Newsletter - 3rd September 2015
Virtually FREE Findmypast offer ENDS SUNDAY
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 24th August) 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!
In a few weeks' time I'll be 65, the traditional retirement age. However I can assure you that I won't be reducing my commitment to LostCousins - far from it. Indeed I've come up with a plan to boost the total membership from the current total of 99,355 to the magic 100,000 level in time for my birthday. But - and this is the important part - I can only achieve this target with your assistance!
I have 650 one-year subscriptions - 10 for each of my 65 years - to give away to the first 650 members who join LostCousins using the offer code 65TH (they'll need to enter this at the bottom of the registration page).
It's impossible to predict how quickly those 650 subscriptions will go, but my advice is to pass the good news on to the researchers you know as soon as possible - whether they're friends, cousins, in-laws, researchers you've met at your U3A or family history group, or even people you've met at family history websites. Once the one-year subscriptions have gone, the same offer code will provide a free 3 month subscription to EVERY new member who joins before midnight on 30th September - so all new members joining between now and the end of the month will benefit.
You might be thinking "What about existing members like me - how can I benefit?". Well, assuming they have British ancestors, all those new members will be cousins of several existing members - so you could get the best gift of all, a new cousin!
Tip: to maximise your chances of finding some extra cousins make sure that you've entered all the cousins you can find on the 1881 Census - it's the members of your direct ancestors' extended families who are most likely to connect you to your cousins.
Over the years I've been running LostCousins quite a few members have said that they wished they could buy me a drink sometime - well, now you can! With the help of PayPal I've created a button that allows you to buy me a Birthday drink, should you feel so inclined....
You don't need a PayPal account - any credit card and most debit cards will work. Cheers!
Everyone knows the song, but nobody knows who wrote it. The tune, yes - that was written by sisters Mildred and Patty Hill - but the original song was "Good Morning to All". Now a lawsuit in the US could lead to the copyright being overturned - you can read all about this fascinating, but rather complicated, story in this New York Times article (which, by the way, is copyright).
I'd just like to thank everyone who contributed to the consultation which ended last Thursday - let's hope that the Office for National Statistics realises how important the census is to our heritage.
Virtually FREE Findmypast offer ENDS SUNDAY
You've still got three days to take advantage of a virtually free World subscription to Findmypast. Until 6th September Findmypast are offering NEW subscribers the opportunity to get the first month of a World subscription for just £1, $1, or 1€ - considerably less than the price of a small ice cream cone, and much longer lasting.
Follow the appropriate link below and you won't be the only one who'll benefit - LostCousins will also receive a small amount of commission when you use these links (so please feel free to forward a link to this newsletter to others who might be interested):
Note: if you see a message that the discount code is no longer valid log out out from Findmypast and click the link again - this usually works. But if you get a blank screen when you click the links see the notes at the start of this (and every) newsletter about adblockers.
Of course, whilst the people I know at Findmypast are a nice bunch of people, they're not doing this out of the goodness of their heart - they’re hoping that some of you will continue to subscribe after the first month (in which case you'll be charged the full monthly rate). If you're not tempted to continue simply change the auto-renew setting at the bottom of the Personal Details page.
On Tuesday three Irish sisters gave birth in the same hospital - and it could have been four, because another sister is also due to give birth any day. Coincidences do happen - my 2nd cousin once removed was born the same day as I was in 1950, though I only discovered this when I started researching my family tree half a century later.
Technically they don't exist - you're either cousins or you're not, and you only need to share one parent with someone to be their sibling. But when you're talking about your own relatives it can be helpful to distinguish between half-cousins - who share only one grandparent - and double cousins, who are related through more than one line.
My great-great-great grandfather James Beamont married twice. My 4th cousin Sue is descended from his first wife, whereas I'm descended from his second wife - so I find it useful to describe us as half 4th cousins, even if it does annoy some people.
Similarly, my grandfather's brother married my grandmother's sister - so I consider their grandchildren to be double 2nd cousins of mine. Genetically they're about as close as 1st cousins, because half of our trees are the same (starting from our four shared great-grandparents).
What about three-quarter siblings? This is a term I coined myself to account for a rather unusual configuration: my great-grandfather John Wells married twice - and his wives were sisters. I've mentioned his marriages before in a different context - because at the time he married the second sister, in 1897, he was breaking the law (it wasn't legal for a widower to marry his dead wife's sister until 1907). But the reason I'm mentioning him now is because whilst his children from the different marriages only shared one parent, they shared the same four grandparents.
I said it was unusual but, thinking about it, I've already found three instances of men marrying two sisters in that part of my family tree - and all of the second marriages took place between 1835, when it became illegal to marry your late wife's sister (previously such marriages were voidable, but not void), and 1907, when the law was changed. So perhaps three-quarter siblings aren't as rare as all that!
You wouldn't expect someone to die of a sore throat, even before the discovery of antibiotics, so I was interested to read in Simon Wills' interesting book How Our Ancestors Died that diphtheria was sometimes referred to as 'malignant sore throat' or 'putrid fever' - and my guess is that this is what my ancestor really died from.
Although it's a handy volume to have on your bookshelf for reference purposes I learned an awful lot from reading this interesting book from beginning to end - I found the chapters on scurvy and influenza particularly interesting. A bonus, for those with an interest in the macabre, is the chapter on execution - and what other book would be able to name the patron saint of those suffering from venereal disease (St Fiacre, in case you're wondering)?
In the past I've relied on Internet searches to decipher my ancestors' death certificates, but I now realise that this approach was rather too simplistic. How Our Ancestors Died is available as a paperback, or as a Kindle book, and because it has been out for a couple of years you can pick it up the paperback for about half the original price.
Tip: you can support LostCousins by using the following links:
Findmypast recently added a new dataset, Derbyshire hospital admissions and deaths 1892-1913, which includes admissions to the Victoria Memorial Cottage Hospital at Ashbourne from 1899-1913, and deaths recorded at Derbyshire Royal Infirmary between 1892-1912 (the death records I checked not only gave the cause of death, but also the length of stay, so it was possible to work out the date of admission). The records have been transcribed - there are no images.
Other medical records at Findmypast include London, Bethlem Hospital Patient Admission Registers and Casebooks 1683-1932.
I recently got a Y-DNA match between a sample provided by one of my Wells cousins and a lady who has traced her Wells ancestors all the way back to the late 15th century. There's no doubt that we're cousins - but it could take some time to work out who our common ancestor was.
Still, a few months is nothing compared to the 13 years I've been waiting to make headway on this line! Because George Wells died in September 1841, all I knew from the census about his origins was that he wasn't born in London or Middlesex, and all that I knew from his marriage licence application was that in July 1807 he was living in London, in the parish of St James, Clerkenwell - which was where they married the following day.
By contrast his bride-to-be was shown as "of Bildeston, in Suffolk", though in the 1851 and 1861 Censuses her place of birth was shown as Chelsea, Middlesex - 90 miles away. So far I haven't found her baptism in either location, although I strongly suspect that she came from Suffolk, especially since their children were born in the county.
So it was really important to receive DNA confirmation that my Wells line came from Suffolk - up to that point George could have come from anywhere in England. Being able to search in a single county makes it much easier, even though many of the parish registers haven't been transcribed. It just goes to show how important it is to be patient - it's over 2½ years since my cousin provided a Y-DNA sample!
Note: if you have ancestors called Wells you might be interested in joining the Wells Surname project at Family Tree DNA - though you may need to persuade one of your cousins to test (as I had to), since Y-DNA passes down the male line (in other words, person who tests would need to be a male with the surname Wells). As a bonus, if your Wells ancestors came from Suffolk, you might turn out to be a cousin of mine!
Of course, there are thousands of other surname projects at Family Tree DNA - when you visit the site look for the Projects tab at the top left.
Some of you will recall a series of articles three years ago in which I talked about traits that are passed down within families, including my own - you'll find the articles here, here and here. Those articles generated a LOT of correspondence!
Many traits are unnoticed and have little or no effect on the individuals concerned - that's certainly true in my case - but this article posted on the BBC website about the world's hairiest family underlines just how great an impact some inherited traits can have.
When I'm researching my own tree I frequently need to check how close two places are, to determine how feasible it is that somebody born in one place might have migrated to the other. Whilst the theory that, in earlier centuries, few people ever left the village where they were born was disproved long ago, the reality is that it's far more likely that somebody would have moved 5 miles than 50 miles, or 50 miles than 500 miles. More importantly, the greater the presumed distance the more parishes are within range - there might be only 10 parishes within 5 miles, but there would probably have been over 10,000 within 500 miles.
Put it another way, if you fortuitously discover someone with the same name as your ancestor 500 miles away from their place of birth, you have to seriously consider searching all the other parishes that are within a 500 mile radius (unless, of course, you have other evidence to prove that it's the same person).
So, for very practical reasons the first thing I do is calculate the distance between the two parishes - and the quickest way to do this is using the free TomTom route planner, which you'll find here.
I wrote about another key aid recently - the maps of England at FamilySearch. Using these maps I can find out all the parishes within a given radius of my starting point, then check them one by one. This is ideal if you're working with unindexed images, whether online or in the record office, or if you suspect that the record you're looking for has been mistranscribed (or simply missed).
Would you pay for £40 for a £50 note? I certainly would, but I've never had the opportunity. However this week I took advantage of an offer at Amazon.co.uk which is surely the next best thing - I got a £10 credit when I bought £40 worth of gift cards, which are as good as cash if, like me, you're a regular customer of Amazon. The offer runs until 12th September, but isn't available to every Amazon customer - you'll have to log-in at Amazon to find out whether, like me, you're one of the lucky ones (but first please click the link above, then LostCousins might benefit - even if you end up buying something else).
I've just been to Amazon to buy Nathan Dylan Goodwin's latest novel featuring genealogist Morton Farrier (it was released on Tuesday). Though its title - The America Ground - might lead you to think that Morton has headed across the Atlantic I strongly suspect it's set in England - since 'The America Ground' is the name of an area of Hastings, Nathan's home town (you can read about its history here).
I'll be reviewing the novel in due course, but if you want to buy it in the meantime please note that it's currently only available for Kindle - though a paperback is on the way, I understand. The links below will take you direct to the relevant page at your local Amazon site:
Now, I'm not really a gambler - but ever since the National Lottery started 21 years ago I've used the same 6 numbers, which came to me in a dream. So far my dream hasn't come true, and now it may never do so, as in October the lottery is changing - instead of picking 6 numbers from 49 we'll have to pick 6 from 59. Of course, I could just stick with the same numbers, as I'm sure some will - but I'm not sure that it's the best strategy (a simple calculation shows that in around 69% of draws at least one of the 6 numbers will be between 50 and 59). What will you do, I wonder?
Less of a gamble is putting your savings under the mattress, although if you live in the UK a safer and more remunerative option is put them into a Cash ISA with a bank or building society (since your savings up to £75,000 are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme). When I searched at the Which? site for an Instant Access ISA that I could operate online I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the top paying account was the Nationwide Flexclusive ISA, paying 1.6% tax-free. That's equivalent to 2% gross for a standard rate taxpayer like me, 2.66% for those of you lucky enough to pay higher rate tax, and as for those of you who pay tax at the top rate, you probably employ somebody to do it all for you, so I'll leave it to them to do the calculation!
10 years ago a return of 1.6% after tax would have seemed pretty stingy, but when you consider that the latest inflation figure (as measured by the Consumer Prices Index) was just 0.1% for the year to July, it's actually an historically good return for such a safe investment.
The downside is that to take advantage of this rate you have to be a Nationwide current account customer, though that's not necessarily a problem as they'll pay you £100 to switch from another bank - and also offer other incentives, even with their free accounts! If you are interested in switching please ask me to recommend you since that way I may also get a reward when you switch.
I probably won't keep my Cash ISA beyond 5th April next year because from 6th April it will be possible to transfer to an Innovative Finance ISA, which would allow me to earn a much higher return through peer-to-peer lending. Whilst it isn't covered by the FSCS, so far no customer of Ratesetter has ever lost money because they have a provision fund. Peer-to-peer lending isn't for everyone (and I'm not a financial advisor), but you can get a £25 bonus when you lend your first £1000 if you follow this link.
Finally, a tip for those of you who are already investing through Ratesetter - if you're patient you can get a much better rate. For example, this morning the interest rate for one month investments was oscillating between 2.9% and 3%, but I decided to hold out for 3.2% - and an hour later I received confirmation that my money had been invested. Of course, when you're lending for longer periods - the maximum is 5 years - the benefit of even a 0.1% increase in the rate is quite significant. You don't have to keep checking the rates - simply set your target and the money will be invested as soon as that rate is achievable.
Hopefully the next time I write I'll be able to tell you that we're well on the way to the 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?