Newsletter - 29th October 2017
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous newsletter (dated 20th October) 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):
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Newfoundland didn't become part of Canada until 1949 - so it wasn't included in the Canadian censuses. The earliest surviving census which covers the whole of Newfoundland was taken in 1921, and as it is now available free at the FamilySearch website I've added it to the list of censuses that LostCousins members can use to search for cousins.
To choose the Newfoundland census select it from the drop-down list on the Add Ancestor form:
All of the information you need is in the FamilySearch transcription, including the record code. Each individual has a different record code, but you should use the record code for the head of the household for all the members of the household that you enter (even if the head isn't one of them); this will save you time and ensure that members of the household are grouped together on your My Ancestors page. If the person you searched for isn't the head of household (or the first listed, where nobody is designated 'head') click the head's name where it appears in blue in the transcription - you can then enter information for everyone in the household using that single page.
Tip: as it's a relatively recent census it's particularly important that you enter members of your Newfoundland ancestors' extended families - eg their grown-up brothers and sisters, their nephews and nieces, and (of course) their cousins.
There are now 9 censuses that you can use to search for cousins, of which 7 are free online. Nobody should be excluded from the LostCousins project because they can't afford to pay - that's why standard membership of LostCousins is free.
Originally only available to Ancestry subscribers, the 1921 Census of Canada is now available free at the Library and Archives Canada website - you'll find it here.
Note: there are currently no plans to add any more Canadian censuses to LostCousins; in general the matching system works best when there is only one census for each territory - that's because your entries from one census can't be matched with your cousins' entries from a different census.
The offer in my last newsletter ends at midnight, London time, on Tuesday 31st October (though it's always worth trying if you've just missed the stated deadline, since they might allow a few hours leeway).
You'll find all the details here, including advice on how to qualify for a free LostCousins upgrade. (Please take a look before taking any action as the article has been updated since the newsletter was first published.)
The PDF copies of register entries provided by the GRO during the various trials aren't, of course, certificates - because they're not certified. This means they can't be used for legal purposes, such as inheritance - but for most family historians the information that the register entries contain is far more important than the legal status of the document.
Although there are advantages to the PDF format, it isn't a format I'd normally associate with graphical images. So you might want to convert your PDF copy of a birth or death entry into a more conventional graphics format such as JPG or PNG.
Fortunately the free Irfanview program - which I've used thousands of times in the decade or more since it was originally recommended to me by a savvy LostCousins member - allows you to load files in numerous formats, including PDF, then save them in different formats. JPG is a good choice if you want to minimise the file size, but PNG offers 'lossless compression', ensuring that none of the detail is lost.
Personally I'm happy to use JPG for most documents, but it's a good idea to keep a copy of the original file on your hard drive, or on a backup disc, just in case.
Note: because PDF is not a standard graphics format Irfanview won't open PDF files by default (they'll typically be opened by Adobe Reader); you may also find that the plug-in which allows the loading and saving of PDF files hasn't been installed, in which case simply go to the Irfanview website and click Plug-ins.
If you're trying to find a birth, marriage or death entry in the GRO indexes, and especially if you're planning to order a certificate or PDF, it helps enormously if you know the Registration District (RD) in which the event was likely to have been registered - which will normally be the district where your ancestors lived.
Because of boundary changes, many of them resulting from the way in which towns and cities grew quickly during the 19th century, the 'obvious' district won't always be the one you want. I was recently corresponding on this topic with John Wintrip, whose Tracing Your Victorian Ancestors I reviewed earlier this year, who gave the example that many parts of Bristol fell into the Clifton RD from 1837-1877 and into Barton Regis RD from 1877-1905..
There's a section on the UKBMD website that identifies the coverage of each district - you'll find it here - but even more useful is an index of place names which works the other way round. (Family historians are greatly indebted to Brett Langston, who is responsible for both of these invaluable databases.)
The Poor Relief Act of 1662, commonly known as the Settlement Act, was enacted primarily to establish which parish was responsible for supporting a pauper. However, because one bad harvest or one piece of bad luck could bring poverty, most people were considered potential paupers, and were unable to settle in a new parish without permission.
If someone wished to move to a different parish, the main routes were to prove their wealth by renting a property for more than £10 a year (a substantial sum in those days), take a job that would last for at least a year, or else to obtain a Settlement Certificate from their home parish - which indemnified the new parish against any costs they might incur.
There's a brief summary of the Poor Law provisions here, but if you have the time to read it, this 1995 article from the Agricultural History Review provides an in-depth analysis of the way in which the law was exercised in practice.
The wide scope of the legislation means that most of us will have ancestors who were touched by it in some way (though whether the records will have survived is a different matter). Do check what records are held by the records offices you visit - you may make some surprising discoveries!
Findmypast have made available online parish registers for the Portsmouth, with more than 1.2 million baptisms, marriages, and burials for the deaneries of Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham, and Havant. Also released at the same time are 60,000 workhouse records for Portsmouth taken from admission and discharge registers.
In 2010 an article in the Daily Mail pointed out the Marriage Act specifies that banns should be pronounced using the wording given by the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and suggested that up to a million marriages which had taken place since the Alternative Service Book was introduced in 1980 might be invalid.
Fortunately my wife and I married in a Register Office, but I'm sure there are many readers of this newsletter who might be in need of reassurance, whether for yourselves or for your children (or even your parents). So I took my copy of Marriage Law for Genealogists off the shelf - Professor Rebecca Probert is the foremost authority on these matters - and soon discovered that the Marriage Act of 1823 "introduced the concept that only 'knowingly and wilfully' failing to comply with the law could render a marriage invalid".
Professor Probert tells me that the only cases where there has ever been an issue with the banns is where the wrong names were called - and picking up on the Daily Mail suggestion that some divorcing spouses might seek to avoid paying maintenance on the grounds that they were never married in the first place, she pointed out that the courts have the same powers when annulling a marriage as when granting a divorce.
According to the Marriage Act of 1949, the wording of the banns read out in church prior to a wedding must be as set out in 1662 the Book of Common Prayer, thus the congregation should be asked "if any of you know just cause, or just impediment, why these two persons should not be joined together in holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it".
So I was interested to see this 1815 entry from the Lutterworth marriage register:
© Copyright Record Office For Leicestershire, :Leicester and Rutland; used by kind permission of Findmypast
The pencil note seems to read "Many of you know just cause or impediment why these persons should not be joind together in holy matrimony please now indicate it"! But in fact, William Elton and Ann Chamberlain did marry on 27th March - so whoever wrote those words clearly failed to prevent the wedding taking place.
But when I asked Professor Probert for her opinion she wondered whether it was simply a clerical error - and inspecting the image more closely I noticed two things. One is that the curate who read the banns on the third occasion was a different individual, perhaps new to the job, and the other was that the 'M' of many could in fact be 'If' - there's just a hint of a loop. What do you think?
Update: thanks to everyone
who has been in touch - it seems we're all agreed that it reads "If any", not "Many";
so far from being a intriguing story it's just another case of bad handwriting!
Update: thanks to everyone who has been in touch - it seems we're all agreed that it reads "If any", not "Many"; so far from being a intriguing story it's just another case of bad handwriting!
Another intriguing entry was spotted by Jane in the register for Upton with Fishley, Norfolk. Dated 1783, it was found upside down on one of the 1651 register pages - suggesting that it was used as a jotter pad by the then incumbent:
© Copyright Norfolk Record Office; used by kind permission of Findmypast
I'll leave it to you to make sense of what's written there - it certainly doesn't seem to relate to church business!
A comment that was relevant, but still surprising, appears in the burial register for the Wesleyan Chapel at Sticklepath - Margaret in Canada noticed it. I've only seen a transcription, but apparently the unfortunate Elizabeth Waye died after being struck on the head by a turnip wielded by a fellow servant. I'm tempted to splash out £6 on a PDF of the death register entry to see what it says there….
And finally, at Darfield in Yorkshire there seems to have been a running battle between the rector and the vicar - you can see the dispute here on the Findmypast site (thanks to Roy for pointing it out).
One of the parish registers I looked at this week included details on 'briefs', and as this was a new term to me (in a genealogical context) I thought I'd do some research. Fortunately way back in 2005 I bought an ex-library 3rd edition of The Parish Chest by the late W E Tate, which describes in great detail the variety of civil and ecclesiastical documents in parish archives (although many will now be in the care of the designated Records Office).
The author defines a brief as 'a letter from authorities civil or ecclesiastical commending a charitable appeal'. Further information can be found on pages of 120-5 of the 3rd edition, where he comments that in the 17th and 18th centuries briefs were "so common as to be almost an early equivalent of… This week's good cause". And whilst some churches had special brief books in most parishes the information was noted on a spare page of one of the registers, typically the flyleaf. If you thought that the commercialisation of charitable giving began with 'chuggers', you should read what Tate has to say about the enormous fees paid out - so much that in some instances the amount received by the intended beneficiaries was well under half of the total.
The Norfolk Record Office blog has more information about briefs, as well as examples taken from local registers - you'll find the article here. For more examples see the Essex Record Office blog and this page from the back of the Clipston, Northamptonshire register at Ancestry (and if that's not enough to convince you how charitable the congregation were, there are more on preceding pages of the register).
In England we're running out of places to bury our dead, especially in and around our cities - indeed, it’s a problem that began in the first half of the 19th century, and prompted the establishment of private and municipal cemeteries.
In the old days they had a simple solution - keep raising the level of the graveyard and bury more bodies on top of earlier generations. But what was acceptable for our ancestors is less acceptable today, judging from the campaign to prevent graves in Southwark's municipal cemeteries from being disturbed - you can read about it here.
Southwark and Camberwell aren't the only places where this sort of thing happens - the City of London Cemetery, one of the largest municipal cemeteries in Europe (the remains of over 780,000 people are interred there), has an ongoing programme, which was lauded in this Guardian article.
I'm realistic - Britain is a densely-populated island, and space that is occupied by cemeteries cannot be used for food production or housing. But that doesn't mean that I approve of what's going on - I don't believe that any graves or headstones should be disturbed unless reasonable action has been taken to contact family members. Simply publishing a list of plot numbers in the local newspaper might meet the legal requirements, but it's unrealistic in this day and age when so many people live a long way from their ancestral origins, and even those of us who are desperate to find where our ancestors are buried are hindered by the fact that most cemetery records aren't yet online.
But why aren't they online? In an email dated 19th March I was informed, in response to my Freedom of Information request, that the City of London Cemetery:
"plan to place the scanned images of our historic public registers on the City of London website. In preparation for this, we have had all images of the registers scanned and indexed."
However, as far as I can see they're not online yet, and whilst you might think that I haven't allowed them enough time to get their act together I perhaps should mention that it was 19th March 2014 that I received the email - that's 3 years, 7 months, 1 week, and 3 days ago! We're supposed to be in the digital age not the Stone Age!
This week John wrote to me from Australia asking where he could find out more information about his convict ancestor, who was tried in 1807 and subsequently deported. I referred him to the Old Bailey Online website, but what I should have done was recommend the Tracing London Convicts in Britain & Australia, 1780-1925 project, which brings together a wide range of resources from Britain and Australia.
Another site which brings together resources from multiple archives is Connected Histories, which focuses on British sources from the 19th century.
Everyone knows that around 60% of the service files of soldiers who served in the British Army in the Great War were destroyed in 1940 when the Luftwaffe dropped a bomb on the warehouse in Arnside Street, south east London, where they were stored. But which records were lost - were some regiments affected more than others? This Findmypast blog post from Christmas 2014 gives some useful guidance.
Also of interest is this post from the Long, Long Trail website, which focuses on the British Army in the Great War - it includes a partial list of the documents destroyed, taken from records at the National Archives. Top of the list is "Great War soldiers’ non-effective documents up to 7 August 1920 inclusive", which I presume refers to the service files for soldiers who left the army on or before that date. If so, this would explain why the index of soldiers discharged after 1921 which I've referred to in the past two newsletters is so significant - it could be that all of their records escaped the fire.
But that index isn't complete: Geoff wrote to me about his grandfather, who doesn't appear in the index - although he was still serving in 1921. An initial letter to the Historical Disclosures Branch, Army Personnel Department in Glasgow prompted a negative response, but then Geoff phoned them up, and mentioned that he had his grandfather's Pay Book, which gave a second service number. They were then able to confirm that they did have his file, and a few months later Geoff received a copy in the post. Nigel is another member who managed to obtain his grandfather's record - he served in both WW1 and WW2.
So if you know that your ancestors served after 1920, it's well worth persisting!
If you’re a member of the Society of Genealogists you now have access to another source of information. The Community Hub will, I suspect, gradually take over from the existing Rootsweb mailing list as the main forum for SoG members to share problems and solutions.
Note: until the end of November you can save 25% on your first year's subscription to the SoG when you use the offer code LC25 (see this earlier article for more details).
When I checked on Thursday the forum had only just been announced, and so was virtually empty (I was tempted to post "By hook or by crook I'll be first in your book" - the first message in most autograph books when I was young) but I'm sure that won't last for long.
Just as I was finalising this newsletter I opened the Autumn 2017 issue of Family History News, the magazine of the British Association, and discovered that in an amazing move the BALH is providing free access to all but the last three years of the association's journal, The Local Historian (formerly The Amateur Historian)!
It's an amazing resource - I've been a devoted fan of the journal since joining the BALH a few years ago - and glancing through the very first issue from August-September 1952 I was amazed to discover an article on genetic genealogy, a topic which most of us only became aware of 50 or even 60 years later. Though I'd be interested to know why the author stated that we have 24 pairs of chromosomes, rather than 23 (chimpanzees and gorillas, our closest non-human relatives, do have 24 pairs - this article describes how we came to have 23 pairs).
Another article in the inaugural issue began with the words "No record is more often consulted by genealogists and local historians than….". But I'm willing to bet that you can't guess what comes next without looking it up!
The second issue begins with an article co-authored by W E Tate, author of The Parish Chest. You'll find this amazing collection here - I hope you find it useful (I know I will).
When a known cousin shows up as a match of ours it's good news all round, because it confirms the accuracy of the research that goes back to the common ancestor - on both trees. But you won't always match with your cousins - and the more distantly you're related, the less likely it is that a match will be identified. For example, the table in this article indicates that there's only a 32% chance of matches being found between 5th cousins who test with Ancestry (and it can be even lower if you test with other providers - they each choose a threshold which they feel best balances the risk of false positives against the risk of false negatives).
For example, I was contacted over the weekend by someone who had found some of her direct ancestors in my private tree at Ancestry. We quickly established that we are 5th cousins once removed, but according to Ancestry neither my brother nor I was a DNA match for our new cousin - this wasn't surprising.
Fortunately she had already uploaded her results to GEDmatch, and when she gave me her kit number I was able to compare her DNA against the four people on my tree who had tested their DNA and shared the relevant ancestors. There was no match with my brother or myself - even if I dropped the minimum segment length to just 4cM - nor with our 1st cousin. But I'd been aware all along that if there was a match, it was most likely to be with our 2nd cousin once removed, because he is a generation closer to the common ancestors - and so it proved, there was 12.9cM match on chromosome 2.
The more known relatives who test, the more likely you are to get matches with other cousins - and more importantly, the more likely it is that you'll be able to figure how you're connected.
In the last issue I wrote about the problems that Jerri experienced when attempting to upload her Ancestry DNA results to Family Tree DNA, and speculated whether this was simply a change in file format or because Ancestry had switched to a different chip.
It seems to have been the former - and fortunately the problem has now been solved. DNA expert Debbie Kennett pointed out a discussion on the FTDNA forum, which linked to a utility that will convert the results from the format provided by Ancestry to one that FTDNA can accept. Jerri has confirmed to me that after converting her file she was successful in uploading her data to FTDNA.
Note: only those who have downloaded their results from Ancestry very recently are likely to be affected.
All of the offers in my 15th October newsletter seem to be continuing, even the Ancestry DNA offer for users in the UK (which should have ended by now). There's so much competition between the different providers that researchers like you and me can only benefit.
Please use the links in my previous article, which you'll find here.
I'm not a great one for coffee table books, but as someone who has lived in and around London my entire life I couldn't resist buying Unseen London, written by Mark Daly, with photographs by Peter Dazeley. Whereas books of this type usually have too many photographs and not enough text (or vice versa), I reckon these two collaborators have got it just about right.
Even when the photographs feature places I've been to, such as the headquarters of the Honourable Artillery Company, the Royal Hospital Chelsea, or the Royal Courts of Justice the views are ones that I either didn't see at the time, or didn't take in. The crisp colour shots, some of which spread onto two pages of this massive book, are simply beautiful.
I can't tell you whether someone who didn't know London as I do would find it more (or less) interesting, but if I'd been shown the double-page spread of the Durbar Court at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office I'd never have guessed that I was looking at a building in London!
Sadly some of the places featured are no more - the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, in whose workshops were cast two of the world's most famous bells, Big Ben (which I've heard, but have never seen) and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia (which I've seen, but never heard) closed down this year after 450 years. On the last day the foundry cast a bell for St Mary Longworth, Oxfordshire - where the bells have been silent for 100 years (you can see a short video on the BBC website).
This definitely isn't a book to get for your Kindle - though you can if you want. I bought my hardback copies from The Book People (one for me and two for Christmas presents), and combined it with an offer which saved me an extra 8% (using the code AFOCTOBER which is still valid until the end of the month - minimum purchase £30); but until midnight on 3rd November you can save 20% on this book and other 'Hand-Picked FAvourites' using the promotion code TINSEL20. Free delivery in the UK applies to all orders over £25.
I've also provided links below for Amazon, and for The Book Depository, which I suspect will be cheapest for most overseas members (because their prices include free worldwide delivery and this book weighs about 4 pounds). You can use any of these links to buy other products from the same sites - LostCousins will still benefit.
Do you post reviews of products or websites that you've used? I find them invaluable - but 60 years ago there was nobody to support British consumers. Then the first issue of Which? magazine was published, providing consumers with objective, independent reviews - and this month the Consumer's Association, as it became known, celebrates its 60th Anniversary.
My mother was an early subscriber to Which?, and I continued after her early death, so I've been reading the magazine for most of my life. If you think of it just as a magazine it might seem expensive, but the magazine itself is simply the most tangible part of what the Consumer Association does - I subscribe not only to read the magazine and access the reviews online, but also to support the organisation's work. And, of course, one of the reasons that the magazine seems expensive is because it doesn't carry any advertising - it's packed with editorial and unbiased reviews.
Note: my aim is for this newsletter to be equally unbiased; while LostCousins does depend on commission from big companies like Ancestry, Findmypast, and Amazon, I jealously guard LostCousins' independence - this newsletter isn't sponsored by anyone, so I can write what I truly believe (rather than what someone else wants you to hear). Almost every product or service mentioned is one that I've bought and used myself (the rare exceptions are usually recommended to me by someone whose opinion I value), and the reason that you don't read many bad reviews is partly because I don't want to be sued, and partly because I don't want to publicise a company whose products or services I wouldn't use myself.
When we refitted our kitchen last year the fridge-freezer, ovens, dishwashers, induction hob, and microwaves we chose were all recommended by Which? - as were most of the other appliances in the household. It wasn't about saving money, although that's usually the inevitable result of buying tried and tested products, but the wish to avoid buying something that wouldn't be up to the job, or might break down in the first few years. You can find out more about Which? or get a trial subscription here.
Another invaluable resource - for me, at least - is TripAdvisor. I don't eat out a lot, because it's hard to beat home cooking, so when I do I like to make sure that I'm going to appreciate the fare on offer, and that means reading what others have had to say. I also aim to post helpful reviews of the establishments I visit - it would be rather selfish if I didn't! For my convenience - and yours too - there's a TripAdvisor link on the LostCousins home page.
The number of people switching current accounts in the UK hit a new low in September, even though it's far easier than it used to be and there are some generous incentives available. I'm not going to be moving because of the many benefits my Nationwide account offers, even though the monthly fee has recently increased - but those who are currently with other banks, but are less likely to make use of the benefits of my FlexPlus account (which include breakdown cover, worldwide travel insurance, mobile phone insurance, and commission-free cash withdrawals when I'm abroad) would be better off with Nationwide's FlexDirect account, which has no monthly fees and offers 5% interest on £2500 for the first year.
Anyone reading this who is thinking of switching to either of those Nationwide current accounts can get a £100 bonus if an existing accountholder recommends you - and I would be very happy to do so (since I'll also benefit). Just drop me an email - the key thing to remember is that you must switch at least two direct debits in order to qualify.
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 learned a lot while writing this newsletter - and I hope you'll learn just as much by reading it (but remember to follow the links to external websites otherwise you'll miss out on a great deal!). In the next newsletter we'll be looking at the poems that members have contributed in response to my article in the last newsletter.
© Copyright 2017 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?