Newsletter - 12th November 2018
Suffolk parish registers EXCLUSIVE
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous newsletter (dated 9th November) 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):
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!
Save 50% on Findmypast monthly or quarterly subscriptions
I'm sure that many of you have been busy over the weekend carrying out free searches - but there's only so much you can do in 3 days. So the good news is that Findmypast are following up their free access offer with a discount to attract new subscribers - until midnight (London time) on Monday 19th November you can save 50% on all new quarterly and monthly subscriptions when you follow the links below:
As the discount only applies to the first payment quarterly subscriptions clearly offer the best deal - but they're only available from the UK site. Whichever option you choose your subscription will automatically renew at the end of the month or quarter but you only have to untick a box to stop this happening (you'll find it under My Account).
This offer is available to both new and lapsed subscribers (but see below), however whilst it isnít exclusive to readers of this newsletter, you'll only be supporting LostCousins if you use one of the links above.
Tip: if you've previously subscribed to Findmypast you might need to log-out before clicking the link in order to access the offer. If so just log-out then click the link above again.
Not sure how to make the best of Findmypast? See this article.
Last week I exclusively revealed that over 5000 birth entries from 1881 are completely missing from the GRO's own online indexes, and asked whether members had spotted any other similar omissions. Within 48 hours of publication of the article I'd established that there are at least 2 more similar anomalies in the birth indexes, and at least 1 in the death indexes!
We're still only talking about a drop in the ocean - there were over 63 million births in England & Wales between 1837 and 1917, so the 20,000 that are missing represent a very small percentage - but nevertheless these are the sort of errors you would have expected the GRO themselves to have picked up, either prior to the release of the indexes or in the 2 years since. Instead users who pointed out missing entries were told that their query had been investigated but that no amendment was required.
If you think you've spotted a similar anomaly the first thing to do is check whether other entries on the same page are also missing - the easiest way to find out which entries are on the same page is to search at FreeBMD using the volume and page number, ie:
Once you've established that the other entries on the page are also missing from the GRO's own indexes please get in touch with me so that I can investigate further and pass the information to my contact at the GRO.
This might seem like a stupid question - everyone knows that the Great War ended at 11am on 11th November 1918. On the other hand, anyone who has travelled to France will know that their clocks are one hour ahead of London time - so did the Armistice between the Allies and Germany, which was signed in a railway carriage in the forest of CompiŤgne, take effect from 11am London time or 11am Paris time?
I already know the answer - but do you?
Many of you will have taken advantage of the free access offers this weekend, but did you know that some records are available free online? Canada made available the attestations of soldiers in the Canadian Expeditionary Force several years ago, but it was only this year that the project to put online all 620,000 service files was completed - you'll find them here.
Many of the WW1 records for New Zealand soldiers are available free online through the Archway website of Archives New Zealand - it isnít a particularly easy site to navigate (like many archive sites) but if you type your relative's name in to the Simple Search on this page you'll be able to find out what they hold.
Australian service records are also online - you'll find more details here.
Note: the contributions of British Commonwealth countries to the Allied war effort were important, although in countries that didn't have conscription (such as Australia) the proportion of the male population who served was inevitably lower. There was also no conscription in Ireland, even though it was part of the UK at the time, but over 200,000 Irish soldiers served.
Suffolk parish registers EXCLUSIVE
At the beginning of this month I revealed that Suffolk Record Office are planning to digitise their parish registers - and promised an update when new information became available. On Wednesday I received a reply from the Lowestoft Record Office Consultation Team which explained what the current plans are:
"Suffolk Record Office has investigated various options for the digitisation of its parish register holdings, including that of digitising the master microfilm and fiche.† Although not yet finalised our current proposal is to create high quality full colour TIFF digital images from the original registers, which will be preserved on our server.† Colour access copies generated from these will then be available for the public to search and view.† At this stage we cannot provide any further information as it has not been agreed."
Reading between the lines it sounds as if they may be planning to emulate what Essex Record Office have done, which is to host the images themselves and offer subscriptions - which isnít going to be a cheap option for users (Essex charge £85 for a year, although you can buy subscriptions for shorter periods). But if the colour scans are as good as those that Essex provide, they'll be a pleasure to use.
If they do choose to host the images themselves it's likely that users will have to rely on existing transcriptions to find the entries they're looking for. Existing sources include FamilySearch and FreeREG, but the biggest collection of Suffolk register entries is at Fndmypast, who host the Suffolk Baptism Index and Suffolk Marriage Index (both compiled by Suffolk Family History Society) as well as Boyd's Marriage Index (licenced by the Society of Genealogists) and the National Burial Index.
I'm delighted that Rebecca Probert, Professor of Law at Exeter University, and author of two of the books that every genealogist with English or Welsh ancestors should have at their side (Marriage Law for Genealogists and Divorced, Bigamist, Bereaved), has written an exclusive article on an oft-ignored topic:
What was the impact of transportation on a marriage? In 1806, the Morning Post commented that ĎWhen a man is sent to Botany Bay for bigamy, it is called a transporting divorce.í Others clearly regarded the transportation as equivalent to the death of the spouse, with marriage registers referring to women as being widows Ďby transportation of first husbandí when they remarried.†
However, under English law transportation did not dissolve an existing marriage. If seven years had elapsed since a woman had seen or heard of her transported husband, and she had no reason to believe that he was still alive, then she would at least have a good defence to a criminal charge of bigamy if she remarried but he subsequently turned up alive and well.
†If the validity of her second marriage was disputed in court for some other reason Ė for example in a dispute over settlement Ė then depending on the facts of the case the court might presume that her first husband had died, even if seven years had not elapsed. In such cases the court would take into account evidence such as whether the husband was in a risky situation, or in poor health, when he was last heard of.
But if it transpired that her transported husband was still alive at the time of the second marriage, that marriage would be void. It was only in 1937 Ė long after the end of transportation! Ė that a formal procedure was established for applying to the court for a declaration of presumed death and dissolution of the first marriage Ė up to that date there was always the risk of the second marriage being void.
© 2018 Rebecca Probert - All Rights Reserved
The law was different in Australia - there a man who had not heard of his wife for 7 years could remarry, so in theory a man and his wife could both remarry, but under English law she would still be married to him, even though under Australian law he was now married to somebody else.
I'm still receiving wonderful stories about adoption experiences, and I'm going to continue featuring these stories in the newsletter as I feel that there's a lot we can learn from them.
The first contribution is from a member in the UK who not only shares details of her own experiences, but is able to tell us about the experiences of others:
"I am an adoptive parent of 2 boys now in their 30s whom we were lucky enough to adopt as healthy babies, one at 6 months and one at 2 months. They had a happy, supportive childhood but to date neither has wished to trace their natural parents.
"As a child, my younger son expressed an interest in searching for his natural mother when he came of age, but my older son has always rejected the idea outright (the boys are not genetically related.) The elder boyís natural half-brother (placed with a foster family who later adopted him) contacted him on 2 separate occasions aged 16 and 19 in a bid to find their mother, but my son had no interest whatsoever and on reaching 18, my younger son had lost interest in tracing his natural mother. Obviously, as an adoptive parent, I am happy that my sons feel content with the life we have given them and have no desire to find their natural mothers, but if they did want to at any time, I would support them fully in whatever capacity I could, because in their position, I think I would possibly be curious to know more about my heritage.
"Would I be hurt if my children did search for their natural parents? I donít know is the honest answer. I would like to think not, but it would depend upon the circumstances. If it was a matter of curiosity and the need to know where they came from, then I could understand that, but if it resulted from a breakdown in family relationships, then that would be upsetting and I would feel that I had failed them. In my experience, adopted children feel very aware of the fact that they have been rejected by their natural parents, so for some, I think it gives closure to find that the reason for their adoption was the motherís desire to give their child a better life or the demands of family that an illegitimate child is given away against the motherís wishes.
"In the case of my sonís half-brother, he wanted to trace his natural mother and half-brother in the hope of finding a close relationship with someone he could genuinely feel belonged to him. He was adopted into a family with 4 natural children and a set of adopted twins whom the family also fostered prior to adoption. He felt that the natural children Ďbelongedí and the twins had one another, but he often felt isolated and didnít feel able to discuss the matter with his parents. Whether he eventually traced his mother, I donít know, as my son lost contact, but as adoptive parents, if the reason for tracing a natural parent was anything other than curiosity and a need to know where they came from, I would feel rightly or wrongly that I had failed that child in some way.
"Some adoptive parents I know well are totally against their daughter (now 40+) seeking her natural mother as they feel that they have brought their daughter up, looked after her and cared for her and the natural mother gave up her right to her daughterís affection when she offered her for adoption. They wonít pass on any details regarding the adoption and out of respect for her parents, the daughter has decided not to pursue the issue as she doesnít want to upset her adoptive parents, with whom she has a loving and supportive relationship. However, the daughter is still curious and I suspect will try to trace her natural mother after her parents have died, but currently knows that her parents will be deeply offended by her interest. Their daughter contacted me, as another adoptive parent and friend of her mother to ask what her motherís attitude would be, prior to starting the investigation process, as she suspected her mother would be very hurt.
"No parent or child knows what the search for natural parents will bring. Further rejection is an obvious possibility, in which case the adoptive parents need to be supportive, as I know this would upset both my children considerably. The formation of a strong natural mother/child bond could feel threatening to an adoptive parent, though where children have had a happy and loving childhood and remain close to their adoptive parents, hopefully this shouldnít cause problems as long as the child makes it clear that they are not seeking to replace their adoptive parents and there is an open dialogue during the process. After all, without the selfless actions of the birth mother, adoptive parents wouldnít experience the joy of having a child in the first place. However, the process is bound to be very emotional for all concerned and peoplesí feelings need to be very carefully considered.
"You mentioned treading carefully with regard to contacting birth families Ė we were advised to bring our children up always having known they were adopted and to ensure that if they wished to trace their birth parents, it was done through the proper channels. However, if the fatherís name was never on the birth certificate and the mother is not alive or refuses to divulge his name, the only way to trace him might be via DNA and a reason for tracing natural parents might be to ensure that adoptees are not unwittingly romantically involved with siblings or half siblings. Another reason might be to find out family medical histories. Others may have very different attitudes and interests to their adoptive parents and as such might feel that they donít fit in, which again can make children feel that they want to seek natural parents, especially if siblings appear to have more in common with their parents and believe me, this is a difficult problem to solve, esp in the teenage years!
"Others can feel that their adoptive parents perceive that they are failing if they arenít very academic and it can be difficult to persuade them that it doesnít matter what grades they achieve, only that they have done their best. Frequently they feel in these cases that they might have more in common with their natural parents......... which can be upsetting to adoptive parents.
"Having adopted children often draws others to mention that they are adopted, but I have yet to find anyone who has made contact with their birth mother, despite knowing a lot of adoptees and adoptive parents. Most, it seems either have no wish to know anything about the person whom they consider rejected them or they think it might upset their adoptive parents, so donít want to pursue that route."
So far the stories in this series have looked at adoption from the point of view of the children or the adoptive parents, and the next tale - from a birth mother - tells the other side of the story:
"I had a baby girl in 1960 when I was unmarried and like the majority of unmarried young women then, I was forced to give my baby up for adoption. I suppose, fortunately, I was sent to stay with a recently divorced woman and her two young sons until I gave birth in a nursing home so I only looked after the baby for 10 days - unlike Mother & Baby homes where the mothers sometimes had to look after their children for up to 3 months. On the day I left to go back home, a couple came for my baby - the matron at the nursing home had a connection to lots of GPs around the North of England, so if they had a couple who wanted to adopt they just put them in touch with the matron!
"You can imagine, I worried for years about who her adoptive parents were, why they hadn't gone through the normal channels and been vetted by social services etc. In fact I had been told by the matron to tell social services I'd changed my mind about the adoption! As it happened I needn't have worried. The day the couple took my baby, they vowed that, somehow when she was an adult they would find me, though at the time they had no idea how they would do this and, of course, in 1960 adoption was supposed to be final for the birth mother.
"Eventually around 1996, I got a letter from my daughter. It turns out her parents were as good as their word and her father, now in his 90s, had searched online for me, in the way we would search for our ancestors. He got her birth certificate which gave my name, then he looked for birth certificates for me to see how old I was at the time of the adoption and who my father was, then he looked for marriage certificates and found one that showed my father's name so he knew he had the correct birth certificate for me.
"Then he decided to search Electoral Rolls for me and my husband. He found that there were hundreds of couples with the same name - which I thought amazing as although I have a common Christian name, my husband doesn't, so he looked for births of any other children I'd had, to see if he could find them on electoral rolls. One of our sons has a fairly uncommon name so he looked for him in electoral rolls. There were only 6 with the same name, so he decided he would telephone each one. He struck lucky first time, but as he didn't know whether my family knew about the adopted child (they didn't), he just told my son he was researching family history and was trying to get in touch with me because he'd found a connection to me and someone in Ireland (which is where my daughter now lives). Of course, my son was very helpful giving him my name, address and telephone number, although he did say he didn't know we had any relations in Ireland.
"I know social services are supposed to get involved, but in our case it didn't seem to matter. Of course, first I had to tell my husband and his reaction was 'When are we going to Ireland to see her?', then I told my children one by one starting with the eldest, a daughter. I have to say she wasn't particularly happy with the news, although her brothers were delighted. I've seen my adopted daughter quite a few times now, my sons are 'friends' with her on Facebook and my husband and I visit her parents when we are in their area of England.
"Her father, an amateur photographer, had taken photos of her from the day they got her throughout all her growing up years and well into adulthood, so I have a record of everything which, as my daughter-in-law said, is very unusual for children born in 1960 (unlike today when my grandson posts photos of his daughter online every week!).
"Although my dad had died, my mum was still alive when my husband and I went to Ireland to see my daughter and her children, and when we got back we went to visit my mum, told her why we'd been to Ireland and showed her some photos. Of course, she said she was very sorry she'd made me give up the baby but it was just how things were then. After that she quite often asked how she was and how her children were."
In this case the natural father of the child didnít even know that he'd fathered a child - the mother was forbidden from telling him by her parents. What a shock it will be for him if he ever finds out! I wonder, is there anyone reading this who only discovered that they'd fathered a child many years later?
I thought this article on the BBC News website was sad, but at the same time uplifting.
Earlier this month I mentioned Talking Machine News, and mentioned the booths where you could record your own voice. One reader wrote in to tell me that this was how Elvis Presley made his first recording, but researching Sun Records online suggests that he used their studios for the recording he made for his mother.
Barbara wrote in with an interesting story from her own family history:
"I was fascinated with article in your latest newsletter about self-made discs. I have four Voice Records from the 1930's of my father and his mother. They were nearing the end of a cruise and recorded them to send to my grandfather. Two are just talking, one 'last night's crowd' and another of very off-key singing. A fifth record is an advertisement for the cruise line, Lamport and Holt. I had them transcribed onto a CD. These days you might call it digital remastering I think. Unfortunately they are not very clear and I have still not managed to decipher them all though I have the gist. It was quite a shock to hear my father's voice and more so my grandmother's as she died when I was just 5. These are now the best heirloom of my father I have. The records had to be played using a wooden needle and I also had a box with the needles and kit to sharpen them. I passed that on to the kind man who 're-recorded' them for me."
Sadly the tape recordings I made when I was younger have all been lost over the years, but a couple of years ago I acquired a copy of a recording made by my Uncle Les around 60 years ago. At one point in the recording he asks my mother to say a few words - but she doesn't, which is a great shame because she died in 1976, and I've long forgotten how she sounded. I keep listening to it in the hope that next time she will say something but she never does.....
Radio Times website still promoting scam
Millions of people use the Radio Times website to find out what's on TV - it's a trusted brand, one that my parents and grandparents relied on. Several months ago I was shocked to find a scam advert on the Radio Times site, and yesterday I was very disappointed to once again find the same scam advert, using fake (or unauthorised) images of Dragon's Den stars to promote a gambling scam called Bitcoin Revolution. Returning to the Radio Times site today I found another scam ad for the same bunch of crooks, this time using (or rather, misusing) the name of a comedian called Jim Davidson. A Google search reveals that other celebrities who are livid about their names being used to promote the scam include (Lord) Alan Sugar and chef Jamie Oliver - and the Daily Mirror are up in arms about the way the way their site is mimicked in order to provide credibility for the fakers.
Immediate Media, the publishers of the Radio Times also publish Who Do You Think You Are? magazine - it's a shame to find such reputable names associated with outright trickery. They probably donít have much control over the ads that are shown - the adverts are supplied by Google Ad Services - but they still make money out of them. I eventually managed to find some instructions (see below) explaining how to complain about an ad on Google, but I'm not sure if it also applies to ads which they provide for other websites.
Friday 23rd November is 'Black Friday', a name that for some will bring back memories of disasters or stockmarket crashes, but for most means shopping. Like Christmas and New Year sales Black Friday promotions often start well before the actual day, although most sellers hold back their best offers until the last minute.
The challenge is to avoid buying something that you donít really need - it's bad enough when we're given something for Christmas that we're never going to use, but it's far worse when it's self-inflicted. I generally take advantage of sales to buy things I would have bought anyway - rechargeable batteries or USB cables, or things on my Amazon wish list.
But my top tip is to start a 30-day Free Trial of Amazon Prime - it's a chance to get free and faster delivery on many items, and Prime members also get early access to sale items. And even though the trial is free, you'll be supporting LostCousins when you use one of the links below:
Talking of rechargeable batteries, I've found they generally work in most devices, even if the instructions for the device don't recommend rechargeables. But donít buy them in the supermarket - they're often unbelievably expensive.
I donít eat out very often, at least by modern standards, since it's remarkably difficult to find a restaurant that can beat home-cooked food for quality and nutrition (restaurants rarely use low-calorie ingredients). But when I do I always write a review on TripAdvisor - whether the meal was good or bad, because user reviews are incredibly important. I hope you do the same.
Of course, you have to be wary of reviews - as the latest Which? magazine reminds us. There are unscrupulous sellers who pay for good reviews - though it's usually pretty obvious which reviews are fake from the user names or the wording (or from looking at the reviewer's other contributions). My observation is that you donít need to worry about fake reviews when there are hundreds of reviews - the danger is when there are fewer than 20. To be fair, I do understand the conundrum that sellers are faced with - many people won't buy products unless other users have already reviewed them, which makes it very difficult to launch something new.
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......
I'm not sure exactly when you'll hear from me again, but I've got so much to tell you that it certainly won't be long!
© 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?