Newsletter - 19th November 2017

 

 

Resolving birthdate discrepancies

The GRO and the Great War

Register Office drama: Love, Lies & Records

FamilySearch will require you to log-in from next month

Bell foundry strikes a chord with Heather

Trinity Mirror newspaper archive to go online

MASTERCLASS: supercharge your searches at Findmypast EXCLUSIVE

Guest article: Never give up!

You don't have to be related to be friends

Book review: Tracing Your Pauper Ancestors

Unusual parish register entries

Dates for your diary

Latest DNA offers

Quick links for subscribers

Peter's Tips

Stop Press

 

 

The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous newsletter (dated 10th November) 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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Resolving birthdate discrepancies

We can never know precisely when most of our ancestors were born - only a minority of baptism register entries include birthdates - but if they were born after the commencement of civil registration (1st July 1837 in England & Wales) we tend to assume that the date shown on the birth certificate is correct. After all, why wouldn't it be?

 

When civil registration was introduced in 1837 the legislation allowed for births to be registered free of charge within 6 weeks - and 180 years later, the same time limit applies. However in 1837 there was no penalty for failing to register a birth unless the parents of the child had been requested to do so by the registrar and as a result, in his 7th Annual Report (for 1843-44) the Registrar General was forced to note that many births had not been registered. Indeed, it was not until the 1874 Births and Deaths Registration Act that the onus fell on the parents or other interested parties to register a birth, although fortunately by then the proportion of unregistered births had fallen very considerably as initial misunderstandings about the new legislation dissipated.

 

But in the context of this article itís not non-registration that interests us, but the possibility of the date of birth being recorded incorrectly - and without a doubt the penalty prescribed for late registration was a key factor. Seven shillings and sixpence was a substantial sum in the 19th century - as much as a week's wages for some of the poorest members of society, and according to the Measuring Worth website, 7s 6d in 1837 is the equivalent of nearly £300 today when the increase in average wages is taken into account. It's therefore understandable that parents who had inadvertently failed to register their child's birth within the free 6 week period might have chosen to give a false date of birth.

 

When there's a discrepancy between the date of birth shown on the birth certificate and that recorded in the baptism register, which one should we believe? Assuming that the date in the baptism register is earlier, I'd look at the birth certificate and calculate the number of days between the stated date of birth and the date of registration. If itís 40, 41, or 42 I would strongly suspect that the parent registering the birth falsified the date in order to avoid a fine for late registration.

 

However it's not always as simple as that. There's a lot of circumstantial evidence from the censuses, from death certificates, and from the 1939 Register, that people didn't always remember ages correctly - and that when they had to calculate the year of birth, they might get the subtraction wrong. Although infant baptism is the norm in the Church of England, some people were baptised as children, some as teenagers, some as adolescents, and some as adults - it's not unusual for a bride or groom to be baptised just before the marriage.

 

Edward recently wrote to me from Australia about a remarkable set of discrepancies in one of the families in his tree, and he kindly put together a table showing the key information:

 

 

Notice that there is a variety of differences between the two sources - in the case of Sarah the dates differ by precisely a year, a discrepancy that is most likely to be due to memory or miscalculation; for Maria the only difference is in the day of the month, and since the birth was registered 40 days after the stated date of birth my guess is that Maria's birth date was falsified in the birth register. When it comes to Harriett both the year and the month are wrong - I'm inclined to believe that the birth certificate shows the right year, but the wrong month. Perhaps it's significant that it was the father who registered the birth, and not the mother (as in the case of Sarah and Maria); was there confusion about who was going to register the birth, or was the mother - who was unable to sign her own name - determined that she wouldn't be intimidated again by a snooty registrar?

 

Elizabeth is interesting - in her case both the day and the year differ, but as the birth was registered well within the 6 week period I doubt the date was deliberately falsified. Perhaps she was born around midnight? As for Ellen, it's virtually inconceivable that the age of 6 months shown in the 1851 Census is out by a year - so we can be certain that she was born in 1850, not 1849 - but there's no obvious explanation for the discrepancy in the day of birth, since her birth was also registered well within 42 days. Given that Ellen was baptised on the same day as Harriett, is it possible that there was confusion between the two birthdays? According to her birth certificate Harriett was born on 16th October, the date given as Ellen's birthday in the baptism register.

 

If you have similar discrepancies in your own tree you'll be able to use these examples as a guide, to help you deduce what the truth is. We can never be 100% certain that we've made the correct deductions but - as you well know -there's very little in family history that is 100% certain!

 

The GRO and the Great War

There's a fascinating blog post by Audrey Collins of the National Archives on the official History of Government website - she writes about the challenges faced by government departments, especially the General Register Office, during World War 1.

 

Register Office drama: Love, Lies & Records

This week a new drama series began on BBC1: set in the (fictional) Greater Leeds Register Office, Love, Lies & Records stars Ashley Jensen as Kate Dickenson, a Registrar whose promotion to Superintendent Registrar is about to be announced - but the day doesn't quite go to plan. If, like me, you watched the 2014 documentary series Births, Deaths and Marriages (filmed at Westminster Register Office) I'm sure you'll agree that the drama is pretty authentic - and if you didn't, it's a chance to find out how hectic and varied the life of a registrar can be.

 

Episode 2 is at 9pm on Thursday 23rd November, and if you missed the opening episode you can watch it on BBC iPlayer (provided you live in the UK and have a TV licence).

 

FamilySearch will require you to log-in from next month

From 13th December you will be required to log-in at the FamilySearch site before being allowed to search their billions of records from around the world. It's free to register and in reality many users, me included, have been logging-in for years (it helps that, as with LostCousins, the site logs you in automatically provided you didn't log-out on your last visit).

 

Some of you might worry that you'll be swamped with emails, but so long as you don't tick the boxes (on the Notifications tab of the Settings page) you won't receive a thing.

 

Tip: some of the image sets at FamilySearch are hidden away, even after you have signed-in - see my articles from February 2016 about the Sussex parish registers. A few of the Sussex registers are no longer available online - I believe these are instances where the necessary permission has yet to be gained from the incumbent - but don't assume that just because you're unlucky with the first parish you check the others aren't available either (the example in last year's article certainly still works!).

 

Bell foundry strikes a chord with Heather

When LostCousins member Heather read my recent article about the Whitechapel Bell Foundry it had a special meaning for her, because her husband spent a day working as a labourer in the foundry, removing the cast from a bell (and by all accounts it was back-breaking work).

 

You see, last year Heather and her family took part in the BBC series The Victorian Slum, which challenged 21st century families to live as their ancestors - or yours - might have done. (Readers in the US may have seen the series on PBS.)

 

You can see the 'Potter family' in costume on the right - that's Heather in the middle, with her husband Graham and daughter Alison - and whilst the series is no longer available on BBC iPlayer there are clips you can watch when you follow this link. You'll also find entire programmes on YouTube.

 

In the late 19th century most of my ancestors lived in the less salubrious parts of London, though thankfully not the worst streets and tenements, the ones that are marked in black on Charles Booth's contemporary maps. Since 1880 wages in the UK have increased by 5 times more than prices, so even the poorest families of today are likely to be better off than a typical working class family in the late 19th century - and that really emphasises just how tough it was for our ancestors.

 

Whilst Heather's connection with the foundry was fictional, I also had an email from Ann, whose husband's grandfather was a carpenter and bell hanger at the foundry - indeed, many members of his family worked there over the years.

 

Trinity Mirror newspaper archive to go online

On Thursday Findmypast and the British Newspaper Archive announced a two-year programme which will lead to more than 12 million pages from the archives of Trinity Mirror being digitised and made available online for the first time. Most welcome is the focus on 20th century newspapers, which are currently under-represented in the British Newspaper Archive, even though it is already by far the largest online archive of British newspapers.

 

Best known as publishers of the Daily Mirror, Trinity Mirror also own hundreds of local newspapers. The Birmingham Daily Gazette and The Birmingham Post are already online, as is the now-defunct Daily Herald.

 

MASTERCLASS: supercharge your searches at Findmypast

Although the baptism search technique decribed below was first revealed to readers of this newsletter a year ago, changes in the workings of the Findmypast website mean that I've had to revise it slightly.

 

Now that the main genealogy websites have thousands of record sets and billions of records it's more important than ever before to use effective search strategies, otherwise we risk missing the very records that weíre looking for. Although searching individual record sets is almost always the best way to go, if you donít know where your ancestor was born you might want to search all of Findmypast's baptism records simultaneously.

 

However, when you search all of Findmypast's birth and baptism records the Search form is a compromise:

 

 

Note that there's no opportunity to enter the forenames of the parents - and whilst you won't always know what they were, when you do know one or the other (or even both) it's frustrating not to be able to home in on the records most likely to be of interest, especially if the surname is a common one.

 

Fortunately there's a way to adapt the basic search to make it more powerful - supercharge it, in other words. But to do this for baptisms we'll have to leave the Births & Baptisms and go to the All Records search; first make sure that Britain is selected, ie:

 

 

Type in the name of the person whose baptism you're seeking, for example 'john calver' and click Search. If you use the same example (and I suggest you do until you become familiar with the technique) the search will produce 5,503 results. I could, of course, have reduced the number by specifying a range of dates, eg 1820 +/- 10 years, but as this is just an example I've kept the search as simple as possible.

 

Next take a look at the URL in your browser - in effect this is the web address of the search results page you're looking at. It should appear something like this, although you'll probably have to move the cursor along the line to see all of it:

 

https://search.findmypast.co.uk/results/united-kingdom-records?firstname=john&firstname_variants=true&lastname=calver

 

Let's suppose that I know the forenames of both of the parents, and that their names were Thomas and Mary. If I add the following text to the end of the URL shown above, I can repeat the search so that it only produces results where the parents' names were Thomas & Mary:

 

&fatherfirstname=thomas&motherfirstname=mary

 

This is perhaps a little too specific - for example, the name Thomas is often shortened to Thos - so I can widen my search to include variants:

 

&fatherfirstname=thomas&fatherfirstname_variants=true&motherfirstname=mary&motherfirstname_variants=true

 

By the time I've pasted this onto the original URL it looks like this:

 

https://search.findmypast.co.uk/results/united-kingdom-records?firstname=john&firstname_variants=true&lastname=calver&fatherfirstname=thomas&fatherfirstname_variants=true&motherfirstname=mary&motherfirstname_variants=true

 

Hit the Return key to display the revised search results, and amazingly from 5,503 results we've reduced the tally to a mere 7, all of which have the right parents' names. Don't believe it works? Click this link and see it in action - you don't need a Findmypast subscription to try it out. You can even edit the URL to carry out a search of your own.

 

As I mentioned earlier, most URLs are too long to fit on the screen, so you will usually need to scroll right to find the end.

 

Tip: when you edit the URL in this way you can't click the Search button, or the Edit search button - instead you have to position the cursor on the URL (it can be anywhere on the line), and hit the Return key.

 

Before we move onto census searches, here's a valuable tip for when you're searching parish registers at Findmypast - look at the Useful Links (bottom right) because you'll often find a list of parishes showing the years of coverage for each parish (though there may be gaps which aren't noted).

 

Now I'd like to show you some more tricks, this time to do with censuses.

 

Searching the 1911 Census

As most of you know, when you enter your relatives from the 1911 England & Wales census on your My Ancestors page the two references you're asked to enter are the piece number and the schedule number. But whereas you can search other England & Wales censuses using the census references we use, neither Ancestry nor Findmypast allow you to search using the schedule number (even though it appears in Findmypast's transcription). There's no way round this at Ancestry, because they didn't transcribe the schedule numbers (which means that if you use their site as your source, you'll need to read the number off the handwritten schedule - it's usually in the top right corner).

 

However, I discovered that at Findmypast it's possible to search the 1911 Census using both the piece and schedule references, even though there isn't a box for the schedule number on the search form. Indeed, if you click the grey arrow against any of the 1911 entries on your My Ancestors page, you'll see that's precisely what happens.

 

For example, if I click the arrow alongside my relative Alfred Stevens, whose household are listed on schedule 203 in piece 1095, when the results page appears the important part of the browser command line reads as follows:

 

 

You can carry out the same search by clicking here. Now try searching for another census schedule, not by clicking Edit Search, but by editing the relevant parts of the command line.

 

 

Try leaving the piece number as it is but changing the schedule number by one, up or down, which will typically tell you who the neighbours were. When you've made the change, make sure the cursor on the command line, then press the Return key. Depending whether you went up or down you'll get either the Player household or the Nevin household - but you can use this trick to find any private household in the 1911 Census, just so long as you have the piece and schedule numbers.

 

Tip: you donít need to be a Findmypast subscriber to see the Search results - only if you want to display the full transcription, or the schedule itself, will you need a subscription.

 

Searching all of the England & Wales censuses from 1841-1901 simultaneously

Have you ever noted down the census references for a household in your tree, but forgotten to record which census they relate to? For my next trick I'm going to show you how you can search all of the censuses from 1841-1901 at the same time.

 

Here's what the Census search form looks like:

 

 

As you can see, there are no boxes where you can enter any of the census references. Without entering anything on the form click the Search button so that you get a page of results, and take a look at the URL near the top of the browser window - it should look like this:

 

http://search.findmypast.co.uk/results/united-kingdom-records-in-census-land-and-surveys/and_census

 

All we need to do now is add the census references that we know, which in this example are:

 

?pieceno=1583&folio=143&page=14

 

Paste these parameters at the end of the URL, and press Return. Almost by magic you'll get 20 results, all from the 1851 Census. (Click here to try it out yourself - you don't need a Findmypast subscription.)

 

I hope you find these tips useful - do please let me know if you discover a 'hack' of your own!

 

Guest article: Never give up!

Sue Palmer, who has been a LostCousins member for 10 years, recently wrote to me about a major breakthrough she'd had in her research - and she kindly agreed to share her discovery with other members in the hope that it will inspire you to keep going, rather than give up. Over to SueÖ..

"I had a major breakthrough recently - it was all thanks to the 1939 register (which I would never have known about without reading Peter's newsletters).

 

"I started my research over 30 years ago following my father's death. At the time I had a job, husband and young family to consider and so time was limited. I used to dip in and out of research according to what else was happening in my life. Even when the World Wide Web arrived there were very few online resources at first, and in any case I didn't have access to the internet, so I read as many books as I could find on the subject of genealogy to get me started. Knowing so little about my father's family (even my mother knew few details), this was the part of my family that fascinated me most.

 

"My father, William Scott jnr was born 1908 and brought up in South Shields with his 2 siblings. He rarely spoke of his family - it was a taboo subject. I did know, however, that he left home at around 14 years old when he found work on one of the many ships sailing from Tyne Docks. I also knew that his mother was Ada Scott nťe Henderson, and that his father William Scott snr, was a Police Constable. By visiting St Catherine's House in London and trawling through the indexes I obtained birth certificates for my grandparents Ada and William snr, and also their marriage certificate; from then on I was hooked! I found my grandfather's police record held by the Tyne & Wear Archives Service in Newcastle, and learned that William snr was an alcoholic and violent man who was discharged from the Police for several offences including throwing a man off the top of a tram. No wonder my father left home at an early age! The 1911 census shows the family living in South Shields. According to family rumour my grandmother Ada left her husband and 3 children (my father included) to live with a soldier who had been awarded a Victoria Cross.

 

"My search was difficult to say the least, as Ada used 4 different surnames, 2 of those fictitious. However after many years of travelling up and down the country visiting various records offices, hours spent poring over online resources in more recent years, and making the mistakes I am sure most researchers make - including, ordering incorrect certificates and following the wrong family because I didn't check details thoroughly - I have at last found out what happened to my grandmother and her partner.

 

"Through the 1939 register I found Ada by her date of birth, and discovered the name of her partner - James Upton. The register also confirmed the name of their daughter, Edna. I checked at VConline.org.uk where I discovered James in an article which not only told of his exploits, but also mentioned his 2 families including Ada and Edna.

 

"Ada did indeed abandon her family in 1919 and leave South Shields with James Whitbread Upton VC (by this time Ada was pregnant with James's child). It is likely that James was stationed at the local barracks, although he was originally from Lincoln - where he left a pregnant wife and 2 sons. The couple disappeared for a few years but were later found to be living in North London with their daughter Edna Upton - James was the proprietor of a large Social Club and Dance Hall. James and Ada married bigamously in Derbyshire in 1927 and another daughter Rita, was born but died soon afterwards.

 

"James Whitbread Upton enlisted with the 4th Sherwood Foresters at Derby in May 1906. He was a regular soldier who served in Ireland and India until war broke out, then James was sent to France in November. In May 1915 at Rouges Bancs, Corporal Upton rescued the wounded while exposed to rifle and artillery fire. One wounded man was killed by a shell while James was carrying him; when not actually carrying the wounded he was engaged in dressing and bandaging. James was presented with his VC ribbon in France on 8th July 1915, whilst the Victoria Cross medal was presented to him by King George V at Windsor Castle on 24th July. He was also presented with an illuminated address and a purse of gold by the Mayor of Nottingham. James continued to serve in France until 1918 and was demobilized in March 1919. During the Second World War he was a Captain in 12th Middlesex Battalion Home Guard and was promoted to Major in 1942. James died in 1949 and his Victoria Cross is held at the Sherwood Foresters museum in Nottingham.

 

"Ada retired to Cornwall and died in March 1974. I would have loved to have a conversation with her, or even a photograph - but at least I found her."

 

© Sue Palmer 2017

 

You don't have to be related to be friends

Perhaps the best-known quote from To Kill a Mockingbird is "You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family".

 

One of the great things about connecting with people through a genealogy site is that whether or not you turn out to be related to them, you do at least have something in common - a shared love of family history. I was reminded of this when Bronwen wrote to me a week ago:

 

"Ösome 12 years ago I contacted someone in New Zealand when we thought we had a relative in common. It proved not to be so but I was living in the area this ancestor came from and was able to send out details of the village and the area. We continued to correspond over various brick walls in both our families and over the years have formed a friendship that will last for as long as we are both computer literateÖ"

 

Book review: Tracing Your Pauper Ancestors

Although Tracing Your Pauper Ancestors - a guide for family historians by Robert Burlison was published in 2009, it was recommended to me recently by a LostCousins member, and as I hadnít read it, I bought a second-hand copy for less than £4 (including shipping). This is, after all, an important topic - most of us will have ancestors who fell on hard times.

 

Let me say first of all that if you purchase the book expecting to find out precisely what records have survived you're likely to be disappointed - the information on the records themselves is relegated to a 20-page appendix, and whilst it covers numerous types of records there's little to indicate what has survived in different parts of the kingdom.

 

But if you want an appreciation of how tough things were for our forefathers, and how the law regarded paupers, vagrants, and beggars over the centuries, then itís an excellent guide. For example, did you know that in the reign of Queen Elizabeth vagrants could be whipped, branded, and ultimately hanged? I didn't - nor did I realise that until 1839 there was no Poor Law system in Ireland. So whilst you might not learn much about your ancestors as a result of reading this, it could prove enormously useful in putting what you do know about them into an historical context.

 

The author also recounts that in mid-16th century Norwich an apparently poor woman who was begging was found to have £44 on her when apprehended - a sum which he reports as being equivalent to £8,800 in terms of today's money, though the Measuring Worth website suggests it would be the equivalent of £15,500 allowing for price changes, or an amazing £189,000 if the increase in average wages is taken into account; certainly £44 would have been many times the annual wage of most workers in the 16th century. Unfortunately I haven't been able to verify this story - no reference is provided - but this archived page on the BBC History site gives an overview of poverty in Elizabethan England.)

 

In summary it's an excellent book for social historians - and for family historians too, just so long as you ignore the misleading title! There are more second-hand copies at Amazon, or you can buy a new copy if you prefer - follow this link to see what's currently available.

 

Tip: prices of second-hand books vary considerably according to supply and demand, especially if they are out of print - it's best to be patient.

 

Unusual parish register entries

Is this 1695 marriage register entry from the parish of Hanby in North Yorkshire suggesting that the marriage was carried out by an imposter, or by a non-conformist clergyman? I think itís probably the latter, but perhaps you've come across something like this before and can put it into context?

 

 

This transcription is from the Yorkshire County Magazine (Vol.III 1893); whilst you'll find the scanned register in the Yorkshire collection at Findmypast, this particular entry is very faint, and hard to decipher.

 

Dates for your diary

On Saturday 13th January there are two half-day courses at the Society of Genealogists that should be well-worth attending, as the speakers have excellent reputations. In the morning (from 10.30am to 1pm) Dave Annal will be talking about Brickwalls and Lost Ancestors - a topic that's relevant to all of us. In the afternoon (from 2pm to 5pm) John Hanson's subject will be Getting the Most from the Ancestry Website. Each of the courses costs £20, but members get a 20% discount (remember too that until the end of November you can save 25% when you join the Society of Genealogists - you'll find details of the offer I negotiated here).

 

I'll be doing a lot of speaking myself next spring - on Saturday 3rd March I'll be at the North West Kent Family History Society in Dartford, on Saturday 17th March I'll be talking about Genetic Genealogy to my local U3A here in Stansted, and on Saturday 19th May I'll be speaking to the Essex Society for Family History at Galleywood Heritage Centre near Chelmsford. But that's not all - I'm going to be running a series of one hour genealogy workshops at the Rocha Brava resort on the Algarve coast in Portugal in January, February, and April: on each of the 4 dates there will be a session for absolute beginners, followed by one for those with some experience. If you think that you, or somebody you know, might be interested, get in touch and I'll let you have more details.

 

Latest DNA offers

Ancestry in the US have a DNA Sale, with tests priced at $79 (down from $99) until Thursday November 23, but 23andMe have an amazing offer when you buy 2 of their ancestry tests - they're just $49 each! However, it's important to remember that the only way you can search for cousins in Ancestry's enormous DNA database is by testing with them - Ancestry donít accept transfers from other companies. That's why I re-tested with Ancestry earlier this year, having tested with Family Tree DNA 5 years earlier.

 

23andMe are now offering ancestry-only tests in the UK, priced at £79 (previously UK customers could only buy a £149 test which included health-related information). But the newest offers are from Family Tree DNA, the only major company offering Y-DNA and mtDNA tests - last time I checked you could save $40 on a Y-DNA test, down from $169, but their offers are changing weekly, so click the link below for the latest information.

 

Living DNA still have a sale on - their tests are reduced in every territory, so if you've already tested with one of the big companies, but want a more detailed ethnicity estimate (especially if you have mainly English ancestry), now's your chance.

 

By using the links below you can support LostCousins - in return I'll do my best to support you by continually updating them so that they take you to the best offers I can find:

 

BEST FOR FINDING COUSINS AND KNOCKING DOWN 'BRICK WALLS'

Note: you may need to log-out from your Ancestry account before clicking the link 

 

 

Ancestry DNA (UK & Ireland residents - Black Friday sale starts Wednesday 22nd)

Ancestry DNA (US residents - buy 3 get 1 FREE)

Ancestry DNA (Canada residents)

Ancestry DNA (Australia & New Zealand residents - reduced from $149 to $99 plus shipping)

 

BEST FOR Y-DNA

 

FamilyTreeDNA (worldwide)

 

BEST FOR ETHNICITY (ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE ENGLISH ANCESTORS)

 

Living DNA UK

Living DNA US

Living DNA Canada

Living DNA EU

Living DNA Australia

 

BEST FOR HEALTH (ANCESTRY-ONLY TESTS ALSO AVAILABLE)

 

23andMe (UK residents)

23andMe (US residents)

 

Quick links for subscribers

Although standard membership of LostCousins is free, you probably wouldn't be reading this newsletter were it not for the support of the members who choose to pay a small annual subscription. Thanks to their generous contributions LostCousins is able to remain independent - and arguably it's that independence that makes this newsletter worth reading.

 

One of the benefits of being a subscriber is access to the Subscribers Only page, and I've recently added links to all of my Masterclasses - the most sought-after of all the articles in these newsletters.

 

Note: you won't see the Subscribers Only page in the website menu unless you are a subscriber (and have logged-in).

 

Subscriptions are NOT renewed automatically - that isn't even an option - but I do send out an email reminder when a subscription is about to run-out. However you can check the renewal date at any time, simply by logging-in and going to your My Summary page.

 

Note: subscribers also received a preview of this newsletter (on Saturday) although, unfortunately, due to a disagreement between Word, which I used to write the email, and the email program used to send it, the hyperlink was corrupted (although it worked if the text was copied and pasted into the browser). My wife says it serves me right for working at weekends!

 

Peter's Tips

I live in a part of the country where the tap water is 'hard' - which has an upside and a downside. On the positive side the water tastes better than any bottled water, irrespective of price, but on the other hand our kettles soon accumulate limescale deposits that reduce their efficiency and offend the eye. At one time I used to buy proprietary descaling products, but they were expensive, and after the job was done I had to boil the kettle several times to remove any residual chemicals, and the hot water this produced was generally wasted. Vinegar is cheaper, but itís even harder to get rid of the taste if the kettle is made of plastic. I then started using food-grade citric acid or lemon juice, on the basis that any slight residue would be harmless, and whilst this entailed less wastage of water and electricity, it was still a relative expensive solution (and citric acid can be hard to find in supermarkets).

 

Update: I did also try one of those coiled wire devices that several readers have suggested - it just couldn't cope with the very high levels of calcium.

 

So I was delighted to discover that I could buy food-grade citric acid in bulk through Amazon - I paid £14.99 (including shipping) for a 5kg tub. This is a very substantial saving compared to buying small packs in the supermarket, which - when I could find them - would typically cost £1 or more for a mere 50gm. The tub arrived yesterday, and I celebrated by descaling our electric kettles, not both at the same time, but one after the other - as this enabled me to use water and electricity more efficiently. They now look as good as new!

 

Note: we do have a water-softener - or rather, we will, when it is finally plumbed in - but softened water shouldn't be used for cooking on account of the high sodium content; you're not even supposed to use it in dishwashers.

 

Talking of Amazon, theyíre the ones who are responsible for introducing Black Friday into Britain. I'm not sure we should thank them for that, but it's hard to ignore the bargains - I've no doubt I'll succumb, as I did last year. If you do too, please use the links below so that you can support LostCousins:

 

Amazon.co.uk ††††††††††††††††† Amazon.com†††††††††† ††††††††† Amazon.ca

 

(I was a little annoyed to see that the Echo Dot is reduced to £34.99 - that's £10 less than I paid less than 2 months ago in a so-called Duty Free Shop at Stansted Airport. On the other hand, the latest Which? magazine reckons it's a bargain at £50, so I didn't do so badly.)

 

By the way, LostCousins will also benefit if you take a free trial of Amazon Prime after clicking the relevant link above - whether or not you decide to continue after the 30 days are over. Black Friday is a particularly good time to be a Prime member, because it provides early access to some of the most attractive offers.

 

I'm going to end with my recipe for Marie Rose sauce: Avocado Crevette is one of my all-time favourite starters, and itís coming back into fashion, but shop-bought Marie Rose sauce doesn't cut the mustard. The ingredients for the sauce will all be found in your store cupboard or fridge: mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco; the quantities you use of each are entirely up to you, but I like it slightly hot, but with an underlying tomato flavour and pinkish colour (if it appears grey you've probably used too much Worcestershire Sauce and too little ketchup). Enjoy!

 

Stop Press

Findmypast have offers on World subscriptions in Australia, Ireland, and the USA - they all include the amazing 1939 Register:

 

Findmypast.com

Findmypast.ie

Findmypast.com.au

 

The DNA offers article has been updated with Black Friday offers from Ancestry.

 

Description: Description: peter_signature

 

Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins

 

© Copyright 2017 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?