Newsletter - 28 July 2011

 

FamilySearch adds more parish records

More Hearth Tax records free online

War Graves Photographic Project

County archives online

Access to Archives (A2A)

Are you fooling around?

Make the most of libraries

Post Office employment records

If at first you don't succeed...

Free 1911 census searches

Last chance to save 15%

Do you mind paying for free information?

Bow match workers strike

Peter's Tips

Have you tried...

Stop Press

 

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 15 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).

 

FamilySearch adds more parish records

The expansion of the new FamilySearch site continues with the addition of two million new parish records for Lancashire and Cheshire.

 

More Hearth Tax records free online

In February I wrote about the website Hearth Tax Online, which has downloadable surname indexes and/or transcripts for Kent (1664), Surrey (1664), County Durham (1666), and the West Riding of Yorkshire (1672).

 

I've just heard from the Project Manager at the Centre for Hearth Tax Research that records for the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire have now been uploaded - about 38,000 names in all - and that indexes for Essex, London, and Middlesex are on their way.

 

38,000 new records might not sound like a lot, but each one represents a household, and when you consider that the population of England in the late 17th century was less than 5 million, it's actually quite significant.

 

War Graves Photographic Project

In the last newsletter I introduced you to the War Graves Photographic Project, which is an amazing undertaking - and the feedback I've had from members has been very positive.

 

For example, John was delighted to find that he could get a high quality photograph of his grandfather's grave for a minimal cost - and the icing on the cake was to discover a record of his great uncle's death at Constantinople, information that isn't available at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site (because he was killed in 1923, between the two World Wars).

 

County archives online

Most county archives offer online searches of their catalogue, and often this will pick up individuals who are mentioned by name in the index entries. But some counties have moved more decisively into the digital age, providing online registers, surname indexes, or transcriptions.

 

Joan wrote to tell me how impressed she was by the information that Bedfordshire and Hampshire make available online, but why not check to see what's available from the counties of interest to you?

 

Access to Archives (A2A)

Records aren't always held where you would expect to find them, so to be able to search 400 record depositories across England & Wales simultaneously is a real bonus. Access to Archives is a great place to find information about the wealthier members of society, because many family archives have been deposited with records offices - but you'll also find people at the other end of the social spectrum who were mentioned in Poor Law records such as Settlement Examinations or Removal Orders.

 

Are you fooling around?

For me LostCousins is a serious undertaking - in a typical week I spend anything from 50 to 80 hours researching and writing my newsletters, corresponding with members, and updating the website to make it easier to use. But like most of the people reading this, I find it hard to find time to research my own family tree - so I quite understand that finding half an hour to complete your My Ancestors page might not be high on your list of priorities.

 

Nevertheless, if you're serious about researching your ancestors it's a shame not to take advantage of the help that your own cousins can offer. Two weeks ago I received the following email:

 

You know Peter, I feel a bit of a fool writing this. I've been a member since 2004 but only added 1 ancestor. This evening I decided to add some more. I think I finished adding them at about 8:45. I clicked the search button and was told that I had a contact. This was at 8:58. At 9:10 I received a message from my contact which confirmed that we are indeed related. I say that I feel a fool but this is because as I read each newsletter, I vowed I would add some names but just didn't do it. Today I do it and within half an hour I have a new relative. Now why didn't I add those names earlier? Kind regards Mick

 

Mick was brave enough to recognise that he'd got it wrong and to do something about it. If you're one of the thousands of members in the same position, maybe you too can find a spare half hour to follow his example?

 

Tip: it's the 1881 Census that's most likely to produce instant results.

 

Make the most of libraries

I've written in the past about the online resources available through most public libraries in England and in many libraries in other parts of Britain and across the world. Often you'll find that you can get free access to Ancestry Library Edition, which offers worldwide coverage - so even if you have an Ancestry Premium subscription it might be worth wandering down to your local library.

 

Distance need not be a problem - many of the online resources (though not Ancestry) can usually be accessed at home using a library card. And Jan in Norfolk recently told me that the local history team at Norwich library are prepared to carry out up to 30 minutes research free of charge - so I wonder how many other counties offer a similar service?

 

 

Post Office employment records

Until now I didn't realise that any of my relatives worked for the Post Office, but thanks to Ancestry - who have digitised the Post Office Appointment Books covering the period 1737-1969 I now know that one of my 2nd cousins twice removed got a job as a Telegram Boy in 1887, at the age of 14.

 

Tip: you'll find some interesting background information at the British Postal Museum and Archive website.

 

If at first you don't succeed...

I was absolutely delighted to receive the following email from Edward in Australia:

 

My grandfather Ernest Edward Ruffell (1903-1949) came to Australia in 1924, after he had had a falling out with his father. Family legend says that his father paid for his ticket to Australia on the proviso that he never came home. Whatever the truth in this story, after my grandfather arrived he changed his surname, and went on to marry and have a family of his own. He sadly died young of tuberculosis.

 

When the family in England tried to reconnect with him in the early 1950s they found it almost impossible, and by the time they had, he had already passed away. They were very briefly in contact with his children in Australia, then fell out of contact again.

 

In one of your recent newsletters you recommended a genealogical search engine. So I went to it and entered my great grandfather Charles Alfred's name, as I had a hundred times before in other places. I was amazed to find a reference to a newspaper request for info on Charles Alfred and his wife. It had an address and phone number.

 

So I decided to ring the number, and was thrilled that the person who answered on the other end was my grandfather's niece (daughter of his sister). She was also thrilled and told me that the family back in England had been thinking about their Aussie relatives for years.

 

Anyway this has led to a wonderful reconnection with the family, with lots of photos and stories (including two more of my grandfather... previously we only had one of him).

 

I want to send you a heartfelt thanks for recommending the search engine, and hence for helping to reconnect a family that has been apart for over 80 years!

 

Every day I receive emails from researchers who claim to have "tried everything" and "looked everywhere", but it's the ones like Edward who persevere (and keep an open mind about where the next clue will come from) who get the success they rightly deserve.

 

Free 1911 census searches

In my last newsletter I described how it was possible to identify the members of a household in the 1911 Census using a free search at the 1911 site - but commented that the technique wouldn't find people in the household who had different surnames.

 

Mike clearly regarded this is a challenge, because a few days later he emailed me with a solution - which I've adapted slightly to make it a little easier:

 

(1) Start by searching for the name of someone you know will be in the household - perhaps the head. For example, I searched for my great-grandfather John Bright, who was born in October 1858.

 

Knowing where the family grew up it wasn't hard to figure out that the John Bright in West Ham was the one I was looking for.

 

(2) Now I switched to an Advanced Search, but deleted John Bright's forename and age from the top of the form, entering his full name in the 'Other persons living in the same household' section of the Search form. I also entered the Registration District I'd discovered during my first search.

 

 

(3) This produced a list of Brights in the West Ham Registration District - but I knew that they didn't all belong to the same household.

 

 

(4) To separate them out I searched again, this time picking someone in the household with a rarer forename - I chose Rose, my great-grandmother. I also deleted the Bright surname from the top of the Search form, so that I'd find out about anyone else in the household who had a different surname. Here's what I got:

 

 

I've deleted three Brights who weren't on the first list - since they must clearly be from a different household. But I've left the two Yarrow youngsters since I happen to know that Squire and Doris were the children of Rose's sister (though if I wasn't absolutely certain I could have carried out another search to confirm that they were in the same household.

 

Note: almost exactly 70 years later, on 29th March 1981, Squire Yarrow was the Referee at the very first London Marathon.

 

Of course, while it's always nice to get something for nothing, the process is a lot simpler if you're a findmypast subscriber - you get the answers in one step rather than four!

 

Last chance to save 15%

The exclusive findmypast offer announced in my last newsletter is about to end - so you'll need to act fast! To save you time I'm going to repeat the instructions:

 

Until 11.59pm on Sunday 31st July you can save 15% on any new findmypast subscription when you click here and enter the code LOSTCOUSINS07 on the findmypast Subscribe page (you'll need to Log-in or Register at their site before the box appears). Plus, as a BONUS, I'll give you a free LostCousins subscription that runs alongside your findmypast subscription.

 

To qualify for the bonus you must click the link above immediately before subscribing to findmypast (otherwise we won't receive the commission that pays for your LostCousins subscription), and also forward to me a copy of the email receipt you receive from them so that I can verify your entitlement.

 

Your free LostCousins subscription will run for the same period as your findmypast subscription unless you are already a LostCousins subscriber, in which case your bonus will commence when your existing subscription expires (ie the expiry date will be extended by 6 or 12 months, as appropriate).

 

Note: existing findmypast subscribers qualify for a 20% loyalty discount when they renew, therefore the 15% discount and bonus offer do not apply to renewals. You'll find full details of the findmypast Loyalty Scheme here - make sure you qualify!






Do you mind paying for free information?

You'd have to be crazy to pay for information that's available free - or would you? In the latest issue of Your Family Tree a reader wrote in wondering why Ancestry were charging for information she could get free from Archive.org

 

You might argue that what we're paying for isn't so much the information itself, but the service that makes the information easy to access - and as someone who spent many tedious days searching censuses on microfilm I'm jolly glad that there's now an alternative. Indeed, I only wish that the coverage of parish registers was as extensive - even though, in theory, I could view them free of charge at the relevant records office.

 

But what do you think about it? Is it is rip-off, or is it a valuable service?

 

Bow match workers strike

Sometimes a subscription site and a free source of data can be complementary. For example, you'll find images of the records for the Bow matchworkers strike at TUC History Online, but it's infinitely easier to search the transcribed information at findmypast.

 

(Thanks to Val for directing me to the TUC site.)

 

Peter's Tips

A few years ago my wife and I discovered the Open Gardens weekend in the beautiful village of Walsham-le-Willows in Suffolk, and we're hoping to visit again this year.Last time I checked they hadn't updated the website with this year's details, though I'd be surprised if there's much change from 2010 - things move pretty slowly in that part of the world.

 

What I can tell you is that it takes place on Sunday 28th and Monday 29th August between 11am and 6pm, with wholesome home-made teas and lunches and the friendliest bunch of villagers you could ever imagine - a date for the diary!

 

Historic Newspapers are offering a 10% discount until 30th August when you use the code SUM1H. And of course the 15% findmypast discount continues until the end of July (see the article above).

 

What about inflation - have you noticed that the prices of some items are going through the roof? One of my bargain buys, Tesco Value Shower Gel, tripled in price overnight from 10p to 30p. I have a simple way to combat rising prices: I use less, buy less, and sometimes manage without altogether (though not in the case of shower gel, you'll be relieved to hear). This year a lot of the vegetables we're eating are coming from the garden, and as for the price of meat - it's just as well that most of our favourite meals use the cheaper cuts.

 

If everyone was able to reduce their purchases, the reduction in demand would lead to lower prices - at least, that's what economic theory says. Then again economic theory makes lots of assumptions that don't necessarily hold in the real world...

 

Have you tried...

Have you tried searching using Google? Silly question - of course you have! And yet, when members write to me with questions, at least half the time I use Google to find the answers.

 

If you're not getting the results you want from Google try varying your search technique. Google might try to read our minds (have you noticed how the results start appearing before you've finished typing?), but sometimes we need to do our bit to help.

 

If you're looking for results from a particular country click Advanced Search, then on Date, usage rights, region, and more, and finally choose the country. If you're searching for a name that just happens to coincide with someone famous (or even slightly famous) you can usually avoid those results by using the minus sign, for example mccartney -paul -linda -stella

 

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 as a result you'll make some discoveries that otherwise may have eluded you! Many of the articles are inspired by you, the members, so do please keep writing in with your thoughts, comments, and suggestions.

 

peter_signature

 

Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins