Newsletter - 1st September 2018
Current DNA offers SAVE DOWN UNDER
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous newsletter (dated 22nd August) 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):
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!
As most of you will know, the hundreds of millions of articles in the British Newspaper Archive can also be accessed through Findmypast (which operates the British Newspaper Archive), if you have Pro or World subscription - but as many keen researchers have discovered, searching at the British Newspaper Archive site is significantly more powerful.
Most useful of all is the ability to search for articles added between two dates - this means that you donít have to keep ploughing through the same results, which can otherwise be particularly tiresome, especially if your ancestors had common surnames.
Being able to search through the latest additions is absolutely crucial, because the BNA's coverage is expanding all the time - tens of millions of articles are added each year - and whilst it is a wonderful resource for historical articles, you'll also find articles as recent as the 1990s, or even the 2000s. Just this week the Liverpool Echo from 1996-97 was added, as was the Dublin Evening Herald from 2008-09 (as far as I can see, all of the newspapers from the 21st century currently in the database are Irish).
The exclusive offer I arranged for readers of this newsletter runs until 11.59pm on Sunday 2nd September - but you must use this special link.
Note: please don't share the special BNA link; however you CAN share the link to this newsletter if you like.
Nowadays we tend to think of malaria as a tropical disease, but that wasn't how our ancestors saw it - if they lived near marshes the smell of the stagnant water was a warning of the disease lurking there.
A 1992 research paper by Mary J Dobson reports how an analysis of 17th and 18th century registers for over 600 parishes in Essex, Kent, and Sussex shows that mortality rates in marshland parishes were much higher than elsewhere. Of course, our ancestors didnít realise that malaria was spread by a particular type of mosquito - they attributed the illness they knew as 'marsh fever' to the bad air.
You can read the research free at the JSTOR website by following this link - but you'll need to open an account (this gives you free access to six papers per month). Dr Dobson has also written a book on this topic - but itís out of my price range (possibly yours too), so I haven't read it. However this Guardian article is free and has some interesting background information.
The agricultural and industrial revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries led to large-scale migration from the countryside into towns and cities. By the first half of the 19th century many parish graveyards were full, especially in cities, and in Ancestral Trails, the book that guided me (and many others) when I began my researches, Mark Herber writes that they were also a health hazard.
Cremation was not an option in those days - the first modern cremation in British was in 1874 (see my 2016 article about cremation for more details) and the process was not legally regulated until 1902. In the 1820s private companies filled the gap, mostly using out of town sites; later councils established the first municipal cemeteries. So whilst we might still expect to find our ancestors' baptisms and - at least until 1837 - marriages in parish registers, the task of finding their burials is far more difficult. First-generation migrants may have gone back to the country in their final months and years, and been buried there, but most inhabitants of the cities would have been buried in the new private and municipal cemeteries
A small number of local authorities provide a free online index to burials in the cemeteries under their control, but most don't. The records of a few private cemeteries have been indexed, and placed online - Abney Park in Stoke Newington, in north-east London, was the most notable example though the index has mysteriously disappeared (see my article from August 2010).
There are also many sites which offer photos of headstones, or transcripts of memorial inscriptions, but this presupposes that our ancestors' graves were marked with headstones, and that they are still legible (the latter is quite likely, the former less so - many poor people, including several of my relatives, were buried in shared graves with no markers).
But the best place to find the final resting place of your ancestors is likely to be DeceasedOnline, where there are getting on for 10 million records of burials, cremations, and headstone inscriptions. Thanks to DeceasedOnline I found many of my relatives buried at Manor Park Cemetery in east London - although it was a site I passed twice a day when I was commuting to London I never knew that my father's brother, his mother, her parents, and her brothers and sisters were all buried there between 1882 and 1956. I never met any of them - all but one died before I was born.
My grandmother was one of 9 children, 5 of whom had died before the 1911 Census; the birth of my great-grandparents' first-born, John Joseph William Bright, was registered in the first quarter of 1882, but he wasn't baptised until 22nd June, just two days before he was laid to rest in unmarked paupers' grave. For most parents the baptism of their first child would be a time for celebration - but not in this case.
Finding the final resting places of your ancestors and their siblings isnít easy, but it can provide answers to questions that would otherwise be difficult to resolve. For example, although I knew from the 1911 Census of their brief existence, I had no way of knowing the names of my grandmother's siblings who died in infancy - but when I found her grave, thanks to DeceasedOnline, the inscription on the headstone revealed that the three infant children were buried elsewhere in the same cemetery. (Of course, eventually the GRO produced their updated birth indexes, showing the mother's maiden name for births prior to 1911, but that was completely unexpected.)
On Friday Findmypast announced that they now have nearly 53 million entries from England & Wales from the 1920s and early 1930s - and so, to an extent they fill the gap left by the destruction of the 1931 Census.
Although the number of entries exceeds the population at the time, there are many people recorded multiple times in different years (I noticed some names which appeared 7 times), so you certainly won't find everyone. The registers from which these records have been digitised and indexed are held by the British Library; a smaller number of (mostly) earlier records from the collection have been published previously by Findmypast:
Findmypast also have registers for a few locations around the country where they've digitised the registers held by local archives. Use the A-Z of Record Sets to see what's available (just type in the word 'electoral').
Equally interesting for many of us is the modern-day UK Electoral Register (sometimes itís the only way we can track down a living relative whose name we know). Last time I checked, a few weeks ago, the entries at Findmypast stretched from 2002-14, but when I looked today I noticed that they have been extended right up to 2018 (probably compiled in autumn 2017). In addition the search results are now much more informative - you can see both the name of the street and the names of other occupants (which makes it much easier to find a couple or a family).
Note: should anyone reading this be concerned about the privacy of living people it's worth remembering that Electoral Registers have always been open to public inspection; however, since 2003 it has been possible to opt out from the commercial version of the register, which is the only one that Findmypast and other providers are allowed to use. Credit agencies and political parties are allowed to have copies of the full register, but they cannot publish the information.
Although the ongoing court battle between 23andMe and Ancestry is unlikely to have any significant impact on customers, whatever the result, I'm watching the developments with interest.
You may recall that 23andMe were claiming that Ancestry were infringing their patent for a method of comparing sets of DNA in order to identify relatives. Well, the federal judge hearing the case has now determined that the 23andMe patent is invalid, referring to a landmark Supreme Court decision from 2014 in the Alice case. But 23andMe's claim that 'ancestry' has become a generic term in the context of DNA testing, and that Ancestry's trademark is therefore invalid, is yet to be decided.
Current DNA offers SAVE DOWN UNDER
There are big savings to be made if you live in Australia or New Zealand - Ancestry.com.au are reducing their price to just $90 plus shipping until 11.59pm AEST on Sunday 2nd September. Viewed from this side of the world it's an absolute bargain - considerably cheaper than us poor Brits had to pay during our last sale. Please use the link below so that you can support LostCousins (note - this is a new link, please donít use an old one from a previous newsletter):
Ancestry.com.au (Australia & New Zealand only) just $90 plus shipping until 2nd September
I'll update this article if other offers begin during the currency of this newsletter.
At some point during September Findmypast will be changing their systems so that members can only view records for which they have a current subscription - this brings Findmypast into line with Ancestry and most other websites.
Up to now Findmypast have kept track of which records you have viewed in the past and allowed access to those records at any time, whether or not you are a subscriber, or whether the subscription you have includes those particular records. The precise date of the change hasn't been decided, but my advice is to download any records you haven't already stored on your own computer while you still can.
Note: if you used credits to purchase a specific record you will still have access, even after the change. This is most likely to apply to records from the 1939 Register, as this was not included in subscriptions for some months after the initial release.
I donít suppose many readers of this newsletter will be significantly impacted by the change - I've long advised you to download records onto your own computer, rather than attaching them to an online tree (or similar). But if you have been caught out, remember that Ancestry impose the same limitations - you can't view records attached to your own tree unless you have the appropriate subscription.
Two years ago this month I wrote about the temporary export ban that had been placed on Queen Victoria's coronet, in the hope that it could be saved for the nation, but this week I realised that I hadn't heard anything more since then.
The good news is that, when I searched for more information, I discovered that the Irish-American hedge fund manager William Bollinger and his wife had bought the coronet and generously donated it to the Victoria & Albert Museum, where the diamond and sapphire-encrusted heirloom will be the centrepiece of an exhibition in 2019, the bicentenary of the birth of both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, her consort.
Earlier this year I reported that the CARN system was coming to an end, and that no new cards would be issued beyond this autumn. However, there was some doubt as to whether the replacement scheme was going to get off the ground.
The good news is that Archives & Records Association issued a press release on 10th August confirming that the new Archives Card will be available from next year, though the precise date is yet to be confirmed. Against my better judgment the card is going to be free to users, which means that most of the cost will fall on hard-pressed record offices (though part of the funding is coming from the Federation of Family History Societies, and some from an anonymous donor).
You might think that making the card free to users is ideal, but when you visit one of the many records offices that won't be participating (presumably on grounds of cost, since the new system is designed to overcome the deficiencies of the old one) you might feel differently.
Neither of the county records offices I have visited the most in the past (Hertfordshire and Suffolk) have signed up for the new scheme, although they were part of the old one. Personally I'd have been very happy to pay (say) £5 for a card that would be valid for 5 years, rather than have to provide proof of identity when visiting records offices - and the vast majority of those who responded to my survey in May agreed.
This beautifully-produced slim hardback by LostCousins member Keith Hopkinson takes 8 individuals from his extended family tree, and provides us with detailed - and sometimes intimate - information about their lives. It's a reminder that all families, no matter how ordinary they might seem, have made their mark in some way.
The first character in the tableau is Lady Margaret Wade, a cousin of the author's 3G grandmother. Born plain Margaret Wade, youngest daughter of a poor Derbyshire mining family, she travelled to India to work in Calcutta as a maid to a wealthy British family - but just a few years later she married Lieutenant Henry Gore Wade of the 25th Light Dragoons. A widower who was 20 years her senior, he came from a fabulously wealthy family, and by 1814 (when they had been married for 7 years) she had borne him three daughters. But travelling back from India to claim Henry's inheritance the ship on which the family were travelling was wrecked in a violent storm off the coast of Portugal - every man, woman, and child drowned.
At the British Newspaper Archives I found this contemporary newspaper report (from the Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser of Monday 9th May 1814) which describes how the Wade family came to be on that particular ship (there's much more detail in the book, of course):
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Used by kind permission of Findmypast
(It would be interesting to know what became of Capt Cameron and Mr Paulin, the passengers who gave up their berths on the fated John Palmer for lesser accommodation on the Henry Wellesley - there must be someone reading this who is related to one or other of them.)
The next chapter features Samuel Godley, who fought at the Battle of Waterloo - he was the brother of the author's 4G grandfather; in Chapter 4 we learn about Eliza Hudson, the author's 3G grandmother, who was brutally murdered by her husband (he wasn't the author's ancestor, by the way). In all there are 7 chapters about the author's antecedents, and another 5 chapters with more general material including advice for those about to embark on their own research.
The problem with books of this type is that they're primarily of interest to those who share the author's ancestry - the Who Do You Think You Are? series features celebrities because this guarantees a certain level of interest, but relatively few family historians are celebrities (though there are certainly some amongst the LostCousins membership). Another problem for anyone writing books of this nature is the natural tendency to invent conversations and attribute thoughts and feelings to people we've never met, and whose actual thoughts and feelings are not on record.
For example, on page 11 we're told that Margaret Wade "often tried to imagine the surprise her parents would have felt when the [paintings] arrived", and that she "smiled thinking of the pride that her parents would have felt for their daughter's new position in life"; on the following page we read that as the storm broke a "sudden gust of wind caught Margaret's long dress and took a step to catch her balance". All this is very plausible, but it can only be conjecture - my preference is to clearly separate fact and fiction lest the two become forever confused in the mind of the reader.
Nevertheless this is one of the best books of its type that I've come across - the author has clearly done a lot of research, and he presents it in a very readable form. Well done, Keith!
More than 4 years ago I reviewed A Habit of Dying by DJ Wiseman, a book that introduced genealogist Lydia Silverstream, and so impressed me that I wanted to read more by the same author; two years ago he obliged with The Death of Tommy Quick and Other Lies, which was even better (you can read my review here). But it was only last weekend that I finally found the time to read The Subtle Thief of Youth, which had been on my book pile for ages - for the simple reason that I knew that, unlike the other two books, it wasn't a genealogy mystery.
But what a rare delight it was, when I eventually got around to reading it - DJ Wiseman is a very talented writer, and this novel is incredibly well-written (of all the authors whose works of fiction I've reviewed in this newsletter, only Ian McEwan is in the same league)!
Anyone who enjoyed watching Broadchurch or Unforgotten will love this book, which describes how two adjoining Cotswold villages are devastated by a storm, and how the inhabitants are torn apart by the disappearance and murder of a young girl. Indeed, this book would adapt equally well to the small screen (and perhaps even to the big screen), whilst the ending leaves some loose ends to be tied up in a sequel - which leaves me rather conflicted, since I'm also hoping for another book in the Lydia Silverstream series!
The Subtle Thief of Youth may be a murder mystery on the surface, but itís so much more than that! If you want a new copy of the paperback you'll need to order it direct from the publisher - the price is £10 including postage in the UK, £18.50 elsewhere. But you can get the Kindle edition from Amazon for just £4.99 in the UK - please use the links below to support LostCousins:
For years we've had a Friedland wireless doorbell - fine when it worked, but so unreliable that regular visitors tended to bang on the door or the window rather than try the bell (which made it seem even more unreliable than it actually was). A couple of weeks ago the bell push broke again, and this time I couldnít find an exact replacement - which meant I was faced with spending £30 or more for a new set which might be no more reliable than the old one.
For some time my wife has been pestering me about video doorbells, but they cost and arm and a leg - or so I thought. Then I realised that itís only the well-known brands that cost £150 or more - you can get unbranded devices that do the same job for a lot less. I chose this one, and so far it has worked extremely well - once we adjusted the settings so that it wasn't triggered by our cat!
I thought our postwoman would be impressed that I could see her from 100 miles away, and even talk to her - but apparently several people on her round have got similar devices (and I expect some of you have too). So far we haven't had to recharge the batteries, but when we do it's just a matter of plugging-in a micro-USB cable (like charging a mobile phone), so I donít see it being a great inconvenience.
On Thursday my phone and broadband switched over from Sky to NowTV - which is part of Sky, but operates independently. After 2 years of free broadband from Sky they wanted to charge me, whereas switching means that I'll pay next to nothing for another year (though I'll still have to pay for the phone line). But there's a bonus - as part of the change I've upgraded to fibre, and whilst I won't get the full benefit, being so far from the cabinet, I'm seeing a 50% increase in download speed and almost 200% increase in upload speed - which means my emails to you should arrive that little bit sooner (as you can imagine, it takes quite a time to send out 65,000 emails, even though I keep them as short as I can).
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......
That's all for now - I'll be back again later in the month with more news and tips from the wonderful world of family history.
© Copyright 2018 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?