Newsletter - 9th February 2018



Not all women wanted the vote; not all men had it

Save on 12 month subscriptions to Findmypast

Marriage within the prohibited degrees

An impossible marriage certificate

Revealed: why so many online trees are rubbish EXCLUSIVE

Before you write to meÖ..

Why you don't need to understand DNA

Why you should be phased by Ancestry DNA

Counting your DNA matches

Save on DNA tests

Red hair prompts suicide

What am I reading?

How to find articles from past newsletters

Peter's Tips

Stop Press


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



Not all women wanted the vote; not all men had it

On Tuesday 6th February 1918 women over the age of 30 who owned property were given the right to vote in the UK. But it wasn't only men who were against 'Votes for Women' - according to this article on the BBC website there were many women who agreed with them (more than 337,000 women are said to have signed a petition organised by the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League).


One of the objections made by the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League was that "the complex modern State depends for its very existence on naval and military power, diplomacy, finance, and the great mining, constructive, shipping and transport industries, in none of which can women take any practical part". Goodness knows what they would have thought about our women Prime Ministers, each of whom took charge at a crucial time in our history - or the many women who took over men's jobs during the Great War. Indeed, it was the way in which women played their part in the war effort that finally swayed public opinion.


As we look back it's also worth remembering that there were many men who weren't able to vote before 1918 - though you wouldn't know this from the Parliament website, which erroneously states "Universal manhood suffrage was finally achieved in 1884".


In reality there were around 5 million adult men who were only able to vote after the passing of the 1918 legislation - previously there were property requirements which restricted the number of voters to just 7.7 million at the 1910 General Election - by the time of the 1918 General Election there were 12.9 million men registered to vote, despite the casualties of the Great War. Many of those who died in the Great War never voted - either because they were too young, or because they were too poor to qualify; some were volunteers, but most were conscripts. The phrase "Not in my name" could well have been used by them.


Note: there's an interesting article on the Essex Record Office blog about suffragettes from Essex who went to prison for their activities, while this article on the BBC News site focuses on 7 objects, including - most poignantly - the unused return half of Emily Davison's return railway ticket to Epsom on Derby Day. British Newspaper Archive has just added all issues from 1912-18 of 'The Suffragette' including the special memorial issue for Emily Davison.



Save on 12 month subscriptions to Findmypast UPDATED

You can save as much as £28 when you take advantage of Findmypast's offer of a 10% discount on NEW 12 month World or Pro subscriptions and claim a free 12 month LostCousins subscription (as my 'thank you' for using the link in this newsletter). The offer ends at midnight (London time) on Wednesday 28th February.


This offer applies to NEW 12 month Pro subscriptions at and 12 month World subscriptions at and but please note that if you ave had a Findmypast subscription in the past you MUST log-in to your account BEFORE clicking the link below.




Remember that Findmypast reward loyalty - you'll get 15% discount when you renew next year!


To take advantage of the offer click the appropriate link from the four listed below: (Save 10% on 12 month Pro subscriptions) (Save 10% on 12 month World subscriptions) (Save 10% on 12 month World subscriptions) EXCLUSIVE


Whilst the Findmypast offer may be available elsewhere, you can only qualify for a free LostCousins subscription when you use the links above. 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 by a year), please forward to me the email receipt that you receive from Findmypast, bearing in mind that I need to know the precise time of your purchase (so write it down, in case the 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. If you use an adblocker the link may not work; if you have disabled tracking in your browser the link will work, but Findmypast won't know that you clicked it, so won't pay us any commission. Commission isn't paid on renewals.


Marriage within the prohibited degrees

In the last issue we looked at the case of Joseph Nash, who attempted to marry his stepmother in 1851, but was unable to because a bystander interrupted the proceedings immediately before the celebration of the marriage. Until 31st August 1835 marriages in England & Wales within the prohibited degrees were voidable, but only if they were challenged within the lifetime of the couple - as soon as one of them died the marriage was deemed valid.


Once new legislation came into force in 1835 any subsequent marriage within the prohibited degrees was automatically void, and this applied whether the couple were related by blood or marriage. So even if the marriage of Joseph and Ann Nash had proceeded, it would have had no legal effect. The only way round the law would have been to sponsor a personal Act of Parliament, an expensive and time-consuming course of action, with no guarantee of success.


Note: I found it very interesting reading the May 1980 discussion in the House of Lords in connection with the Edward Berry and Doris Eilleen Ward (Marriage Enabling) Bill: they were stepfather and stepdaughter, but she was already married when he married her widowed mother, so there was no question of her being 'brought up' by her step-father, and they were only 4 years apart in age. Sound arguments were put forward on both sides, and these were clearly taken into account when the law finally changed in 1986.


As far as I can tell the same restrictions currently apply to both marriages and civil partnerships (with the exception that parties to a civil partnership must be of the same gender). This page from the bill that became the Civil Partnership Act 2004 sets out the prohibited degrees in detail.


Tip: one of the books I refer to most frequently is Marriage Law for Genealogists, by Professor Rebecca Probert, then Professor of Law at Warwick University, but now at Exeter. She takes a very complex and confusing topic, and turns it into something that you and I can make sense of.



An impossible marriage certificate

The marriage that didnít take place between Joseph Nash and Ann Nash is possibly unique in being recorded in the contemporary indexes of the General Register Office as if it had had happened, so - as mentioned in the last newsletter - I ordered the certificate, not really expecting to get one. Here's what I was sent:



As you can see, it's virtually identical to the church copy of the parish register, so considering it's quite clear the marriage didn't take place I'm quite surprised, though delighted, that the GRO went ahead and issued the certificate. Since last week I've also found out a little more about this story from a relative who is a LostCousins member, and it's hard not to feel sympathy for Joseph and Ann.


The story begins 15 years earlier, in 1836 when Joseph Nash, then about 30 years old, was courting a young widow, Ann Hare (nee Bonner), whose husband Michael had died a couple of years earlier at the age of just 29. Michael was a miller who had commissioned the building of a new windmill at Heckington, Lincolnshire in 1830. But before Joseph could marry Ann, his father Sleightholme (or Sleighton) Nash made her what must have been a better offer, even though he was considerably older than she was - according to this contemporary newspaper report from the Leicester Mercury dated 13th August 1836:


Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED used by kind permission of Findmypast


How humiliating it must have been for Joseph to disown his intended bride in favour of his own father! Sleightholme and the young widow were married by licence, as you can see from the marriage register:




Once he had control of the mill Sleightholme tried to sell it, as you can see from this article from the Stamford Mercury:


Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED used by kind permission of Findmypast


It didn't sell, and when Sleightholme died in 1847 it passed to Joseph, who also tried - unsuccessfully - to sell the mill. You can find out more about Heckington Windmill, the world's ONLY working 8-sailed windmill here.



Revealed: why so many online trees are rubbish EXCLUSIVE

I'd always thought that the reason there are so many errors in so many public trees at Ancestry is because the owners of the trees were ignorant, careless, or stupid. But this week I discovered that theyíre simply doing what they've been advised to do - by Ancestry!


The shocking truth was revealed in this article from the FamilySearch wiki:



This seems to have been written some years ago, and I haven't been able to identify the webinar referred to - so itís possible Ancestry subsequently changed their advice. Nevertheless anyone who did see the webinar, and anyone who has read this article at FamilySearch could be forgiven for uploading a dodgy tree. Well, almost.


I wouldn't advise anyone to create a public tree at Ancestry, let alone a speculative one - but if you do, please ensure that the title of the tree makes its nature absolutely clear. You could, for example, call it 'Speculative XXX tree', but why not go the whole hog and call it 'Rubbish XXX tree - copy at your peril'?



Before you write to me....

Please spend a minute or two checking the entries on your My Ancestors page using the grey arrows - that's why they're there. You only need to click one arrow per household, so make sure your entries are sorted by household before you start, otherwise it'll take you much longer.


When you click an arrow it carries out a census search using the references you've provided - if you don't get any search results this almost always means that you've entered the wrong references (the same applies if the wrong names appear, but bear in mind that the search results will often extend to two pages).


Tip: you might think this advice doesn't apply to you, because you don't make mistakes. Believe me, everyone makes mistakes!


And if you haven't completed your My Ancestors page yet be prepared to face my wrath when you write in. I've spent 14 years of my life creating and running LostCousins with one simple objective: to connect cousins around the world, So every time I get an email from a member who isn't taking part it's like being kicked in the teeth.


Tip: it doesnít matter what you write to me about, I'll almost always carry out a quick check of your My Ancestors page.



Why you don't need to understand DNA

I get lots of emails from readers who tell me that they don't understand DNA - but the fact is you don't need to understand it, any more than you need to know how a combustion engine works in order to drive a car!


It's true that with the very first consumer DNA tests you did need to understand a little about how DNA is inherited, just as car drivers in the early 1900s needed to be able to tinker with the engines when their cars broke down, as they frequently did (at least, that's the impression I got from watching Genevieve, and I have to say it wasn't a lot better when I got my first car, a 1965 MGB!).


But when you take a modern DNA test, like Ancestry DNA, it simply doesn't matter - because there is no complicated pattern to the way autosomal DNA is inherited. You get half of yours from each parent, they got half of theirs from each of their parents, and so on - it really couldn't be simpler. You surely donít need me to tell you that the amount of DNA you share with each of your 2 parents is greater than the amount you share with each of your 4 grandparents (or each of your 32 great-great-great grandparents). It's equally obvious that the amount of DNA you share with a close cousin is likely to be much higher than the amount you share with a distant cousin, so more distant connections might not be detectable.


That's all you really need to know. But if you do want to know more, take a look at the table on the ISOGG website, which indicates how much DNA - on average - you will share with different relatives. This is incredibly useful if you were adopted, or have a recent ancestor who was illegitimate, and have multiple close or fairly close matches with people who are known to be related to each other. In a future article I'll explain how you can narrow down the range of possible relationships.



Why you should be phased by Ancestry DNA

Ancestry's DNA test may not be the cheapest autosomal DNA test, but because they have by far the largest database of tests results it's the best option. Size isn't everything, however - what they do with your test results is also crucially important.


Ancestry use a proprietary algorithm called Underdog to phase your raw data. This may not mean a lot to you, but it makes an awfully big difference to the quality of the DNA matches you get. And here's whyÖ..


We have two sets of autosomal chromosomes, one from our father and one from our mother. This means that when your data is compared with that of potential cousins a match will be found if either the DNA you got from your father or the DNA you got from your mother matches at that point. Indeed, because the other person also has two sets of chromosomes there are 4 ways in which a match can be made.


This would be OK if your DNA results were neatly divided into two piles, one from your mother and one from your father, but they're not - they're all higgledy-piggledy. So you can get cross-over matches, where one part of a cousin's DNA segment matches your father's DNA, and another part matches your mother's DNA. This can easily make it appear that there's a match when in reality there is none - and that's why short matching segments of DNA tend to be ignored; indeed, the shorter the match the more likely it is to be spurious.


The good news is that Ancestry use an algorithm to phase your data, ie split it into two neat piles. And they do that for everyone else who has tested with them. Whilst no phasing algorithm can be perfect, Ancestry reckon Underdog is 99% accurate (you can read much, much more about phasing and Ancestry's solution in this paper written by Ancestry researchers).


What does this mean in practice? It means that Ancestry's matches should be more reliable - that when Ancestry say you share a segment of DNA with another user, you can be reasonably sure that the other person is a cousin of yours. There will still be a proportion of spurious matches, but there should be fewer. It also means that you'll be shown as sharing less DNA with a cousin than if you compared your results at another site, such as GEDmatch or Family Tree DNA. This applies even if you and your cousin both tested with Ancestry, because when you download your raw data from Ancestry it is unphased.


It's difficult enough figuring out how you're connected to your genetic cousins when the match is genuine - the last thing you want is to spend hundreds of hours trying to pin down spurious matches. Or to be distracted by false leads when we're researching a match with someone who really is a cousin.


For example, Family Tree DNA tell me that I have an X-chromosome match with my cousin Fiona - but since our shared Ancestry is on my father's side it must be spurious (my X-chromosome came from my mother - I got a Y-chromosome from my father). When I looked more closely I discovered that the supposedly matching segment is just 3.17cM long - so very likely to be spurious.


Ancestry identify Fiona as a match to me but determined that we had only one 8.9cM segment in common; by contrast FTDNA show that we share 60cM in total with a longest segment of 16cM. Since we're 6th cousins Ancestry's statistics are lot more believable - most 6th cousins wouldn't show up as a match at all.


Note: in the early days of genetic genealogy researchers were short of matches, so there was a tendency to 'clutch at straws'; now we get more matches than we can possibly investigate - which means a more selective approach is required.



Counting your DNA matches

In my 22nd January newsletter I asked how many DNA matches you had, and explained that the figure Ancestry display only includes the closest matches - most of us will have 10,000 to 20,000 matches in total, possibly more. I also explained that to calculate how many matches you have in total you only need to know how many pages of matches you have - because there are 50 to a page.


What I didn't point out is that you can jump from one page to another, you don't have to go through one page at a time - simply type the page number in the box and press Enter:



For example, you might type in 200, which will display matches from 9951-10000. With a little bit of experimentation you'll soon figure out how many matches there are in total, though it's really only of academic interest, since itís not the number of matches but what you do with them that matters, which is why I wrote the Masterclass article What to do with your autosomal DNA results



Save on DNA tests

An offer has just started at - if you're in the USA you can buy tests for just $69 (plus shipping) until midnight Eastern time on Sunday 25th February. Please use this link so that you can save and support LostCousins at the same time!


If you're in Canada you can save $30 when you use this link: (the offer runs until 25th February). In Australia or New Zealand use this link (the price is $129 at the moment, which may be the new permanent price):


If youíre in the UK you might be able to save 20% using this link (you'll probably need to log-out from your Ancestry account first, especially if you've bought a test before).


Family Tree DNA are also reducing the cost of their tests $59 plus shipping (the offer now ends on 17th February). This US dollar price applies worldwide - follow this link to support LostCousins.



Red hair prompts suicide

Red or ginger hair occurs naturally in around 2-6% of European populations, and in most cases sufferers have two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16. My choice of the word 'sufferers' reflects the fact that, to quote Wikipedia, "In various times and cultures, red hair has been prized, feared, and ridiculed".


In the 19th century red hair seems not to have been an asset, at least not for young women living in Cambridgeshire. The Stamford Mercury reported a very sad tale in the 30th August 1839 issue:


Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED used by kind permission of Findmypast


I couldn't find a product sold as Hendrie's hair-dye, but I did find an advertisement for Hendries' Moelline, which would have been on sale in a perfume shop, and may perhaps have been misdescribed by the seller:


Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED used by kind permission of Findmypast



What am I reading?

Good genealogical mysteries are like London buses - you wait for ages and then three arrive at the same time. Even before I'd finished reading File Under Fathers, the latest in the Anna Ames series from Geraldine Wall, I received a preview copy of The Vanished Child, the latest Jayne Sinclair mystery from the Montblanc pen of MJ Lee, due out on 23rd February (but you can pre-order at a discount price), and then a review copy of The Wicked Trade - the new Morton Farrier novel from Nathan Dylan Goodwin, which is out this week!


I'll review all three of these books as soon as I've finished them, but if you want to order them in the meantime please use the following links so that you can support LostCousins (as well as some of my favourite authors):


File Under Fathers - - -

The Vanished Child - - -

The Wicked Trade - - -



How to find articles from past newsletters

I often receive emails from members asking how they can find articles from previous newsletters.


There are two ways you can do this: one is to go back through the newsletters one by one using the links I provide (each newsletter has a link to the one before - look just below the list of articles at the top of the newsletter) - this is usually the best solution when youíre looking for an article that you know appeared very recently.


The other option is to use the customised Google search, also found near the beginning of each newsletter. This will ONLY search the newsletters - you wonít get results from other websites - so it's a great way to find articles that could have appeared years ago.


Tip: if you're a LostCousins subscriber you'll find links to all of my Masterclasses on the Subscribers Only page.


Peter's Tips

It took nearly two months for Lloyds Bank to realise what I told readers of this newsletter on 11th December - that some people buying Bitcoin with borrowed money would be unable to repay the loans when the price inevitably crashed. At the beginning of this week they announced that they would no longer allow credit cards to be used to purchase cryptocurrencies, and were quickly followed by Virgin Money.


I can't get through Christmas without remembering my first proper holiday job, 40 hours a week plucking turkeys for 2s 6d an hour (not bad money at the age of 13 - it probably wouldn't be allowed these days). So when our 30 year-old freezer finally gave up a fortnight ago, something we didnít notice until several days later (by which time the food was well-thawed, though still at fridge temperature, thanks to the weather) the one item I was confident about saving was a turkey I'd bought at half-price on Christmas Eve. You can't pluck as many turkeys as I have without knowing the difference between a good one and one that is starting to 'go off'. I also salvaged a Summer Pudding I'd been saving for a special occasion, and some bakery items.


"Waste not, want not" was one of the sayings that informed my childhood, and even today it pains me to throw food away; fortunately food seems to last much longer than it used to, provided it is properly refrigerated. For example, I bought some double cream before Christmas in case anyone who would be coming over the festive period wanted cream with their coffee, or poured over their dessert - but in the event nobody did. By the time the first carton was eventually opened it was nearly 4 weeks past the use-by date, but it was still in perfect condition, and stayed that way for more than a week, at which point I opened the second carton, by now 5 weeks past its use-by date - and that too was fine!



Stop Press

17th February: The Findmypast and Ancestry DNA articles have been updated today.



Description: Description: peter_signature


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?