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Newsletter – 14th September 2023



Save 15% on Findmypast 12 month Premium subscriptions NEW 3 MONTH OPTION

Genealogy hoard returned to rightful owner

A serendipitous discovery

Incorrect birthdates

Looking forward to Christmas

Changing Carrs – a real life mystery story

Review: The Deserter’s Tale OUT FRIDAY

Get Hiding the Past absolutely FREE ENDS SUNDAY

Review: The Co-op’s got bananas

Peter’s Tips

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 29th August) 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!



Save 15% on Findmypast 12 month Premium subscriptions NEW 3 MONTH OPTION

For a short period Findmypast are discounting their 12 month Premium subscription, the only one that includes free unlimited access to the 1921 England & Wales census – you’ll save £30 at their UK site, bringing the price down to £169.99 (which works out at just over £3 a week), and similar amounts at their other sites around the world. Put it another way, during the offer period you can get a Premium subscription for less than the cost of a Pro subscription (which doesn't include the 1921 Census).


If, like me, you didn’t ask the questions you should have done when younger, you’ll discover that the 1921 Census fills in some of the gaps in your knowledge. When I was young I couldn’t even remember the names of all my great uncles and great aunts, yet now I not only know what many of them did for a living, but also where they were working in 1921.


Findmypast are also launching a 3 month Premium subscription – at £59.99 it’s a much smaller commitment, but obviously it’ll work out more expensive over the course of a year. But perhaps 3 months is sufficient to get all the information you need right now…..


Please follow the relevant link below so that LostCousins can benefit from your purchase – and if we do receive commission on your purchase of a NEW 12 month Premium subscription I’ll give you a free 12 month LostCousins subscription. To maximise the chance that your purchase is tracked as coming from LostCousins use Chrome or Edge as your browser and follow the advice in this article (which was for a previous offer, so don’t expect the links to work).


IMPORTANT: please read that advice BEFORE clicking the link and making your purchase, and if there’s something you’re not sure about email me – afterwards will be TOO LATE!    







Your LostCousins subscription will run for 12 months from the date of purchase of your Findmypast subscription, so email me as soon as possible – my address was in the email telling you about this newsletter. I’ll need to know the date and precise time of your purchase (to the minute!), and the amount you paid. If you already have a LostCousins subscription I’ll extend it.


Note: Findmypast’s offer is for new and returning subscribers – existing 12 month subscribers already qualify for a 15% Loyalty Discount. But if you have a lesser subscription it’s worth clicking the link above to see how little it would cost to upgrade – you might be pleasantly surprised!



Genealogy hoard returned to rightful owner

Last month this message was posted on the LostCousins Forum:


Two old suitcases full of family history documents and memorabilia have been found in a London park, I was contacted because my name and phone number were amongst the papers. But they are not mine, although they might relate to someone whose tree I compiled years ago. If the surnames Horlick and Taylor are in your tree, these could be yours.”


I followed up with the member who posted the message, and this is what she told me:


“I was rung early one morning by the police at Battersea Park as two battered suitcases had been handed in, found in the bushes. The police themselves were fascinated by the papers inside: old ration books, photos and family history. Also my name (and I think phone number or else they tracked me down) on one paper. Hence the phone call. There were two surnames that stood out: Taylor and Horlick. I was puzzled. There was one mention of a Hollick in my tree but not a Horlick. Then I remembered that I had done a family tree for a friend who did have Horlick in her tree; she had since died. I rang her widower, and he recognised those surnames too. That's when I posted on the forum, just in case.


“Then I went away and when I returned ten days later rang my friend to see what had transpired if anything. He said he did remember vaguely someone in his wife's family having two suitcases stolen from the boot of a car. The thieves must have seen no value in the contents and threw the suitcases away. So he rang the police in Battersea, gave the relative's number and she has been to collect them.


“It sounded as if it could have been the beginning to a novel...”


Perhaps it WILL end up as the beginning of a novel – there are lots of talented writers who read this newsletter!



A serendipitous discovery

When I linked to Georgian Papers Online last month I anticipated that it would be of general historical interest rather than relevant to someone’s family tree, but Janet proved me wrong:


“I am contacting you to say thank you for the link to Georgian Papers Online. Using the website I have managed to find a bill of sale relating to silk for Princess Charlotte (daughter of George IV). The silk mercer was Philip Cooper of Pall Mall. He was a 4x great grandfather to my husband. Previously, I have found contemporary newspaper advertisements referring to the company supplying Royalty so now I have the proof!


“Thank you for your hard work in producing your newsletter which I always look forward to dropping in my inbox.”


Janet subsequently sent me this link to the relevant document – it’s on pages 23 to 26 – and she believes the signature ‘M Elgin’ to be that of Princess Charlotte's governess/guardian - Martha Bruce, Countess of Elgin and Kincardine.



Incorrect birthdates

Thanks to everyone who wrote in with examples of relatives whose birthdates were registered incorrectly – this is a topic I’ll be returning to in a future newsletter, because it’s so important that we don’t take documents at face value just because they’re ‘official’.



Looking forward to Christmas

Over the Christmas/New Year period I run a competition for members which is designed to encourage you to enter more relatives on your My Ancestors page. After all, if I haven’t connected you to at least half-a-dozen ‘lost cousins’ then I’ve failed – but I can’t do it without your help.


Those of you who have figured out what LostCousins is all about might be surprised to learn that most members have entered fewer than 100 relatives from the 1881 censuses – and some have entered nobody at all!


In past years prizes have been awarded based on relatives entered during the competition period, but this year all relatives entered since the last competition ended on 31st January will count. This means that you can add entries now, or whenever you have the time, rather than waiting for the competition to be announced in December.


For those of us who want to knock down the walls in our family tree the opportunity to collaborate with experienced researchers who share the same ancestors – and the same ‘brick walls’ – is a blessing. Not only are problems solved more easily when two or more people put their heads together, the joy that comes with each breakthrough is multiplied.  


Whether your ‘brick walls’ are in the 1500s, the 1600s, or the 1700s, connecting with your ‘lost cousins’ through the 1881 Census will boost your chances of success – whilst also benefiting your cousins. It’s a win-win situation!



Changing Carrs – a real life mystery story

As genealogists we’re naturally curious, but isn’t it strange how our curiosity can lead us to make amazing discoveries, often where they’re least expected?


In the last issue I mentioned the next door neighbour who lent me his copy of the very first Guinness Book of Records when I was still in short trousers. I knew him as Uncle George, but as I wrote the review I couldn’t for the life of me remember his wife’s name. But like any good family historian I used the resources at my fingertips to do some digging, and what I found was so intriguing that I just kept going…..


Carr is a fairly common surname, but I remembered that their daughter married a policeman called Danny Eldred – and that’s a much rarer name. I soon found the marriage at FreeBMD:




(Out of curiosity I looked up Gwen and Danny in the modern Electoral Registers at Findmypast – I was amazed to see that were still living in the same house when they died in 2013 and 2017 respectively, so had been there for over half a century.)


Now that I had Gwen’s precise first name and middle initial it wasn’t difficult to find her birth, and as she was born in 1920 I was able to get a copy of the GRO birth register entry instantly for a mere £2.50:


It was no great surprise to see that George was her father’s middle name rather than his first name – that’s something we come across frequently in our research. Nor was it particularly surprising to see that the birth had been registered after precisely 6 weeks, as many people seem to have been under the illusion that registering a birth after 42 days would incur a penalty (see this article for more information).


However, it was a bit of a surprise to see that her father was in the Highland Light Infantry – I hadn’t been aware of any Scottish connection, though it’s not necessarily something that a 10 year-old kid would have noticed and, in any case, it’s possible that in the chaos of the Great War he had found himself in a different regiment from the one he joined.


And with all that information it surely wouldn’t be difficult to find the Carr-Major marriage?



These were the only Carr-Major marriages in the right time period, and my first thought was that two brothers had married two sisters – not at all unusual (in fact, there are several examples in my own tree). But when I clicked on page 1390a there was no bride listed, and when I clicked on page 1391 this is what I saw:



Emma A Major must surely be Gwen’s mother, but who was William M Carr? It was time to dig deeper – I tried the 1921 Census, but Emma and Gwen were living with Emma’s mother, presumably because Emma’s husband was still in the army:


© The National Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


The address, by the way, was 28 Essex Road, Chadwell Heath – where Gwen had been born 7 months earlier. Next I tried the 1939 Register:


© The National Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


This is clearly the right family, but there’s more confusion over the name of Emma’s husband – he was recorded as William when the register was compiled in 1939, but his forenames were amended, probably in the 1970s, to George William Edward. However the date of birth shown didn’t match the death index entry I’d found:


First name(s)     George William E

Last name   Carr

Sex   Male

Birth day   5

Birth month 5

Birth year  1902

Death quarter     3

Registration month      7

Death year  1985

District    Redbridge

Register number   785

Volume      14

Page  1191


The 1937 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Ilford (which I inherited from my father) shows a William George Carr living at 36 Essex Road, just 4 doors away from Emma’s widowed mother, who was still at No.28 – it must surely be him!


I decided to take a closer look at the 1920 marriage – it had taken place in Essex, so if they had married in church I ought to be able to find the entry in Ancestry’s collection of transcribed parish register entries. I could, and it confirmed that Emma Alice Majer (sic) had married William Michael Carr at the parish church of St Paul, Goodmayes, on 8th July 1920. So was George really William Michael?


Time to bite the bullet and activate my subscription to Essex Archives Online, an Essex Record Office service which would provide access to a high resolution digital image of the marriage register entry.


All Rights Reserved. Reproduced by courtesy of Essex Record Office - Reference: D/P 656/1/7


For a start I was able to confirm that the bride’s surname was indeed ‘Major’, and not ‘Majer’ – though only by examining her signature, as the vicar’s handwriting was appalling! The groom had signed as ‘William Michal Carr’ – well, he wouldn’t be the first who couldn’t spell his own name – and his father was shown as Henry Carr (deceased).


But what is really interesting about this entry is the annotation in the margins, which reads as follows:


In col.2 for “William Michael Carr” read “William Michael otherwise George William Edward Carr” and in col.3 Bridegroom’s age for “19” read “18”. Corrected on 29th June 1946 by me Frederick Harry Smith, Vicar in the presence of George William Edward and Emma Alice, the parties married, a Statutory Declaration having been made by the man.


It was this amendment which created a new entry on a supplementary page in the GRO register, with a corresponding addition to the index. In fact there had been a clue to the timing in the FreeBMD search results which, as you may recall, showed Ilford in italics. Clicking the link revealed that Ilford registration district didn’t exist in 1920 – it wasn’t formed until 1939:




We’ve all got relatives who changed their name for one reason or another, but what make this instance unusual is that George William Edward Carr had a first cousin whose name was William Michael Carr. In other words he seems to have been impersonating his cousin:




Henry Carr, the father of George, was one of the witnesses at the marriage of his brother Arthur Carr, the father of William. Both Arthur and Henry were French polishers, as you can see from their sons’ birth register entries.


Was it George or William who walked down the aisle with Emma Major in July 1920? Although the groom signed as ‘William Michal’, he gave his father’s name as Henry, which was the name of George’s father. And one of the witnesses was Henry George Carr, George’s elder brother, who had married 2 months’ earlier – so I was able to check his signature. Clearly he would known whether it was William or George, and the fact that he went along with the deception suggests that it was “for the good of the family”.


On the other hand, if it was George who married Emma, you have to wonder why he would have given his cousin’s age (19) rather than his own age (18), and why he continued to use his cousin’s birth date until at least 1939. Who was he trying to fool?


Most importantly, why would George want to marry Emma using his cousin’s identity – might it be something to do with Emma being 5 months pregnant when she walked down the aisle and, if so, was George or William the father? Could the fact that George was in the army have anything to do with it? It’s a real mystery, and because there are no living descendants there seems to be no way that DNA could be part of the solution.


Eventually I found a vital clue in a most unexpected place – I discovered George Carr’s NAVY record:


© The National Archives – All Rights Reserved. Used by kind permission of Findmypast


In January 1919 he had joined the Royal Navy as a boy, committing to serve for 12 years from his 18th birthday on May 1920 – it must have seemed more exciting than being a baker’s boy. But in February 1920 he went AWOL, apparently after completing a course as an electrician (someone more familiar with Royal Navy records might have a better interpretation).


No wonder he used a different name when he married a few months’ later, and didn’t assume his real name until after the end of World War 2!


His absence seems to have been noticed on 16th February 1920, probably when he failed to return from leave; Gwen was born on 11th November that year. By my calculations that’s just under 9 months later… I think we all know what he was doing on leave!


Note: I’ll be returning to this intriguing story in a future newsletter; I didn’t plan to research my former neighbours, but I’m jolly glad that I did!



Review: The Deserter’s Tale OUT FRIDAY

This weekend it’s the 10th anniversary of the release of the very first Morton Farrier novel, and to mark the occasion author Nathan Dylan Goodwin has written a special story – one that sees Morton travelling to RootsTech, where he finds himself sitting on a panel with his former girl-friend Maddie whilst his wife is at home watching the livestream with her mother. Could be tricky….


In his spare time he’s recovering from jet-lag and researching his wife’s great-grandfather, who disappeared after the First World War, only to resurface 20 years later. Sound familiar? Perhaps, but it isn’t the story of George Carr – though it is based on a real person, and the book is impeccably researched, something that we’ve come to expect from this author.


Something else that we’ve come to expect is a sting in the tail – a last minute surprise that has us looking forward to the next story, because we really want to know what’s going to happen next. You won’t be disappointed!


I know I always say this, but if you’ve read the earlier books you certainly won’t need me to persuade you to buy this one – you’ve been waiting for it ever since you finished the last story! But if you’re a latecomer to the party, welcome to The Forensic Genealogist series – you can start with any of the books, though for maximum enjoyment I would recommend reading them in sequence.


The Kindle version is out tomorrow, priced at just £3.49 from Amazon.co.uk and at similar prices at other Amazon sites (you don’t need a Kindle – I usually read Kindle books on my Samsung smartphone using the free app). All of the previous novels are also available as paperbacks, but you might have to wait a little longer for a hard copy version of The Deserter’s Tale. Personally I prefer Kindle versions of fiction so that I can read them in my spare moments, and hard copies of non-fiction books because I know I’m likely to be referring to them time and time again.


Please use the relevant link below in order to support LostCousins:

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



Get Hiding the Past absolutely FREE ENDS SUNDAY

If you’ve somehow managed to miss out on all of the books in the series, there’s a brief opportunity to get a free Kindle version of the very first book in the series – it would normally cost £4.69 from Amazon in the UK, but to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of it’s release it’s free at all Amazon sites from tomorrow, Friday 15th September, until Sunday 17th September.


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



Review: The Co-op’s Got Bananas

It was 7 years ago yesterday that I met Hunter Davies, then a mere stripling of 80 summers and best-known as the author of the only authorised biography of The Beatles (but now perhaps even better known amongst people of my generation for the articles he writes about his octogenarian dating experiences). I offered him the opportunity to write an article for this newsletter, but he politely declined – suggesting instead that I quote liberally from his book, The Co-op’s Got Bananas: A Memoir of Growing Up in the Post War North.


In the event it took me the best of part of 7 years to get around to reading the book – partly because I didn’t want to spoil the hardback copy he’d kindly autographed. Eventually I bought a second-hand paperback copy and once I got started, discovered it was such a joy to read that I wished I hadn’t waited so long.


Some of you will have read Children of the 1940s, which I reviewed last month – this book covers a similar period, since Hunter Davies was born in 1936, and he writes about his life up to 1960 when he married the author Margaret Forster. However, because it’s about one person’s experience rather than a collage with 20 odd contributors, it is more of an autobiography – yet at the same time, because it is the story of someone who came from a modest background it frequently reminded me of my own childhood and adolescence (even though he spent his early years in Scotland and the north-west of England).


When I finished The Co-op’s Got Bananas I had a look at the Amazon reviews and even though the reviews average 4 star I was quite shocked at some of the disparaging comments – thank goodness I didn’t read them before. I’m just about to start reading the sequel, and it’s anywhere near as good I shall be delighted!


My second-hand copy of The Co-op’s Got Bananas cost me about £4, most of which was postage, from Amazon Marketplace – but there are new copies still available, both hardbacks and paperbacks. I suspect that it might not appeal quite so much to women as to men, but I’d delighted to be proved wrong!


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



Peter’s Tips

What strange weather we’ve had this year – at least, those of us in the east of England. July and August were as cold and wet as the summer holidays of my childhood (all those days spent shivering on Southend beach), whilst June and early September were almost unbearably hot. I’ve filled more Kilner jars with stewed fruit than ever before, and already made 17 jars of jam. I’m clearly not the only one – my usual supermarket has sold out of jam sugar!


This year I might make salsa for the first time – we have so many tomatoes that I have to try something different (the tomato chutney I made last year was a bit of a disappointment). If you have a good recipe for salsa that will keep for weeks or months in a sealed jar, please pass it on!



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......



Finally, please remember that LostCousins is not a newsletter, it’s a website where experienced family historians can connect and collaborate – if you received an email about this newsletter you’re already a member, and if you haven’t entered all of your relatives from 1881 you’re missing out!


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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2023 Peter Calver


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