual victory. The chapters from the years after the war make sobering reading: the continuation of rationing, austerity, the cold winter of 1947, compulsory National Service and more. You might say that the youngsters of today don’t know how lucky they are!
I did find one glaring error – on page 154 the author states that “This was a time of record cinema attendance with over one and a half million tickets bought during 1946.” In fact the number of tickets sold in that peak year was 1.635 billion, not million (you’ll find figures for every year from 1935-2022 here), though I can’t say that this slip spoiled my enjoyment of the book.
But whether or not you lived through the 1940s you’ll find this book a fascinating compendium of memories from more than 20 contributors who not only did experience those years, but lived to tell the tale. I read the hardback edition, but it is also available in Kindle format. Out now in the UK and Australia, available for pre-order in North America (release early October).
Note: if you purchase from Amazon or an Amazon Marketplace seller using one of the links below you’ll be supporting LostCousins.
Wartime aerial photos added to archive
Thousands of aerial images taken by US Army Air Forces (USAAF) Photographic Reconnaissance units while stationed at bases across England in 1943 and 1944 have been added to the collection of more than 400,000 aerial photographs at the Historic England website – you can read more about the latest additions in this BBC News article.
I’m delighted to say that my wife has once again put down her trowel and picked up her pen:
In East Anglia we have had two very hot and dry summers followed by a cold winter (-10c) and a wetter summer for 2023. As readers have probably realised by now, my gardening efforts have been predominantly focused on establishing shrub beds during cooler months, and growing fruit and vegetables during the summer. As I reflect on how successful my efforts have been, I thought it might be helpful to share some tips…….
To read the full article please click here – the article includes links to several of the items that Siân bought for our garden and found helpful, as well as pictures of our garden.
Being left-handed I’ve always preferred to have injections in my right arm, but I’d never imagined that it would make a difference to the effectiveness of the jab – however, research recently published in the journal eBioMedicine and reported in this CNN article suggests that COVID boosters are more effective if you have them in the same arm as previous shots.
Here in the UK over-65s and some others will be offered flu and COVID boosters by the NHS beginning in October, but the rest of the population are expected to grin and bear it. Flu jabs can be purchased privately at a modest cost, but COVID jabs are unlikely to be available privately until 2024, and will be expensive. Worth it, though, if it prevents a life-changing bout of a disease that we still don’t fully understand.
My paternal grandmother had post-natal depression following the birth of her first child, and spent around 8 months in Essex Lunatic Asylum. She was discharged the day after the 1911 Census – otherwise this episode of her life would have been totally forgotten – and as far as I can ascertain she was not hospitalised after the birth of my father in 1916, though I know from talking to him that his mother had a young girl to help look after her two sons.
I was reminded of this when I read recently that a pill for postpartum depression has been approved for use in the US – see this BBC News article for more details. Let’s hope it works – the same article indicates that 1 in 7 mothers in the US experience symptoms.
Finally, a tip for anyone who likes good food and has a Tesco superstore within easy reach: packs of duck legs are not only back in stock, you can buy 3 packs of 2 for £10 until Tuesday 29th August (individual packs are £4.80, so it’s a saving of around 30%). You can freeze the packs for up to 3 months, and if you cook them following any half-decent recipe for duck confit you can keep them in the fridge for weeks. Although most recipes call for goose fat, I find that duck fat works just as well, and once you start cooking duck confit regularly you’ll have an endless supply. Great with garlic mash and seasonal green vegetables – mange tout, sugar snap peas, or sprouting broccoli go particularly well – and I sometimes have home-made chutney on the side to provide a touch of sweet and sour.
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’ll be back soon with more news from the world of family history – in the meantime please remember that LostCousins is all about connecting experienced family historians who are researching the same ancestral lines. The more relatives you enter on your My Ancestors page, especially from the 1881 censuses, the more connections you’ll make, and the further back you’ll get.
So many family historians pat themselves on the back and retire when they’ve got back to the 1700s (as if the earlier generations are unimportant), or when they’ve got one of their ancestral lines back to the 1500s (as if their other ancestors don’t matter) – but I’m sure you’re more ambitious than that!
© Copyright 2023 Peter Calver
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