Newsletter - 16th July 2019
Cheapest ever Ancestry DNA tests? ENDS MIDNIGHT
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 10th July) 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):
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Cheapest ever Ancestry DNA tests? ENDS MIDNIGHT
It's Amazon Prime Day, and at Amazon's UK site Ancestry are offering DNA tests for just £53 including shipping, the cheapest online price I've ever seen. Follow this link to find out more - but you'll need to be quick because the offer ends at midnight tonight.
There's also a massive discount on 23andMe health & ancestry tests - they're less than half-price, but again the offer ends at midnight.
Note: Prime Day offers are only open to Amazon Prime Members, BUT you can get a free trial if you follow this link.
Findmypast and Ancestry are the two sites which have the most British and Irish records, but not everyone can afford to buy an annual subscription to both. So the offer of a 30% discount on 3 month Plus or Pro subscription to Findmypast.co.uk is likely to be very attractive to a lot of readers who haven't subscribed to Findmypast previously.
Tip: the Plus subscription includes all British and Irish records, but not newspapers; the Pro subscription includes all of Findmypast's worldwide records and newspapers.
Will you be able to take up the offer if you live outside the British Isles? I honestly donít know, but by all means have a try - if you can get through to the Findmypast.co.uk site using my link then you're probably going to be OK.
To take advantage of Findmypast's offer and support LostCousins at the same time please use this link.
Note: this offer is for new subscribers only; the discount applies only to the first 3 months of your subscription, but you can always cancel.
I was laughed at when I suggested to the Office for National Statistics that respondents to the UK 2021 census, possibly the last of its kind, should have the opportunity to add information for their descendants to read a century later.
But earlier this month the authorities in Ireland accepted just such a suggestion - you can read all about it here. Maybe it's time for the ONS to think again?
About 20 years ago I met a psychology professor from the University of Hertfordshire, called Richard Wiseman - it was the first time that I saw this video which has passed into legend. Professor Wiseman's research is pretty quirky, so itís not surprising to discover that his website is called Quirkology (he has also written a book with the same name - when I checked Amazon.co.uk just now there were copies of the hardback version for less than £3 including UK postage).
Currently Professor Wiseman and his team are looking into the links between the personalities of pets and their owners - and the findings are intriguing:
"The results revealed significant similarities between the personality of owners and their pets. Previous studies have revealed that owners often show a physical resemblance to their pets, and this work suggests that they may also think alike. Interestingly, this similarity increased over time, suggesting that pets may slowly come to adopt their ownerís personality, or vice versa.
"Large differences also emerged between the personalities of pet owners. Fish owners were the happiest, dog owners the most fun to be with, cat owners the most dependable and emotionally sensitive, and reptile owners the most independent."
It got me wondering whether we could get insights into the personalities of our ancestors if we knew what pets they owned. My grandmother had a budgerigar called Joey - apparently only 38% of birds have a good sense of humour, compared to 62% of dogs, but I always thought my Nan had a good sense of humour (she was certainly fun to be with when I was younger).
How can you find out what pets your ancestors owned if you never knew them? Findmypast have a collection of over 7 million dog licence records for Ireland; you might find that pets appear in some family photographs. That might also be an opportunity to see whether dogs really do look like their owners!
In the last issue I wrote about the espionage that enabled silk spinners in Derby to improve their production using technology from Italy. The article prompted an email from author and professional genealogist Michael Sharpe (whose book Tracing Your Potteries Ancestors I reviewed last month). Here's what he had to say:
"I was interested to see you refer to John Lombe in last week's issue. In fact, the story of the factory at Derby starts even further back.
"The first person to bring silk-weaving to Derby on an industrial scale was Thomas Cotchett, who built a water-powered mill on the River Derwent in about 1705. Thomas was from a Derbyshire gentry family and one of his ancestors fought for Cromwell during the Civil War. He appears to have become interested in silk-weaving during a tailor's apprenticeship in London. His Derby venture failed, primarily because the so-called 'Dutch machines' of the time were unable to produce silk of high enough quality to compete with that coming from Italy. John Lombe was a friend and possibly an employee of Cotchett's. He took over what in contemporary sources is described as 'Cotchett's Mill' and began to build a new one alongside. John died in 1722, as the article says in unknown circumstances, leaving his step-brother Thomas Lombe to carry on the work. By 1730 the enterprise employed around 300 people. While the Lombe brothers receive the credit in published accounts, they are unlikely to have succeeded without Cotchett's groundwork. On her memorial in Derby cathedral, Thomas Cotchett's sister Hannah is described as 'incomparably ingenious', leading some to speculate that she was also involved in the original silk mill in some way.
"These observations come from three years I spent researching the history of the Cotchett family for a client."
According to an online article there are no maps which state "Here be dragons", though there is one globe which bears the Latin equivalent. Similarly I've never seen a dragon when visiting Wales, yet there is a red dragon on the official Welsh flag.
This article on the BBC website explains the history of the Welsh flag - if you have Welsh ancestry you might find it interesting.
Wales has been in the news recently for another reason - a street in Harlech has been recognised as the world's steepest residential street by Guinness World Records. The previous holder was Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand - it hasnít been New Zealand's week, I'm afraid.
The first time I visited San Francisco, in 1981, I was told that Lombard Street was the steepest street in the world - but researching this today I discovered that Lombard Street isnít even the steepest street in San Francisco (that honour goes to Filbert Street). Incidentally, I once managed to get a parking ticket in San Francisco even though I was in the vehicle at the time - I'd stopped on one of the steep hills and turned the front wheels in what I thought was the right direction, then climbed into the back of the vehicle for a doze (I was suffering from jetlag, not a hangover). The thing that annoyed me is that if what I'd done really was dangerous, shouldn't the parking enforcement officer have woken me up?
There was an amazing response to the article in the last newsletter which began the new series Growing up in London (you'll find the next instalment below). Dozens of readers wrote to tell me that the name of the toothpowder would have been Gibbs Dentifrice, which came in red, blue, or green tins (mine was blue - I suspect my sister had the red tin). 'Dentifrice', incidentally, isnít a trademark (as I had always imagined), but a generic term for toothpastes and toothpowders.
According to this entry in the catalogue for the Unilever archive the firm of D & W Gibbs had its origins in a business founded in 1762, which was acquired by two Gibbs brothers in 1804-5. Prior to 1906 dentifrices were sold as powders, and the innovation of Gibbs was to produce their dentifrice as a solid block. It was originally produced for the French market, and when first sold in Britain it went under the name 'Gibbs French Dentifrice'. The earliest advertisements I could find at the British Newspaper Archive were in 1914, just before the start of the Great War, during which Gibbs Dentifrice reportedly proved popular with soldiers in the trenches. According to the archive Catalogue entry " The soldiers liked the fresh flavour and convenience. They also discovered that the dentifrice was an excellent cleaning product for the brass buttons on their tunics and the regimental badges on their caps."
You can see a black and white advert from 1946 here; this advert, also from the 1940s, is in colour (and shows the different coloured tins). As far as I can tell other manufacturers of dentifrices continued to sell them in powdered form, or as toothpastes - the earliest mention of toothpaste that I could find in the British Newspaper Archive is Gilbert's Imperial Tooth-paste †- it appeared in the Ipswich Journal on Saturday 8th October 1803.
Going back to Gibbs Dentifrice, one reader commented that it tasted like soap - and that certainly fits with what I remember. But I believe it was supposed to taste of peppermint or spearmint.
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (used by kind permission of Findmypast)
In the first article of this new series the memories I chose from the book were about personal hygiene; this time we're going to bring back memories about keeping the house spick and span (they're from page 33 of the book):
"I had to whiten the hearth step once a week. You bought a stone lump from the hardware shop for a penny or tuppence, got a bowl of water and cloth, dampened the stone, then wiped it over the hearth and finally smoothed the paste out with the cloth. The front doorstep was simpler, usually cleaned on Fridays so it would be immaculate for the weekend."
"I did all the housework on my own, though my sister helped with the washing up A bowl of water with soda in that would get greasy and disgusting. ĎStop whispering out thereí, from my stepmother. I told my sister not to speak and she still claimed to hear us."
"There were two types of polish in flat round tins. Mansion polish was for lino, hard work. You did the furniture the same way. Cutlery too, both on Fridays."
Housework wasn't just for girls - if I was on holiday from school my mother would set me to work dusting or vacuuming. She insisted that the house was cleaned every day - usually I couldnít see any dust or dirt, but I had to go through the rigmarole anyway. I too remember Mansion polish - and polishing the front step, which was painted red. My grandmother, who lived next door, refused to borrow our Hoover, and would use a Ewbank carpet sweeper instead. Even on the stairs!
I'm afraid that stocks of Growing Up In London 1930-1960 are now exhausted - there were so many orders following the article in the last newsletter that Peter Cox, who compiled, edited, and published the book has completely sold out!
Well done if you got in quick. But if you didnít manage to secure a copy, all is not lost - Peter Cox has kindly provided me with the set of PDFs which he supplied to the printers, and given permission for them to be made available online for LostCousins members to download. In the next issue I'll let you know how to go about it.....
I wrote recently about the shortage of space in cemeteries in Britain, however I can't imagine that there's a problem in Texas - which is three times bigger than the UK, but has less than half the population. So this story on the BBC News website about a woman who lived in a house with her mother's corpse for 3 years reminded me more of a Hitchcock movie than it did reality.
Equally reminiscent of a film plot was this story about people who attend their own funerals - while they're still alive. Do you think it is going to catch on?
We're just days away from the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, and reading this book by Ian Passingham has brought back a lot of memories. However it's packed with †details that I didn't know at the time - we didnít have the Internet or 24 hour news channels in those days (at least, not in Britain). Perhaps most surprising was to read that after the capsule successfully splashed down on its return journey, the Russians interrupted their normal radio schedule to broadcast a congratulatory message to the American astronauts.
(Around the time of the 25th anniversary I saw Buzz Aldrin at the Consumer Electronics Show, where he was promoting a computer game that he had endorsed. I wish now that I'd taken the opportunity to go up to him and shake his hand!)
If, like me, you can remember those exciting days in 1969 when nobody really knew whether the mission would be successful, you'll find this book fascinating. At the full published price of £25 it is rather expensive, but when I checked just now it was available from Wordery for just £17.06 including shipping (either direct from them or through Amazon Marketplace).
I thought it would be interesting to go back to the early 1960s, before the Apollo program had started, and see how we might have expected the future of space exploration to pan out. I chose as my source the Eagle Book of Rockets and Space Travel - after all, who better to look into the future than the publishers of Dan Dare?
There's table on p.158 headed 'Estimated chronology of U.S. Space Programs' which predicts a manned flight around the moon in 1967, and a manned landing on the moon in 1969. In the event the first manned circumnavigation of the moon (Apollo 8) was in late December 1968 - delayed by the disastrous fire that claimed the lives of the† crew of Apollo 1 in January 1967 - so the fact that Apollo 11 landed on the moon just 7 months later was an incredible achievement.
But let's look beyond 1969: for 1970-75 the prediction was for a manned lunar base as well as manned flights to nearby planets; for 1975-85 the calendar shows manned bases on Mars and/or Venus, followed by manned flights to more distant planets, and between 1985-2000 manned bases on distant planets. We're still waiting for all of those - though we do at least now know that landing on Venus is impossible.
On the other hand we have GPS, far better weather forecasts, and Google Earth; we're also able to better monitor the effects of climate change (as anyone who watched the recent BBC series Earth From Space - still available on BBC iPlayer). So we haven't done too badly. By the way, I didnít include Teflon in the list because it wasn't a by-product of the space program (it was invented - or rather, discovered - way back in 1938!).
Your cousins are out there - but you're not going to connect with them unless you reach out.
Finding other people researching the same ancestors is a great way to expand your knowledge of your family tree, but connecting with the many members who are your 'lost cousins' requires you to reach out. If the only relatives you enter on your My Ancestors page are your direct ancestors and the members of their households you're only scratching the surface.
Remember ALL of your living cousins are descended from the branches of your tree - so itís by entering relatives from the branches that you'll connect with most of your cousins. A good strategy is to start in 1841 (or earlier if you can), then track each relative through the censuses as they marry and have children (and possibly grandchildren) too. The more branches you track the bigger your tree and the more 'lost cousins' you'll find.
Tip: this is especially important if you've tested your DNA or are planning to.
I always said that my next car would be electric - so when my present vehicle passed its 10th birthday a couple of months ago I test drove the new Kia e-Niro, which has a fantastic range, and incredible acceleration - no wonder was chosen as 'Car of the Year' by What Car. However, whilst I've put down a small deposit, it's going to be the car of next year for me - there's a 15 month waiting list - so I wonít have to draw down my pension just yet. Ironically the review a few days ago in the Independent was headlined 'The car of the future, now'.
According to an article in AutoExpress the Government is going to make it mandatory for all new homes to have a charging point - you can read the article here. If and when my new car does eventually arrive I'll certainly be jolly glad that we have Economy 7 electricity (which offers a reduced overnight rate - roughly equivalent to 2.5p per mile travelled).
But I'm really looking forward to the day when all cars drive themselves - it will not only be safer and better for the environment, it will be empowering for those who as a result of age or infirmity are unable to drive. It's one way to solve the problem of families not visiting their aged relatives!
I've updated the article about Findmypast's offer to make clear that it is only for new subscribers - I wasn't told about this originally, I'm afraid.
© Copyright 2019 Peter Calver
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Books mentioned below
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