Newsletter - 20th January 2016
LostCousins is also free this weekend ENDS TUESDAY
Surprise announcement from Findmypast BREAKING NEWS
How distant can 'lost cousinship' be? GUEST AUTHOR
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 13th January) click here, for an index to articles from 2009-10 click here, for a list of articles from 2011 click here and for a list of articles from 2012-14 click here. However I strongly recommend that you do what I do, and use the customised Google search below (it only searches these newsletters, so you won't get spurious results):
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!
From noon (London time) on Friday 22nd January until the same time on Monday 25th January all four of Findmypast's sites will be free (the only records excluded from the offer are the modern UK Electoral Registers and the recently released 1939 Register).
Existing subscribers haven't been forgotten - if you have a Britain, Ireland, Australia & New Zealand, or US & Canada subscription you will have access to World records over the weekend. If you have a World subscription 3 days will be added on!
It's a great opportunity to fill in gaps in your tree (Findmypast has hundreds of millions of records and newspaper articles that you won't find at any of their competitors' sites), whilst for those of you who haven't used Findmypast recently it's a chance to discover how much more powerful the new site is.
Please use one of the links below to go to the Findmypast site of your choice:
LostCousins is also free this weekend ENDS TUESDAY
One good turn deserves another, so I've decided that LostCousins will also be FREE this weekend.
Even better, my offer starts right now and won't end until midnight on Tuesday - which means that you'll have plenty of time to enter relatives on your My Ancestors page and connect to the new cousins you've been matched with. To take advantage of this offer simply:
(1) Log-in to your LostCousins account (if you can't remember your password you can get an automated reminder)
(2) Check your My Cousins page for new matches - click Make contact or Accept invitation
(3) Go to your My Ancestors page and click the Search button to look for more matches
(4) Add more relatives to your My Ancestors page and click Search again to look for even more matches
See the next article for some tips to help you find lots of new cousins.
Tip: it doesn't matter if your cousins don't respond during the offer period, just so long as you find the match and click 'Make contact' this weekend. And if anyone doesn't reply within 14 days I'll chase them up on your behalf (how about that for service!).
Beginners often make the mistake of assuming that their direct ancestors are the only people they need to enter on their My Ancestors page. They are important, of course, but realistically most of us already know our 1st cousins and many of our 2nd cousins - who are the relatives who share our grandparents and great-grandparents.
There are big advantages in finding 3rd, 4th and 5th cousins - not least of which is that someone who is researching our ancestors from a different perspective will often have a better insight into the 'brick walls' that inevitably bring our research on a particular line grinding to a halt. But it's not just about exchanging past research and collaborating in the future - sometimes our cousins carry the answers we're seeking within their DNA (see the article Distant cousins in genealogy for a more detailed discussion).
You'll get most matches at LostCousins when you enter the members of your ancestors' extended families who were recorded in the 1881 Census - so the winning strategy is to trace your collateral lines forwards until you get to 1881, then enter them all on your My Ancestors page.
At the very least you should aim to trace collateral lines from the 1841 Census onwards
If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US - or, indeed, anywhere other than Britain - it's worth remembering that provided you have British ancestry, most of your living cousins are still living in Britain. After all, when someone emigrated they might have taken their family with them, but they certainly wouldn't have taken their entire extended family!
Although the 1881 Census is the main one that we use, a few years ago I added the 1841 England & Wales census to the list, to make it easier for members whose direct ancestors migrated in the late 18th or early 19th century to search for their cousins. Nevertheless, if you can trace your collateral lines through to 1881 you'll have a much greater chance of success - because more members have entered more relatives from 1881 than all the other censuses added together!
The Human Genome Project was launched in 1990, with the aim of sequencing the entire human genome within 15 years at a cost of $3 billion; a first draft was published in 2000, and a finished version was published in 2003.
We're all used to the price of technology plummeting - the memory chips in my first (1978) computer cost 7 million times more per byte than modern memory chips - but even I was surprised to discover that it's possible to get a whole genome test for just $725 from FullGenomes.
Admittedly that test probably won't be as accurate as the $3 billion sequence, but for genealogical purposes it might be good enough. However I won't be ordering a test just yet - I'll leave that to the pioneers!
Surprise announcement from Findmypast BREAKING NEWS
"From the 16th February 2016, Findmypast's premium record set, the 1939 Register, will be made available
to 12 month Britain and World subscribers as part of their subscription packages, giving them unlimited access to the records of 30.5 million people.
"And there is more good news for our subscribers. We are freezing the price of their next renewal on our 12 month subscription packages as we increase the price of new subscriptions by 20% on February 16th.
"In the past year alone, almost half a billion records have been added to the site. We plan to add the same number again this year to ensure value for our subscribers and to help them discover even more about their family story. We have opened a further 2.5 million closed 1939 Register records and continue to open thousands more every week.
"Findmypast now offers access to over eight billion records and we are committed to adding thousands of new records every week."
Whilst price increases are never welcome, the fact that Findmypast are adding the 1939 Register to existing subscriptions is really positive - and it's important to remember that even after the increase the cost of a Britain subscription will still be about 20% less than it was in October 2009 when the 1911 Census was added!
Tip: watch out for my next newsletter - I'm currently trying to arrange an offer with Findmypast that will offer a discount on the existing subscription price!
Founded 16 years ago by Steve & Julie Pankhurst with their friend Jason Porter, Friends Reunited was a forerunner of Facebook - and a highly-successful one in its heyday. Sold to ITV in 2005 for upwards of £120 million the company was re-sold to BrightSolid, the parent company of Findmypast in 2009 for a much lower price - but they were more interested in the Genes Reunited subsidiary , and the website ended up in the hands of the original owners.
Sadly I received an email this week which announced that Friends Reunited is to close - you can read a blog posting by Steve Pankhurst here. There will be a short period to allow members to download images they have posted, but it's not yet clear what other features will be available - there are some friends from my childhood who I am only in touch with through that site.
Also, as one of the world's first online social networks the connections and conversations at Friends Reunited surely have heritage value? I would argue that they're an important part of early 21st century culture, certainly in the UK. But what do YOU think?
Mocavo, the genealogical search engine which was acquired by Findmypast in June 2014, is to be incorporated into the Findmypast.com website. I have to admit that I've not used Mocavo very much, partly because it's quite US-oriented, and partly because I was confused about which records were free and which ones weren't.
You can read more about the plans here on Dick Eastman's blog - his genealogy newsletter is an amazing 20 years old this month!
Perhaps the most exclusive venues in London - yet cold, badly-lit, and uncomfortable - closed sections of the London Underground network are so popular that the occasional tours sell out very quickly, as you can see from this page on the London Transport Museum website.
You'll find a short video tour of the shelters below Clapham South tube station (which accommodated up to 8,000 people a night during World War 2) here on the BBC website.
See the Hidden London website for hundreds of ideas for places to visit when you're in the capital.
How distant can 'lost cousinship' be? GUEST AUTHOR
This article by Anthony Adolph, professional genealogist, broadcaster and author, draws on some of the concepts in his latest book:
Views of the relevance of cousinship vary: a lot of people will argue that first cousinship, derived through sharing grandparents, or second cousinship, derived through sharing great grandparents, is valid and relevant, but anything more distant doesn’t really count.
But the more people like us spend time researching our ancestry, the broader the net can be cast. When I worked in a genealogical office in Canterbury I discovered an 8th cousin twice removed living literally over the road, and more recently I was delighted to discover, two years before her wedding, that one of my 10th cousins once removed was Kate Middleton.
How much further the net can be cast in terms of such precise statements of relationship is limited only by genealogical records. Through the Fairfax family, who are my common link with the Duchess of Cambridge, I can take a line back for us both to the Percys of Northumberland, who were descended from Edward III, and this provides reliable genealogical lines back as far as you can trace Edward’s ancestors – back to the AD 500s at least through his Wessex ancestors, and yet further back through his various descents from European royalty. Millions of people worldwide can trace similar lines back to these same royal root-stocks, and with any of them it is possible to calculate a precise and delightfully distant degrees of cousinship.
But genealogy is about much more than written records. It's self-evident that all humans are our cousins, one way or another and, in the last few decades, genetics has added a surprising new precision to our knowledge of the degrees of relationship involved. The Y chromosomes carried by all human males identify 20 groups (called haplogroups) from which all male-lines descend, and show us how these groups are themselves related. They thus define a great family tree of humanity, as defined by the male line, Y chromosome. The mitochondrial DNA, which each of us inherited from our mothers, equally falls into 35 haplogroups, also interrelated, forming another great family tree of humanity, as defined by the female line. The male lines go back to a man, dubbed the 'genetic Adam', who probably lived in Africa about 80,000 years ago, and the female lines (including Adam's female line ancestry) go back to a woman, dubbed the 'mitochondrial Eve', who probably lived in Africa about 140,000 years ago. A new way of defining cousinship, therefore, is by common membership of these genetic haplogroups and their numerous sub-groups, as revealed by genetic testing.
All such tests affirm our common descent from the tiny group of early Homo sapiens who evolved in Africa, about 200,000 years ago. They had evolved out of earlier Homo species, and they in turn had evolved out of earlier species of apes, monkeys, earlier mammals, cynodonts, earlier synapsids, reptiles, amphibians, fish, sea-worms, early metazoa and, ultimately, single-celled ancestors, floating about in the primal seas some 3,500 million years ago. This greater pedigree, traced through the study of biology and fossils in the 19th and 20th century and now increasingly honed through genetic studies, not only provides a detailed account of our ancestry right back to the dawn of life, but also defines our cousinship to all other forms of life on earth.
The birds in the garden are your cousins, as are the spiders on the dahlias, the dahlias themselves, the fungus on their leaves and the bacteria in your stomach. They’re all long-lost cousins, connected by an unbroken chain of generations, within the great family tree of life.
Anthony Adolph is the author of Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors, which investigates how far back you can trace through noble and royal lines, and In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors, which takes the story right back to the dawn of life on Earth (you can see my review here). Both are published by Pen & Sword: for more details about these books and the services that Anthony offers, or to read some of the other interesting articles that he has written, please see his website.
Reading Anthony Adolph's article it suddenly struck me that if either 'genetic Adam' and 'mitochondrial Eve' had failed to reproduce none of us would be here today!
There was a time - not so very long ago - when every human being then living (who has descendants living today) was the ancestor of everyone currently living. In other words, we all share precisely the same ancestors if you go back far enough - though in different proportions and on different lines.
But whether you find that piece of information comforting or a matter of profound concern, it isn't going to help you knock down the 'brick walls' in your tree; I can state with complete confidence that you and I are related, but unless we can identify where the connection is, the fact that we are related is of no genealogical value. Even if we have an autosomal DNA match it won't tell us who the common ancestor is, and if - as often happens - our common ancestor has a surname that doesn't currently appear in both (or either) of our trees we might struggle to work out what the connection is.
The great thing about connecting with a cousin through LostCousins is that you'll often know who the common ancestor is even before you've made contact - and you'll definitely know who it is once you correspond, no matter how many generations back the connection might be.
Clearly you'll share a larger proportion of your tree with someone who is a 3rd cousin than with someone who is a 4th or 5th cousin - but even a 5th cousin shares a significant chunk (1/32nd) of your tree.
Note: according to research by Ancestry DNA we each have an average of 17,300 5th cousins and 174,000 6th cousins - so there's no shortage of cousins for us to find. Of course, they won't all be researching their family tree, nor will they all be LostCousins members, but even if you connect with only 10 or 20 new 5th cousins it could really transform your research by providing new insight into the origins of the ancestors you share.
These days DNA testing is the main hope for those of us with seemingly impenetrable 'brick walls', and you might be surprised to learn that when it comes to autosomal DNA testing, distant cousins tend to be more useful than close cousins. That's because when you're analysing your DNA results and sorting through the hundreds of matches, it's an enormous advantage to be able to work out which of your ancestors contributed a particular part of your DNA - and the fewer ancestors you share with your cousin, the easier it is to determine precisely which contributed the shared DNA.
So, if you're one of those who dismisses matches with 'distant' cousins as of relatively little value, I would suggest that it's time to think again!
Research published yesterday in Nature Communications and reported in this article on the BBC website found that on average 38% of DNA in the modern population of the East of England derives from Anglo-Saxon migrations.
In the last 2000 years there have been several mass migrations into the British Isles, starting with the Romans, and continuing with Anglo-Saxons between 400-650 AD, Scandinavians during the Viking period from 800-1050, and the Normans in 1066.
Previous estimates of the contribution Anglo-Saxon invaders have made to English DNA have varied from 10-40%. Although the latest findings are based on DNA analysis of the remains of just 10 individuals, they are notable because whole genome analysis was carried out (although, because of the difficulty of working with ancient DNA, for 9 of the 10 samples the coverage was less than the 10x coverage offered by the test that you and I could purchase for $725).
The researchers used a technique they call rarecoal which fits a demographic model to the distribution of shared rare variants across a large number of samples, enabling fine scale analysis of subtle genetic differences and yielding explicit estimates of population sizes and split times.
In late September 1915 Lieutenant John Kipling, who was barely 18 years old, disappeared during the Battle of Loos - but no body was ever found. His father, born Joseph Kipling, but known to posterity by his middle name of Rudyard was distraught, and spent the next four years trying to discover what had happened; only in 1919 did he accept that his son was most probably dead. Kipling, the author of works such as Kim and The Jungle Book died in 1935 without ever being able to visit his son's grave, yet by a cruel irony it was he who chose the phrase "known unto God" for the graves of unknown soldiers.
Fast forward to 1992: the Commonwealth Graves Commission changed inscription on the grave of an unknown soldier to read "John Kipling" - you can see the headstone here. However a story in the Daily Telegraph in 2002 questioned whether a mistake had been made, and the same concerns - which had been raised in a book (My Boy Jack?) were aired in a 2007 article in the Guardian.
But now, according to a press release from the Western Front Association which was timed to coincide with the 80th anniversary of Rudyard Kipling's death, authors Graham Parker and Joanna Legg have put forward a convincing argument that the body in the war grave is indeed that of John Kipling, despite the apparent inconsistencies.
I'll leave it to you to weigh the evidence, such as it is - but I suspect that were Rudyard Kipling alive today he'd be clamouring for a DNA test to remove all possible doubt!
Note: Rudyard Kipling also coined the phrase "lest we forget", which occurs in a poem he wrote commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
On 19th May 1845 an expedition led by Captain Sir John Franklin set sail from Greenhithe in Kent, bound for the Arctic, where he was hoping to complete a journey through the North West Passage.
Three years later, there had been no news of the expedition and a search party set out from England to discover the fate of the 129 men; others joined the hunt, attracted by the reward on offer, but succeeded only in finding the graves of 3 men who had died early on. Finally, in 2014 a Canadian search team located HMS Erebus, one of the two ships on Franklin's doomed expedition.
This month John D Reid, author of the Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections blog, and a speaker at Genealogy in the Sunshine last March published an appeal for help finding living relatives of the crew members so that their DNA can be tested against the DNA from the remains that have been found. There's a list of the crew members on John's blog here, but I've obtained a more detailed list from Professor Anne Keenleyside at Trent University in Ontario, Canada which I have posted here on the LostCousins forum.
The challenge is to identify crew members or their families on the 1841 England & Wales census, so that we can use the Historical Research feature of LostCousins to connect with living relatives. If you're interested in taking part head over to the forum - assuming you've been invited, that is. (You can find out whether you've been invited to join the forum by logging in at LostCousins and checking your My Summary page.)
Jefferson Tayte will be back in April
Steve Robinson is probably the most successful author of genealogical mysteries around, so I'm sure many of you will be as delighted as I was to hear that the new Jefferson Tayte novel Kindred is due to be released on 12th April. It will be released simultaneously as a paperback and as a Kindle book in the UK and the US, and you can pre-order it by following one of the following links:
Steve Robinson's In the Blood was the first genealogical mystery I ever read - and the author lives less than 20 miles away from LostCousins - so I have a soft spot for Jefferson Tayte. You can read my 2012 interview with Steve Robinson here.
Last month I wrote about Smithfield sausage-maker William Harris, and his five sons named William - if you missed the original article you'll find it here. The article prompted a flood of correspondence from members who had encountered similar examples in their own researches, but I don't recall anyone telling me about the five sons of boxer (and grill magnate) George Foreman - who are named George Jr, George III, George IV, George V, and George VI. However, I was relieved to discover that his 7 daughters (two of whom were adopted) all have different names.
Where were you on 13th December 1965? I now know where I should have been - at school! It was only after the death of rock star David Bowie was announced 10 days ago that I discovered that his band had played at our annual Christmas Dance.
From The Brentwoodian, January 1966 p.8
He wasn't the only singer to become famous after performing at Brentwood School in 1965 - earlier that year a little known American folk singer had played in the same hall:
From The Brentwoodian, January 1966 p.59
By the time these paragraphs appeared in print Paul Simon was internationally famous - whilst he was in England his song The Sound of Silence (with Art Garfunkel) had been overdubbed by their producer and released as single, topping the US charts on New Year's Day 1966. Sadly I didn't attend the Paul Simon concert either - it was to be almost 40 years before I saw him perform live, with Art Garfunkel, at a reunion concert in London's Hyde Park.
The General Register Office for England & Wales has circulated a PDF document with notes on the meetings with stakeholders held in December - you can download a copy here.
(If you'd like to re-read my comments following the meeting I attended you will find them here.)
This year's Which? magazine survey of Internet Security software for Windows put the program I use, Kaspersky Internet Security at the top of the list. It also came top in the Computer Shopper survey (yet again). It's a ridiculously cheap way of protecting yourself against viruses, Trojans, and other types of malware, as well as phishing attacks.
Of course, there are free programs available that can stop some of threats - but that's rather like locking a door and leaving a window open. Like burglars, hackers attack the most vulnerable spot. One of the best things about Kaspersky is the low cost of multiple licences - to protect 3 devices (Windows or Android) costs less than £6 each; for 5 it works out at less than £5 each. Follow this link to Amazon.co.uk, or this one to Amazon.com
Tip: I never renew my licences - I buy a new copy of the program instead, since this invariably works out significantly cheaper.
I have to admit that the Sloe Gin I made last autumn (see my September article) tasted delicious when I eventually tasted it over Christmas - so I'll certainly be making more next year. However the real star was the Shepherd's Bullace Gin - a complete gamble, but one that paid off handsomely!
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......