Newsletter - 17th May 2019
Changes to Findmypast trees IMPORTANT
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 5th May) 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!
This week the Jeremy Kyle Show, ITV's most popular daytime programme, was suspended and then cancelled following the death of a guest between recording and transmission. Two contestants on another show I've never watched, Love Island, have committed suicide and now there are calls for it to be cancelled as well.
Reality television provides an opportunity for ordinary people to become famous for 15 minutes - or make a fool of themselves (sometimes both). My first (and only) brush with the genre came when I saw Nigel Kneale's moving and prescient TV play The Year of the Sex Olympics, which was broadcast on BBC2 in 1968 - I've never watched Big Brother or any of his siblings.
The incident that led to the suspected suicide of Jeremy Kyle's guest involved a lie detector test, but the show also used DNA results to create on-screen conflict. These screenclips from a page on the ITV website is no longer online, but it gives you an idea of how they worked:
The Jeremy Kyle Show had a 'guest welfare team' which included a psychotherapist, but despite this some former guests have complained about the lack of after care.
All of this might seem to have no connection with genealogy, but I get worried when I read about DNA self-help groups, especially on Facebook (itís the last site I'd go to if I wanted to talk in confidence about a difficult situation). The ones I've checked out so far appear to have no professional oversight - which is worrying given the traumatic impact that DNA discoveries can have.
Whilst I know from the correspondence I've had with members that they think very carefully about the impact that DNA discoveries might have on other people, only a minority of those who have taken DNA tests belong to LostCousins. When youíre dealing with strangers, especially online, be aware that they may not subscribe to the same beliefs, values, and ethics that you do - even if you are genetic cousins.
With the addition of more than 60,000 images of the 1940 valuation rolls, containing 2.8 million entries, ScotlandsPeople's collection of valuation records now extends to more than 120 million entries from 1855 to 1940.
What can you learn from valuation rolls? They tell you who owned each property, who the tenant was (if rented out), and who the occupant was (if not the tenant). And they'll also give the annual value of the property, as assessed for tax purposes.
The years of coverage are 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1920, 1925, 1930, 1935 and 1940 - you can search by name or by place, and you can learn quite a lot from a free search (it costs 2 credits to view an image).
Tip: the name search finds both landlords and tenants.
This week Findmypast have expanded into continental Europe with the addition of more than 114 million records from the International Genealogical Index (IGI). Although the IGI has long been available at FamilySearch, adding the transcribed records to Findmypast allows users to link them to their online trees. You'll find more information in this blog entry.
Note: since the beginning of this year Findmypast have also added 67 million records from Central America, and they will soon be adding 20 million records from South America and Asia.
Changes to Findmypast trees IMPORTANT
Historically Findmypast trees have always been totally private, even after they introduced a public/private setting. Indeed, I can remember a conversation with the founder of Findmypast in which he told me that family trees would always be private. But he sold the business to DC Thomson in 2007, and now things are about to change.....
From 1st July 2019 Findmypast will begin sharing information about 'deceased ancestors' (by which I suspect they mean 'deceased relatives', not just those who are your 'direct ancestors') with other members by way of hints. You can opt out, but by default users are opted in - so you need to think long and hard, and if youíre not sure, untick the box (note that there is a setting for each tree you have created or uploaded - you could share some but not others).
You should certainly untick the box if you have trees which are now out of date, lest you mislead other users, and if you have included information provided by relatives you might need to ask for their permission to share the data. Also bear in mind that disclosing information about recently-deceased relatives might well have an impact on those who are still living, especially spouses, siblings, and children.
This page at the Findmypast site has a list of FAQs relating to this new feature - I suggest you read them carefully. They point out that information once shared cannot be retrieved - you can't put the genie back in the bottle - so if you're not 100% certain what to do, untick Pandora's box(es) before 1st July, then review the situation once you have had more time to consider the pros and cons.
Note: although what Findmypast are proposing might sound a bit like what we do at LostCousins, remember that at LostCousins you have complete control over what information you pass on - and you decide this after a match has been made, on a case by case basis.
The main focus of your search for English and Welsh cousins should be the 1881 Census, since this is the only census that has been available free online since LostCousins began back in 2004. Your chances of finding living relatives through the 1881 Census are excellent - when you enter a family from this census there's 1 chance in 15 of an immediate match, and the odds just get better as time goes on.
But if you've already entered every single one of the relatives you can find in 1881 (remembering that all of your living cousins are descended from the branches of your tree), entering relatives from 1841 or 1911 can further increase the number of 'lost cousins' that you discover. The downside is that you'd normally need a subscription to Ancestry or Findmypast to find the data.
FamilySearch do, however, have searchable transcripts of both censuses. Unfortunately the 1841 records don't include the Book Number, which is one of the census references that you need to enter when you add relatives from the 1841 Census to your My Ancestors page.
Note: the 1841 Census is the only one to have book numbers - later censuses were archived differently.
But both of the 1911 Census references we use are included in the transcript at FamilySearch - although they've done their best to confuse users. Hereís an example from my family which demonstrates how you can make sense of what you see:
The two references we use at LostCousins are the RG14 piece number, which in this case is 9557, and the Schedule Number, which is 78. Don't be confused by the descriptions that FamilySearch use - 157 is neither a piece number or a folio number, but the number of the image in Findmypast's database.
This is how I entered my Uncle Horace at LostCousins - as you can see, it only took seconds:
When you add somebody to an existing household you don't need to enter the census references or the surname - they'll be filled in automatically when you click the †symbol.
Note: when you enter relatives from the 1911 Census you should use the information from the handwritten schedule when the transcript is wrong. This presents a problem if you don't have a subscription to one of the sites that has images of this census - but so long as you exercise your judgment wisely this shouldn't matter. For example, if the surname is wrong then this is almost certainly an error by the transcriber - so should be corrected; however if the age is a year out this is more likely to be an error by the householder, so should be left as it is.
The purpose of an index is to help users find the record that they're seeking - in other words, it's a finding guide. Indexes are often compiled from transcribed records, so there's always the possibility of a transcription error creeping in - and at FreeBMD you'll sometimes see two different versions of the same entry.
But two versions of the same index entry aren't the same as multiple index entries for the same record. This situation arises when someone involved is, or may be, known by more than one name. Nowadays many births are indexed under the surnames of both the mother and the father - because the parents weren't married at the time.
Marriage entries are always indexed twice, once for the groom and once for the bride, but if either or both has an alias there will be additional entries. In this 1948 example the bride was known by three different surnames:
This is also an opportunity to remind you about some of the features of FreeBMD that you might have forgotten about: names that appear in bold indicate entries that have been transcribed by two different people who both came up with the same answer.
The spectacles symbol links to a page where you can view the page from the index, to verify that the entry has been transcribed correctly. The ? symbol indicates that there's a comment against the entry: in this case the comment reads " Spouse name given as Martin or Bowles or Tansley".
6 entries for the same marriage, 3 for the bride and 3 for the groom, rather than the usual one each is far from a record - at the weekend I was sent this Scottish example:
18 entries for the same marriage - and that's just for the groom! I haven't seen the marriage certificate but I suspect that not only is the bride known by 3 different surnames, she is also known by different combinations of middle names - which aren't shown in the online index.
Death entries can also be indexed multiple times - I've only seen this once, but that may be because it's not something one would usually look for.
I frequently get emails from members who are concerned because their DNA doesn't match the DNA of one of their known cousins. In most cases there's nothing suspicious, because the reality is that we donít share DNA with all of our cousins.
Anyone who has tested their autosomal DNA should read and follow the advice in my Masterclass, which not only draws on my own years of experience but also incorporates research compiled by some of the real experts. For example, there's a table near the beginning which shows how likely it is that two randomly-selected cousins will share sufficient DNA for it to be detected as a match: for 1st and 2nd cousins it's certain, but for more distant relatives - even 2nd cousins once removed - it's less than 100%, and by the time you get to 6th cousins there's only 1 chance in 9.
It's probably just as well - we have so many more distant cousins than we do close cousins that we'd be completely overwhelmed if all of them shared our DNA. The final two columns of the table show estimates of how many cousins we have of each degree and how many are likely to be detectable DNA matches.
The coloured chart in the Masterclass looks at things from a different angle, showing the highest and lowest amount of DNA that two relatives have shared in practice (based on actual results submitted by users). You'll notice that there is a considerable overlap between many of the relationships, and that once you get beyond 3rd cousins it's difficult to make any predictions about the relationship based on the amount of shared DNA. You could share more DNA with an 8th cousin than with a 3rd cousin.
Tip: if you're struggling to make sense of your DNA results it's almost certainly because you're not following the advice in the Masterclass. Take another look - you'll find it here. †
Another success story
John did his research the hard way, but when DNA testing became available he realised that it could confirm that he'd got it right. Here's his story:
"I did most of my research in the 80s/90s with a surge in the noughties taking advantage of the internet. In 2007 I took my first DNA test, then in 2014 my first autosomal test.
"My father was an orphan, so knew little of his background, but I soon established that my great grandparents were Thomas Barker & Sarah Wells, two common names. I did what we did then, ie look for those names, quarter by quarter, till a common marriage reference was found, then buy the certificate. First hurdle!
"But the certificate showed that whilst Thomas & Sarah were indeed on the same page, they each married someone else. So I worked through all likely Thomas marriages till in July 1990 I received a certificate showing Thomas marrying Eliza Humphreywell. That made no sense but something was right about it, and fishing more, I received another certificate showing a Sarah Umfreville, same father as Eliza, marrying Frederick Woolgar about the same time.
"It was then that I read that Umfreville was an ancient surname which was virtually extinct. What was going on? Sarah was alone in 1881 - just before her marriage - but calling herself Wells, but this was mere theory, with no proof. After a lot of certificates and research, it transpired that Eliza soon died and simultaneously Frederick went into a lunatic asylum, so Thomas and Sarah cohabited and raised their children without marrying (even if Frederick had died, it would have been illegal for Thomas to marry his dead wife's sister - the law didnít change until 1907).
"I had plenty more hurdles, as Sarah's parents, Francis & Maria Umfreville could not be found in 1881, but a Francis & Maria Wells were in the same street and had to be eliminated. Eventually I found the family as Umfrevilles in 1861, Wells in 1871 and Humphries in 1891.
"But I still needed proof. In 2001 I attended a meet of Umfreville descendants which told me much, but nil about my connection - Francis was on their radar, but I had to prove beyond doubt that my Sarah Wells was born Umfreville. Then Ancestry came to my rescue with their poor law records. Francis had a brother who apparently disappeared, but I found him with his wife as Wells alias Umfreville.
"Proof at last, but after getting into DNA I wanted a match. It came in 2016 via FTDNA, with a 6th cousin who was shown on the tree I obtained in 2001. Meanwhile, I'd tracked down a descendant of Francis whose name was Wells and in my mind, everything he told me added up, though I'm not sure he believed me.
"Then the icing on the cake: a good match at My Heritage with a Wells. He, like so many, wasn't into genealogy at all, nor knew much about his father & grandfather who both died young. But I sent pictures & did a quick bit of research, and he was definitely a close relative (2nd cousin) of the descendant of Francis. I'm 3rd cousin to both. Job done!"
How has DNA helped you?
MyHeritage - who are presenting this year's Eurovision Song Contest, which reaches a conclusion on Saturday - are currently discounting their tests in the UK, Australia (both contestants on the contest), and also in the US. If you decide to place an order please use the links below so that you can support LostCousins - the sales are expected to end on Monday 20th May:
MyHeritage US - $59
MyHeritage UK - £59
MyHeritage Australia - $99
Although you can transfer results from other providers, the SNPs selected by each provider vary - so whilst there is a significant overlap taking a second test will increase overall coverage. I'd also expect matching to be more accurate if you have taken the provider's own test, since their matching software is likely to be optimised for this.
Tip: there's a new (paid) utility at GEDmatch which allows you to combine tests to get more matches (and probably more accurate matches). I'm going to be trying it out in the near future and will report back in due course.
Whether or not you're already a reader of the Esme Quentin series, you must download Legacy of Guilt - it's a darn good read, and because itís completely free, itís a great opportunity to experiment with the Kindle reader (also free) for your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Though described by the author, Wendy Percival, as a short-story I reckon that Legacy of Guilt is more of a novella - there are 29 chapters, and just as you think that everything is falling into place another twist turns everything on its head!
The story begins with a chance encounter: Esme longs to be able to help, but does she have the right skills? Perhaps not, but she has the determination to acquire the skills she needs, and she's fortunate to have a mentor who works at the local record office.
Note: if you enjoy the free short story so much that you want to buy one or more of the books in the series, please use the relevant link below so that LostCousins can benefit - it wonít cost you a penny more.
Three months ago I wouldn't have thought to read this book - but then one of my eagle-eyed cousins spotted a notice in the London Gazette relating to the imprisonment of our great-great-great grandfather George Wells in the Fleet Prison, and shortly afterwards I was able find his discharge in the prison records at Ancestry (you'll also find a wide range of court and criminal records at The Genealogist).
Paul Blake, author of Tracing Your Insolvent Ancestors, is a professional genealogical researcher and a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists - and it shows in the meticulous way he approaches the topic. Nobody who has read Little Dorrit can fail to be moved by Charles Dickens' representation of the Marshalsea Prison, which was inspired by his own experiences when his father, John Dickens, was incarcerated - but to understand it you need to know how the law stood, and how it was applied in practice.
In fact there were numerous changes in the insolvency system during Dickens' lifetime - as you'll see from the long list of legislation at the back of the book. Bankruptcy was initially only available to traders, so private individuals were almost entirely at the mercy of their creditors, and at one time there were more debtors in gaol than there were criminals.
Although imprisoned in London, my ancestor was a grocer in Stowmarket - so I'm hoping to find more information in local records. If you know or suspect that one of your ancestors got on the wrong side of his creditors, this book is an excellent guide to the insolvency system, especially in the 19th century.
I read the paperback, but the book is also available in Kindle format. Note that if you're outside the UK your local Amazon site may not be the cheapest source (and in any case the book won't be released in North America until July/August); Wordery's price was very competitive when I checked, and they ship worldwide at a fixed price.
Although Britain has always been a trading nation, it was the introduction of steam-powered vessels in the mid-19th century that prompted an enormous growth in trade that led both to an expansion of dock facilities and the need for more dockers to load and unload the cargoes.
To the best of my knowledge only one of my direct ancestors worked in the docks, my great-great-great grandfather Francis Driesen - whose daughter married the son of the insolvent grocer mentioned in the previous review. But since Francis was described as a pork butcher in 1813 and 1853, a milkman in 1841, a packer in 1842, a butcher in 1843 and 1846, and a tailor in 1851 I'm not sure how much time he spent in the docks - he was only recorded as a dock labourer when he died in 1868 at the age of 81.
Tracing Your Docker Ancestors by Alex Ombler tells us what it was like to work in the docks in an account that it generously leavened with the memories of former dockers or their descendants. We learn how the workforce was initially exploited by employers, until the rise of trade unions led to a system in which workers and employers connived in order to limit competition and exploit shippers.
Towns and cities were often dominated by their docks and the industries that were attracted by the convenience of being close to the ports where their raw materials arrived and their finished goods were exported. But it also worked the other way round - the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal in the late 19th century allowed Manchester, 40 miles from the sea, to become the third busiest port in Britain.
Although there are no footnotes or endnotes there is a very useful glossary at the back which explains the different occupations. If you have ancestors who worked in the docks you'll get insight into their daily lives, whilst if you have an interest in the local history of a town or city that has a port it will provide useful background information. A couple of criticisms: the use of the word 'historic' when referring to electoral registers (it should be 'historical'), and the contributors of oral history aren't identified, nor is it always clear what period they're referring to.
The book is currently only available in paperback, and as with the previous book, it wonít be available in North America until July/August - but you should be able to order it from Wordery wherever you are in the world.
John Moss has compiled an interesting guide to more than 300 surnames from Britain and Ireland, but inevitably a book of only 300 or so pages can only devote so much space to any one of the names. It's certainly easier to look up a name in this book than to scour the Internet, but the chances of finding a name from your tree on the list must be fairly low, given how many surnames there are.
Surprisingly I did find several of my ancestral surnames in the book, although whether my Beaumont ancestors (poor 'ag labs' according to my research) are truly descended from Robert de Beaumont, who was knighted at the Battle of Hastings, I have serious doubts! If they were, then apparently their line can be traced back even further to Bernard the Dane, who lived in the 9th century, and was himself descended from the kings of Denmark.
I shan't mention the Harrisons, since itís such a common surname ("Harry's son") that there's little chance that mine are related to the illustrious Harrisons of Warrington.
But Shuttleworth is a much rarer name, though since Good Easter in Essex is over 200 miles from Burnley, Lancashire I'm once again sceptical that there might be a connection. Ditto Pepperell/Peveral, since my lot hail from Devon, not Nottingham.
I suspect that whilst well-written, this book is more likely to be purchased by libraries than by individuals, since most of us are going to look up the few names of relevance to our research, then put it back on the shelf to gather dust. If you do buy it, go for the hardback rather than the Kindle version - there's little difference on price, and you can leave the book out when guests come, whether to impress them, or as a taking point.
As you can see from the plethora of reviews above I've been catching up on my homework, and this has left precious little time to read The Sinclair Betrayal, MJ Lee's new Jayne Sinclair novel, which will be released this weekend. If you can't wait for my review please use the links below to place your order so that LostCousins can benefit:
One of an extensive series published by the Society of Genealogists, My Ancestor Was a Leather Worker is providing some insight into the reasons why my great-great-great-great grandfather, Jacob Johann Kuehner, came to England from Germany in the late 18th century and settled in Bermondsey. (It was his daughter Elizabeth who married the milkman, pork butcher, and sometime dock labourer mentioned earlier.)
The links below will take you to a list of books in the series - I add to my collection whenever I see a used copy at an attractive price!
Yet another book on my never-diminishing pile is Tracing Your Potteries Ancestors by Michael Sharpe, who I bumped into at Family Tree Live at the end of April.
The recent death of singer and actress Doris Day inevitably reminded me of the song Que sera, †sera which was first sung in an Alfred Hitchcock film from 1956, though as I didnít see the film until quite recently, I must have heard the song on the wireless.
Ironically the phrase is not, as might appear, a Spanish or Italian saying - it may have English origins, according to a comprehensive analysis by (Steven) Lee Hartman, an emeritus associate professor at Southern Illinois University. It first appears as 'quy serra serra' in a manuscript believed to have been written shortly after the Battle of Barnet in 1471, and now held by Trinity College, Cambridge (where I might have studied had I not performed so poorly at my interview in 1968 - being questioned by a don in bed with a broken leg was not something I had rehearsed for!).
The earliest occurrence of the spelling 'que sera, sera' is in a coat of arms depicted in a monumental brass (dating from 1559 or slightly later) in St Nicholas, Thames Ditton - in Surrey, England. Around the same time the Earls of Bedford adopted 'che sera, sera' as their motto, though whether it was the first or the second Earl who was responsible for the innovation is a hotly-debated topic.
But, as Professor Hartman points out, the most famous example is in Christopher Marlowe's play Dr Faustus, which was written in the late 1580s. Act 1, Scene 1 includes the words "Che sera, sera, What will be, shall be", anticipating the song by around 370 years.
Que sera, sera made a big impression on me at the age of 6 - like all youngsters I wanted to know what I would be when I grew up. You can guess what my mother told me.....
When I was looking up Professor Hartman online I came across an interesting article that he had written for Slate magazine. It seems that whilst Smith is the most common surname in the US, and John is one of the most common forenames, there arenít nearly as many John Smiths as you would expect. It seems that parents with the surname Smith are biased against naming their son John.
It may be because the name 'John Smith' is sometimes used in the same way as 'John Doe', as a substitute where the real name of an individual isnít known. 'John Doe' is a name that most of us in the UK only became familiar with as a result of watching US cop shows, yet the name originated in mediśval England, where the names 'John Doe', 'Richard Roe', and sometimes 'John Roe' were used in legal proceedings (see this Wikipedia article).
Different countries have different rules - this BBC article looks at baby names around the world.
Archie was a surprise choice for the Royal baby - for me the name will forever be associated with a ventriloquist's dummy. Educating Archie was on the wireless in the 1950s and had a brief stint on commercial television at the end of the decade (as ever you'll find clips on YouTube).
Did you take up my tip about the free upgrade to Windows 10?
I've just updated an even older laptop, one that I bought over 9 years ago - and which couldnít have been upgraded under the original Microsoft offer because it was supplied with Windows 7 Starter Edition, rather than the full version. Support for Windows 7 is ending on 14th January 2020 (less than 8 months away), so donít miss this opportunity to grab a free upgrade!
One of my recent Amazon purchases was a real bargain - a laser-level for just £10.99! Not only does it come with a spare set of batteries, there's an 8ft measuring tape built-in. No use outdoors, except at night, but for indoor use it's marvellous.
I was reading this week about environmentally-friendly coffee pods when it suddenly struck me that the best solution is not to use pods at all. I make coffee in a stainless steel double-walled cafetiŤre (which I find so convenient that I use another one as a teapot). Of course, anything would be better than a coffee percolator, which I was brought up to believe was the height of luxury - not that my parents ever used ours.
I didnít drink tea or coffee when I was young, but my favourites in a box of chocolates have always been the coffee ones. So I was surprised, no, shocked to hear one of the judges on Great British Menu last night disparage them: mind you, the coffee chocolates I eat (very occasionally) nowadays are nothing like the Dairy Box equivalent from my childhood!
Finally, my mention of DNA testing for dogs prompted Sam to write in to tell me that her insurance premiums reduced by about a third as a result of buying the same test - because her (rescue) dog was proven to be a cross, not a pedigree. I'll be interested to hear whether anyone else has had similar success.
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......
That's all for now - but as I couldn't fit everything I wanted to into this issue of the newsletter I suspect you'll be hearing from me again soon!
© Copyright 2019 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?
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