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Newsletter – 13th January 2023



Last chance to save 21% on Findmypast subscriptions ENDS SUNDAY

Bringing 1921 to life

Australia’s treasure TROVE under threat?

What is a coheiress?


The King is dead

Was Edith Thompson wrongly executed in 1923?

Which prizes would you most like to win? DON’T DELAY!

Stands the church clock at ten to three

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 6th 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 save 21% on Findmypast subscriptions ENDS SUNDAY

Findmypast’s first offer of 2023 was also the first of 1921 – by which I mean that it’s the first time that they’ve discounted their new Premium subscription, the only subscription which allows unrestricted access to the 1921 Census of England & Wales.


You’ve got just two days to take advantage of the offer – don’t miss out! And, by the way, you can use the same links to upgrade from an existing Pro subscription (or even a Plus subscription).


Findmypast.co.uk – SAVE 21% on PREMIUM, PRO and PLUS subscriptions ENDS 15TH JANUARY


Findmypast.com.au – SAVE 21% on PREMIUM, PRO and PLUS subscriptions ENDS 15TH JANUARY


Findmypast.ie – SAVE 21% on PREMIUM, PRO and PLUS subscriptions ENDS 15TH JANUARY


Findmypast.com – SAVE 21% on PREMIUM, ULTIMATE and ESSENTIAL subscriptions ENDS 15TH JANUARY


Like most of the major genealogy sites Findmypast don’t allow early renewals – so if you already have a Premium subscription you won’t be able to take advantage of this offer. On the other hand, when you buy a 12 month Findmypast subscription you qualify for a Loyalty Discount (currently 15%) when it renews, so you may never have to pay full price.



Bringing 1921 to life

In November I told you about LostCousins member William, 103 years old, who has had the privilege of seeing his own entry on the 1921 England & Wales census.


Not to be outdone, ScotlandsPeople recently tweeted a link to a BBC recording of 104 year-old Helen Palmer being shown her own entry in the 1921 Scotland census by her daughter.


Did you know that there’s someone who was recorded in the 1911 Census who’s still around today? Ethel May Caterham (née Collins) from Ash Vale, Surrey was born in Shipton Bellinger, Hampshire on 21 August 1909:


© Crown Copyright image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives and with the kind permission of Findmypast


That’s an awful lot of people in a house that, according to the census schedule, had only three rooms (including the kitchen). It makes you wonder how there can possibly have been room for a visitor. It must have been jolly cosy!



Australia’s treasure Trove under threat?

According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, the National Library of Australia is facing a 21% cut in its budget, with all funding for Trove, the free newspaper archive coming to an end. (If you have trouble accessing that article, the Guardian has a similar article here.)


Thanks to LostCousins member and professional genealogist Judy Webster for telling me about the article, which allows me to warn readers of this newsletter. Incidentally, although the newspapers you’ll find at Trove may be Australian, some of the articles were copied from British newspapers.


I’m not a great believer in petitions, but if you want to express your concern about the potential loss of Trove there’s a petition here with just over 5000 signatories at the time of writing (double yesterday’s tally).


I’d also like this opportunity to recommend Judy Webster’s site for anyone whose relatives went to Australia. There are over 70,000 names taken from historical documents held in Australia, including hospital admission registers containing superb biographical details for patients (these records are often more accurate than certificates).



What is a coheiress?

This week an interesting article about inheritance was posted on the National Archives website – it uses examples from literature and drama to illustrate some of the conundrums that heirs and Graces had to contend with.




Next weekend the Society of Genealogists are hosting an interesting online talk by professional genealogist Dr Sophie Kay that considers how we can fill in some of the gaps in our family history. You can find out more here – it’s open to all, but members of the SoG pay a discounted rate.


Tip: if you book in advance a recording of the talk will be available for 14 days afterwards.



The King is dead

King Constantine II of Greece, who died this week, was the 2nd cousin of King Charles III on his father’s side and, according to this obituary in the Guardian, he was also a 3rd cousin to Queen Elizabeth II.


He had only been on the throne for 3 years when there was a military coup, and a few years later the monarchy was abolished. Before he ascended to the throne he won a sailing gold medal in the 1960 Olympics, held in Rome (though the sailing events took place in the Gulf of Naples).


Princess Anne, also a 2nd cousin of King Constantine, was the first member of the British Royal Family to compete in the Olympics at Montreal in 1976, and although she didn’t win a medal she was married at the time to Mark Phillips, who had won gold in 1972. Subsequently their daughter Zara won Olympic silver at London 2012. All three were equestrians.



Was Edith Thompson wrongly executed in 1923?

Just last month I wrote about the 1922 murder of Percy Thompson, and the subsequent execution in January 1923 of his wife Edith, and her lover Frederick Bywaters.


Reading contemporary newspaper accounts in the British Newspaper Archive I was surprised about the flimsiness of the evidence against Edith Thompson (née Graydon), which seems to have rested entirely on things she had said in love letters to Frederick. This week it was revealed that the Ministry of Justice is reconsidering an application for Edith to be pardoned.


I can find Edith Jessie Graydon in the 1911 Census, and I can find her marriage to Percy Thompson at St Barnabas, Little Ilford, on 15th January 1916 – both of which confirm that she was born in late 1893 or early 1894 (she was actually born on Christmas Day). But so far I haven’t found the not-so-happy couple in the 1921 Census, and a quick search of the GRO index of births suggests they didn’t have any children, which is probably just as well in the circumstances.


What I did discover, however, is that Percy Thompson suffered from heart problems that led to him being discharged from the army in June 1916, 5 months after the couple married. One of the medical reports states that he had fainting fits up to the age of 15, and had always suffered from palpitations after exertion. Whilst in the army he was unable to march more than a few miles before dropping out – his medical condition must have had an impact on other physical activities, which rather undermines Bywaters’ allegation that it was Thompson who attacked him.


At the time of his discharge Percy Thompson was living at 231 Shakespeare Crescent, Manor Park – a road I’ve driven down many times – and as Edith’s parents were there in 1921, it seems that Percy began married life with his in-laws (as many did, including my own father). Subsequently, according to this BBC article, the couple bought a house at 41 Kensington Gardens, Ilford – though they weren’t living there at the time of the 1921 Census, so may possibly have let the house.


In the same article there are photographs of the three players in the love triangle; the article also mentions that Edith first got involved with Frederick Bywaters when she, her husband, and her sister Avis Graydon went on holiday to the Isle of Wight in June 1921. Bywaters was much younger than Edith – closer to her younger sister's age. However, whilst Avis is recorded at a boarding house in Shanklin, Isle of Wight, in the 1921 Census there’s no sign of Edith, her husband Percy, or Freddie Bywaters.


If you can find them in the 1921 Census please post a link in the LostCousins Forum. Who knows, we might make a discovery that’s relevant to the case!



Which prizes would you most like to win? DON’T DELAY!

There are hundreds of prizes on offer in my competition, ranging from invitations to exclusive online talks, to valuable subscriptions, and an invaluable opportunity to knock down one of your ‘brick walls’.


But you won’t win anything unless you:


(1)   Add at least one blood relative or direct ancestor to your My Ancestors page


(2)   Indicate on your My Prizes which of the many prizes are of most interest to you  


The more relatives you add between now and the end of January, the better your chances of winning and the greater the chance that you’ll win your most coveted prize. You might even win more than one prize! (Quite a few people did last year.)


Remember, the aim of LostCousins is to connect experienced family historians who are researching YOUR ancestors – and every relative you add to your My Ancestors page is a potential link to a cousin you’ve never heard of, someone who shares your interest in family history, as well as your ancestry.


Don’t worry if your own ancestors left Britain long before 1881 – the most important relatives to enter are your cousins’ ancestors, not your own.


Here’s a reminder of the prizes on offer this year:



The TOP PRIZE this year has been generously donated by Findmypast – it’s a 12 month PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION offering virtually unlimited access to ALL of Findmypast’s billions of historical records from around the world (including the 1921 England & Wales census), modern electoral registers for the UK, and hundreds of millions of newspaper articles.


There are lots more prizes to be won, including:



Janet Few is an experienced and qualified family, social, and community historian who has spoken at many national and international genealogical events. She is also a well-known author, several of whose books have been reviewed in this very newsletter, including Putting Your Ancestors in Their Place. A founder member of the Society for One-Place Studies, and a former Chair and Vice-Chair of the organisation, she is currently Chair of Devon Family History Society.


Whether you win this prize or not you’ll find it worthwhile reading Janet’s excellent advice on what to do before you ask for help – you’ll find it here.



Wills are a wonderful source of information, but few family historians have mastered both the handwriting and the abbreviations.


I’m delighted that professional genealogist Dave Annal, former Principal Family History Specialist at The National Archives, and author of numerous books has offered to transcribe up to 4 pages from 1 or 2 wills submitted by the prize-winner (provided they are written in English rather than Latin).


Dave Annal’s blog is a great source of tips, and if you haven’t read his June 2021 post Walls Come Tumbling Down I would thoroughly recommend it – you’ll find the article here.



More family historians read this newsletter than any other independent genealogy publication, so just imagine what might happen if you were able to reach out to the readership!


Whether you have an ancestor who disappeared off the face of the earth, someone you can’t identify in a photograph, or any other family history-related mystery, if you’re the prize-winner I’ll give you up to a page in the newsletter to explain the problem and appeal for help solving it.


To have a chance of winning any of these wonderful prizes, all you need to do is enter my competition by adding relatives to your My Ancestors page, and indicate which prizes you are most interested in on your My Prizes page. Forgotten how to log-in to your LostCousins account? No problem, just click here and enter your email address (as shown in the text of the email you received telling you about this newsletter).



There can’t be many people reading this who haven’t tested their DNA, but what about your cousins? One of the best ways to knock down a ‘brick wall’ using DNA is to persuade a cousin who shares the same ‘brick wall’ to test. They don’t need to be interested in family history – though they will need a free Ancestry account in order to register their test (they can then assign the management of the test to you, as many of my own cousins have done).


I have a spare Ancestry DNA kit which I will either post to the winner or the person they nominate – but it must be a UK address, as this is a UK kit. As with all of the other prizes, you can only win if you enter the competition (by adding to your My Ancestors page) and indicating your interest in your My Prizes page.




LostCousins member Terri has generously donated this prize, which currently sells for $119 (it’s the version with traits). It can be posted to the winner or the person they nominate but it must be a US address.


Thanks again to Terri for making this test available – what a wonderful gesture!



Other prizes include opportunities to attend exclusive Zoom presentations, with limited audiences so that everyone who wants to can ask a question (if you are on the guest list you will also have the opportunity to submit a question in advance, if you prefer).



The Society of Genealogists (SoG) was founded in 1911, so to be the genealogist at the Society is arguably the most  prestigious position imaginable!


Else Churchill is not only extremely knowledgeable, she is a wonderful communicator – she spoke at both of the Genealogy in the Sunshine conferences that I organised in Portugal (in 2014 and 2015), and I was delighted when she accepted my invitation to speak to LostCousins members via Zoom. DATE TO BE ARRANGED



The leading expert on English marriage law and customs over the centuries, Professor Probert is the author of numerous books – both academic textbooks and easily understood guides for family historians like you and me.


Her best known book is the ground-breaking Marriage Law for Genealogists which debunked many of the myths that have seduced previous generations of family historians – you can read my review here.


Professor Probert will give a Zoom presentation followed by a Q&A session, but there will also be the opportunity to submit questions in advance. The presentation will commence at 10am (London time) on Saturday 11th February – put the date in your diary now in case you’re one of the lucky ones!


WENDY PERCIVAL – interview with the author of the Esme Quentin mysteries

What I like most about genealogical mysteries is the continuity from one book in a series to the next – I feel that with each book I get to know a little bit more about the lead character. I can’t say that I’ve ever identified with Esme Quentin, the hero of Wendy Percival’s highly-popular books, but she’s certainly a convincing amalgam of some of the researchers I’ve come across since founding LostCousins back in 2004.


I’ll be interviewing Wendy Percival via Zoom, asking questions that have intrigued me – and hopefully some that have intrigued you. If you are fortunate enough to be in the audience you’ll also have a chance to ask questions – but please don’t expect Wendy to reveal very much about book 5 in the series, you’ll have to wait until it is released!


The interview will commence at 7pm (London time) on Monday 6th February – so make a note on your 2023 calendar.


FORGOTTEN WOMEN – panel discussion with the team behind ‘A FEW FORGOTTEN WOMEN’

It might be a new site, but A Few Forgotten Women, which launched earlier this month, was created by a team with a wealth of experience.


This event will start with a discussion between the founders of the site, and then we’ll open it up to the audience, for you to ask questions or tell us about the women in your tree.  It starts at 4pm (London time) on Saturday 28th January, which is a few days before the competition ends, and lucky winners of invites to this event will be chosen notified around a week earlier  so it’s one more reason not to leave things to the last moment.



Stands the church clock at ten to three

The clock of St Peter’s church in Evercreech, Somerset has a most interesting face – as you can see from the photo on the right:


© Copyright Maigheach-gheal and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence  


Ken McDonald, secretary of The Hundred Parishes Society (and a keen family historian), recently wrote in the Stansted Mountfitchet parish magazine about some interesting church clock faces in Essex. For example, the clock of St Mary the Virgin at Furneux Pelham bears the words “TIME FLIES” above the clock and “MIND YOUR BUSINESS” below. Nobody seems to know why these words appear – the only thing I can tell you about Furneux Pelham is that it was the home of Rayments Brewery, whose output I once enjoyed.


He also mentioned the bell tower of St Mary’s at Sheering – which is most definitely in Essex, although its postal address might lead you to think it was in Hertfordshire. You can see photos of the clock faces here – one has the wording “WORK AND PRAY”, the other “TODAY IS YOURS”.


The words at the head of this article are, of course, taken from Rupert Brooke’s 1912 poem The Old Vicarage, Grantchester. The poet rented rooms in the Old Vicarage between 1910-12, but since 1979 it has been the home of Jeffrey Archer, the novelist. If you visit Grantchester in the summer, be sure to visit the Orchard Tea Garden – it’s one of the most wonderful places on earth.



Stop Press

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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2022 Peter Calver


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