Newsletter - 16 August 2011

 

Cemetery scandal in east London

Essex Record Office to launch subscription service

Where did they marry?

TV companies seek help

WDYTYA continues to work its magic

Help us find new members

The future of the census?

74 years of marriage - and counting!

National Archives lose priceless documents

Have you discovered the BBC online archive?

The Genealogist adds Australian records

Transportation of convicts

'Digital Microfilm' from TNA

Wills and probate

Are twins good for you?

LostCousins is free until the end of August

Peter's Tips

 

About this newsletter

The LostCousins newsletter is published twice a month on average, and all LostCousins members are notified by email when a new edition is available (unless they opt out). To access the previous newsletter (dated 28 July 2011) please click here. Each newsletter links to the one before, and you can go back to February 2009 when the newsletter first went online; there will shortly be an online index to articles thanks to the sterling efforts of members Elizabeth and, especially, Gill.

 

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). Note: when you click on a link a new browser window or tab will open so that you donít lose your place in the newsletter - if you are still using Internet Explorer you may need to enable pop-ups (if a link seems not to work, look for a warning message at the top of your browser window).

 

 

Cemetery scandal in east London

This week's issue of New Scientist includes an article which begins as follows:

 

"In an out-of-the-way corner of a cemetery in east London, the graves are being dug up. Bodies are lifted out of their coffins, placed in hessian bags and lowered into a communal grave nearby. Once full - it can take 80 corpses - it will be covered over and a new one opened... If this popular graveyard is to remain open, the only solution is to use old plots. So they are unearthing bodies at the rate of about 10 per week. So far, over 300 have been moved, and another 1000 graves are earmarked for reuse."

 

I very much doubt that there has been any attempt to contact descendants of the people whose graves are being desecrated. Many of my ancestors lived - and died - in east London, so I can assure you that I'll do my best to find out which cemetery the story relates to.

 

If you are aware of similar 'recycling' in progress or planned at other cemeteries please let me know.

 

Essex Record Office to launch subscription service

Essex Records Office recently announced an online subscription service that will offer much more than is currently available free:

 

"Essex Record Office will be launching Essex Ancestors on 30 August. This new service will offer unlimited pay-to-browse access to Essex parish registers and many wills, giving customers fuller and wider access to our holdings from the comfort of their homes. Parish register coverage will extend from at least 1538 to 1837 with the period 1837 to the present partly included at go-live date or planned imminently. Marriages within the last 50 years will be excluded, in compliance with government guidelines, however."

 

It's interesting that they have chosen to 'go it alone' rather than work with Ancestry or findmypast. Personally I'd rather have access through one of my existing subscriptions than have to sign up for a separate service - just imagine how complicated it would be if every county did this!

 

Tip: currently you can still get free online access to some of the Essex registers when you click here.

 

Where did they marry?

The Guild of One-Name Studies is branching out with a site called Marriage Locator, which aims to identify the precise church in which a marriage took place by making use of the fact that records for a particular church are recorded consecutively in the GRO records.

 

To make use of the free service you must first identify the marriage in the GRO indexes - for example, here's the record from findmypast for the marriage of my great-great grandparents Robert Wells and Ann Driesen:

 

When I type this information into Marriage Locator it tells me:

 

 

I already have a copy of the marriage certificate - I've had it for years - but if I didn't, this would allow me to go to the records office and get a copy of the register entry much more cheaply.

 

Note: in this case the name of the church and the name of the registration district are the same - but this is most unusual.

 

You'll find an explanation of how Marriage Locator works here. Currently most of the records are from east London, but the intention seems to be to cover the whole of England & Wales eventually.

 

TV companies seek help

Both the BBC and ITV were advertising in the August issue of The Oldie looking for members of the public to help them with forthcoming series.

 

ITV want to hear from anyone who was born in Britain on 10th May 1946: they are developing a series exploring the lives of people who were born on exactly the same day. If you're interested in taking part email ParallelLives@itv.com and include your contact details.

 

The BBC are carrying out research for a documentary and want to hear from elderly people who are considering going to live with their family (or from people who are thinking about taking an elderly relative into their home). If you are able to help please contact Jenny on 020 8008 3825 or email jenny.williams@bbc.co.uk

 

WDYTYA continues to work its magic

The very first Who Do You Think You Are? series aired in 2004, when LostCousins was just a few months old - so I've always had a special affinity with the programme. Now it's back for another series, and this week's programme features a celebrity who has had more influence than most on modern culture - JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books.

 

Tip: to mark the occasion findmypast are offering 10% of all subscriptions when you take out a new subscription before 24th August using the code WDYTYA811 - so if you missed out on my exclusive offer last month there's another opportunity to save. Click here to go the findmypast site - you'll need to log-in or register before you enter the code.

 

 

Help us find new members

With Who Do You Think You Are? on our TV screens it's a great time to attract new members to LostCousins, but I can't do it without your help. Unlike big commercial websites like Ancestry, findmypast, and Genes Reunited which have marketing staff and - it would seem - enormous advertising budgets, there's only me here!

 

What's in it for you? Simple arithmetic shows that because there are over 86,000 LostCousins members already, every new member who joins must be a 'lost cousin' to several existing members. In other words, the more new members join, the more 'lost cousins' existing members like you and me will discover. Of course, it probably won't be the people I invite to join who turn out to be my cousins, or the people you invite to join who turn out to be your cousins - but if we each do what we can then everyone will gain.

 

To encourage new members to join LostCousins I've arranged for them to be able to use the same code as in the findmypast offer above to get a free upgrade to LostCousins subscriber status that lasts until the end of September - that's plenty of time for them to complete their My Ancestors page and link up with their new cousins. The code must be entered on the Registration form - it can't be added later.

 

Tip: new members can use the WDYTYA811 code to get a LostCousins upgrade whether or not they subscribe to findmypast! (See below for offers that apply to existing members)

 

Remember that when you use your My Referrals page to invite friends or relatives to join you can include a short note of your own - so you can use this to tell them about the offer code. And if the people you're inviting are relatives, you can get them started by indicating which of the relatives on your My Ancestors page they share (make sure you use Refer a Relative, and not Refer a Friend, otherwise you won't have this option).

 

The future of the census?

Belatedly reading a June issue of The Economist I came across an article which summarised the ways in which censuses around the world are changing. For example, after 24 years with no censuses in Germany - thanks to the anti-census lobby there - this May they surveyed just 10% of the population, collecting the rest of the data from national employment records and local population registers.

 

I learned that in all 17 European countries are using government databases as a source of census data, and that in 9 of these countries they will be the only source of information. The British government plans to decide by 2014 whether we too will go down that route.

 

One of the reasons put forward is to save money - but it seems that some countries in Asia have managed to keep the cost down despite running conventional door-to-door censuses. For example, whereas the last US census cost approximately $42 per person, this year's census in India cost about 40c per head and last year's Chinese census a reputed $1 for each of the 1.34 billion people in the country. True, wages are considerably lower in those countries, but that surely isn't the only explanation for the enormous difference in cost?

 

According to the Beyond 2011 page at the Office of National Statistics website there will be a 12 week public consultation about the future of the census this autumn - this is likely to be our only chance to influence the future of the UK census, so we must grab the opportunity when it arises!

 

I will let you know when the consultation document is published.

 

74 years of marriage - and counting!

My wife and recently went to Bruges in Belgium for a long weekend, and whilst we were there we discovered the Japanese Garden of Ostend (Shin Kai Tei). However the real find was Rene, the gardener, who told us not only about his 500 year-old bonsai tree, but also his great-grandparents - who at the ages of 107 and 111 have been married for an amazing 74 years!

 

National Archives lose priceless documents

According to a story in the Daily Telegraph last week 1600 folders of documents have been reported missing at the National Archives in the past 6 years, including regimental diaries, medal records, letters from Winston Churchill, and papers from the courts of Henry VII, Queen Elizabeth I, and King Charles I.

 

Not all have been lost for ever - some have simply been misfiled - but so far less than half of them have been found despite "a continual programme to search for lost items".

 

Have you discovered the BBC online archive?

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of TV and radio programmes in the BBC's online archive. I've just been listening to survivors from the Titanic, and to H G Wells bemoaning the economic conditions in 1932; I've also been watching a Man Alive programme from 1966 which examined the question in Britain. Before that I heard the words of evacuees from September 1939 - children who had been uprooted from their city homes and transported by train to the countryside, where they would be less exposed to Hitler's bombs.

 

For copyright reasons some of the programmes aren't available outside the UK, but many are. There are also numerous written documents - two interesting ones that I stumbled across were the cover of the Radio Times from 16th November 1947, showing the Royal couple who would marry that Thursday, and extracts from the diary of John Reith, the first Director General of the BBC, giving his account of the events surrounding the Abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936.

 

I could have spent all day browsing - but then you wouldn't have had this newsletter!

 

The Genealogist adds Australian records

Convict lists, musters, and the New South Wales 1828 census have been added at The Genealogist, although they are only available to Diamond subscribers.

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

 

Transportation of convicts

My first 'encounter' with a transported convict was in the pages of Dickens - you may recall that Magwitch, Pip's secret benefactor, was transported to New South Wales. However, Australia hadn't always been the destination for Britain's unwanted convicts - when transportation was first devised as an alternative to hanging in the early 17th century convicts were sent to North America or the West Indies. It was the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1776 that led to the foundation of new penal colonies in Australia.

 

There's a very useful guide on the National Archives website which gives the historical background to transportation and lists numerous sources - it's a good place to start if you have a transported convict in your family tree.

 

'Digital Microfilm' from TNA

The National Archives have created PDF files of some of their microfilmed records and placed them on their website, where they are available for download free of charge. It's worth noting that some of the files are very large (the average is 400mb).

 

Let me know if you make any interesting discoveries!

 

Wills and probate

There's an excellent research guide to wills and probate on the TNA website, but there's another guide that you might find even better on the Dorset History Centre site.

 

Are twins good for you?

A research study at the University of Utah has come up with convincing evidence that mothers who give birth to twins are healthier - and so are their children. However, it's not clear that giving birth to twins makes you healthy - it seems more likely that healthy women are more likely to produce twins.

 

The data for the Utah study came from the 1807-1899 period. By contrast the Journal of Sports Medicine reports that sitting in front of a TV screen (a luxury not available to our 19th century ancestors) for 6 hours a day can take 5 years off your life. I just hope that the results don't also apply to those of us who spend most of the day staring at a computer screen!

 

But the most encouraging article I've read recently was in last week's New Scientist: entitled 'Life begins at 90' it sets out the evidence that once we reach a certain age the body simply stops ageing. Of course, my wife has known about this all along - she's been 21 for many years!

 

LostCousins is free until the end of August

Although August is traditionally a time when Britons take their summer holidays, the weather this year isn't being very kind to us. I've therefore decided to give all LostCousins members subscriber privileges until the end of August - which means that you have two weeks when it won't cost you a penny to find and contact your 'lost cousins'!

 

To make the most of this opportunity focus on the 1881 Census: because it's the only free census, and the only one we've been using since we started, more members have entered more relatives from this census than any other. As a result, when you enter a household there's about 1 chance in 20 that you'll get an immediate match with a 'lost cousin' - which is pretty good odds considering that it only takes a minute or two.

 

There are lots of opportunities to make new connections - 9 out of 10 people reading this newsletter have omitted some or all of the relatives most likely to link them to their 'lost cousins' (the chances are you're one of them). There are two very common mistakes: one is to focus on just one or two lines - but the most frequent error is to enter only the households where your direct ancestors were living.

 

Did you realise that the relatives most likely to link you to your living relatives are not your direct ancestors from 1881, but the brothers, sisters, and cousins who had families of their own at the time of the census? That's because we have more 2nd cousins than we do 1st cousins, more 3rd cousins than 2nd cousins, more 4th cousins than 3rd cousins and so on.

 

In my experience the best contacts are 3rd and 4th cousins - they're sufficiently close that they share several of your ancestral lines, but sufficiently distant that they'll have lots of information to share with you.

 

Tip: if the number of 'blood relatives' shown on your My Summary page isn't at least 10 times the number of 'direct ancestors' you're almost certainly missing out. Click here to check....

 

Peter's Tips

If you subscribe to LostCousins between now and the end of August you can get an extra month free (on top of the two weeks that are free for all members). When you enter the offer code AUGMENT on the Subscribe page you'll be offered a subscription that lasts until the end of September 2012, rather than the usual 12 months - but you won't pay a penny more.

 

Are you involved in a community project or local charity? NatWest are offering awards of £6,000 to hundreds of causes (they supported over 600 last year). Check out the CommunityForce website for full details, but don't delay - the closing date is 4th September.

 

Amazon once again has Family Tree Maker 2011 Platinum on offer for just £29.99. I don't recommend the software, but the free 6 month PREMIUM subscription to Ancestry that's included is worth almost £60 - so it's an incredible way to save on an Ancestry subscription.

 

You can get 500 extra Clubcard points (worth up to £15) when you order £50 or more of wine from Tesco's online wine store before the end of August using the code XXMPRH (and if you spend over £99 they'll throw in free delivery). I don't normally drink white wine, nor do I like paying more than £4 a bottle, but a friend recently introduced me to the Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and I was so impressed that I ordered a case.

 

If you take your car to the Continent it's worth stopping off at the Carrefour supermarket at Cite Europe, between Calais and Boulogne (right next to the Eurotunnel terminal). For 1.32 Euros a bottle, the Vin De Pays Des Bouches Du Rhone was well worth buying (although it's probably not the sort of wine you'd want to serve up at a dinner party). However, if you like chocolate, an even better bargain is Carrefour's own brand 74% dark chocolate - just 49c for 100gm when I was there last week, yet it's very palatable indeed.

 

Stop Press

This where any last minute amendments that I make will be recorded or highlighted.

 

I hope you've found my newsletter interesting, and that you find some new cousins between now and the end of the month.

 

peter_signature

 

Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins