Newsletter – 5th November 2020
Free access to all Findmypast military records ENDS 12TH NOVEMBER
Save on Ancestry DNA ENDS SOON
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 15th October) 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):
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Free access to all Findmypast military records ENDS 12TH NOVEMBER
As Remembrance Day approaches it's time to remember those whose lives were sacrificed, particularly in the two devastating World Wars that blighted the first half of the 20th century. However it's also a time to remember those who came back, but whose lives were forever scarred, whether physically, mentally or both.
For the next week Findmypast are offering free access to all of their military records – it’s an opportunity to honour your relatives and add information to your family tree. This free access offer started at 10am on Thursday 5th November, and ends at 10am the following Thursday.
You can use any of Findmypast's sites worldwide, but please bear in mind that the start and end times are based on London time (GMT). So if you're in Australia or New Zealand the offer begins and ends on Thursday evenings; if you’re in the US or Canada it'll start and end early on Thursday mornings.
Note: Findmypast are encouraging those who use social media to share their discoveries using the hashtag #RememberTheirStories
When I was searching their site earlier this week I discovered that the National Archives are still offering free downloads of digitised records. Also take a moment to check what your local library are making available – you could be pleasantly surprised!
Researching Welsh ancestors is challenging because so many of them had very common surnames. Did you know that in some parts of Wales a quarter of the population were called Jones?
For many years Anglican parish registers for Wales have been available through Findmypast, who had an exclusive arrangement. The exclusive period has now come to an end, and you'll now also find the parish register images at Ancestry and The Genealogist. I understand that all three sites rely on the same transcriptions, but because they have different search features it might be worth trying more than one site.
Findmypast have been adding a lot of smaller datasets recently – see their blog for full details – but one that stood out for me was the addition of 90,000 transcribed records of burials and cremations from Birmingham, which in some cases go up to 2016. I found a record for my aunt, who died in 2010 – she provided wonderful help when I was starting my research, so seeing her name in the records brought back a lot of memories.
You can search Warwickshire burials and cremations here.
In the last issue I wrote about Dade registers, and explained that whilst they're mostly found in the Yorkshire diocese there were many vicars across the country who chose to include additional information in their registers.
Researching a branch of my own family tree this weekend I came across a baptism register for Holy Trinity, Clapham where the incumbent has helpfully numbered the children, eg 2nd son, 4th daughter. However, he describes Mary Ann Longhurst, born and baptised in 1802, as the 3rd daughter of John and Sarah, who married in Fetcham, Surrey in 1791, whereas my research suggests she had three elder sisters: Lucy (1793), Sarah Ann (1795), and Isabella (1798).
© London Metropolitan Archives; used by permission of Ancestry
It may well be that one of the elder sisters died in infancy – but whatever the reason, it demonstrates yet again that the more information there is in a record, the more likely it is that some of it will be wrong or misleading.
My cousins aren’t interested – and other fables
Many of the people I correspond with tell me that their cousins aren't interested in family history. And because they're talking about the cousins they know it doesn’t surprise me – when I began my research I wasn't aware of anyone else in my extended family who was interested.
But where they get it wrong is to assume that, just because the cousins they know aren't interested, the cousins they don't know – their 'lost cousins' – aren’t interested either.
The reality is that if you have British ancestry there are thousands of living cousins who share your interest in family history – amongst the LostCousins membership there are scores of who share one or more of your ancestral lines.
Of course, connecting with them depends on each of you completing your My Ancestors page – which is why I'm continually coaxing and encouraging readers of this newsletter who either haven’t made a start, or have only entered a handful of relatives, to spend an hour or two putting that right. Not just to help themselves, of course, but also to help their own cousins. LostCousins is a collaborative project – please don’t let your cousins down!
Tip: focus on the 1881 Census, even if your direct ancestors emigrated generations earlier - after all, your British cousins are going to be descended from the relatives who stayed behind. Always remember that the best way to find your cousins is to enter their ancestors!
Do you have any 'brick walls' in your tree? Of course, you do – and I'm willing to bet that in most cases you've been up against those 'brick walls' for years.
DNA testing provides a way to overcome missing and erroneous records, because unlike the trail of documentary evidence, the DNA trail can’t be destroyed or falsified. I've been able to solve mysteries and confirm hypotheses in my own tree by testing with Ancestry – and, as a bonus, I've also managed to independently confirm most of my research for the past 200 years using DNA matches.
All autosomal DNA tests use similar technology, so you might think that it doesn't matter who you test with – but you couldn’t be more wrong. Not only do Ancestry have by far the largest database, the ONLY way you can connect with the cousins in their database is to take their test – they do not under any circumstances accept transfers of results from other providers. In short, if you cut corners by buying a different test because it’s cheaper, you’re going to end up paying more – because you'll end up testing with Ancestry eventually.
Tip: if you test with Ancestry you can transfer your results to most other providers – what you can't do is go the other way.
Because Ancestry charge a little more it's best to buy when their tests are on special offer – as they are at the moment!
In the UK Ancestry have cut the price of their test from £79 to £59 plus shipping (note that shipping works out cheaper when you buy more than one test). This offer lasts until 22nd November - please use the link below when you make your purchase so that you can support LostCousins:
Until 23.59 (AEDT) on 23rd November researchers in Australia and New Zealand can purchase the Ancestry DNA kit for just $89, a saving of $40 (prices are in Australian dollars and include taxes, but exclude shipping).
In Canada you can save $50, but only until 23.59 (ET) on 11th November:
The reduction in the US last until 22nd November – there's a saving of $40:
Tip: while you’re waiting for your test results be sure to read my Masterclass and follow the advice – there's a lot you can do in advance. Tempting though it might be to wait until you have the results before making a start, using DNA effectively requires the same cool-headed approach and analytical skills that work so well in conventional genealogical research – don't put yourself under unnecessary pressure by leaving things to the last minute.
The story of Edward and Mrs Simpson has been recounted many times over the 84 years since King Edward VIII abdicated so that he could marry a twice-divorced woman - Wallis Simpson, née Warfield, formerly Spencer. For some it's a love story to rival Romeo and Juliet, for others it's a tale of selfishness and reckless infatuation.
Alexander Larman's meticulously-researched account, The Crown in Crisis: Countdown to the Abdication focuses primarily on the events of 1936, when the death of King George V put the monarchy into the hands of a successor who, in the minds of many (including his own parents), was ill-suited to the role. Although the end of the story can never be in doubt, the involving way in which the author describes the many twists and turns along the route left me wondering if it might not have turned out differently had the key actors played their roles with more finesse.
When I first read about the Abdication, many years ago, I formed the impression that it was the Archbishop of Canterbury who was the driving force behind it – but after reading this book I felt very differently, and I suspect you will too. It's much more complex than it appears on the surface….
1936 is known as the year of the three Kings. After reading this book I've come to know all of them that little bit better! Please note that whilst the book is out now in the UK and Australia, it won’t be released in North America until January.
Nobody knows quite what Christmas 2020 will bring, thanks to the invisible enemy that has spread around the world, so turning the clock back to 1843, the year that Charles Dickens wrote and published A Christmas Carol is very welcome escapism!
The latest novel in MJ Lee's series featuring Jayne Sinclair, policewoman turned genealogical investigator, begins when a valuable First Edition of Dickens' book is discovered in a charity shop – can Jayne discover the identity of Robert Duckworth, to whom Dickens gave the inscribed copy?
There are no villains in this short book – other than Ebenezer Scrooge, of course – so it’s more focused on research than most genealogical mystery novels. Though I suspect the author originally intended to set it in 2020, the need for Jayne to visit archives and libraries meant that it had to be set in 2019.
I enjoyed reading this book, and I suspect you will too – it’s an ideal early Christmas present for yourself, and at just £1.99 for the Kindle version it isn't going to break the bank!
PS if you want to re-read Dickens' original story you'll find it free here
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'll be back soon – in the meantime, please stay safe!
© Copyright 2020 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? To link to a specific article right-click on the article name in the contents list at the top of the newsletter.