Newsletter - 3 July 2011

 

Ancestry add West Yorkshire registers

Militia records at findmypast

Dad's Army records to go online?

National Archives User Advisory Group

Black Sheep Index updated

Tracing Your East End Ancestors

The Genealogist

Distant cousins

Anne takes her tree back to 1521

Unusual census entries - update

Limited free access to the 1911 Census

Still tracing relatives after 1911

Are you receiving my emails?

Peter's Tips

Have you tried...

 

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 19 June 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).

 

Ancestry add West Yorkshire registers

If you have ancestors who lived in West Yorkshire you'll be delighted to hear that the parish registers held by the West Yorkshire Archive Service are now online at Ancestry (though as with all records of this type you'll need a Premium subscription). Register entries from 1512-1812 can be found here; baptisms from 1813-1906 are here; marriages from 1813-1921 are here, and burials from 1813-1985 here.

 

Some recent releases of new datasets at Ancestry have been marred by unfortunate errors - the type of things that you wouldn't expect the world's biggest genealogy company to get wrong. I understand that the West Yorkshire records are also coming in for criticism - there is a problem with Huddersfield records, tens of thousands of which have been recorded under a non-existent parish called 'Nomina', and I've also heard that some burial records have been indexed as if they were baptisms, though I don't know which parishes are affected.

 

I don't have any ancestors from the area so I'd appreciate feedback from members who do - when problems are out in the open it's easier to find ways to overcome them.

 

Tip: remember that you can get a free 6 month Ancestry Premium subscription by buying Family Tree Maker Platinum 2011 - click here for details. Whilst I can't recommend the software - I've never used it, and opinion about it seems to be mixed - there's a substantial saving compared to the normal cost of a subscription even if you don't use the program.

 

Militia records at findmypast

At the end of June findmypast added over half a million militia records covering the period 1806-1915. An often forgotten source of information, they can tell us about ancestors who served in the militia - part-time forces organised by county that were a forerunner to the Territorial Army. The records held in WO96 at the National Archives are the attestation papers completed at the time of recruitment, but in many cases they were annotated up to the time of discharge.

 

Click here to find out more about militia records on the findmypast website, and here for the TNA guide.

 

Dad's Army records to go online?

The National Archives is planning to digitise a sample of the 4.6 million records for the Home Guard, a volunteer force that protected Britain between 1940 and 1944. Best known to most of us as Dad's Army, and immortalised in the television series of that name, the outfit was originally called the Local Defence Volunteers.

 

National Archives User Advisory Group

The information in the previous article came from a report of the inaugural meeting of the new TNA User Advisory Group on June 22 - you'll find a brief report of the meeting by Else Churchill of the Society of Genealogists on the SoG website.

 

I was delighted to note that the names and contact details of the members of the group are to published on the TNA website - you may recall that when I tried to find out the names of the members of a previous TNA Advisory Group I was informed that the information could not be published because of the Data Protection Act!

 

Black Sheep Index updated

The website that hosts the Black Sheep Index and many other unique indexes has recently been updated - if you haven't visited before it's well worth a look.

 

Tracing Your East End Ancestors

I've just finished reading an excellent book called Tracing Your East End Ancestors by Jane Cox, who worked for the National Archives for a quarter of a century. All of my ancestral lines passed through the East End of London before finally ending up in Essex, and I've discovered all sorts of potential new leads.

 

If your ancestors lived in the parts of the East End that are now in the modern borough of Tower Hamlets, this book is well worth buying even if you have to pay full price (though you won't have to if you follow this link to Amazon). I'm certainly looking forward to looking up records at Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives that I was previously unaware of!

 

Tip: many of the records at Ancestry described in the book as unindexed have subsequently been indexed - no printed publication can possibly keep up with the Internet!

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

 

The Genealogist

Nearly a year ago I took out a subscription to The Genealogist so that I could review it on behalf of LostCousins members. Whilst it isn't one of the two big sites, it gets lots of favourable comments in family history magazines, and has some datasets that you won't find at other subscription sites.

 

As the only major site that doesn't use the FamilySearch transcription of the 1881 England & Wales census it's an opportunity to find relatives who are proving elusive, since whilst there are no doubt just as many transcription errors, the chances are they won't be the same ones. For example, the Keehner family in Bethnal Green were transcribed as Keckuer by the FamilySearch transcribers (who were volunteers from local family history societies), but as Keckner by The Genealogist.

 

Note: when you enter relatives from the 1881 England & Wales census on your My Ancestors page, even if you find them at The Genealogist please use the FamilySearch transcription, (which you can access free at findmypast, Ancestry, and - of course - FamilySearch). Entering different information could prevent me matching you with your cousins!

 

But the key datasets from my point of view are the pre-1858 wills, which would normally cost me £3.50 each at DocumentsOnline (the National Archives site), and the Non-Conformist registers that are held by the National Archives in RG4, RG5 and RG6, but are not available online anywhere except at The Genealogist. As it happens, I'd already found the non-conformist register entries for my Essex ancestors by visiting the Essex Records Office in Chelmsford , which is just 25 miles away from my home - but not everyone is able to attend the records offices (nor will everyone be aware that their ancestors were non-conformist).

 

Other TNA records that you'll find include the Fleet Marriages held in RG7. It is said that by the 1740s nearly half of all the marriages in London were performed at the Fleet prison, and this was one of the reasons that clandestine marriages were made illegal in 1754 by Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act.

 

There are lots of different subscription options (possibly too many!), and you can also buy credits. I personally wouldn't give up my subscription to findmypast or Ancestry in favour of The Genealogist, but everyone's family tree is different - so I'm sure there are plenty of people who would disagree with me. It's also worth bearing in mind that searching a new website invariably turns up new clues - whilst there's usually a lot of overlap-(typically BMD indexes and censuses) all of the subscription sites have records that you won't find anywhere else.

 

Note: if you're a subscriber to The Genealogist (or a former subscriber) I'd be interested in your views about the site.

 

Distant cousins

I wrote recently how useful my contacts with 5th cousins have been in helping me to piece together my family tree, and I've subsequently had numerous emails from members who've also benefited immensely from their contacts with distant cousins.

 

One of the first people to join LostCousins in 2004 was the actor Tim Bentinck, best-known for his role as David Archer in "The Archers", a radio serial that began on New Year's Day 1951 (precisely 3 months after I was born - although I should stress that Tim is a few years younger than me, and didn't make his debut in the programme until 1982).

 

Tim is a very talented man; not just a first-rate actor, but also a writer, accomplished computer programmer, and a family historian who has traced his ancestors back to 1233! Although I've heard him on the radio thousands of times over the last three decades and seen some of his TV appearances, today (Sunday) will be the first time I've seen him live - he is giving a one-man show at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury.

 

Anyway, to get back to the subject of distant cousins, on Tim's website he writes "I doubt if anyone expects to receive anything from their half 6th cousins when they die - I don't imagine most people know who their half 6th cousins even are."

 

When the 9th Duke of Portland died in 1990, the dukedom died out, but the earldom passed to the duke's half 6th cousin, Henry Bentinck - Tim's father - and Tim became Viscount Woodstock, which was a pretty cool title for someone who grew up in the 1960s (though it dates from 1689). When Tim's father died in 1997 he inherited his title, becoming not only Earl of Portland and a member of the House of Lords, but also a Count of the Holy Roman Empire.

 

Anyone still think that distant cousins are unimportant?

 

Note: a copy of the script for the very first episode of 'The Archers' will be auctioned at Sotheby's on 14th July with an estimate of £3500!

 

Anne takes her tree back to 1521

I get a lot of emails from members who have made discoveries thanks to the 'lost cousins' they've found, and you'll find a few of them on the Success Stories page. But Anne's story was a little bit special:

 

"Just to let you know that I recently found a 'Lost Cousin' who was able to tell me the maiden name of one of my great-great-great grandmothers. From this I was able to trace that line back to 1521!

 

"Up to now, any cousins I found I either knew about already, or they had no more info than I had myself. A big thank you for this website."

 

It's worth bearing in mind that even if the cousin you're linked with hasn't progressed any further than you on a particular line, finding someone who has independently reached the same conclusions helps to validate your research. And, of course, every extra researcher has an extra pair of hands and an extra pair of eyes - which makes ongoing research much easier!

 

Unusual census entries - update

In the last newsletter I mentioned a most unusual household that Bill in Australia had found; however, not long after my newsletter went online, John (also in Australia) wrote to point out that it was a (relatively) modern forgery. Someone had gone to the trouble of creating an entire household using an original census page - one that seems to have been blank.

 

The forged entry must have been created before the census was transcribed, which I believe was in the 1980s, but because it refers to Pakistan - a country which only came into existence in 1947 - it must be post-war. My guess is that it was perpetrated by someone involved in microfilming the census - I can't imagine that a family historian would have carried out such a crime.

 

Note: the primary aim of the article was to ensure that all members know how to look up a household using the census references - the fact that the entry turned out to be a forgery doesn't affect this objective (indeed, it will probably encourage even more people to look it up!)..

 

Limited free access to the 1911 Census

It's now possible to search the England & Wales 1911 Census at the new FamilySearch site, and if you do you'll get rather more free information than if you search at findmypast. The key piece of additional information is the individual's place of birth, and even if you have a findmypast subscription you may sometimes find it easier to identify the correct record at FamilySearch.

 

If do you find the person you're looking for at FamilySearch, and want to see more, you'll be transported to findmypast, where you'll need to pay (if you don't have a subscription).

 

Note: as far as I can tell, at FamilySearch there is no way of specifying the age or year of birth of the person you're searching for; this may restrict the value of the search when the surname is a common one.

 

Still tracing relatives after 1911

Many members have written in to thank me for the Masterclass article on tracing relatives after the 1911 Census, but a particularly appreciative email came from Jenny:

 

"Your stories and tips have really helped me to consider alternative options when it comes to my family history, especially when researching those harder-to-find branches.

 

"My Grandfather and I were so happy to see the MasterClass that you wrote on tracing families after 1911. We're in the middle of a massive undertaking: turns out his Grandfather had two brothers and a sister... no one in our family knew of these two great uncles. Thanks to your article, we've discovered they never left England, but both married and had daughters. "

 

If you missed the original article but would like to read it, please follow this link to my May newsletter. I'm still finding new 20th century relatives to add to my tree, even though I must have added in excess of 500 already!

 

Note: the article has been republished in family history magazines around the world, most recently in the journal of the Qualicum Beach Family History Society in British Columbia. If you would like to include one of my articles in your society's newsletter just send me an email - I've never yet said no!

 

Are you receiving my emails?

I've recently been contacted by a number of members who have Orange, Freeserve, or Wanadoo addresses but haven't been receiving my emails announcing these newsletters. I believe all of those services are run by the same company, so there could be a much wider problem - and some members may simply have assumed that I'd stopped publishing newsletters (never!!!).

 

If you have friends or relatives who are LostCousins members you might want to let them know about this newsletter - and if they haven't received an email from me within the next couple of days they should consider asking their mail provider what on earth is going on!

 

Tip: there are usually 2 newsletters per month, and it would be unusual for there to be more than a 3 week gap between newsletters.

 

Peter's Tips

In my tips column in the last newsletter I wrote about a website that will convert web pages to PDF files, something that a lot of members have since found very handy. Then Judi wrote in with an even better tip - a free program called Calibre to convert all sorts of files so that you can load them into an ebook reader such as the Kindle. It works best with HTML files (ie web pages), so as a trial I used it to convert my last newsletter into Kindle format - it worked a treat!

 

Tip: you can also convert ebooks from one format to another - just so long as they aren't protected against copying.

 

I generally catch up on my reading when I'm on holiday, so it's appropriate that there's a Summer Sale on BBC magazines including Who Do You Think You Are?, BBC History, and Gardeners' World. Click here to go straight to the offer page - there are 21 different magazines in the offer, and you can get 5 issues of any one of them for just £5 (which in many cases is about what you'd normally pay for a single issue!).

 

Recently it has been hard to find offers at Tesco that offer extra Clubcard points, but I'm glad to say that the tide seems to be changing. The latest offers aren't quite as generous as in previous years, but nevertheless to get 50 bonus points when you spend £1.95 on decaffeinated Earl Grey teabags is pretty good when you consider that they could be worth as much as £1.50 against a holiday or one of the many other offers in the Rewards brochure.

 

There is still the occasional offer where they virtually pay you to take the goods away - in my local Tesco I bought some re-useable plastic cutlery for £1.75 and got 80 bonus points, worth up to £2.40 (though unfortunately this offer doesn't seem to be in every store).

 

For my 60th birthday last year I got a 3D television, and I've just watched the Wimbledon Ladies Singles Final on it - one of the very first 3D transmissions from the BBC. Not only did I feel like I was actually there, at times it was so realistic that I almost felt I was playing on Centre Court! Just as well I didn't have a racket in my hand, or there could have been an expensive accident....

 

Have you tried...

When you're entering relatives on your My Ancestors page do you enter capital letters? It's useful to know that initials and the first letter of each name are capitalised automatically - so you can save time by entering everything in lower case (or capitals, if you prefer).

 

Note: this only applies to the main part of the form, where you enter information from the census. If you choose to enter data in the optional part of the form then it will be displayed exactly as you type it (which gives you full control over what you see).

 

Stop Press

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

 

That's all for now - I hope you've found my newsletter interesting. Many of the articles are inspired by you, the members, so please do keep writing in with your thoughts, comments, and suggestions.

 

peter_signature

 

Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins