Newsletter - 7th October 2016
Ancestry.co.uk is FREE this weekend ENDS SUNDAY
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 23rd September) 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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Ancestry.co.uk is FREE this weekend ENDS SUNDAY
From now until midnight (London time) on Sunday 9th October all UK & Ireland records can be accessed free at the Ancestry.co.uk website - so it's a great opportunity to fill in the gaps on your tree as well as the gaps on your My Ancestors page.
Follow this link to Ancestry to support LostCousins - thanks!
Tip: don't click the Free Trial link on the Ancestry website - if you do you'll be asked to provide your credit card details. To take advantage of this weekend's offer you will need to register, but you won't have to provide credit card or bank details.
Ancestry is the only site (apart from the pay-per-view ScotlandsPeople site) which has the census references you need to enter relatives from the Scotland 1881 Census on your My Ancestors page - you won't find the references at FamilySearch or Findmypast.
So, please make use of this weekend's free access to note down the references for your Scottish relatives - and increase your chances of connecting to your Scottish cousins!
I have ancestors from Oxfordshire, and whilst I visited the Oxfordshire History Centre many years ago I wasn't able to see the entries for my relatives because the registers hadn't been microfilmed. Bad news for me, but good news for everyone with ancestors from Oxfordshire, because it meant that for Ancestry to put the registers online they had to arrange for them to be scanned.
This means that I now have beautiful colour scans to back up the notes I took from transcriptions all those years ago - including my great-great-great-great grandparents' marriage at Daylesford in 1791, which - unusually - had only one witness, rather than the statutory two. Daylesford, by the way, is now in Gloucestershire but until 1931 was a detached part of Worcestershire - however, just to confuse everyone the registers are held in Oxford and are included in the Ancestry's Oxfordshire collection! According to the Oxfordshire History Centre website they hold parish registers for the Archdeaconry of Oxfordshire, which roughly corresponds to the pre-1974 county boundary.
These links will take you straight to the search pages:
LostCousins member Mary has pointed that the way that some of the burials have been indexed will make them difficult to find - for example, an entry which refers to 'John, son of John Smith' may have been indexed simply as 'John' with no surname. Similarly 'Ann, wife of John Smith' may be indexed as 'Ann'. As with any record set, the key to finding the entries you want is to understand the records.
Tip: marriage registers for the period 1754-1812 will sometimes be found with the combined registers for the period 1538-1812, so if you can't find a marriage for this period in one record set, try the other one.
This week Ancestry have released a collection of occupational records that might tell you a little more about what your ancestors did:
I haven't had a chance to look at these records - and in truth I doubt that any of my ancestors, who were mainly 'ag labs', will be recorded there. But hopefully some of you will find them useful!
It might not be one of their biggest datasets, but the 27,000 records in the Licences to Pass beyond the Seas collection that Findmypast have made available today in conjunction with the National Archives are some of the oldest travel records that have survived. According to the press release they record "the details of pioneering early travellers who left Britain for Ireland, continental Europe, New England, Barbados, Bermuda and other overseas colonies at the dawn of the age of sail".
Most people in the registers fall into one of two categories: soldiers taking the oath of allegiance before going to serve in the Low Countries between 1613-33, and persons going to Europe, chiefly to Holland but also Scotland and Ireland, in the period 1573-1677. However, according to the National Archives there are also several registers of passengers to New England, Barbados and other colonies between 1634 and 1639, with one of 1677.
An index to more than 3 million marriage licences filed in New York City between 1950 and 1995 has gone online thanks to Reclaim the Records, a not-for-profit group of genealogists, historians and others with an interest in ensuring that data which should be publicly-available can be easily accessed by members of the public.
As far as I know none of my relatives married in New York during that time period, but I did find a name I recognised - a certain Donald J Trump applied for marriage licences in 1977 (with Ivana M Winklmayr, formerly Zelníčková), and 1993 (Marla Ann Maples). Follow this link to carry out your own search.
Note: Trump's third marriage, to Melania Knauss, formerly Melanija Knavs, didn't take place until 2005, so doesn't appear in the index.
An application for a licence doesn't guarantee that a marriage subsequently took place, but in most cases it will have done. Images of marriage licence indexes for the period 1908-29 are online at the Internet Archive, and can be viewed here.
Earlier this year Software MacKiev took over Family Tree Maker from Ancestry - as developers of the Macintosh version they were well-placed to do so. The information Ancestry held about many users will have been passed to MacKiev, but in Europe they were unable to do this because of data protection legislation - so instead emailed individual users to let them know.
If you haven't received one of those emails, or inadvertently deleted it, this link will take you a page on the MacKiev website where you can register to receive information about new versions and free updates to existing versions.
John Reid, who gave some excellent talks during the last Genealogy in the Sunshine course, is best known as the author of Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections, one of the most popular genealogy blogs. At the beginning of the week he posed the question "Will you find a cousin using a DNA test?", and it's well worth reading what he wrote.
Whilst he concludes that it's very likely you'll find cousins - virtually certain, in fact, given the millions of people who have tested - he points out, as I did in my DNA Special newsletter earlier this year, that the chance of recognising the common ancestral surname is low. (This is why I recommend looking for places that you and your cousins share, rather than surnames - they can come later.)
Note: I was delighted to see that several of the people I voted for were in the British top 10 in John's 2016 list of 'Rock Star' genealogists. Three of them have spoken at Genealogy in the Sunshine, including Chris Paton (2), Debbie Kennett (3) and Else Churchill (6), whilst three more long-term supporters of LostCousins were also in the list: Nick Barratt (7), Audrey Collins (8), and Celia Heritage (9=). But in pole position was Kirsty Gray, who also won in 2013 & 2015 - congratulations, Kirsty!
Ancestry DNA recently made some changes which mean that it's currently not possible to transfer your Ancestry DNA results to Family Tree DNA, a popular option since it enables matching with an additional pool of researchers.
However this shouldn't affect your decision to test, or which company to test with - I'm sure that Family Tree DNA will soon update their software to accept the new format (after all, they probably make more profit on a DNA transfer at $39 than they do on the sale of tests at the new low price of $79!).
Whichever company you test with you can support LostCousins by using one of the following links:
I wrote in the last newsletter about how much easier it is to find the births (and deaths) of children who didn't live long enough to appear on a census now that many of the historic birth, marriage, and death registers for Ireland are available online - follow this link to the article if you missed it first time around.
Unfortunately it isn't nearly as easy to find missing children who were born in England & Wales, or Scotland - even if you know of their existence from the 1911 Census, which uniquely gives the number of children born to each married woman, and states how many were still living at the time of the census.
For example, I know from the 1911 Census that my great-grandmother Rose Bright had three children who don't appear on my family tree, but I don't know what their names were, or when they were born (though there are some ominous gaps between the births of the children that I do know about). They lived in the London area, where Bright is such a common surname that the chance of identifying them in the GRO birth indexes is minimal.
It's ironic that just a few months after the 1911 Census was taken the GRO started to include the mother's surname (generally her maiden name) in the birth indexes. When you search using two surnames it greatly limits the number of results, even if both surnames are fairly common - for example, according to FreeBMD there were 12924 Smith births in 1912, but in only 77 of these was the mother's surname was Brown.
The good news is that for some parts of England, mostly in the north, there are local BMD indexes which include additional information - such as the mother's surname (for births before 1911) and the age at death (for deaths before 1866). The UKBMD website acts as a portal to those local indexes which are online - look for the Local BMD link at the top left.
Tip: the inclusion of extra information in the GRO indexes after 1911 makes it feasible to extend our trees beyond the last published census, and the 1939 Register also helps - see this Masterclass article from last December.
US scientists have recently published a study suggesting that despite apparently ever-increasing life expectancies, 115 might be a natural limit. I'm a little sceptical about their reasoning - see this BBC News article if you want to know more.
None of us likes to be reminded of our own mortality, so I was quite surprised to learn that in New Zealand elderly people are joining together to form 'coffin clubs' where they can make new friends and build their own caskets! If you really want to know more follow this link.
How does an author weave together imagination and historical fact - and where should the line be drawn? The author of The Irish Inheritance (which got a glowing review in my last newsletter) lets us into the secret….
What a wonderful explanation! I don't know about you, but I'm very much looking forward to reading more Jayne Sinclair genealogical mysteries - and if a learn a little bit of history in the process, that's a bonus!
Of course, there's a big difference between fact-based fiction, like The Irish Inheritance, and fiction presented as fact - I hope you'll never dishonour your ancestors (and mislead your descendants) by taking that wrong-turning when you're writing about your own family tree.
You may recall that at the end of August I published an exclusive preview of Nathan Dylan Goodwin's latest Morton Farrier genealogical mystery, commenting that the first page was so powerful that I had to stop for breath!
Well, the rest of the book certainly lived up to that impressive start, with twists and turns that kept me guessing right to the end. In fact, the surprises continued even after the story ended, when I discovered that not only were many of the characters, places, and events real - the inspiration for the book had been provided by events in the author's own family. (Intriguingly one of the key characters was said in the novel to have attended my old school - I wonder whether there was any truth in that part of the story?)
The plot unfolds during the early years of WW2 as a recently-widowed housewife volunteers to join the WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force), and discovers that her fluent German is a valuable asset - but I can't tell you any more, because I've signed the Official Secrets Act. What I can tell you is that there are a multitude of subplots playing out in the present day as Morton Farrier carries out his research: there's not only his impending wedding (will he and Juliette finally tie the knot?), but also his search for his own father. As the story neared its conclusion I found myself conflicted, for much as I wanted to know how Morton's assignment panned out, I was enjoying it so much that I really didn't want this book to end!
The Spyglass File is available in paperback, or as a Kindle book - I can thoroughly recommend it, and whilst you needn't have read the earlier books in the series, it would be an awful shame to miss out on all that extra enjoyment! As usual you can support LostCousins by using the relevant Amazon link below when you place your order:
When I last checked 20 of the 22 reviews at Amazon's UK site gave the book 5 stars (the maximum) - so I'm clearly not the only one who was enthralled!
Angela Buckley is not only a member of the Crime Writers' Association who specialises in Victorian crime, she's also the Chair of the Society of Genealogists - who better to write about one of the most infamous villains of the 19th century, Amelia Dyer?
Amelia Dyer and the Baby Farm Murders tells us everything we want to know about those awful events (and sometimes a little bit more). Employing aliases and misleading advertising, and with more than a little help from her daughter and her husband, Amelia Dyer managed to get around the regulations in order to line her own pockets - but at the cost of countless young lives. Nobody knows how many children died at her hands - a 2013 article in The Independent suggested it could have been as many as 300, putting her on a par with Harold Shipman (although what Dyer did was far, far worse).
Reading this book just after finishing The Spyglass File it struck me how both featured adoption and unscrupulous women.... but I mustn't say any more, otherwise I'll risk giving the game away.
I read the Kindle version, but it's also available in paperback. These links will take you straight to the Amazon page so that you can read what other reviews have to say (18 out of 19 reviewers at the UK site gave it the maximum rating of 5 stars):
I don't know about you, but I'm finding that I read far more books than I ever used to, partly because they're cheaper, and partly because they're easier to get hold of - I remember when I'd have to go my local bookshop, give them a list of the books I wanted, then wait several weeks for the books to come in. And far from getting a discount I'd have to pay the full list price plus the cost of postage from the publisher to the bookshop. How things have changed!
Being able to choose between physical and digital editions also helps - my fiction tends to be digital, and the basis that I won't read it more than once, while I generally prefer physical copies of non-fiction volumes. You'll probably have noticed that I usually include links to Amazon when I review books - partly because it gives you a chance to see what others think of the books, but also because you can support LostCousins by using those links when you order from the three Amazon sites listed above (even if you end up buying something else entirely).
In some parts of the world you'll find it cheaper to order books from The Book Depository, because the price they quote includes shipping to almost anywhere in the world. Whilst there aren't any reviews at their site, so it's still worth following the Amazon link, the good news is that you can still support LostCousins when you order from The Book Depository provided you use this link.
Here in the UK summer is over and Christmas is fast approaching, promising a plethora of televisual delights - it's the one time of the year when I would feel lost without a copy of the Radio Times. Like many of you, I suspect, I can still remember when you had to buy the Radio Times to find out what was on BBC, and the TV Times to find out what was on ITV; "What a palaver!", as my late father would have said.
The good news is that there's an offer just starting where you can get 12 issues of the Radio Times, including the Christmas issue, for just £1. Not £1 each, but £1 for the whole lot or less than 9p each - that's an amazing 97% discount!
To take advantage of this rather generous offer just click the banner above, or else this link.
Incidentally, I had an email this morning from Antoinette who took up the Who You Think You Are? magazine subscription offer in my last newsletter - she wanted to let me know that she'd just received her free 3 month Findmypast Britain subscription. I'm glad to say that (as I write) the offer is still running - you'll find full details here.
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......
That's all for now - but I'll be back soon with yet more news from the world of family history.
© Copyright 2016 Peter Calver
Please do not copy any part of this newsletter without permission. However, you MAY link to this newsletter or any article in it without asking for permission in advance - though why not invite other family historians to join LostCousins instead, as standard membership (which includes this newsletter), is FREE?