Newsletter - 16th September 2015
Findmypast and LostCousins are FREE this weekend ENDS MONDAY
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 3rd September) click here, for an index to articles from 2009-10 click here, for a list of articles from 2011 click here and for a list of articles from 2012-14 click here. Or do what I do, and use the customised Google search below (it only searches these newsletters, so you won't get spurious results):
Whenever possible links are included to the websites or articles mentioned in the newsletter (they are highlighted in blue or purple and underlined, so you can't miss them). If one of the links doesn't work this normally indicates that you're using adblocking software - you need to make the LostCousins site an exception (or else use a different browser, such as Chrome).
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!
Findmypast and LostCousins are FREE this weekend ENDS MONDAY
Between midday on Friday 18th and midday on Monday 21st September Findmypast are offering FREE access to all 4 billion historic records and newspaper articles at their UK site - just click here! If you already have a subscription to another site it's a great opportunity - not only to search the records that are exclusively available at Findmypast, but also to take advantage of the different transcriptions and search options for record sets that you may have already explored elsewhere.
You can also take advantage of this offer at Findmypast's other sites by using the links below:
If you want to pass on the good news to other researchers please send them a link to this newsletter - that way they'll benefit all the more!
One good turn deserves another, so I've decided that LostCousins will also be FREE this weekend, and my offer starts now and won't end until midnight on Monday - which means that you'll have plenty of time to enter relatives on your My Ancestors page and connect to the new cousins you've been matched with. To take advantage of this offer simply:
(1) Log-in to your LostCousins account
(2) Check your My Cousins page for new matches - click Make contact or Accept invitation
(3) Go to your My Ancestors page and click the Search button to look for more matches
(4) Add more relatives to your My Ancestors page and click Search again to look for even more matches
See the next article for some tips to help you find lots of new cousins.
Tip: it doesn't matter if your cousins don't respond during the offer period, just so long as you find the match and click 'Make contact' this weekend. And if anyone doesn't reply within 14 days I'll chase them up on your behalf (how about that for service!).
Beginners often make the mistake of assuming that their direct ancestors are the only people they need to enter on their My Ancestors page. They are important, of course, but realistically most of us already know our 1st cousins and most of our 2nd cousins - who are the relatives who share our grandparents and great-grandparents.
There are big advantages in finding 3rd, 4th and 5th cousins - not least of which is that someone who is researching our ancestors from a different perspective will often have a better insight into the 'brick walls' that inevitably bring our research on a particular line grinding to a halt. But it's not just about exchanging past research and collaborating in the future - sometimes our cousins carry the answers we're seeking within their DNA!
You'll get most matches at LostCousins when you enter the members of your ancestors' extended families who were recorded in the 1881 Census - so the winning strategy is to trace your collateral lines forwards until you get to 1881, then enter them all on your My Ancestors page.
If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US - or anywhere other than Britain - it's worth remembering that if you have British ancestry, most of your living cousins are still living in Britain. After all, when someone emigrated they might have taken their family with them, but they certainly wouldn't have taken their entire extended family!
Although the 1881 Census is the main one that we use, a few years ago I added the 1841 England & Wales census to the list, to make it easier for members whose direct ancestors migrated in the late 18th or early 19th century to search for their cousins. Nevertheless, if you can trace your collateral lines through to 1881 you'll have a much greater chance of success.
In the latest (September) issue of the Journal of the Society of Genealogists Peter Razzell writes that:
"according to research on parish register reliability, the number of unregistered baptisms and burials was between a fifth and a third of all births and deaths in parish register period, 1538-1850."
Can this really be true? It seems incredible, yet the author points out that the number of burials recorded increased by 19.6% between 1837 and 1838, around the start of civil registration, and hypothesises that clergymen who had previously been deficient in their upkeep of the registers were concerned that their negligence would be exposed.
At this stage I remain to be convinced - looking at this extract from the statistics published by the Register General in 1841 you can see that there was a big increase in both baptisms and burials in 1837, followed by a drop in 1838.
Following up on this story I came across a 19th century book, The Parish Registers of England by John Charles Cox, which is available in Kindle format for a mere 99p. I haven't had time to read the whole book, but it certainly looks well worth skimming through. I came across an expression that I don't remember seeing before - spiritual incest - an example of which would be a godfather marrying his goddaughter. A Google search revealed that this prohibition was introduced by the Emperor Justinian around the year 530 and later extended to cover other relationships.
I'm sure I'll be returning to this topic in a future newsletter.....
On Friday Findmypast added another 2.7 million records to their National School Admission Registers & Log-Books 1870-1914 collection, bringing the total to more than 4 million. The full colour images have been transcribed and indexed, but there is often additional information that you won't find in the transcription.
An extra million PoW records online
Findmypast have added an extra one million records to their Prisoner of War collection, which covers the period 1715-1945 (inevitably the amount of information varies widely depending on the period). As far as I know none of my relatives were captured, so instead I looked up Les Law, whose book - The Adopted Prisoner - I reviewed last month.
One feature missing was the ability to search for other prisoners who were in the same camp - the camp name or designation hasn't always been transcribed.
Thanks to your efforts, we're well on the way to reaching our target 100,000 members by the end of this month. As I write the number of members is just over 99,600 and there are still more than 400 free subscriptions to give away to new members, so if you can continue spreading the news we should reach our target by the end of the month (and in time for my 65th birthday!).
Tip #1: if you're a LostCousins subscriber you can follow our progress on the Subscribers Only page of the website.
Tip #2: although the free subscription offer is only for NEW members (everyone who received an email from me about this newsletter is already a member), I've noticed that there are quite a few existing members who haven't yet opened an account for their spouse or partner - so if you are researching both trees, now's the time to open a second account for your other half. You can use the same email address for both accounts - in fact, I'd encourage you to do so.
I'd like to thank everyone who sent their good wishes for my forthcoming landmark birthday, and especially those who generously bought me a celebratory drink using the PayPal link in the last newsletter (I will be writing to all of you individually in due course).
I love looking at old photographs, so I was interested to see that there's an exhibition running at the National Museum of Scotland, in Edinburgh. Entitled Photography - A Victorian Sensation it runs until 22nd November, and over-60s like me can get in for just £8.
Harewood House, near Leeds is one of the great houses of England, and now there's a free online database which lists over a thousand of the servants who worked there. In most cases the information is minimal - just a name, a job title, and a date - but there are some photographs, and you might find out how much your ancestor earned.
LostCousins member Elaine is off to India later this month where she has organised three tours aimed at researchers with family connections to British India. She has kindly offered to take photographs of graves at cemeteries included in the tours of North, South, and East India - so if a member of your family was buried in India, please take a look at Elaine's website to see where they will be going, then contact her by clicking this email link.
Each year, when September 11th comes around the terrible events of 2001 are remembered around the world. But for me the date has a different significance: precisely a quarter of a century earlier I had two tickets for the Last Night of the Proms, an event full of patrotic fervour that I'd watched every year on television since I was a young boy. I'd always wanted to be there, and couldn't wait to attend - however, as you can see, the tickets were never used.
Why didn't I go? Because the evening before I had discovered that my mother was dying of cancer, so I really wasn't in the mood for flag-waving. I never saw her again - she died on the Monday, just minutes before I arrived to visit her in Barking Hospital.
I suspect that we all have memories that are triggered by dates - it's not just birthdays and anniversaries that stick in our mind. I hope your memories are happy ones.
Some of the most interesting publications that arrive through my letterbox come from the British Association for Local History - there's an enormous overlap between local history and family history.
There was an article in last week's e-newsletter to BALH members about patriotic tea cosies stitched during - or after - the Great War. You can see a crocheted example on the Knitting Now and Then blog, and you might occasionally find one on eBay (although there was nothing there when I checked today).
On Thursday and Friday this week members of Findmypast's Customer Participation Group will be helping them to test out the 1939 Register, though sadly for them they won't be working with real data and images ("due to licensing and legal restrictions").
(In late 2008 I was one of a small number of people invited to test the 1911 England & Wales census ahead of its launch - and on that occasion we were working with real data and images.)
Over the years I've received several emails from members who were experiencing problems using the LostCousins site - not because there was anything wrong with the site, but because software installed on their computer was monitoring their entries (looking for telephone numbers, bank account numbers and other similar information).
Of course, we don't ask members to enter that sort of information at LostCousins, but it's inevitable that now and again a census reference will, purely by chance, look like a phone number or coincide with a PIN number - and thereby trigger the monitoring software.
I was reminded of these incidents when Brian wrote to tell me about some strange transcription errors in Ancestry's GRO indexes - but to understand what has happened we need to start off with a search at Findmypast (you don't need a subscription to do this). Click the Search tab then choose A-Z of record sets from the drop-down menu; now enter '1837' in the Search box, and you'll see a list of record sets including England & Wales Marriages 1837-2008 (or click the link to jump straight there).
Now search for marriages in the first quarter of 1839 where one of the participants bore the surname 'Monday' - you'll find that there were three of them. But when you search at Ancestry you'll only find one because, as Brian found when he investigated, one of the surnames has been transmuted from 'Monday' to 'Tuesday', and the other from 'Monday' to 'Wednesday'!
Brian's theory is that the transcriber was using a spreadsheet which saw three Mondays in a row, and decided that it should really be 'Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday'. It just goes to show that despite all the talk of advances in artificial intelligence and robot technology making humans redundant, there may be hope for us yet!
Note: when it comes to days of the week, 'Friday' is by far the most popular surname, whilst 'Thursday' seems to be the rarest
It was pointed out to me recently that it has been some time since I've written about jam-making, so I want you all to know that this week I made around 14lbs of my favourite Wild Plum - or, to be more precise, Shepherd's Bullace - jam. Bullaces are a relative of the damson, and some have a dark skin, but Shepherd's Bullaces (and Essex Bullaces, if they exist) are a yellowy-green colour, turning orangey as they ripen, with a red blush when they've been in direct sunlight.
Those of you who were fortunate enough to attend the inaugural Genealogy in the Sunshine last year will have sampled my jam - it's deliciously tart and really fruity.
This year I've made Sloe Gin for the first time - and also some Sloe Vodka and Sloe Whisky. Some recipes suggest allowing up to 18 months for the flavour to develop, but I have a feeling I'll be sampling them this Christmas! There was a pretty good crop of blackberries this year, though the bushes which provided most of ours last year were cut back early in the summer, so we had to look elsewhere. I cooked up some home-grown apples with the last of the blackberries - a firm favourite from my childhood! My next task is to do something with the multitude of elderberries - otherwise we'll have little trees all over the garden in a year or two's time.
Update (Tuesday): we found lots of ripe blackberries in Norfolk this weekend so I've now made 7lbs of Blackberry & Elderberry Jam.I find it a little bland (a bit like shop jam) so I'm going to spice up the next batch....
20 years ago most of us had barely heard of the Internet, yet nowadays we can't manage without it. Whenever go travelling these days I take a mobile WiFi hotspot with me, and I've just upgraded to a new Huawei device which supports 4G (as well the earlier standards). However, for me the key feature is being able to connect an external aerial, because there are some places I go where it's really difficult to get a mobile data signal. I bought a new 4G aerial from a supplier in China - it cost about £10 including postage on eBay - and works amazingly well (I was able to use the Internet in places where my previous aerial - and my phone - were unable to pick a usable signal).
In July last year I briefly mentioned that I'd experimented with Funding Circle, a peer-to-peer lending platform where you lend to businesses, rather than individuals. The downside is that the risk of loss is significantly higher, and there's no fund to compensate you (as there is at Ratesetter) - the upside is that the returns are higher, and you have the satisfaction of knowing that your money is helping to build a business. However the main problem for me was that it took too much time, so when I bumped into one of the founders last November I told him as much - and it seems I can't have been the only one, because from 28th September they're bringing in a new and much simpler system.
(Note: if I refer you to Funding Circle and you lend £1000 or more before the end of October we'll each get a £50 bonus - so send me an email if you're interested.)
Warning: I'm not a financial adviser, and even if I were everyone's financial situation is different - so what's a good investment for me might not be the right thing for you.
This is where any last minute updates and corrections will be highlighted - if you think you've spotted an error (sadly I'm not infallible), reload the newsletter (press Ctrl-F5) then check here before writing to me, in case someone else has beaten you to it......
Hopefully, the next time I write I'll be able to tell you that we've reached our 100,000 target!
© Copyright 2015 Peter Calver
Please do not copy any part of this newsletter without permission. However, you MAY link to this newsletter or email a link to your friends and relatives without asking for permission in advance - though why not invite them to join LostCousins instead, since standard membership, which includes this newsletter, is FREE?