Newsletter - 15th June 2018
Don't miss out on DNA offers ENDING SOON
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous newsletter (dated 4th June) click here; to find earlier articles use the customised Google search below (it searches ALL of the newsletters since February 2009, so you don't need to keep copies):
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To go to the main LostCousins website click the logo at the top of this newsletter. If you're not already a member, do join - it's FREE, and you'll get an email to alert you whenever there's a new edition of this newsletter available!
I'm not thinking of the year, or even the date - but the time of day. Or, more likely, the time of night - because an analysis of 5 million births in England between 2005 and 2014 carried out by researchers at University College London has shown that the most common time for babies to be born is 4am, with the majority appearing between 1am and 7am (you can read a report here on the BBC News site). I recall my mother telling me that I was born at a quarter to six in the morning (or was it a quarter past?), but in England & Wales the time of birth isnít usually shown on birth certificates - the exception is for multiple births - so we donít usually know precisely when our ancestors were born, though on very rare occasions the time of birth is shown in the baptism register.
But assuming that the timing of our ancestors' births followed a similar pattern, and bearing in mind that most births took place at home prior to the 1930s, it must have been quite a challenge for our forebears - not only would someone have had to fetch the midwife in the middle of the night (assuming she hadn't already been called out), in most cases there would have been no electric lighting or running water. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when many city dwellers were living in slums, there would have been additional complications - I can only imagine that relatives and neighbours helped out by looking after the other children.
Note: the time of birth is shown on Scottish birth certificates.
Over 400 members took part in my 14th Birthday competition, and while the draw was completely random (using the random number generator at Random.org) the choice of winner couldn't have been more appropriate. Muriel, who lives in Hampshire, joined LostCousins in our very first month - May 2004!
Congratulations to Muriel, who receives an Ancestry DNA kit, and consolation to all of those who didn't win on this occasion. But there's another competition starting soon - and in the next article you'll find out how you might benefit, even if you know nothing at all about soccer.
A good proportion of the world's population will be glued to their televisions and smartphones now that the 2018 World Cup is under way, so it's a real challenge for family history websites to attract attention. I donít know what other sites are planning but I've come up with a novel idea! Here's how it works....
When you purchase a LostCousins subscription on or before 27th June enter the code WORLDCUP on the Subscribe page (and click CALCULATE) to enter my World Cup competition. The price won't change, but if England match their 1966 achievement by winning the 2018 World Cup I'll give you an extra year's subscription completely free!
Note: this offer applies to all subscriptions purchased using the WORLDCUP code, whether single or joint, new, lapsed, or renewal. If you have an existing subscription there's nothing to prevent you renewing early, so long as your subscription expires in less than a year's time.
In 1966 I was fortunate to be at the quarter-final match when England defeated Argentina - though it was a game that was less memorable for the football than the walk-out by the Argentines after their captain was sent off (a bit like the House of Commons on Wednesday). How did I get manage to get a ticket? I waited outside the ground until the game was about to kick-off, then bought one from a ticket tout for little more than face value.
Last week the Daily Mail revealed that research into the ancestry of Sir Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in England's final victory, had proven that his Blick ancestors hailed from Gloucestershire rather than Germany.
As part of the research Sir Geoff tested his DNA - probably with Ancestry, judging by the statistics that the Daily Mail showed in their article. And as all regular readers of this newsletter will know, I regard ethnicity estimates as for entertainment only (with the possible exception of those from Living DNA).
But I may have to revise my views on Ancestry's ethnicity estimates - they're in the process of updating their estimates following an increase in the size of their reference panel from 3000 to 16000, and the difference this makes to my results is impressive:
Bearing in mind that my research to date has revealed no ancestors from Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, and just 6% from Germany, the new figures look much more realistic. And my brother's estimate, previously very different from mine, is now very similar.
However, it's worth bearing in mind that what Ancestry describe as England & Wales seems to include northern France, Belgium, Holland, and even part of Germany - as you can see from the map that accompanied my revised estimate.
It's too early to say whether this update is going to please everybody, but I'd encourage you to post your comments in the discussion on the LostCousins forum (if youíre not already a member you may find an invitation on your My Summary page).
But no matter how accurate these new estimates they're going to be of more help to family historians in the New World than those in Europe - knowing that 87% of my ancestors came from England & Wales isn't going to help me knock down any of my 'brick walls', whereas for someone in North America or Australia it could be much more useful.
The best use of autosomal DNA tests is, of course, to find cousins - because some of those cousins will be on the other side of our 'brick walls'. Ancestry has by far the largest user base, which means that you'll find many more cousins that at any other site, but it's also the easiest site to use, especially if youíre new to DNA.
There are all sorts of fancy tricks that the experts have devised, but I've tried most of them and decided that they're more trouble than they're worth. Nobody who tests with Ancestry and follows the strategies in my Masterclass is ever disappointed, so my advice is to keep it simple.
Save 10% on 12 month subscriptions to Findmypast EXCLUSIVE
Until Sunday 24th June you can save 10% on most NEW 12 month subscriptions at Findmypast, and because Findmypast reward loyalty, you'll have an opportunity to renew at a discount (currently 15%) in a year's time! Please note that the Pro and Ultimate subscriptions include exactly the same records and features as the World subscriptions.
SAVE 10% on 12 month Plus and Pro subscriptions at Findmypast.co.uk
SAVE 10% on 12 month World subscriptions at Findmypast.ie
SAVE 10% on 12 month World subscriptions at Findmypast.com.au
SAVE 10% on 12 month Ultimate British & Irish subscriptions at Findmypast.com
Apart from the Plus subscription, which includes British and Irish records (and excludes newspapers), each of these subscriptions include virtually unlimited access to ALL of Findmypast's historical records and newspapers from around the world, including the 1939 Register, their fast-growing Catholic records collection, military records, migration records, and parish registers for many counties in England and most of Wales (plus transcribed records for many other counties). They also have an amazing collection of Irish records, and an impressive collection of records from Australia and New Zealand.
Note: these offers are for new subscribers only (though I suspect that lapsed subscribers can also benefit); if you have an existing subscription neither Findmypast's offer nor my offer below will apply, but bear in mind that if you have an existing 12 month subscription you'll qualify for Findmypast's Loyalty Discount for renewals (currently 15%).
Get a free LostCousins subscription
LostCousins can only benefit when you use a link that I've provided and your purchase is tracked as coming from the LostCousins site. So I'm once again offering a free subscription to members who go out of their way to take up Findmypast's offer using my links and ensure that your purchase is tracked - this means that the total savings you make can be as much as £28. But please read the terms and conditions below so that you don't miss out - and check with me before making your purchase if you're not sure whether your settings are correct.
To claim your LostCousins subscription (which will run from the date of purchase of your Findmypast subscription, unless you already have a LostCousins subscription, in which case it will be extended), please forward to me the email receipt that you receive from Findmypast. Screenshots are NOT sufficient - I need to know the precise time of your purchase (so write it down, in case the emailed receipt doesn't arrive). You can use any of the LostCousins email addresses, including the one I wrote from when telling you about this newsletter.
Terms & conditions: your free LostCousins subscription will be funded by the commission that Findmypast pay us; if we don't receive any commission on your purchase then unfortunately you won't qualify, so it's up to you to make sure that doesn't happen. For example, if you use an adblocker the link may not work; if you have disabled tracking in your browser the link will appear to work, but Findmypast will ignore it, so won't pay us any commission (this is the most common problem - if youíre not sure ask for my advice before making your purchase, afterwards is too late!). Commission isn't paid on renewals, and may not be paid on upgrades.
Don't miss out on DNA offers ENDING SOON
Ancestry's offer in Australia and New Zealand has ended, but if you live in the UK, the US or Canada you can still save if youíre quick:
Ancestry.co.uk (UK only) £63 plus shipping SAVE 20% - ENDS SUNDAY 24TH JUNE
Ancestry.com (US only) $69 plus shipping - ENDS MONDAY 18TH JUNE
Ancestry.ca (Canada only) CAN$99 plus shipping SAVE $30 - ENDS SUNDAY 17TH JUNE
Between 1946 and 1969 there were 126 illegal adoptions arranged in Ireland by the Catholic agency St Patrick's Guild according to an apology by the Irish government, but one adoptee featured in this article in The Guardian claims that the number could be in the thousands.
The first law to regulate adoption in Ireland was passed in 1952, but it has been estimated that over 100,000 children have been separated from their parents through adoption or fostering since 1922 according to the Adoption Loss website run by The Natural Parents Network of Ireland (you can read more about the history of adoption in Ireland here in a submission from the organisation to government).
This might seem irrelevant to most readers of this newsletter, but if you take an autosomal DNA test you may well be contacted by people who were adopted, and are trying to trace their birth families - please do your best to help them.
Many readers have used the historic Ordnance Survey maps of Britain at the National Library of Scotland website (see my October article for more information), so I was interested to learn that the Public Record Office for Northern Ireland now has online maps for the six counties - you can find them here.
As regular readers will know, I generally advise searching individual records sets, rather than carrying out global searches - and currently there's an extra reason for doing so when searching for baptisms at Ancestry. When you carry out an All records search, or search Birth, Marriage & Death, including Parish specifying a year of birth wonít work unless the birth year is shown in the transcribed record. In other words, if there's a baptism date, but no birth date or year, the record wonít be found.
I've discovered a way round this, which is to use the Any event field - but it's not an ideal solution. However, when you search an individual record set, such as London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1917, a birth year you specify will match with either the birth year or the baptism year. This applies even if both dates are included in the record and the events took place in different years, ie if someone was born in 1813 but baptised in 1814 specifying a birth year of either 1813 or 1814 will find the record.
It's because I almost always search individual record sets that I hadn't noticed this problem myself - but however you prefer to search it's important to be aware that this problem exists (though hopefully it will be fixed before too long).
Note: I first read about the problem on the SoG Mailing List and posted my solution there earlier this week - if youíre an SoG member it's well worth joining the list as the contributions are of a generally high standard.
As a young boy I heard the remarkable story of Helen Keller, but I didnít realise then that she was still alive - indeed, it was only earlier this month, when The Guardian commemorated the 50th anniversary of her death with this short video, that I knew that she lived until 1968.
In my November 2007 newsletter I wrote about Olive Riley, who at 108 years old was the oldest LostCousins member at the time, and quite possibly the only person born in the 19th century to have ever joined. Sadly Olive died the following year, but if you follow this link to that newsletter (itís in PDF format) you'll be able to watch the documentary that was made about her life.
I'm writing about Olive again because this week I was contacted by her grand-daughter Suellen, who tells me that her own mother, Olive's daughter, turned 100 on 22nd May this year. If there is anyone reading this article who is related to Olive Riley (nťe Dangerfield) I'd be happy to put you in contact with Suellen.
I suspect that some of you may have been wondering why I hadn't reviewed the latest novel in the Forensic Genealogist series from Nathan Dylan Goodwin, even though it was released in †February. The truth is that, for me at least, reading a good genealogical mystery is a pleasure to be savoured - so I've been waiting until I had the time to really enjoy Morton Farrier's latest case.
Once again the author has carefully built the story around real places, real people, and historical facts - and whilst the tale itself is fictional, it's so well written that you'd be forgiven for thinking it was true. Indeed, when I read that a key part of the solution had come from an Ancestry DNA test, followed by research at the LostCousins website it seemed very believable indeed!
There are two main threads running through the book - one that follows the storyline in the 1820s, and one that follows the action in the present day - but even though we have 'inside knowledge' not available to the hero the plot is so cleverly constructed that it's not all obvious how it is going to play out. Indeed, I found myself constantly revising my theories about the eventual outcome right up to the point where Morton sets out the evidence and presents his conclusions to his client.
I also found myself caring about what happened to the characters, and not just those in the present day - though because Morton Farrier and his extended family will be back in the next book (and two of them had supporting roles in the investigation) they were at the forefront of my mind.
Sometimes books of this genre contain a little too much violence for my liking, but that certainly isnít the case here - true, there is a murder at the heart of the story, but it took place nearly 200 years ago. Talking of murders, there's a link between the book and the riddle of the Somerton Man, which I wrote about in the last newsletter - a complete coincidence, I assure you, since I only discovered the connection after finishing the book!
You donít need to have read the previous books in this excellent series to enjoy the latest instalment, because there are subtle reminders of the key subplot - but I've enjoyed every single one, so I'm sure you will too (you'll find links to my reviews of the earlier books here).
I bought the Kindle version of The Wicked Trade, though there's also a paperback if you prefer the old ways - either way I'd thoroughly recommend this latest instalment! As usual you can support LostCousins by using the links below, even if you end up buying something completely different.
I'm currently reading My History - A Memoir of Growing Up, by Antonia Fraser, who I met recently at a literary lunch. In the early 1970s I used to know her (first) husband, who was a non-executive director of the small merchant bank where I worked after leaving university, but it was first time I'd had the pleasure of meeting Lady Antonia herself. Best known as a writer of historical works, she was once considered one of the most beautiful women in Britain - a 1979 New York Times article describes her as "tall and voluptuous" and quotes an admirer who called her "the most romantic sexy woman - wildly attractive because she is so alive to everything".
Now in her 86th year she is still very alive, and still writing historical works - also on my pile of books to read is her latest epic, The King and the Catholics - The Fight for Rights 1829, which describes the discrimination and prejudice faced by Catholics in Britain prior to the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829. It's a topic I've encountered when reading other histories, though I hadn't quite appreciated how extreme some of the opinions were - the Gordon Riots of 1780 were the "largest, deadliest, and most protracted urban riots in British history", and it's with these that the book begins.
With all the stories in the news about online hacking it's easy to forget that some fraudsters rely on more primitive approaches, such as recovering documents from recycling bins. Shredding everything is impractical for most of us, and wasteful (some councils are unable to recycle shredded paper), whilst removing the address labels from cardboard boxes can be a tedious chore.
I was therefore delighted to find this handy little gadget which renders confidential information unreadable by obscuring it with a mass of what look like Chinese characters - and probably are, since it's made in China. Amazingly it cost me only £2.99 (including postage from China!), and arrived in less than 3 weeks - you can pay 2 or 3 times as much for the same item from an English supplier, but I canít see the point in using a middleman (or, should I say, middleperson) unless youíre in a desperate hurry.
I'm glad to say that thanks to the precautions I take I've never knowingly suffered from my recycling being misappropriated, though I know all too well that the danger exists because a credit card statement which never arrived in the post led to several fraudulent purchases being made (fortunately I got a full refund from the bank involved).
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......
I've had to hold over a number of articles until the next issue, but don't worry - I'll be back again soon!
© Copyright 2018 Peter Calver
Please do NOT copy or republish any part of this newsletter without permission - which is only granted in the most exceptional circumstances. However, you MAY link to this newsletter or any article in it without asking for permission - though why not invite other family historians to join LostCousins instead, since standard membership (which includes the newsletter), is FREE?