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Newsletter – 10th November 2022

 

 

From Remembrance to Thanksgiving

TOTALLY FREE access to Findmypast ENDS 10AM MONDAY

Masterclass: How to get the most from Findmypast

Society of Genealogists finds new home

Queen Elizabeth’s driving licence sold at auction

Adultery, Bigamy, or Calumny: the ABC of genealogy

Ancestry DNA: offers continue

Baby reunited with family after 40 years

Using DNA to catch killers

Review: The Sawtooth Slayer

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Stop Press

 

 

The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 31st October 2022) 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!

 

 

From Remembrance to Thanksgiving

Armistice Day is 11th November, commemorating the signing of the armistice in 1918, but since 1956 Remembrance Day has been fixed in the UK as the second Sunday of November – falling just before Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November), when Americans remember an important landmark in their history.

 

This year Remembrance Day falls on Sunday 13th November, and it’s usual for the big subscription websites to make their military records available free (as Ancestry did earlier this week). However this year Findmypast have gone further, offering free access to almost all of their records…...

 

 

TOTALLY FREE access to Findmypast ENDS 10AM MONDAY

From 10am (London time) today until 10am on Monday 14th November Findmypast are offering FREE access to ALL of their records other than the 1921 Census. In other words, it’s a 4-day free trial of their Pro subscription, which until this time last month was their top subscription.

 

There’s no catch. Unlike other free trials you won’t have to provide payment details, nor will you have to cancel before the end of the trial. And you won’t be excluded if you’ve taken a free trial before – this offer is open to all (though if you have a Pro or Ultimate subscription you’ll already have access to the records). Please use the relevant link below:

 

Findmypast.co.uk

Findmypast.ie

Findmypast.com.au

Findmypast.com

 

Please note that ALL four of the websites provide access to the same records. But with billions of records and newspaper articles to search and only 96 hours in which to do it, how can you make the best use of your time? Start by reading the next article…..

 

 

Masterclass: How to get the most from Findmypast

From time to time I’m contacted by readers who don't get the same excellent results as me when they search at Findmypast – so I'm going to tell you how I transform their searches….

 

The first thing you need to appreciate is that there are two ways of searching at genealogy websites. One is to enter lots of data on the Search form in the hope that some of it might lead to the record you're looking for – this type of search can work well at Ancestry, where it typically produces lots of results (though most of them won't be relevant).

 

The other approach is to put the minimum amount of information on the Search form, see how many results you get and – only if there are too many results to glance through – filter the results so that you're only left with those that are most relevant. This type of search works best at Findmypast.

 

Because I'm so busy I prefer the second type of search – most of the time the record I'm looking for is on the first page of search results, so I get there very quickly. I even cheat by using wildcards rather than type long surnames in full – this has the secondary benefit of sometimes picking up records that might otherwise have been missed.

 

How minimal should your searches be? If I'm searching the census I'll typically enter just a forename, a surname (possibly using wildcards), and an approximate year of birth. I rarely enter a place of birth as this tends to vary so much from one census to another, but when I do I enclose it in wildcards, eg *London*

 

Different surnames require different tactics. The surname Smith is very unlikely to be spelled differently or mistranscribed – but you are likely to get lots of results, so you'll need to narrow your search in some way. By contrast, when I'm searching for my Vandepeer ancestors I'm more concerned about misspellings than anything else, so I'll typically search for v*d*p*r* and leave the other boxes empty.

 

Tip: even as you’re filling in the search form Findmypast are looking to see how many records they have that match what you have typed so far; a running total is displayed on the Search button so you'll know when there's no point entering any more information.

 

Put these tips into practice and you'll immediately see the difference. But don't stop reading, because I've got another, even more important, tip for you – one that even Findmypast won't tell you!

 

Did you realise that at Findmypast there can be three or more ways of searching for the same historical record? Would you like to know which of those three ways I use myself? Yes, I thought so…..

 

The gateway to all of the different approaches is the Search menu:

 

 

Let's suppose that you were hoping to find one of your ancestors in the 1881 Census - you could choose Search all records, or narrow down your search by clicking on Census, land & surveys. But I wouldn't choose either of those options - I'd go to the precise record set I'm interested in by clicking All record sets, the option beginners are least likely to choose (but the one I use 99% of the time). Choosing All record sets allows me to find out what record sets Findmypast has which are relevant to my research.

 

Why do I search specific record sets, rather than starting with a wider search, then homing in? Because it's usually the only way to access some of the key search options. For example, when I search the 1881 Census directly the Search form offers an enormous amount of choice:

 

 

 

But over half the fields - the ones I've highlighted in red - don't appear on the Search form when you choose Census, land & surveys. So do what I do - whenever possible focus in on the specific record set of interest, whether it's a census, a collection of baptism registers for a specific county, or one of the hundreds of other record sets.

 

Tip: one of the secondary benefits of using this approach is that you'll get to know the records better. Because they come from many different sources there are all sorts of quirks - for example, some parish register transcriptions will be very detailed, others very basic.

 

Here's a table of links that will enable you to jump straight to some of the key resources at Findmypast without going through the Search menu (all searches are free, so you don't need a subscription unless you want to look at the records themselves, though you will need to register or log-in):

 

1841 British census

1851 British census

1861 British census

1871 British census

1881 British census (FREE transcription)

1891 British census

1901 British census

1911 England & Wales census

1939 Register (England & Wales)

GRO birth indexes for England & Wales

GRO marriage indexes for England & Wales

GRO death indexes for England & Wales

Hertfordshire parish registers*

Cheshire parish registers*

Kent parish registers*

Leicestershire parish registers*

Devon parish registers*

Lincolnshire parish registers*

Norfolk parish registers*

Shropshire parish registers*

Staffordshire parish registers*

Surrey parish registers*

Warwickshire parish registers*

Yorkshire parish registers*

Wales parish registers

British Army Service Records

School Admission Registers

England & Wales Electoral Registers 1832-1932

UK Electoral Registers 2002-date

 

* these links will take you to the baptisms for the county – from there you can easily access other records

 

Note: there are a few record sets which currently can't be found by searching in the way I've described; for example, if you're looking for the Chelsea pensioner records you'll find them under British Army Service Records because Findmypast have grouped together all army service records. Other instances reported to me in the past involve Australian cemetery records.

 

Finally, another useful tip - one that even regular users of Findmypast frequently miss. When you search an individual dataset you'll see a list of Useful links & resources to the bottom right of the page - and when the records in question are parish records there will usually be a link to a page with a list of parishes that are included, showing the dates that are covered.

 

 

Society of Genealogists finds new home

The Society of Genealogists has been looking for a new home for some time. My advice was to choose a location out of London with good rail connections – but, perhaps understandably, they’ve decided to stay in the capital.

 

I haven’t been to Wharf Road in Islington since 1976, when I had lunch with the Royle family – and no, I haven’t made a spelling mistake! The Royle family I dined with owned a printing firm which was a well-known publisher of greetings cards (though they also printed company annual reports, which was the reason I was there). You can find out a little more about Royle here.

 

It is anticipated that the SoG will re-open on their new site next summer.

 

 

Queen Elizabeth’s driving licence sold at auction

In 1945 the young Princess Elizabeth was serving with the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) when she was issued with a provisional driving licence. This week it was auctioned for £6800, several times the pre-sale estimate – you can see it here.

 

 

Adultery, Bigamy, or Calumny: the ABC of genealogy

The best articles in this newsletter aren’t written by me, but by readers with a story to tell. And what a story this one turned out to be!

 

I have just re-read an article from the 18th February edition of Peter’s newsletter. Entitled All about Eva, it describes how Jane in Australia made some fascinating discoveries thanks to a potent combination of diligent research and good fortune.

 

I was particularly struck by the comment made in the first sentence ‘If the ancestors want to be found, they will reveal themselves’ – because I too have had an interesting experience where I had the distinct impression that my ancestor wanted to be found’.

 

But first let me give you some background:

 

1810

My great-great-great grandfather, William ADAMS, was born in Great Bowden, just outside Market Harborough in Leicestershire

1833

William ADAMS married Ann WEST in East Farndon, just across the border in Northamptonshire

1834-1839

Three sons are born: William Henry in 1834, Frederick in 1838 and Charles (my great-great grandfather) in 1839

1841

The family are recorded living in Market Harborough, where William was working as a hairdresser

1851

William ADAMS is in Manchester working as a hairdresser and living with Ann and two young daughters: Frances I (or possibly Frances J) aged 5 and born Kettering, and Elizabeth aged 2 and born Coventry; however his sons William Henry, Frederick, and Charles (my ancestor) were not at home

1861

My great-great grandfather Charles ADAMS is living in Barnsbury, London with his widowed mother, recorded as Ann HARRIS aged 43 and shown as born in East Farndon, Northamptonshire

 

That’s pretty much all I knew: try as I might, I could never find a death for William ADAMS, nor a marriage for Ann ADAMS to a Mr HARRIS. Nor for that matter, any record of their three boys in the intervening years, other than a possible 1851 census entry for young Frederick in Lambeth, south London, but that seemed a bit unlikely, so I had simply noted it and moved on.

 

And that is where it was left until a few weeks ago, when the unexpected happened! One Sunday evening in late September I was looking at my Ancestry DNA matches and typed a name from my paternal side into the search box. The closest match that came up wasn't particularly promising as that individual was shown to be connected to my maternal side, but I decided to have a look anyway, as I do have other crossovers in my tree.

 

When looking at the tree of my match I came across a William GREEN. I am not aware of anyone in my family with the surname GREEN so have no idea why I even bothered to look at his profile, but I am so glad I did!!!!!

 

I noticed that William GREEN had been born in the same village as my 3G grandfather William ADAMS – and only a year later. This seemed like an interesting coincidence and out of curiosity I looked at the 1861 census the tree owner had linked to. This showed William GREEN living in Bradford – but nothing could have prepared me for the maelstrom of mental and physical feelings that nearly overwhelmed me when I looked at that record!

 

© Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives and with the kind permission of Findmypast

 

Not only was this William GREEN born about the same year and in the same place as my ancestor, he was also shown as a hairdresser – hardly a common occupation.

 

I then looked at the rest of the family. The eldest daughter was Frances Jane GREEN, aged 15 and born in Kettering – could this possibly be the same person I’d found on the 1851 Census? Remember that William ADAMS, hairdresser was living in Manchester and his eldest daughter was Frances I (or J) ADAMS aged 5 and born Kettering.

 

The next shock came when I realised that the two younger children, Sarah GREEN age 10 and Walter GREEN aged 7 1854, were both born in Manchester – where my ancestor had been in 1851.

 

It took me a while to recompose myself and my first coherent thought was that I needed to get someone else to look at this. The first person I thought of was Peter Calver as I felt confident he would quickly cut to the chase and let me know if I was building castles in the air, or whether there was any realistic possibility that William GREEN and William ADAMS could be the same person.

 

Peter responded to my email quite quickly and had clearly done some sleuthing himself: he agreed that on the face of it, it seemed very likely to be the same person.

 

He added some of his own research too: searching the GRO’s online birth index [so pleased they made this enhanced index available!] he had found a birth registration in Q4 1845 for Frances Jane GREEN born Kettering to a mother whose maiden name was PALMER. He had also found Walter ADAMS Q3 1854, Manchester to a PALMER mother. In addition he had found an Elizabeth GREEN born Q3 1849 Coventry, again with a PALMER mother.

 

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© Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives and with the kind permission of Findmypast

 

Elizabeth was particularly significant as in the 1851 Census William ADAMS had a daughter age 1 who was born in Coventry – but there was no matching birth registration for an Elizabeth ADAMS.  

 

William GREEN [1861] and William ADAMS [1851] surely must be the same person. But who on earth was the PALMER mother? And why did my ancestor change his name – was he running away from something?

 

I was also faced with the possibility that the Ann ADAMS living with my 3G grandfather in Manchester in 1851 was not my 3G grandmother. As you can see above, that census showed her birthplace as Kettering – not East Farndon, where my 3G grandparents had married. East Farndon was also given as the birthplace of Ann HARRIS in 1861:

 

© Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives and with the kind permission of Findmypast

 

Of course, census birthplaces are a notorious source of errors – and Kettering is only 13 miles from East Farndon. Nevertheless, it was another ‘red flag’.

 

If William ADAMS and William GREEN were the same person, did this mean that my 3G grandfather was a bigamist? And why was my 3G grandmother going by the name HARRIS in 1861 – was she also a bigamist?

 

To find out more meant waiting for copies of the birth registrations – and so, like me, you’ll have to wait until the next instalment to discover what happened next!

 

Many thanks to Berry for involving me in her research and allowing me to publish the story – look out for part 2 in the next issue of the LostCousins Newsletter.  

 

 

Ancestry DNA: offers continue

Please use the relevant link below so that you have a chance of supporting LostCousins when you make your purchase (if you’re not taken to the offer page first time, log-out from your Ancestry account then click the link again).

 

 

Ancestry.co.uk (UK only) – REDUCED FROM £79 to £59

 

 

Ancestry.com.au (Australia and New Zealand only) – REDUCED FROM $129 to $89

 

Ancestry.ca (Canada only) – REDUCED FROM  $129 to $79

 

Ancestry.com (US only) – SAVE $40

 

 

Ancestry.de (Germany) – REDUCED FROM €69 to €59

 

Tip: remember to follow the advice in my DNA Masterclass – just reading it isn’t enough, you have to actually do what it says (and you can start while you’re waiting for your results!)

 

 

Baby reunited with family after 40 years

More than 40 years ago an unidentified couple were found murdered in a wooded area of Houston. DNA enabled the couple to be named – which prompted their family to ask what happened to their baby.

 

You can read all about this heart-warming story in this online article.

 

 

Using DNA to catch killers

We genealogists think of DNA as a tool for researching our ancestors, but in Queensland, Australia police are hoping that DNA will help them identify a killer whose victim died in a hotel room in 1982. You can read more about this story here.

 

 

Review: The Sawtooth Slayer

Talking of catching killers using DNA, the latest novel from Nathan Dylan Goodwin (one of my favourite living authors), is The Sawtooth Slayer.

Whilst it’s only the second book in the Venator Cold Case series – about a small company that specialises in using genetic genealogy to identify murderers, rapists, and victims – I’m already getting to know the main characters quite well.

 

The story is set during the early days of the COVID pandemic, and the Venator team are working from home – a factor that complicates things for them, but makes life easier for the reader. Another factor that makes this book different from the series opener is that Madison Scott-Barnhart, the boss of Venator, is faced with a critical decision – should the team take on a live case, one in which the survival of a serial killer’s next victim could well depend on their ability to identify the perpetrator?

 

I can’t reveal her decision, but I can tell you that once you start reading you won’t want to stop – though that’s what I’ve come to expect from this author. Highly recommended!  

 

Amazon.co.uk                            Amazon.com                                         Amazon.ca                                  Amazon.com.au

 

Note: Amazon UK have chosen two books from the Forensic Genealogist series for their Kindle Monthly Deal – during November you can purchase Hiding the Past and The Foundlings for just 99p each!

 

 

Bridge Over Troubled Water

As I was finalising this newsletter I heard Mike Batt – progenitor of The Wombles – being interviewed on Boom Radio, an upstart radio station which plays a lot of music that I enjoyed in my youth (and still do).

 

He named Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water as one of the tracks he most admired. I’ve always been a fan of Simon & Garfunkel (and had the privilege of seeing them perform in Hyde Park in 2004), but for me the track will always be associated with an article I wrote for the Southampton University magazine in 1972, in the middle of a long sit-in organised by the Students Union.

 

I didn’t choose the headline, but if I tell you that I played for the university bridge team you might be able to figure out what it was…..

 

 

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......

 

 

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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins

 

© Copyright 2022 Peter Calver

 

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