Newsletter – 26th December 2020
One-day DNA Sale at Ancestry BOXING DAY ONLY
Stop Press UPDATED
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 19th December) 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!
One-day DNA Sale at Ancestry BOXING DAY ONLY
For just one day Ancestry UK are offering their lowest price of the year on DNA tests, just £49 plus shipping. In Canada it is the last day of a similarly generous offer, but in Australia or New Zealand you have a little longer to place your order. Please use the links below to support LostCousins (you may need to log-out from Ancestry – if so click the link a second time):
Ancestry.co.uk (UK only) - SAVE £30 – Boxing Day ONLY
Ancestry.com.au (Aus/NZ only) - SAVE $44 – ENDS 29TH DEC
Ancestry.ca (Canada only) - SAVE $40 – ENDS TODAY
At this time of year it’s usual for the GRO to add an extra year to their online index of births for England & Wales, so I was expecting 1920 to be added (now that the entries are 100 years old). But in fact they added all of the remaining entries from the registers that have been scanned and indexed, taking them up to 1934.
If you have used the birth index for 1984-2019 (see this newsletter article for more details) you'll know that maiden names aren't displayed in the search results, other than the name you specify - presumably to comply with Data Protection. It's the same for the period 1921-1934.
However, as the original quarterly indexes for this period included the Mother's Maiden Name it's not a major problem – the main reason you’d want to use the GRO indexes after 1920 is to find out the full middle names of your relatives, information that isn't shown in the quarterly indexes.
Until midnight on Wednesday 6th January the LostCousins site will be totally free – which means that you can initiate contact with any new relatives that you find (which normally require a subscription). This applies not only to existing members (ie anyone who received an email about this newsletter) but also to new members.
So if you know any family historians who don't already belong, now's the time to invite them to join, so that they can take part in the LostCousins project to connect cousins around the world who not only share ancestors, but also a love of genealogy. They don’t need any special codes, all they need to do is visit www.LostCousins.com and click JOIN NOW in the menu.
For many of our ancestors the celebrations on Twelfth Night would have overshadowed those on Christmas Day, and whilst by the time Charles Dickens was born in 1812 Christmas was starting a comeback, Twelfth Night still meant a lot more to previous generations than it does to most of us. When I was a child it was the day when we took down our Christmas decorations – nothing more, nothing less.
To the best of my recollection we took down the decorations on 6th January, but for many Twelfth Night is 5th January, Epiphany Eve (and the 12th day of Christmas if you start counting from Christmas Day). But Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens considered it to be 6th January, and that's good enough for me.
Twelfth Night is also a play by William Shakespeare – not the 81 year-old who became the first man in the western world to receive a COVID-19 vaccination outside of a trial, but the celebrated playwright. I studied Twelfth Night at school and my English teacher said that it was first performed on that day - however, according to Wikipedia the very first performance was in February 1602, so we can’t infer from that when Shakespeare would have celebrated Twelfth Night.
(Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD and used by kind permission of Findmypast)
Most 21st century references to Twelfth Night are talking about the play, rather than the day, but I did find a 2002 article about the day, which clearly states the date as 6th January (ironically this article was in The Stage).
What we do know is that in 1927 the inhabitants of Hastings and St Leonards celebrated Twelfth Night on Thursday 6th January – the article shown is taken from the Hastings and St Leonards Observer of Saturday 8th January. There were several events on the same night, as you can see from the newspaper report – which is very much of its time (I don’t suppose that contemporary readers were quite as shocked as we are to read that the members of the orchestra were dressed as members of the Klu Klux Klan).
I've just finished reading Kate Werran's book – which, to be clear, isn't about the American War of Independence or the American Civil War. The full title is An American Uprising In Second World War England: Mutiny In The Duchy, and it describes a most unusual legal case which unfolded in the courtroom above Paignton Police Station in October 1943, one in which US law was applied on British soil.
The background to the story is the tension between US troops and the English civilian population, which not only disapproved of the way in which segregation and discrimination had been imported, but proved much more sympathetic to the coloured soldiers than the white GIs. The event that triggered the court case involved shots being fired in the centre of Launceston, Cornwall, allegedly by men from the 581st Ordnance Ammunition Company based nearby.
I was surprised to find that for me the court case was the least interesting part of the book – perhaps that was because the verdict seemed inevitable. But what kept me reading was the author's description of the ways in which negro and white soldiers were kept apart when off base, and the extent to which one group was favoured over the other, even though they were fighting a common enemy.
Given the recent uproar over the mistreatment of immigrants who arrived in Britain from 1948 onwards on the Empire Windrush and other vessels, it was salutary to discover that just 5 years earlier the population had been remarkably welcoming to those whose skin colour set them apart from the natives. In fact this confirmed what I remembered from the 1950s – that when the first non-white pupil arrived at my primary school, rather than being the subject of discrimination, he was the boy that the rest of us wanted to be friends with!
(Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. Used by kind permission of Findmypast)
Although the events in the book took place during the war, it isn’t really a war story – the soldiers involved are all supposed to be on the same side. Instead Kate Werran has unearthed a long forgotten event that casts a disturbing shadow over the collaboration between Britain and the United States in World War 2.
I read the hardback edition, but it is also available as a Kindle book.
I'm delighted to announce that Janet Few - author, speaker, researcher, and LostCousins member - has kindly agreed to donate autographed copies of two of her books, one non-fiction and one fiction (though inspired by historical events):
Ten Steps to a One-Place Study was reviewed in one of my April newsletters – it's a must-have whether you are actively considering starting an OPS, or are simply wondering whether it's something you ought to be thinking about. Many of us feel we have a special association with the towns and villages where our ancestors lived for several generations, yet we rarely investigate beyond the parish registers – perhaps we should widen our horizons?
Sins as Red as Scarlet: a Devon Town in Turmoil was mentioned in my last newsletter of August – although as I'm not a lover of historical fiction (I prefer historical fact), I haven't read it yet. However, I know that many of you are fans of this popular genre - and if the reviews on Amazon are anything to go by, this is a book you'll definitely want on your bookshelf!
Here's a quick reminder of the other prizes on offer this year:
12 month PRO subscription to Findmypast (worth £159.99)
Virtually unlimited access to over 8 billion historical records from around the world, modern electoral registers for the UK, and more than 300 million newspaper articles
12 month Diamond subscription to The Genealogist (worth £139.95)
Unlimited access to a wide range of records including non-conformist records, exclusive tithe records and tithe maps, and a growing collection of 'Lloyd George' Domesday records and maps which you won't find at any other site.
12 month unlimited subscription to British Newspaper Archive (worth £79.95)
Over 40 million pages from historic British and Irish newspapers, with hundreds of thousands more pages added every month. Optimised search features including the ability to search for articles added after a particular date, so that you don't have to repeatedly trawl through articles you've previously read or discarded.
12 month subscription to Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine (worth at least £60)
A wealth of news, knowledge, and information from the world of genealogy – plus some inside stories from the TV series.
Family Historian v7 (just out!)
Simon Orde, the programmer of this Great British program has generously offered to donate a digital copy to the lucky winner. But you don’t have to wait for the result of the competition to find out what amazing features the program offers – you can download a free trial version here.
Three autographed copies of The Asylum-Hiding the Past
Nathan Dylan Goodwin will dedicate these copies to the three lucky winners – two great stories in a single paperback, Hiding the Past introduced us to Morton Farrier, The Asylum is a prequel to that first novel.
If you've yet to discover Morton Farrier and his partner Juliet, you'll find an attractive offer below – you can get the Kindle version of Hiding the Past for a bargain price!
Autographed copies of The Marriage Certificate and The Death Certificate
Stephen Molyneux will sign copies of the paperbacks for the lucky winners. His debut genealogical mystery novel, The Marriage Certificate, is one of my all-time favourites, and The Death Certificate is a worthy follow-up.
To have a chance of winning one of these fabulous prizes just do what should come naturally to any reader of this newsletter – complete your My Cousins page so that I can connect you to the other members who are researching the same ancestors – your 'lost cousins'. Not sure how to go about it? Just follow this advice.
If you're in the UK then from Saturday 26th December until Thursday 6th January you can purchase the Kindle version of Hiding the Past – the novel that introduced us to Morton Farrier, and 'The Forensic Genealogist' series from Nathan Dylan Goodwin – for the bargain price of 99p. Please follow this link so that you can support LostCousins when you buy this book (or any other product from Amazon.co.uk).
There are two things that dramatically changed my view of Christmas when I was younger: one was discovering that (spoiler alert!) there is no Father Christmas; the other was reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
This year my view of Christmas changed yet again – not because of the pandemic, but as a result of reading Dickens and Christmas by Lucinda Hawksley, one of his great-great-great grandchildren. I discovered that Dickens wrote many more Christmas stories, but none of them could hold a candle to 'The Carol', as Dickens himself called it.
Whilst producing a new story each Christmas helped to pay the bills – typically 20,000 copies would be sold in the first week of publication – the responsibility weighed down on the author, who had to invent and write a Christmas-themed story at the same time as editing his magazine, writing his partwork novels, giving readings and making other public appearances, and supporting his family.
In fact, it was as I read the closing chapters of this book that I decided not to publish a newsletter on Christmas Day this year, as I have done so often in the past, but to delay it until Boxing Day. I hope you don’t mind.
Dickens and Christmas and the descriptions of enormous 'Twelfth Cakes' also brought home how much more significant Twelfth Night was for earlier generations, inspiring me to research and write the article above. I also found myself looking up the meaning of the terms 'Negus', 'Smoking Bishop', and 'custard cups' – in short, it's a book about Christmas as well as a book about Dickens, but one that I'd be happy to read at any time of the year!
I read the hardback edition, which is lovely to handle and would make a lovely present, but if you’re in the UK you can currently buy the Kindle version for just 99p, which is very tempting indeed (though I suspect the price will go up again soon). It's also heavily-discounted in Australia at $1.98, and cheaper still in Canada at 99c – don’t miss out!
Tip: you can support LostCousins when you buy almost anything from one of the four Amazon sites listed above – you can use any link from my newsletters, just so long as it relates to the same site.
In the last issue I offered some advice for those who were planning to meet with family over the Christmas period, advice that would have reduced the chance of catching and/or spreading the virus. One member thought it was completely inappropriate and that, rather than trying to save lives, I should have been focusing solely on genealogy. I'm not going to be taking his advice, that's for sure – my job is to connect living cousins!
Well, I don’t know about you but Christmas this year was very different for me, very different indeed. As my wife and I were to be on our own on Christmas Day I left the large turkey in the freezer, and instead cooked the small one I'd bought as part of my contingency plans.
(Don’t worry – that big turkey won’t be wasted, we'll have a proper family get-together at some point in 2021, whenever it is safe to do so, and if the weather isn't too warm we can still wear our Christmas jumpers.)
Later today we're having a family get-together using Zoom, software that most of us has never heard of this time last year. And whilst it's not quite the same as having people in the same room, I'll get to see more of my family than I would have done had this been a normal Christmas. Hopefully next year we'll have the best of both worlds – some meeting face-to-face, but with others who are too far away connecting over the Internet.
PS the pictures at the start of the newsletter were taken by my wife in our lounge – clever use of the mirror over the mantelpiece, don't you think?
So near and yet so far – one minute we're rejoicing that the vaccine roll-out has begun, the next we discover that there's a new, more infectious, variant of the coronavirus on the loose. On Christmas Day I went to bed in Tier 2, but woke up this morning (Boxing Day) in Tier 4, which is as close to lockdown as makes no difference. My wife and I won't be greatly affected by this change as we have been extremely careful over the past 9 and a half months, but hopefully it will help to reduce the number of cases in our area – they've doubled in a week.
Science is wonderful, but sometimes the evidence isn't what we were hoping for. I can remember at the start of the pandemic that some people were suggesting that that it was no worse than seasonal flu – indeed, some misguided individuals still believe this is the case - though in fact deaths from COVID-19 in both the UK and the US are about 10 times higher than flu. Thank goodness that our scientific knowledge and capability has increased significantly since the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, otherwise the numbers could be higher still!
Until the end of January you can save on popular magazines including Gardeners World, BBC Good Food, BBC History, and Who Do You Think You Are? when you follow this link. The best offers I noticed offer 3 issues for £5 (less than the cost of some individual issues), but you need to sign up for a direct debit (although you can cancel it at any time).
Don’t forget that 1st Class stamps are going up from 76p to 85p on 1st January. Don’t want to risk going out to buy them? Very sensible – instead order them direct from Royal Mail by following this link and get free delivery when you spend £50 or more.
Note: they'll only allow you to purchase 5 books of 12 x 1st Class stamps, but you can buy sheets of 100 as well.
It's good to know that my long-term memory still works. A reader questioned whether I was correct to say in the last issue that a flying boat had been mentioned in one of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons books, and since it was at least 60 years since I read them I was understandably worried that my memory might have been playing tricks. But we eventually tracked down the reference (in We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea) which was most reassuring!
I expect that, like me, you sometimes remember things from the past that you'd long forgotten - isn’t it wonderful how our memory works! But what’s the best way of recording our own memories? Over the years I've videoed interviews with many older relatives – none of them, sadly, still with us. But I've never sat myself in front of the camera – maybe that should be one of my resolutions for 2021?
For protection from computer hackers I use Kaspersky, which has served me well for many years, but some of the magazine reviews I've read advocate Norton. In the UK there is currently a discount offer on Norton 360 – follow this link for more details.
Just as I was proofreading this newsletter I received an email with a link to an article titled Charles Dickens, Spirit of Christmas at The Genealogist website – it's well worth a read, but there's also a special offer on the same page which may interest some of you.
DeceasedOnline have a buy one, get one free offer on pay-per-view vouchers - you'll find the details here.
Finally, a reminder that whilst Christmas Day may be behind us there's still time to connect with your 'lost cousins' before the end of this tumultuous year. This article explains how easy it is to discover family historians who are researching your ancestors! Remember, if you received an email telling you about this newsletter you're already a LostCousins member, so all you need to do is log-in and get cracking!
© Copyright 2020 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? To link to a specific article right-click on the article name in the contents list at the top of the newsletter.