Newsletter - 27 August 2011

 

Success!

New-look findmypast cuts subs

Apprenticeship records

Free access to immigration records

Cemetery scandal - time for change?

Reclaiming your ancestors' graves

Burial records online

Australian military records

Convict records free online

Presumed dead?

Family history courses

How to save at GenesReunited

Do you have Scottish ancestors?

Essex Ancestors - launch delayed

Peter's Tips

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 16 August 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).

 

 

Success!

Quite a few members have discovered new cousins since my last newsletter, and Marion's experience is typical:

 

"Many thanks for connecting me to 2 cousins during the last couple of weeks. It was good to know that there was someone other than myself researching my family ancestors. Also great to know that is was not wasted time and effort, loading in the info from the census. It really does work. Both "cousins" responded, and hopefully we will have a long, pleasant, and helpful relationship."

 

Half the members who have found cousins followed my advice to add extra relatives to their My Ancestors page - the other half were their lucky cousins! And that's the key thing to remember - cousins have to co-operate even before they are linked up, otherwise the connection will never be made.

 

Interesting fact: if the average member had spent even half as long entering relatives on their My Ancestors page as they did reading my last newsletter, then the number of cousins found would have been far higher!

 

Even more cousins would have been found had a greater number of members used their My Referrals page to invite new members to join the site - in fact, it seems that less than 10% of the people reading this newsletter have ever used their My Referrals page, which suggests that there's a serious misunderstanding somewhere!

 

There are two key reasons to use My Referrals. The first is that you can keep track of who has and who hasn't joined; the second is that if it's a relative you're referring, you can avoid duplication of effort simply by indicating which of the relatives on your My Ancestors page are also their relatives. Something that takes you seconds will save your relative minutes.

 

What might stop you using My Referrals? I suppose you might think that I'll sell your friends' email addresses to spammers, or send them spam emails myself. I won't - in fact, the only emails I'll send them are the ones you ask me to.

 

But in any case you don't have to give me their email addresses - you can simply use My Referrals to generate a referral code that you give to your friend or relative. That way I won't have their email address unless they decide to join.

 

New-look findmypast cuts subs

In a surprise move findmypast.co.uk have cut their subscription rates by about 15%, bringing the cost of a 12 month Full subscription down to £109.95, equivalent to 30p a day. A 6 month Foundation subscription is now under £50, or about 27p a day, though for most researchers it is always going to be worth spending that little bit more to get the much wider coverage that the Full subscription offers. Click here to see the new prices.

 

But it's not all good news - the Loyalty Discount has also been cut, from 20% to 10%. Nevertheless, you'll still be better off under the new system - and, of course, rivals Ancestry don't give any loyalty discounts. It's still possible to switch to a different subscription in the 90 days before your current subscription ends, and to get a full credit for the unexpired portion - a really handy option for anyone whose research takes an unexpected turn.

 

You'll also notice that the findmypast site has been given a new, friendlier, look. Were they inspired by LostCousins, I wonder? We'll probably never know....

 

Apprenticeship records

Over half a million records of apprentices have been added to the Ancestry.co.uk site - they cover the years 1710-1811 and cover Scotland as well as England & Wales.

 

They have been extracted from the National Archives records of Stamp Duty paid on indentures (you'll find the TNA Research Guide to Apprenticeship Records here); however they don't include the many apprentices whose positions were found by the parish, or by charities, because no Stamp Duty was due on such indentures, nor will you find apprentices of London Companies. Also, many apprenticeships were not governed by formal indentures, for example, where a lad was apprenticed to his father or uncle.

 

The records include the name of the master as well as the apprentice, and until 1752 the name of the apprentice's father is usually listed - although sadly this information hasn't been indexed (nor, more surprisingly, has the trade!).

 

Tip: in my last newsletter I wrote about the 'Digital Microfilm' records that have been placed online by the National Archives; if you don't have an Ancestry subscription you can access the same records free at the TNA site, and whilst they aren't transcribed or indexed, they are organised by date and location - which makes them fairly easy to browse. (Thanks to Teri-Ann for that tip.)

 

Free access to immigration records

Between Monday August 29th and Monday 5th September Ancestry.co.uk are offering free access to all their immigration records - you'll find more details here. Even if you're already an Ancestry subscriber, this offer should provide access to records that would normally only be available with a Worldwide subscription.

 

Note: you'll need to register at Ancestry if you haven't already done so. It's possible that if you're currently an Ancestry.co.uk subscriber you might have to re-register using a different log-in ID to get access to worldwide immigration records - it won't be clear until the offer starts.

 

Cemetery scandal - time for change?

In the last newsletter I wrote about an unnamed east London cemetery where remains of long-dead individuals were being systematically transferred from the individual graves their relatives had chosen to communal graves in a different part of the cemetery.

 

I still don't know precisely which cemetery was referred to in the article: members have highlighted several cemeteries in east London where "re-organisations" have taken place, are on-going, or have been proposed, including Tower Hamlets, Woodgrange Park, the City of London (in Manor Park), Manor Park, and West Ham cemetery.

 

The stories I've heard about Woodgrange Park are particularly disturbing, and this article by LostCousins member Kay was written at a very bleak time for anyone whose relatives were buried at the cemetery; some of the other tales were so shocking that they wouldn't have been out of place in a horror movie, and it was only after long hard thought that I decided not to repeat them here. However, I found a recent entry on the London Cemeteries website which seems cautiously optimistic (indeed, it's worth visiting that particular website wherever in London your ancestors are buried).

 

Here's what I've gathered about how the system works: typically graves are left undisturbed until they are 75 years old (though it can be as few as 50 years), and then if there is a shortage of space the cemetery will try to contact living relatives before work commences.

 

However, there's a gaping flaw in the system, one which you probably spotted immediately. As LostCousins members we all know how difficult it can be to find living relatives - indeed, that's why I founded LostCousins back in 2004. We might spend hours trying to track down a single relative, and even then we might fail, despite having a wealth of information that we've collected from BMD certificates, censuses, and other records.

 

Can you imagine how much more difficult it must be for cemeteries to track down living relatives when all they've usually got to go on is a 75 year-old name and address? I'd be surprised if they manage to track down living relatives of as many as 10% of the people who are buried in their cemetery - it might even be less than 1%. At the same time, it's still very difficult to find out where our ancestors were buried, because relatively few cemeteries have made their records available online - and where only paper records exist it might cost £15 or £30 for a single search, which makes it a very expensive process unless you guess the cemetery correctly first time.

 

The number of online records is slowly increasing, thanks to sites like DeceasedOnline, but isn't there a very good case for forcing cemeteries to provide online access to their records for a reasonable period - say 5 years - before they are allowed to carry out "re-organisations"? This would allow descendants a reasonable opportunity to put forward their views, an opportunity that for the vast majority just doesn't exist under the present system. It would also allow them to make alternative arrangements for the reburial if they wished.

 

One or two members have pointed out that in earlier centuries it was routine for graves to be recycled, and argued it was only Victorian sentimentality that changed the way we think. I'm prepared to admit that things have gone too far when 'King Arthur Pendragon', a druid in flowing robes, can go to the High Court in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to prevent researchers examining 5000 year-old remains discovered at Stonehenge - but I still don't think we should allow ourselves to be governed by the morals and customs of an era when children were sent up chimneys and down the mines, or when half the population of North America was enslaved. We also know far more about our ancestors than our forbears could have known about theirs - in many cases we have photographs and other mementoes.

 

I propose to contact the minister responsible, Jonathan Djanogly MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice with responsibility for burial policy), to make the case that in most cases the present system provides no opportunity for relatives to express their views or make alternative arrangements, and suggesting that making information available online would help all concerned.

 

Do I have your support?

 

Tip: I'm hoping to arrange an exclusive offer for LostCousins members with DeceasedOnline - watch this space!

 

Reclaiming your ancestors' graves

Have you ever considered taking over ownership of - and responsibility for - one of your ancestors' graves? It's something I wondered about when I saw my grandfather's grave for the first time, even though it was very well-maintained - and after hearing Veronica's story I'm more determined than ever to do something about it:

 

When I was searching for a family grave in Croydon I found it was in great need of restoration so I contacted the appropriate service and was told who their recorded owner was - a deceased uncle; I was then able to apply for ownership with the consent of any other living direct relatives (1st cousins in my case) - that done I could then proceed with the restoration. I must now ensure that ownership will pass on to A.N.Other in the family in my Will.

 

Thank you, Veronica, for a great example of what we can do for our ancestors.

 

Burial records online

With over 18 million entries, from over 9000 parishes, the largest collection of UK burial records is the National Burial Index v3, a DVD ROM compilation of transcriptions carried out by volunteers from local family history societies. It covers most of England & Wales as well as the Isle of Man, although coverage of some areas (notably London) is quite sparse.

 

About two-thirds of those entries are online at findmypast, where you'll also find Boyd's London Burials, a collection of nearly a quarter of a million records, and the City of London Burial Index, with over half a million entries - records that help fill the gap in the NBI.

 

Of course, by the mid-19th century onwards most London churchyards were full, so after that date most burials took place in the suburbs, in places like Brookwood Cemetery in Woking, at one time the largest cemetery in the world (with its own train service), and the City of London Cemetery in Manor Park. Tracking down where your ancestors were buried is much more difficult after 1850. The London Metropolitan Archives burials at Ancestry are five times as numerous for the period 1813-1853 than for the period 1880-1920, despite a massive increase in population.

 

Other major collections of burials at Ancestry include West Yorkshire, Liverpool, and Dorset.

 

I've mentioned in earlier newsletters some of the local authorities that have online indexes of burials. One that I haven't mentioned previously is Eastleigh Borough Council; this link came from James who also tells me that West Ham Cemetery records are due online in the next few months.

 

Australian military records

You can access the records of Australian soldiers who fought in the Great War free at the National Archives of Australia site.

 

The Office of Australian War Graves offers free photographs of Australian soldiers' graves - though only to relatives.

 

Convict records free online

The free Convict Records site is based around the British convict transportation register compiled by the State Library of Queensland - it records about three-quarters of the 160,000 convicts transported to Australia between 1787 and 1867.

 

Alexander found the records of his black sheep ancestor at Tasmanian Archives Online. It's not the easiest of sites to use, but once again it's free!

 

Tip: Tasmania was previously known as Van Diemen's Land.

 

Presumed dead?

If somebody was missing for more than 7 years they could be declared dead, allowing their spouse to remarry - and as sentences of transportation were usually for at least 7 years, there are many cases where convicts remarried in Australia even though they still had a wife and family in England, or where the wife remarried.

 

Indeed, when Alexander found that his great-great-great-great grandmother had remarried he assumed that his great-great-great-great grandfather had died - it was only later, after researching in workhouse records, that he discovered that he had been transported.

 

Yet another instance of misleading information on a marriage certificate!

 

Family history courses

LostCousins member and professional genealogist Celia Heritage has recently announced her programme of autumn courses, which for the first time include an online course. See the Heritage Family History website for full details.

 

How to save at GenesReunited

When I first subscribed to Genes Reunited over 8 years ago the subscription was just £7.95 for 12 months; now a Standard subscription is £14.95 for just 6 months (which, by the way, is 3 times the price of a LostCousins subscription should you decide to support us).

 

However, you can make a substantial saving - if you subscribe to Genes Reunited for 12 months at a time it's only £19.95!

 

I know that still sounds expensive compared to what it cost in 2003, but what hasn't gone up in that time? I suspect the only online subscription that hasn't increased in all that time is the LostCousins subscription - it has always been £10 for a single account, or £12.50 for a couple with linked accounts.

 

728x90_Genes Reunited

 

Do you have Scottish ancestors?

A new series of Digging Up Your Roots begins on BBC Radio Scotland in January 2012, and the producers are looking for people with an interesting ancestor - or just a good tale to tell about their family tree. Email diggingupyourroots@bbc.co.uk if you are able to help.

 

I'm looking forward to findmypast adding transcripts of the Scottish censuses - they are supposed to go online before the end of this year. Why? Because although I don't have any Scottish connections I know that it will be a great opportunity for LostCousins members to make connections.

 

Currently the chance of finding relatives through the Scotland 1881 census is a lot lower than for those of us with English ancestry - and I suspect that will change as the censuses become more readily available.

 

Essex Ancestors - launch delayed

The launch of Essex Ancestors, the proposed online register service from the Essex Records Office which was due to start around now has been delayed by "a couple of months".

 

However, the subscription prices have been announced: £5 for a day, £15 for a week, £25 for a month, £50 for 6 months and £75 for a year. It sounds expensive compared to sites like Ancestry and findmypast which offer far more records, but on the other hand it will still be cheaper for me than a 50 mile roundtrip to Chelmsford.

 

Peter's Tips

When you subscribe to LostCousins before the end of the month you can get an extra month free - enter the offer code AUGMENT on the Subscribe page and 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.

 

Tip: save even more with a joint subscription, £12.50 for both husband and wife

 

Of course, you don't have to be a subscriber to join the LostCousins project and search for cousins who share your ancestors - but it does mean that when you find a new cousin you can contact them without waiting.

 

Alternatively get a free subscription by entering my jam-making competition - see the article Jam tomorrow in last month's newsletter.

 

Unusually Amazon haven't increased the price of Family Tree Maker 2011 Platinum as they usually do just after I mention it in my newsletter - it's still on offer for just £29.99. I can't recommend the software (I've never used it), but the free 6 month PREMIUM subscription to Ancestry that's included is worth almost £60 - so it's an incredible saving.

 

 

Stop Press

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

 

I hope you've found my newsletter interesting, and that you'll keep writing in with tips of your own - many of the best tips in my newsletters come from members.

 

peter_signature

 

Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins