Newsletter – 13th January 2021

 

 

Last chance to connect with your cousins? ENDS MONDAY

Mother and baby home scandal rocks Ireland

2021 Census – would you like to be an enumerator?

Win an Ancestry DNA kit

Identical twins don't have exactly the same DNA

How DNA testing is saving lives

Researching family history in South Africa

Change of identity: a challenge for family historians

An intriguing census entry

Essex Society for Family History membership offer

Is your journey really necessary?

Boom, boom

Stop Press

 

The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 5th January) 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!

 

 

Last chance to connect with your cousins? ENDS MONDAY

Until midnight on Monday 18th January the LostCousins site continues to be totally free – which means that all members can initiate contact with any new relatives that they find (something that normally requires a subscription). This applies not only to existing members, ie anyone who received an email about this newsletter, but also to new members.

 

So if you know any family historians who don't already belong, now's the time to persuade them to join, so that they can take part in the LostCousins project to connect cousins around the world who not only share ancestors, but also a love of genealogy. They don’t need any special codes, all they need to do is visit www.LostCousins.com and click JOIN NOW in the menu.

 

But it's also a great time for you to complete your My Ancestors page by adding relatives you may have forgotten about: ALL of your living cousins are descended from the branches, so entering relatives from the branches of your tree is the best way, perhaps the only way, to find them.

 

If you have British ancestry there are approximately 200 people reading this newsletter who are cousins of yours – every one of them a family historian like you. How many of those 'lost cousins' have you found so far?

 

Note: connecting with 'lost cousins' isn't just about finding information to add to your tree, it’s about sharing information with your cousins. So even if you've got as far as you plan to go with your own research, don’t use it as an excuse to do nothing – your cousins need you!

 

 

Mother and baby home scandal rocks Ireland

Many LostCousins members were adopted, have ancestors who were adopted, or are adoptive parents; some were single mothers who were forced to give up their children for adoption. On Tuesday, the Commission of Investigation into 'Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters' published a report that shocked many in Ireland and around the world (see this CNN article). Between 1922 and 1998 there was a 15% mortality rate amongst infants born at the homes under investigation – a rate so high that you would have to go back to mid-19th century England to find comparable figures in a developed nation, or to sub-Saharan Africa to find a similar statistic in the late 20th century.

 

Those children who did survive were usually adopted, often against the wishes of the mother. It's just over 7 years since I wrote about the story of Philomena Lee, one of the unmarried mothers who gave birth, and who was forced to give up her child for adoption.

 

The film of her search for her son, starring Judi Dench, was reshown on television this Christmas. This week Philomena gave a statement in which she said that she had "waited decades for this moment – the moment when Ireland reveals how tens of thousands of unmarried mothers, such as I, and the tens of thousands of our beloved children, such as my dear son Anthony, were torn asunder, simply because we were unwed at the moment our children were born."

 

I didn't watch Philomena on TV over the holidays (I have the DVD), but I did watch the Danish series DNA which included a similar storyline and included Charlotte Rampling amongst the cast. It's not out on DVD yet, as far as I can see, but it’s available free in the UK on BBC iPlayer – just follow this link.

 

 

2021 Census – would you like to be an enumerator?

The England & Wales 2021 Census is still expected to go ahead as planned on 21st March, and the Office for National Statistics is still recruiting in many areas.

 

50 years ago I was an enumerator for the 1971 Census – the name has changed to Census Officer, but the job description seems very similar: "If you like working with the community and talking to people, this is the role for you. You will champion the census, boost response rates and ensure residents have the right support to fill in their form."

 

Census Officers who apply now will work from 23rd March until 29th April, but although I should get my first dose of vaccine before the end of February I don't think I'd be prepared to risk taking on any job that involved face to face contact, despite the precautions that are being taken and, in any case, running LostCousins is a full-time job. But if you're interested in this or any of the other roles you'll find more details here.

 

 

Win an Ancestry DNA kit

I decided it was about time that I donated a prize for the New Year Competition – everyone else has been so generous – so I'm contributing an Ancestry DNA kit.

 

It's a UK kit that would normally cost £89 plus shipping (though, of course, I bought it during the sale) so it can only be used by UK residents. However I suspect that there are plenty of members outside the UK who would welcome the opportunity to invite one of their British cousins to test – it's by comparing our matches with those of our cousins that we are most likely to knock down 'brick walls'.

 

Have you entered the competition yet? It's completely free, and very easy – yet at the last count only 1200 out of the (almost) 70,000 members who receive this newsletter had entered, which is surprising considering that all you need to do is add relatives to your My Ancestors page. This article from the last issue explains who to enter – it's not as obvious as it might seem.

 

There are lots of wonderful prizes to be won – 10 minutes of your time could make all the difference. Indeed, that's all it took for the winner of the top prize a couple of years ago. But the real reward is connecting with your 'lost cousins' – because collaborating with cousins who share the same ancestral lines is the only way you'll be able to honour all of your ancestors.

 

Here's a reminder of the prizes on offer:

 

 

12 month PRO subscription to Findmypast (worth £159.99)

Virtually unlimited access to over 8 billion historical records from around the world, modern electoral registers for the UK, and more than 300 million newspaper articles

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

 

12 month Diamond subscription to The Genealogist (worth £139.95)

Unlimited access to a wide range of records including non-conformist records, exclusive tithe records and tithe maps, and a growing collection of 'Lloyd George' Domesday records and maps which you won't find at any other site.

 

 

12 month unlimited subscription to British Newspaper Archive (worth £79.95)

Over 40 million pages from historic British and Irish newspapers, with hundreds of thousands more pages added every month. Optimised search features including the ability to search for articles added after a particular date, so that you don't have to repeatedly trawl through articles you've previously read or discarded.

 

A professional, hand-drawn A5 portrait of one of your ancestors (worth £60)

See Alex Halliday's website for more details of the services she offers – for example, if you win you might choose to upgrade your portrait with a frame hand-crafted by her husband Michael in his workshop.

 

 

12 month subscription to Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine (worth at least £60)

A wealth of news, knowledge, and information from the world of genealogy – plus some inside stories from the TV series.

 

Family Historian v7 (just out!)

Simon Orde, the programmer of this Great British program has generously offered to donate a digital copy to the lucky winner. But you don’t have to wait for the result of the competition to find out what amazing features the program offers – you can download a free trial version here.

 

Three autographed copies of The Asylum-Hiding the Past

Nathan Dylan Goodwin will dedicate these copies to the three lucky winners – two great stories in a single paperback, Hiding the Past introduced us to Morton Farrier, The Asylum is a prequel to that first novel.

 

Autographed copies of The Marriage Certificate and The Death Certificate

Stephen Molyneux will sign copies of the paperbacks for the lucky winner. His debut genealogical mystery novel, The Marriage Certificate, is one of my all-time favourites, and The Death Certificate is a worthy follow-up.

 

Autographed copies of Ten Steps to a One-Place Study and Sins as Red as Scarlet: a Devon Town in Turmoil

Author Janet Tew will autograph copies of these popular books for the winner.

 

We've never had such a wonderful range of prizes before – I'm really grateful to all those who have donated prizes.

 

 

Identical twins don't have exactly the same DNA

Four years ago I wrote about research which indicated that even though identical twins are formed from the same fertilised egg, they are unlikely to have identical DNA. The differences are small, but they can be significant.

 

New research not only confirms this, but quantifies the difference – on average there are 5.2 mutations during early development. Although mutations can and do occur later on, it’s only the earliest mutations which affect all of the cells in the embryo. See this Guardian article for more information.

 

Identical twins have been used for studies that investigate the nature vs nurture discussion – in the past differences between identical twins have been assumed to be due to environmental factors, including upbringing.

 

Perhaps the most famous pair of identical twins are the 'Jim twins'. Separated at an early age and adopted by different parents they were both given the forename 'James' and many other similarities emerged in later life. Of course, some of them are just coincidence – such as the names they gave to their pet dogs – but others are likely to be the result of their shared inheritance. You can read more about the Jim twins and other pairs of identical twins in this National Geographic article, and also on the website of the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research.

 

 

How DNA testing is saving lives

The discovery 25 years ago of a gene variant (BRCA2) that is linked to three forms of cancer has saved thousands of lives by identifying patients who have inherited the variant - you can read about the project, which was led by Dr Michael Stratton, in this article from The Guardian.

 

Now Professor Sir Mike Stratton, he is the Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the world-leading genome research institute in Hinxton (less than 15 miles from the home of LostCousins), and CEO of the Wellcome Genome Campus. In 2000 he set up the Cancer Genome Project, which aims to find previously unknown connections between gene variations and a wide range of different cancers – you can read more about this important project here, on the Cancer Research UK website.

 

Genotyping variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was key to identifying the UK variant – the UK is the world leader in this field, with over 150,000 samples mapped and uploaded to GISAID, the international project (more than twice as many as the US despite its much larger population and higher case numbers, and far more than any other country). From a global perspective it's just as well that this dangerous new variant was found in the UK, because this meant it was spotted sooner than it would have been elsewhere. Indeed, as it has now been found in over 40 countries it's possible that it did originate outside the UK, though hopefully that isn’t the case.

 

Note: the South African variant has now been found in several countries, including the UK – so far it seems likely that precautions taken to prevent the spread of the UK variant will be equally effective.  

 

 

Researching family history in South Africa

I've done very little research in South Africa – as far as I can tell none of my ancestors went there, though my 2nd cousin once removed married an Afrikaner in the 1930s and settled there. But LostCousins member Geoff is much more familiar with South African records, and kindly agreed to write the following introduction to South African research as a prequel to an interesting story from his tree:

 

Rosemary Dixon-Smith’s Research Guide for Beginners is enormously helpful when beginning genealogical research in South Africa, and some of its recommendations can be supplemented these days with newly available web sources. The list of Natal Civil Marriages was already available at the FamilySearch site when Rosemary wrote, however it's worth noting that the name is misleading since the marriages concerned are not only those contracted in front of a magistrate, but also include church weddings and weddings at private residences conducted by clergy of all denominations. Also bear in mind that the records only include those that were submitted to central authorities; tribal marriages are never recorded (and their legality was often contested).

 

Since then, an ever-increasing number of South African records has become publicly available at FamilySearch including estate files, parish records of baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials, and a large proportion of these are now indexed as well. There are also some Zimbabwean estate files online there.

 

For all the categories that Rosemary lists, it is worth combining a search on NAAIRS (National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System at the South African National Archives website) with one at FamilySearch. When using the former, bear in mind that searches do not permit wild cards and that the texts in the indexes are sometimes mistranscribed, so it is worth being creative with possible misspellings.

 

For the latter, I suggest restricting the location to South Africa but using a minimum of other information, and trying both the ‘exact search’ and the ‘inexact search’ options. Bear in mind that some of the FamilySearch records were transcribed by volunteers who had little or no knowledge or understanding of South African placenames or personal names.

 

There are also some significant constraints: no census records survive for any year in South Africa, and although certificates of birth, marriage or death, where they exist, can theoretically be ordered from the central authorities, doing so is often a waste of time (and sometimes money). Those certificates that survive in estate files are often the most accessible.

 

Rosemary’s own site and the Genealogical Society of South Africa site also have miscellaneous information – the latter has searchable transcriptions from various South African newspapers. Even the most useful South African newspapers have rarely been digitized, so it is sites like these that are most likely to have transcriptions of early passenger lists from shipping reports in the papers. Note: see Rosemary’s warning about expectations regarding information from passenger lists.

 

The Rootsweb email lists that Rosemary recommends are no longer operational: all Rootsweb lists, including those relevant to South African genealogy, were closed during 2020, but some of their postings may still be found through Google searches. There were in any case too many Rootsweb lists for South Africa, subdivided by geographical region, and some lists attracted hardly any traffic. Since the Rootsweb closure, at least two new lists relevant to South Africa have been set up: southafricangenealogy, run by Keith Meintjes and (covering the whole of Africa) afgen, run by Steve Hayes. The memberships of both groups include knowledgeable people.

 

A site which was recommended to me by my 3rd cousin Steve, and subsequently by Geoff is the 1820 Settlers site run by Paul Tanner-Tremaine. Although it is restricted in scope there is a lot of information to be found. In the following article you'll see how Geoff used a range of sources to knock down a 'brick wall' in his own tree.

 

 

Change of identity: a challenge for family historians

In an era when few of the population had bank accounts, and there was no entitlement to an old age pension for most, it was rare for changes of name to be documented. In situations where the change of name was part of a plan to evade justice, avoid paying bills, get away with bigamy, or any other situation where the individual wanted to start a new life unencumbered by the burdens and responsibilities of the old one, it's even less likely.

 

Often there's only circumstantial evidence to support a hypothesis – the sudden appearance in census and other records of someone for whom there is no recorded birth can be one clue; the simultaneous disappearance of another person might be another. The challenge, of course, is to match them up.

 

Geoff's investigation into his great-grandfather provides a fascinating example of how someone can successfully reinvent themselves – in this case by changing his name and emigrating. I hope you find it as enjoyable and instructive as I did:

 

With the recent death of John le Carré, thoughts turn to the people who move around the world with assumed identities. I’ve been thinking in particular about my great-grandfather George Gordon Sutherland Macpherson, who did just that – emigrating to South Africa, probably in 1880, and changing his name completely.

 

We have always known that his origins were mysterious. Other than the fact that he was Scottish, almost nothing seemed to be known about George Macpherson prior to his marriage with Alice Mary Walker (known to the family as ‘Granny Mac’) in the so-called ‘Drill Shed Church’ in Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa, on 19th April 1882. The marriage was announced in the Natal Witness (the local paper) on 22nd April and you can see the marriage register entry here, at FamilySearch (note that although FamilySearch is free, you'll need to be logged-in).

 

From the marriage register we know that George Macpherson was a widower and a chemist. The South African National Archives (mostly divided between the old provincial and colonial capitals) have in their Natal branch at Pietermaritzburg an application to the colonial government to work as a chemist. This application, evidently successful, also dates from 1882. And in their Transvaal branch at Pretoria there are a handful of even earlier documents, some in English and some in Cape Dutch, which invite further research once the archive is opened again after the COVID restrictions are lifted.

 

The entries in the online index show that he applied to work as a chemist in the Boer republic of the Transvaal (the ‘Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek’ or ZAR) at least as early as 13th April 1881; this seems to have come to nothing. However it was renewed on 20th August and a report by John Edward Dyer, district surgeon in Pretoria, was received by the ZAR authorities on 12th September. This application may have been sent on to the British resident in charge of diplomatic relations with the ZAR, as he made a request to the ZAR authorities for my ancestor’s documents on 13th September, but there may have been no documents to send, as by December negotiations had gone quiet.

 

But there is no prior report either in Britain or South Africa of a George Gordon Sutherland Macpherson being a chemist, nor of a prior Macpherson marriage ending in widowerhood. All this might have remained a complete mystery except for my family's contacts with his grandson Malcolm Macpherson, a first cousin of my mother, who was also a chemist - like his father and grandfather before him. I think Malcolm proves the value of establishing and maintaining contacts with cousins - they may know things that no one else does.

 

In a phone conversation Malcolm hinted that he’d always known that George Macpherson had started life under a completely different surname, Dand. Subsequent research suggested that he was born Andrew Dand in February 1856, at Auchterhouse near Dundee – the child of Charles Hendry Dand and Annie Low. With that discovery the story began to fall into place because there’s extensive documentation in the National Archives at Kew (TNA) with details of his earlier career, one that was ultimately less successful than the one he later adopted.

 

But things had started promisingly. On 2nd January 1872 Andrew Dand enlisted in the Royal Marines at Dundee, and though he was only 15 – it was a few weeks before his 16th birthday – he nevertheless stated ‘I do solemnly and sincerely declare that I am, to the best of my knowledge and belief, Eighteen Years of Age’. This was the first of several occasions on which he made himself out to be older than he really was. He also claimed to be a ‘clerk’ by profession, and was clearly literate, though given his age it seems more likely that he was no more than an office boy. I have a copy of the Attestation, which is held by TNA.

 

He swore the oath of allegiance at Edinburgh on 5th January, and underwent a medical examination there the following day. His service in England, mainly in Portsmouth, seems to have started very well: in October 1873 he was promoted to corporal (though he was still only 17 years old) and then in April 1875 to sergeant. At this point all reports of his behaviour and character are ‘Very Good’ or ‘Exemplary’.

 

On 3 April 1875, he married in Portsea, Harriet Ann Rose, daughter of a Wiltshire shoemaker: it seems her mother ran a boarding house near the Portsmouth docks. He was aged just 19, but claimed to be 24 years old in the marriage register. ), And at nearby Gosport in Hampshire, on 8 February 1876, after 4 years and 35 days of service, he paid the £20 required to be discharged from the Marines, taking with him a good conduct medal, and a reference to his ‘exemplary’ character, and intending to take up residence at 24 Princess (presumably 'Princes') Street, Edinburgh.

 

But things soon changed. On or around 11th May 1876, Charles – the first child of Andrew and Harriet – was born, not in Hampshire or Edinburgh, but back in Dundee. Sadly Harriet died on 20th May, and then a few days later his infant son died of diphtheria. My great-grandfather must have been distraught to have lost his family – he was still only 20 years old – and he re-enlisted on 3rd June, leaving for London on the Edinburgh-London steamer three days later.

 

This attempt to distract himself from the tragic loss of his wife and child seems not to have worked out: on 25th September he was admonished for being absent from parade, and he finally deserted from Eastney Barracks, Portsmouth, in early October, taking his kit with him. He was listed in the Police Gazette as a deserter.

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The Marines may never have run him to earth, so he may have escaped branding with a 'D' for deserter (this practice was, in any case, abolished a couple of years later). But a court martial was held at the barracks on 30 October, evidently in his absence, ‘enquiring into and reporting upon the illegal absence of 12th Coy. Gunner Andrew Dand, Royal Marine Artillery’. A document at TNA lists the equipment he took with him which includes a great coat valued at £1 10s.

 

I cannot be sure of his whereabouts between early October 1876 and 1880, but he was not recorded in the 1881 census in either England or Scotland. It does seem that he may have wished to escape the law by reinventing himself completely. He could not have resumed a military or naval career, though Malcolm suggested that his invented middle names, ‘Gordon’ and ‘Sutherland’, were a tribute to illustrious regiments.

 

Although I can’t be sure what he was doing before leaving for South Africa there is no evidence that he undertook any training for his new profession. It may be significant that one of the witnesses to his second marriage in Pietermaritzburg in 1882 was Thomas Richard Thorpe, an analytical chemist of roughly the same age who had emigrated from England around the same time, and later moved to one of the Witwatersrand gold mines, where he worked as a chemist, using cyanide to refine gold; a couple of years later he committed suicide by taking cyanide.

 

My great-grandfather didn't stay in one place for very long: he left the city of Pietermaritzburg after a couple of years for more rural parts, including the semi-autonomous region of Griqualand East, where two of his sons were born; perhaps he was still concerned that the long arm of the law was catching up. Ironically his eldest son by his second wife had an illustrious career in the Natal and Johannesburg constabularies, joining the Natal force in 1898 shortly before his father’s death.

 

His death in the Natal town of Ixopo on 20th March 1899 is recorded under the name George Gordon Sutherland Macpherson, chemist – there is no clue to his previous identity. Again the image of the death register page can be seen here at the FamilySearch website.

 

There can be no doubt that Andrew Dand, army deserter, reinvented himself as George Gordon Sutherland Macpherson, a respected chemist. It also seems very likely that his Dundee family maintained links with him throughout his life: one of his Dand nieces married one of his Macpherson sons, a second son married another Dundee girl. Perhaps most tellingly of all, there is a memorial stone in the graveyard of his home village, Auchterhouse, commemorating not only his mother, Annie Low, but also his first wife Harriet Ann, their son Charles, and himself as Andrew Dand – but showing the place and date of George Macpherson's death. (Image used by kind permission of my 2nd cousin Morag, Malcolm Macpherson’s daughter.)

 

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There is also DNA evidence that links me with current members of the Dand family – but none of this information could possibly have been pulled together without the co-operation of cousins.

 

I hope that Geoff's voyage of discovery will inspire you to make discoveries of your own. These days DNA often provides the inspiration that sets us off, but it's usually only after good old-fashioned records-based research that everything falls into place.

 

 

An intriguing census entry

In Geoff's article there was mention of a John Edward Dyer who was a surgeon in Pretoria in 1881. Last September I was researching a John Ernest Dyer in connection with this article published in the same month – and whilst I could find him in the 1911 Census, the only John E Dyer of the right age that I could find in 1901 turned out to be the son of John Edward Dyer, the aforementioned surgeon.

 

Quite a coincidence, don’t you think – and what was he doing in London? His father had died in 1897 so he might possibly have been sorting out his affairs, but what is most intriguing is what it says under birthplace:

 

© Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England. Used by kind permission of Findmypast

 

As you can see, it reads "South Africa (prisoner of war)". The Second Boer War was fought between 1899-1902, so presumably that's the war being referred to, but what is a PoW doing in a London hotel – and was he a prisoner of the Boers or the British? His late father was British, but his mother was a Boer – which side would have had his allegiance, I wonder?

 

Has anyone else come across a prisoner of war on a British census – any war, any census?

 

 

Essex Society for Family History MEMBERSHIP OFFER

Approximately 5000 of the readers of this newsletter (me included) have Essex ancestors, so I was delighted to discover that not only does the Essex Society for Family History offer an electronic membership – which costs just £8 worldwide – but if you join now, you won't need to renew until April 2022.

 

My membership paid for itself on the first day – last year I spent half an hour in the rain walking around the churchyard of St Andrew, Netteswell in an unsuccessful attempt to find the grave of my great-great-great-great grandfather William Samuel Wheatley, who was buried there in 1858. If the headstone is still there – and as the church is now a community centre it’s quite possible that it isn’t – any inscription has been eroded. But having joined the society I was able to find a full transcript amongst the records in the 'members only' area of the website.

 

Members of the society have transcribed almost 2 million records, including parish register entries as well as the memorial inscriptions I found so useful. All meetings are currently being held over Zoom, which makes them much more attractive to those of us who aren't local, or who are unable to travel - for example, on Saturday 16th January there are talks by two experts whose names many of you will know from their books: Dave Annal and Ian Waller. I hope that Essex and other societies will continue offering remote access to their meetings even after the pandemic subsides.

 

Follow this link to take advantage of the offer for new members (it isn’t explicitly mentioned on the website, but I'm reliably informed that it is automatic).

 

Note: I don't as a rule promote family history societies in this newsletter, partly because there are so many of them, and partly because they charge for membership and access to their publications, whereas my newsletters and standard membership of LostCousins are free. However, I made an exception for ESFH because they agreed to publish an article about LostCousins in their journal – expanding the membership is good news for all members, because more members means more matches, and more matches mean more cousins!

 

 

Is your journey really necessary?

It was revealed on Tuesday that the number of excess deaths in the UK in 2020 exceeded anything that has been seen since World War 2 – and sadly 2021 has not got off to a good start.

 

I was shocked to learn yesterday that most of the major British supermarkets have banned shoppers who don’t wear masks – shocked, because in my naivety I had assumed that this had long been the rule (I've only once been into a supermarket in the last 10 months, and that was a fleeting visit in the summer when the case numbers were very low).

 

Yesterday I read that between 80% and 90% of the UK population are abiding by the restrictions most of the time – a figure that was apparently supposed to impress readers. But when one person in 50 in England has the disease, what I really want to hear is that 100% of the population are abiding by the restrictions ALL of the time, and that most of them are staying well within the guidance – rather than stretching the rules, we should be stretching ourselves!

 

For example, just because food shopping is regarded as essential doesn't mean that you have to go out – in many parts of the country it's not difficult to get supermarket delivery slots, just so long as you plan in advance (I work three weeks ahead, though I don’t finalise my orders until the night before). Today Scotland announced restrictions on click-and-collect of non-essential items, and takeaway meals – I wouldn’t be surprised if England follows suit.

 

Similarly, exercise is important, but do you really need to go outside in the middle of winter? When the air temperature is close to freezing our bodies are especially vulnerable to respiratory diseases – and since the cold weather also favours coronaviruses, it’s doubly dangerous.

 

There are many ways to keep fit indoors: for example, my brother and his wife bought themselves a rowing machine, and were mentioned in their local paper after winning their respective classes in an indoor virtual rowing competition organised on Facebook (my sister-in-law is a highly-experienced rower, but for my brother it was his first competition!). When it's too cold or too wet to exercise in the garden my wife and I play table tennis – we've repurposed our dining room – and it's surprisingly energetic, even if we do spend rather too much of the time picking the ball up from the floor…..

 

If you’re in the UK, don't travel miles to get vaccinated, especially if it will mean using public transport – the number of locations offering vaccinations is rapidly increasing, so you'll soon be able to find somewhere more local. I received a text from my doctor yesterday which explained that "It is NOT compulsory to attend a SuperHub. The surgery will contact you when the vaccine is available for you."

 

Finally, there was some good news this morning: a treatment for COVID-19 developed at Southampton University (where I got my undergraduate degree) is beginning large-scale trials – you can read more about it here.

 

 

Boom, boom

One of the celebrities we lost in 2020 was Derek Fowlds, star of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, but most importantly the much-loved co-presenter of the Basil Brush Show in the early 1970s. There's an interview with him on YouTube which I found quite moving – you'll find it here.

 

Basil Brush's catch phrase was, and probably still is, "Boom, boom" – and I was reminded of it on Tuesday morning when I was out in the garden and heard what sounded like a large explosion, but turned out to be a sonic boom. As this BBC article explains, a Typhoon fighter jet from RAF Coningsby had been scrambled to intercept a private jet en route from Germany to Birmingham and escort it to Stansted Airport. It's good to know that the RAF are able to react so quickly to potential security threats.

 

I never saw Derek Fowlds perform except on television, though I did see both Diana Rigg and Honor Blackman, two of the famous actresses we lost in 2020, live on stage. Though they both starred in Bond films my enduring memory of them will be as Emma Peel and Cathy Gale in the 1960s series The Avengers.

 

Who will you miss the most of the celebrities who died in 2020? Post your answers on the LostCousins Forum (please don't write to me as I'm exceedingly busy helping members find their 'lost cousins').

 

Tip: many members who have already been invited to join the forum haven’t taken up the offer – there's no charge, but it’s only open to those who are taking part in the LostCousins project. Check your My Summary page to see whether you've been invited – if your Match Potential is 1 or more you'll find a link as well as a coupon code that will allow you to register. If your Match Potential is less than 1, now's the ideal time to boost it by adding more relatives.

 

 

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......

 

 

Finally, a reminder that you've got just over two weeks to enter my competition and win one of the phenomenal prizes on offer – and best of all, even if you don’t win a prize you’re helping your own cousins by providing them with more opportunities to connect!

 

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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins

 

© Copyright 2021 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? To link to a specific article right-click on the article name in the contents list at the top of the newsletter.