Newsletter - 18th November 2019



Christmas comes early at Findmypast ENDS SATURDAY

Save at the British Newspaper Archive ENDS SATURDAY

The legal consequences of a corrected birth registration

An amusing birth registration

GRO add death indexes from 1984-2019

The Presumption of Death register

Why did so few infants end up in Limbo?

Double baptisms could be deadly

Did you use Findmypast last weekend?

I don't use forums

Success story

Common misconceptions about DNA

Last chance to save on DNA tests?

Review: The Penmaker's Wife

Download your FREE genealogical mystery novel EXCLUSIVE

Why didn’t people smile in old photos?

Peter's Tips

Stop Press



The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 4th November) 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!



Christmas comes early at Findmypast ENDS SATURDAY

For this week only you can save between 25% and 30% on all Findmypast 12 month subscriptions. For example, at their UK site the Plus subscription comes down from £120 to just £84, or less than 25p a day - whilst the Pro subscription drops from £156 to £109 (that's a little over £2 a week, the price of a cup of coffee) for virtually unlimited access to all of their billions of historical records, newspaper articles, and even modern electoral registers. And unlike some previous offers, this one IS open to lapsed subscribers as well as new subscribers.


Warning: don’t buy a Starter subscription - it is only suitable for outright beginners, and even if you are a beginner at the moment, you'll outgrow it long before the 12 months is up (especially if you continue reading this newsletter).


The timing of the offer is clever - it's around now that most retired people in the UK will be receiving the Winter Fuel Allowance, which is a minimum of £100 tax-free. I'm not suggesting you should turn down the thermostat and put on an extra sweater so that you can research your family tree, merely pointing out that if you were planning to buy a subscription at some point, this is probably the ideal opportunity. Spending the winter watching re-runs of movies or game shows with C-list celebrities can be fun (up to a point), but discovering your own family history is not only more fulfilling, it's a legacy that you can pass on to future generations.


Findmypast's offer isn’t exclusive to LostCousins members - but if you want to support the LostCousins project to connect cousins around the world and help the LostCousins newsletter remain independent, with all the benefits that brings to readers, you can ONLY do so when you use my links and follow the advice below. The discount is usually taken off automatically, but if not enter the relevant code in the box which you will find near the bottom of the page, then click Apply to display the reduced prices.              Discount code: FW30ALL19                    Discount code: FW25ALLIE           Discount code: FW25ALLAU                Discount code: FW25ALLUS





Unfortunately simply clicking one of my links doesn’t absolutely guarantee that you'll be supporting LostCousins when you make your purchase, because these days quite a few people use adblocking software, or have disabled tracking in their browser. Whether you've done this deliberately or inadvertently, it can have a big impact on small independent websites like LostCousins - in effect you’re telling the big website that you're buying from to ignore the information about which site you just came from. This prevents them from paying any commission on your purchase - great news for the big website, since it adds to their profits, but very tough on the small genealogy websites that depend on that income.


If you help LostCousins then LostCousins will help you. If we receive commission on your Findmypast subscription purchase then you will get a free 12 month LostCousins subscription worth between £10 and £12.50 (the latter covers two linked LostCousins accounts, typically husband and wife). The subscription will commence on the day you bought your Findmypast subscription unless you already have a LostCousins subscription, in which case I'll extend it by a year.


First make sure that your purchase is going to be tracked. If you normally use Firefox, Opera, or Safari I suggest you load up this newsletter in a different browser, such as Chrome or Microsoft Edge, before clicking the link above and making your purchase. All major browsers are free, so it makes sense to have a choice (many problems can be solved by using a different browser).


Tip: some websites for newspapers and magazines only allow a limited number of free articles each month; if you have two browsers you can usually have a double helping!


I also suggest you use a computer rather than a smartphone or tablet, but whatever device you choose, stick to it - clicking my link on one device and making your purchase on another won't work.


You'll find the 'Do not track' switch under Advanced Settings in Chrome - the default setting is OFF, as shown below, and this is what you want:



The switch should be to the LEFT and appear grey. If the switch is to the right (and blue) then please move it to the left.


In Edge you'll find the switch under Privacy & Security settings, and it works in the same way. If it appears blue with a white dot, move it to the left so that it is grey with a black dot.


Once you are satisfied that your purchase is going to be tracked, click the link and make your purchase, noting the EXACT time of the purchase, without which I cannot confirm that you qualify. You should receive an email receipt from Findmypast - simply forward this to me to claim your free LostCousins subscription. If the email doesn’t arrive send me an email quoting the precise time (and date) of your purchase (including the time zone), and the price you paid for your subscription.





Save at the British Newspaper Archive ENDS SATURDAY

There are two ways of getting unlimited access to the newspapers in the British Newspaper Archive  - one is to take out the top Findmypast subscription (a Pro or Ultimate subscription), the other is to subscribe to the British Newspaper Archive directly.


Until midnight on Saturday 23rd November you can save a 30% on a 12 month British Newspaper Archive subscription, bringing the cost down from £80 to just £56 - which is good value when you consider that you're getting access to almost 35 million pages and well over 400 million articles - numbers that will continue to grow during the period of your subscription.


Of course, there's nothing worse than having to plough through page after page of search results that you've seen several times before, which is why being able to restrict your search to articles added between two dates, or after a given date, is so useful. This is just one of the extra search options that you get when you subscribe to the British Newspaper Archive directly - it makes an enormous difference, especially if you have common surnames in your tree (or, like me, surnames that are also place names


To save 30% on your subscription - and support LostCousins at the same time - please follow this link and enter the discount code RFA2019ACQ



The legal consequences of a corrected birth registration

In the last issue I wrote about the double birth registration of Joan Burren in 1915: she was originally registered as the daughter of her grandparents. It's not unusual for the birth of an illegitimate child to be covered up in this way - what made that case different was the fact that the perjury was admitted and corrected.


I ended the article by asking whether readers were aware of any similar cases, and Brenda wrote to tell me of her experiences:


"A few years ago I was one of the team of Kent FHS volunteers who indexed all the old registers held by Medway Register Office and I have seen quite a lot of similar birth entries where the mother tried to register a child giving false information. Usually she was pretending to be married to the father, pretending to be her own mother is unusual. Often the first entry is incomplete; abandoned when the registrar realised what was going on. There will be a margin note giving the reference number of the correct entry. Occasionally the correct entry is in a different register so the reference will indicate that (I'm talking about the local register reference, not the GRO reference)."


Just as I was finalising this issue Gwyneth Wilkie wrote in with another very interesting tale:


"The GRO issued a number of posters showing the consequences of not telling the truth to the Registrar. Discreetly names are not given in full. One poster concerned George B----- of Leeds who was fined £5 on 31 Aug 1877 for having made a false statement on the 13th. Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive we can see the full details in the Leeds Mercury of 1st September 1877 (reproduced on the right) and other papers.


"George Bell's daughter had an illegitimate child. When it died he registered the death and said the child was his. As the birth and death certificates then did not match the daughter was unable to claim the insurance money, so Dad therefore had to visit the Registrar and confess what he had done. The judge took the line that he had acted out of concern for his daughter's honour and not for personal gain, but still fined him £5.


"It seems that from about 1875 there was more cross-checking of birth and death registers in the case of young  children because Registrars were producing a list for Vaccination Officers every three months and would note those who had died within the quarter. That is the impression I got from reading a case where John Broome, a  former Registrar, was accused of fraud on 5 April 1886 at the Old  Bailey. Other Old Bailey cases show that a number of registrars were alert  to the possibility of fraud and followed up doubtful instances. Sometimes  when the Registrar was also a medical man he could see straightaway that the woman asking to register the birth of a child had none of the usual signs of having recently given birth. These cases are the ones that came to  light because of financial motives or the vigilance of a Registrar, but the real question, of course, is how many did not?"


Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


Although £5 might sound like a lenient fine, it could well have represented several weeks' wages from George Bell. I found George Bell and his family in the 1881 Census, living at 7 Rutland Terrace, Leeds - I wonder whether any enterprising reader can find the birth and death entries for the child who was the subject of the court case? But please don’t write to me, instead post your findings in the LostCousins Forum so that you can collaborate with other members. I'll be following the investigations from a distance.


Gwyneth also mentioned that the December 2019 issue of Genealogists' Magazine, the journal of the Society of Genealogists, will include an article she has written. It's sure to be of interest to many readers of this newsletter because it focuses on a clergyman who was sent down for 5 years following the dodgy registration - in even dodgier circumstances - of his step-daughter's illegitimate child.



An amusing birth registration

To the best of my knowledge there's no penalty for being unable to spell; this birth registration is clearly not a mistranscription because the quarterly indexes record the same forenames:



When she was baptised the following year the vicar quite reasonably decided it was one name, not two:


© Liverpool City Council - used by permission of Findmypast


But when her father completed the 1911 Census form he still considered that she had two forenames:


© Crown Copyright Images reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England - used by permission of Findmypast


In 1920 she became Mrs Simpson, marrying as Emma L Cardwell according to the GRO indexes, but she's shown just as Emma in the 1939 Register. The only evidence I can find of her after that is an entry in an Ancestry tree which records the death of Emmelina Simpson aged 60, in late 1956. It would be interesting to know how she signed her name when she married.



GRO add death indexes from 1984-2019

One of the problems that family historians face is not knowing whether distant cousins are still alive, or have passed away, and since the GRO stopped selling copies of their death indexes in 2008 the only way to be reasonably certain that someone was still alive was to visit one of the half-dozen libraries around the country that have microfiche copies of the up to date BMD indexes - and for most of us that simply isn’t an option.


It's true that Ancestry and Findmypast tried their best to plug the gap by taking information from other sources, but the indexes they compiled include only around half of deaths, so researchers were left with a conundrum: should they write to someone as if they were still alive, even though they might not be (something that most of us would find rather awkward)? Or should they hold off, despite knowing that the longer they delayed the more likely it was that their cousin would have passed away?


So it was wonderful to discover that the General Register Office have added death indexes for England & Wales covering the period from 1984-2019 to their website (the significance of the starting date is that this is when the indexes were first computerised). The bad news is that there is less detail on the website than you would expect to find in the indexes for this period - instead of the precise month of registration only the quarter is listed, and instead of the precise date of birth, only the year is given.


Note: although the indexes are free, you must have registered with the GRO and be logged-in to your account.


The incomplete indexes at Ancestry and Findmypast still have their uses, however - not only do they include deaths in other parts of the UK, they include more detail, often including the precise dates of birth and death. The links below will take you to the relevant datasets - although searching is free you'll need a subscription to see the records:


United Kingdom Deaths 2007-2017 at Findmypast

England and Wales, Death Index, 1989-2018 at Ancestry

Scotland and Northern Ireland, Death Index, 1989-2018 at Ancestry



The Presumption of Death register

Included in the death indexes at the GRO site are entries relating to those who are presumed dead - this is a recent development, following the passing of the Presumption of Death Act 2013, which came into force in October 2014. One of the key drivers for the passing of the Act was the conundrum faced by the heirs of Richard John Bingham, better known as Lord Lucan. You can see the index entry below - note that it appears in the index under the date that the presumed death was added to the register, and not the date on which he disappeared:



These days we have fingerprints, DNA, and labels on clothing to help with identification - but there are, nevertheless, many corpses that remain unidentified. Just think how many more there must have been in earlier centuries - no wonder we can’t always find the deaths of our relatives!



Why did so few infants end up in Limbo?

Everyone has heard of Purgatory, although you probably wouldn't want to go there, but you may not know about Limbo. Limbo is the place where, according to certain Christian traditions, unbaptised infants are consigned when they die, for even though they have not committed any sins, they cannot be admitted to Heaven.


We might not believe in Limbo, but our ancestors quite possibly did - from 1662 onwards it was recommended that children be baptised on the first or second Sunday after birth. And yet baptism registers suggest that in practice the period between birth and baptism lengthened significantly during the 18th century - so given the high rate of infant mortality you'd expect there to be an increasingly high number of unnamed children in the burial registers. However, that isn't what we see.


This conundrum was resolved in a paper by Professor Jeremy Boulton of Newcastle University and Dr Romola Davenport of Cambridge University, whose impressive website Pauper Lives in Georgian London and Manchester I wrote about in the last issue. They carefully analysed the records of St Martin in the Fields, a large parish in central London which accounted for about 4% of all London baptisms during the period, and concluded that many of the children had been privately baptised before being brought to the church for a public ceremony.


Although I've seen their published paper it isn’t open access - but you'll find a draft of the paper here which includes much of the same information. This chart from the draft (but also utilised in the final paper) shows how the number of days between birth and baptism increased over the period 1752-1812:



As you can see from the chart, in the 1750s 75% of infants were baptised within around 3 weeks from birth, but by the end of period it was 4 months before the 75% threshold was reached. Yet across the period the number of live-born infants who were buried without a forename was a fraction of 1% of the total number of burials of infants who were less than one year old.


The published paper ends as follows - it's worth reading all the way through:


"However we know of no study anywhere that has reported an increase in the proportion of explicitly unbaptised children in burial registers during the eighteenth century. Nor is there any study we know of that has found growing numbers of children buried lacking forenames. Wrigley and Schofield assumed that there was an increasing reluctance on the part of clerics to bury unbaptised children over the course of the eighteenth century. If so this could account for the absence of large numbers of unbaptised infants in burial records even if the actual incidence of death before baptism increased. However the sextons’ books of St. Martin in the Fields recorded the burials of baptized and unbaptised (usually ‘stillborn’) infants and appear to be a remarkably complete record of burials in the parish. In this case there was no evidence of a rising trend in the numbers of stillborn or unnamed infant burials across the period when the birth-baptism interval rose so markedly. All this therefore suggests that the lengthening birth-baptism interval in the eighteenth-century must have been accompanied by a substantial growth in the number of home or private christenings. This is entirely consistent with the evidence for such a rise documented in contemporary comment and in some baptism registers. It is, in this literal sense therefore, quite wrong, to write (as many historical demographers still do), that high infant mortality rates and lengthening birth-baptism intervals produced a significant risk of ‘dying before baptism’. The significant risk was that such children died before a public baptism or public reception of a private baptism. In the event—apart from those who died within a couple of days of birth—very few children died before baptism in Georgian London. Therefore while the lengthening of the birth-baptism interval contributed to the increasing underregistration of births and baptisms it had no necessary knock-on effect on the registration of burials. A question for future researchers is whether this is also true for most parishes in England".



Double baptisms could be deadly

In the last issue I explained that the Church of England has a special form of words that is used when it isn't certain whether a child has been baptised previously: "IF thou art not already baptized, N[ame]. I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."


To you or I it might not seem to matter much whether a child is baptised twice, but in Germany it was an offence punishable by death, as you can see from this Google Books extract.



Did you use Findmypast last weekend?

Although all of Findmypast's historical records were free last weekend, you probably noticed that downloading of images was disabled - even for those who had a subscription. This didn't prevent users from copying images to the clipboard using the Print Screen key, or the Snipping Tool in Windows - but it's not an ideal solution.


Fortunately LostCousins members were able to download images at the weekend - thanks to the tip I posted on the LostCousins forum (and linked to from the Masterclass referred to in my email). This is just latest of many tips and tricks to get the most of sites like Findmypast, Ancestry, and FamilySearch - all of them revealed exclusively in this newsletter.


Sadly, because of the short notice I didn’t have time to email everybody about the free access at Findmypast - so only those who had logged-in to their LostCousins account in the past 5 years were on the list for that mailing. If you want to make sure that you are included in all future mailings logging-in once a year should do it - it only takes a few seconds. If you can't remember your password you can get an instant email reminder using the Password Reminder link.


Tip: if you haven’t logged into your LostCousins account for a while make sure you click the Search button on your My Ancestors page and, whatever the result of the search, check your My Cousins page for new contacts. You might well get a pleasant surprise!



I don't use forums

Many people think of forums as being like Facebook, designed for people who have too much time on their hands. Whilst there probably are some forums like that, the ones I choose to use are valuable sources of information. Indeed, I've found that if I've got a problem with a product I've bought, or with a piece of software, it’s usually much easier to find the answer on a user forum than by going through Customer Support.


I must confess that I rarely post information on most of these forums - I usually only go to them when I have a problem or a question and, if I find the answer I'm looking for, there's no need for me to post a message. In fact most people use forums in the same way as I do, which means that a casual visitor might get the impression that a forum is dominated by just a handful of people.


Of course, no forum is worth visiting unless you can quickly and easily find the information you’re looking for, so the LostCousins Forum is divided up geographically (by country and county), and thematically - so if there's information that's relevant to your research you shouldn’t have any problem finding it. But in the event of difficulty just put a keyword into the Search and see what comes up.


If you are a member of the LostCousins Forum, or have been invited to join, you would be extremely foolish to miss out on the opportunities that the forum offers, because - like the main LostCousins site, and like this newsletter - it is designed to SAVE you time, and help you find out MORE about your family history.


Tip: if you have been invited to join the forum you will find a Coupon Code and a link on your My Summary page at the main LostCousins site.



Success story

I get to hear so many good news stories from members who have taken DNA tests, but now and again I hear something that is really special. To protect the living no names are given:


"My Grandma had an unusual saying. 'whim whams for lame ducks'*, that she used when my Mum asked her a question she didn't want to answer such as: 'Who is my Dad?.


"This is a question nobody should have to ask, but it happens. Back in the 1930's this would have quite a stigma attached to it; it was certainly not something you wanted your schoolmates to know about. But 83 years on, and thanks to Ancestry DNA this question has at last been answered.


"My mum grew up not knowing her father, but before her mother died in the 90's she asked the question one last time. Instead of hearing her mother's favourite saying, my Mum was given a box of paperwork and told “I hope this answers your questions”. Suffice to say, it didn't. But it did throw up more questions: apart from bits & pieces there was a marriage certificate from December 1936 and divorce paperwork from 1974. Apparently grandma had married a bloke in the December of 1936, my mum was born January 1936 - so on the face of it, question answered! But why didn’t my Mum know that he was her father, and why did they divorce as late as 1974? We didn't know anything about him except what was written on the paperwork.


"Some years ago I managed to get hold of a family member on the putative father's side; he said that they never divorced until he was ill and was getting all his affairs in order. Mum remembers taking a note to Grandma's father to ask for money for a divorce, but he didn't pay for it so I think it just got left. But for years we wrongly thought this man was Mum's father.


"Fast forward to 2019 and all this kerfuffle about DNA testing and finding family. But we didn't think it would show anything surprising until the results came back and there was not (as far as we could tell) even a shadow of a match to the family of the supposed father - yet there were close matches with no obvious link to the family tree.


"We looked at some 1st cousins and their trees and found a link between their trees but still nothing from ours, then a name cropped up, unrelated to our tree but linking all the other close matches. My niece (the next generation of family tree nutters), remembered a photo taken in about 1935 of Grandma, her eldest daughter and a stranger - with just his forename written on the back. Was it possible that he was the mystery father?


"We managed to get in touch with the daughter of a close match, and when we sent the photo off she confirmed the name. But there was still a question in my mind, why was Ancestry showing the match as either a half-sister or aunt? Had we closed one can of worms and opened a much larger can? Our emotions were very up and down, the stress was telling on me yet Mum seemed to take it in her stride (though later I found out that so many things were whirring round in her head - my poor Mum, what had I done!).


"Stressed and confused I contacted Peter at LostCousins - since he was the only person I knew who might be able to help in a situation like this. So giving no family names but explaining the situation and the fact that my Grandma was described as “naughty”, he was able to confirm by looking at the amount of shared DNA that my Mum and her closest DNA match were half-sisters - you could have knocked me down with a lame duck!! The stress lifted, my Mum at last had the name of her father, and now she also had half-siblings, and nieces. For my part I had a name for my Grandfather, and I had new aunts, cousins and more.


"I'm so glad that we went down the DNA route - to think that my mother might otherwise never have known who her real father was.


"The moral of the story is, go with your gut feeling if you know you have to do it, then do it, even if it is new-fangled technology that you don't fully understand - because it can find you a whole load of lovely relatives. We need to process all the information, we need to take small steps, but we are hoping to meet up with our new family soon."


* You'll find an explanation of a similar old saying, 'whim-wham for a goose’s bridle', here


I only played a small part in this story, and quite frankly, if it hadn’t all been so emotional for those involved, I'm sure they could have figured it all out for themselves.


When will you finally break down your 'brick walls' using DNA? I'd like to end with a short postscript from the very happy member whose story you've just read:


"I would like to thank firstly my Mum for raising me to have a dogged determination (a terrier nipping at your ankles), secondly my Niece who has kept me sane through all this, and thirdly my new Aunt & my Cousin for getting a DNA test done. This is not all, Ancestry has to have a certain amount of thanks for giving us family tree nuts something else to research with their wonderful DNA testing. And last, but not least, Peter (Mr LostCousins himself) for his logical non-emotional way of looking at those little centi-doo-das's and saying, yep that shows you are half-sisters! Something he didn't have to do, but out of the kindness of his heart, he did. Many thanks, Peter, it means a lot to both me and my family. I am hoping we will be able to update you next year of how a meeting went. Now I just have my Dad's DNA to do............"



Common misconceptions about DNA



Whichever company you test your DNA with, it's likely that they will predict your likely relationship to the genetic cousins you find. But it's important not to read too much into what they tell you - it is probably no more than a guess.


In fact, you’re usually the best person to figure out how you’re related to a genetic cousin. You don’t need any experience, any knowledge, or any special software - all you need is common sense and the coloured chart in my DNA Masterclass, which you'll find here.


Tip: if you click the link it will open in a different browser tab, so you can continue reading this article, but also be able to refer to the chart. In fact, all of the links in this newsletter work the same way (other than the links in the contents list at the top).


The chart isn't based on theoretical figures, it’s based on thousands of actual results. What is shows is the minimum and maximum amount of DNA shared in practice between people who are known to have a particular relationship to each other. It also shows the average, but on the whole I'd suggest ignoring this.


For example, you can see from the chart that the minimum amount of DNA shared by uncle/aunt and nephew/niece is 1349cM and the maximum is 2175cM. For half siblings the range is 1317cM to 2312cM, and for grandparent/grandchild it is 1156cM to 2311cM. All very similar ranges - so how can you tell which it is? If you know the ages of the two individuals you will probably be able to rule out at least one of these three possibilities.


But it probably won’t be as simple as that - there are usually other possible relationships. For example, suppose that the amount of share DNA is 1400cM - compatible with all three of the relationships in the previous paragraph. If you take another look at the chart you'll see that there are other relationships that, from a purely DNA point of view, are possible: half uncle/aunt and half nephew/niece, great-grandparent and great-grandchild. And, although not shown on the chart, double 1st cousin is another possibility. Again you can probably rule out some or all by looking at other factors, but don't exclude a relationship simply because it seems improbable.



Everyone knows that we don’t inherit DNA from all of our ancestors. But even if you and your cousin have both inherited DNA from the same ancestor, that doesn't mean that you'll show up as DNA matches - because you might not have inherited any of the same segments. Consider for example two 3rd cousins - on average they'll each have inherited about 12.5% of their DNA from their shared ancestors, but it won't be the same 12.5%. The chances are that some of it will be the same - but around 2% of the time there won't be any overlapping segments.


Tip: if you refer to the table in the Masterclass you can see what the chances are that cousins share DNA, depending on the degree of cousinship.



Last chance to save on DNA tests?

Most of the offers in my last newsletter are still running, but they may well have finished by the next time you hear from me.


Family Tree DNA are offering up to 40% off their tests until 28th November, but the one to focus on is their Y-DNA test, since they're the only major company offering these tests - see the article above for more information. At $99 (excluding shipping), down from $169, the price is the lowest it has ever been, so now's the time to figure out whether and how you can make use of Y-DNA - this article in the last issue tells you all you need to know.


Please use this link when you purchase a test from Family Tree DNA so that LostCousins can benefit. Family Tree DNA will ship to just about any country in the world.


Ancestry have also announced offers - but remember that you must buy from your local Ancestry site. All prices below exclude shipping and are in the currency of the relevant website. (UK only) - reduced from £79 to £59 until 24th November (Australia & New Zealand) - reduced from $129 to $109 until 25th November (Canada only) - reduced from £$129 to $89 until 27th November (US only) - reduced from $99 to $59 until 27th November


Please use the appropriate link so that your purchase can support LostCousins - thanks! Note that you may need to log-out from Ancestry before clicking the link.



Review: The Penmaker's Wife

Steve Robinson has long been a favourite with readers of this newsletter, thanks to the Jefferson Tayte series of genealogical mysteries. His latest book is a historical crime novel, though not a whodunnit like the Sherlock Holmes stories, because there's no doubt who the perpetrator is - the only question is whether she'll get away with it, and how many people will get hurt in the process!


I'm not a fan of historical fiction, so wouldn’t have dreamt of reading this book had it not been penned by an author whose other novels have proved highly popular with the readers of this newsletter, however once I got into the story I certainly wanted to know how it would end - there was no way I was going to give up! But has turned me into a fan of historical fiction? I'm afraid the answer is 'No' - I much prefer genealogical mysteries because there's a researcher that I can identify with.


I do hope that the author will return to writing about Jefferson Tayte - Letters from the Dead was a brilliant return to form (you can see my review here). But I may well be in the minority - It's quite possible that The Penmaker's Wife will attract a broader audience and sell more copies, in which case who could blame the author for sticking with a winning formula? I suggest you read the Amazon reviews and see which of the comments chime with you.


It's available as a paperback or in Kindle format - I read it on my smartphone.           



Download your FREE genealogical mystery novel EXCLUSIVE

Sandra Danby's debut novel Ignoring Gravity provided the inspiration for the long-running Adoption Matters series of articles in this newsletter. Later this week the author will be celebrating the 5th birthday of Ignoring Gravity, and from today Lost Cousins members can exclusively download a free copy of the novel before it becomes more widely available.


Rose Haldane, journalist and identity detective, reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. Ignoring Gravity is Rose’s story. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it.


Sign-up for Sandra’s newsletter and be one of the first to get a free copy of this ebook by logging-in to your LostCousins account and following the link on the Peter's Tips page.


Tip: your user name is your email address (as shown in the email which told you about this newsletter); if you can't remember your password click here and enter your email address - you'll get an instant reminder.


Sandra would love to know what you think of Rose and her adoption mystery. She will send you emails sharing news about the ‘Identity Detective’ series, the release date of her next book ‘Sweet Joy’, special book offers she thinks you might like, and also share some secrets about her writing. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Tip: you don’t need to own a Kindle or other e-reader to read this book - there is a free Kindle program for the PC and free Kindle apps for smartphones and tablets.


If you have already read Ignoring Gravity, the next book in the series - Connectedness - is even better. You'll find my review and links here.



Why didn’t people smile in old photos?

Have you ever wondered why your ancestors always look so serious in photographs? This FamilySearch article is worth a read.



Peter's Tips

I was taught that to convert dog years to human years you multiplied by 7 - but apparently it’s not as simple that, not least because it depends on the breed of the dog. This calculator on the Pedigree foods website will figure it for you.


Pedigree is part of Mars; a related business also owned by Mars is Wisdom Panel, which provides DNA tests for dogs. I've mentioned various offers in the past, but this week they are launching the best offer I can remember, an amazing £25 saving when you use the code BlackFriday2019


The offer starts on Thursday 21st November, and runs until 2nd December. Please use this link when you make your purchase if you want to support LostCousins.


In just 11 days' time it will be Black Friday, the time of the year when prices go crazy and customers go even crazier. As Which? pointed out in their latest issue, Black Friday prices aren’t necessarily the lowest of the year - though if you weren’t lucky enough to buy when prices were lower (we don’t have 20/20 foresight) Black Friday could well be the best opportunity this side of Christmas.


If you don’t have Amazon Prime and haven’t had a trial before, now is a great time to sign up for a 30-day free trial (since there are almost always Prime only offers). I signed up for a free trial about 7 years ago, and have been a subscriber ever since - it's so convenient to be able to get things next day (or even the same day) with no delivery charge. I even watch some of the programmes on Amazon Prime Video - the medical series New Amsterdam is fantastic (but then I watched ER from the very first episode, and I was a fan of Emergency Ward 10 over 60 years ago!).


If you decide to take a free trial of Amazon Prime please use the appropriate link below:                     



Stop Press

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 leave out quite a few articles that I hoped to include in this newsletter - there was so much I wanted to tell you, but I ran out of space. But I'll be back in touch soon - speak to you then!


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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© 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?