Newsletter - 12th January 2017

 

 

Leicestershire parish registers online this month OUT NOW

Good news - the enhanced GRO indexes are still online

Free access to BMD records and Censuses at Findmypast ENDS SUNDAY

LostCousins is free this weekend! ENDS MONDAY

200 years of the census: how it was seen in 2001

How were homeless people recorded in the census?

Present on census night. Not!

REWRITING HISTORY: the mother who bore 33 children - or did she?

Understanding family photos: one-day course in London SOLD OUT

First test results from Living DNA OFFER ENDS SUNDAY

Review: File Under Fidelity

Peter's Tips: Best of 2016 (part three)

Stop Press

 

The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 30th December) 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):

 

 

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). If one of the links doesn't work this normally indicates that you're using adblocking software - you need to make the LostCousins site an exception (or else use a different browser, such as Chrome).

 

To go to the main LostCousins website click the logo at the top of this newsletter. If you're not already a member, do join - it's FREE, and you'll get an email to alert you whenever there's a new edition of this newsletter available!

 

 

Leicestershire parish registers online this month OUT NOW

A recent tweet from the Leicestershire Record Office let slip a piece of information that will be great news for anyone with ancestors from the county: "Look out for our Leicestershire Unknown Soldier feature and the launch of our parish registers, wills and electoral rolls online this month".

 

As you'll know from my exclusive revelation last February, the contract for the Leicestershire (and Rutland) registers was won by Findmypast.

 

Good news - the enhanced GRO indexes are still online

Although the GRO's PDF trial ended after just three weeks, the enhanced birth and death indexes which were launched around the same time are still online - and to the best of my knowledge will be available permanently, even if it is decided not to continue with PDF copies of register entries.

 

As most of you will already know, it's the additional information in the indexes that has led to the most discoveries - not the PDFs - and, because the indexes are free, the only investment we need to make is our time. I suspect that by now everyone has used the indexes to identify children who were never recorded by name on any census, but whose existence was revealed by the 1911 Census - but have you thought about using them more speculatively, to identify children of earlier marriages? The infant mortality rate was so high in the 19th century that most families will have lost children in infancy - and whilst identifying them won't help us trace our ancestors (or find living cousins), it will tell us a little more about our ancestors' lives.

 

Tip: there's a handy guide to the new indexes and their quirks here - being able to search only 5 years at a time, and only for males or females, are perhaps the biggest limitations. But fortunately the original indexes - which cover a longer period and include marriages - are still available at several websites, including Findmypast, where they're offering free access this weekend….

 

 

Free access to BMD records and Censuses at Findmypast ENDS SUNDAY

If you have ancestors from England & Wales the essential records are the censuses from 1841-1911, and the GRO indexes from 1837-2006. From 10am on Thursday 12th January until midnight on Sunday 15th January you will have free access to these and billions of other BMD and census records at Findmypast, including indexed transcriptions of the Scottish censuses from 1841-1901, so it's a great opportunity to fill in some of the gaps in your tree. When I checked just now parish records, including images of the original register entries (where available), were also included so you could potentially take your ancestry right back to 1538!

 

Note that whilst you will be expected to log-in, or to register if you haven't done so before, you won't be asked to provide credit card or bank details. There really is no catch - other than the possibility that once you discover how easy it is to add to your family tree you'll want more!

 

Tip: when you visit the Findmypast site you might see an advert for a 14-day free trial; this is always available, but you can only do it once, and you will be expected to provide your card details if you choose this option - so don't choose it unless it is really what you want.

 

Please use these links to visit Findmypast and search the free records:

 

Findmypast.co.uk

Findmypast.ie

Findmypast.com.au

Findmypast.com

 

Different sites require different search techniques if you want to get the best results (and which family historian wouldn't?). Last month I published a Masterclass article to help you make the most of Findmypast - you'll find it here.

 

LostCousins is free this weekend! ENDS MONDAY

With free access to the censuses at Findmypast, there couldn't be a better time to investigate the branches on your family tree so that you can add extra relatives to your My Ancestors page - especially since every direct ancestor or blood relative you add before the end of January represents an entry* in my seasonal competition (you'll find full details of the fantastic prizes here).

 

* relatives from the 1881 Census count double!

 

To make it even more exciting the LostCousins site will be completely FREE this weekend - this means you won't need to be a subscriber to contact the new cousins you find. Even if you don't plan to enter any new relatives you should still log-in and click the Search button on your My Ancestors page.

 

Tip: if you've forgotten how to log-in click here and enter your email address (the one that appears near the end of the email that told you about this newsletter).

 

200 years of the census: how it was seen in 2001

2001 doesn't sound like a long time ago - indeed, when I watched the film 2001: A Space Odyssey nearly half a century ago it seemed like a long time in the future. But for me, 2001 seems  like a lifetime ago - I'm ashamed to say that I didn't start researching my family tree until 2002, when the 1901 Census was released. However, it's better to start late than not at all, and thanks to the wealth of records that have become available online in the past 16 years it's possible for someone starting today to catch up very quickly indeed (although gaining experience and developing insight still takes as long as it ever did!).

 

In 2001 the Office for National Statistics was celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Census - somewhat ironic, one might think, in view of their current position (that the heritage value of the census is irrelevant). There are some interesting facts and figures in this PDF document, which the ONS published just before the 2001 Census was taken - so I'd encourage you to take a look.

 

How were homeless people recorded in the census?

When I came across the following household schedule from the 1911 Census it seemed interesting, but little more; it was only when I read what was more written more carefully that I began to realise the implications…..

 

Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England and Findmypast

 

As you can see, there were two homeless persons 'kipping' in the shed at Bagden Farm, unbeknown to the gardener and his family. But ponder the implications of the heading, which reads "Police Return of Homeless Persons received too late by the Registrar to be inserted other than on this Schedule." Have you ever seen a Police Return of Homeless Persons in the 1911 Census? I hadn't, so it started me wondering whether it was because they didn't exist, or simply because I'd never stumbled across one.

 

Fortunately Google came to my rescue, leading me to this fine example of a Police Return from the parish of Ockham in Surrey:

 

Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England and Findmypast

 

Of course, having found this example in the 1911 Census I was keen to find out how the homeless had been treated in earlier censuses. This page from the 1901 Census Report reveals that in that year there were 1,645 persons found in barns or sheds, and 12,574 in tents, caravans, or in the open air - but I've not been able to locate any such entries. Have you come across any in 1901 (or earlier censuses)?

 

Present on census night. Not!

When you come across one of your ancestors in the census it's natural to assume that this is where they were on census night - but when Margaret found her relative recorded in two different places in 1871 she realised she needed to take a closer look. Here's what she saw:

 

Crown Copyright Image reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England and Findmypast

 

Notice the all important 'not' that has been inserted in the heading. Margaret surmised that the schedule was prepared in advance, but that there was a last minute change of plan. She might well have been right - in 1911, the only census to have been published so far for which the household schedules have survived, we often see deleted entries - but if you go to the front of the enumeration book (which you'll find here) you'll see that written on the front cover it says "Book 6 - Book Not to be abstracted", ie not to be included in the census. The personnel actually on board HMS Indus are listed in Book 5. Investigating further I discovered that Books 3 & 4 similarly listed the personnel who were and weren't aboard HMS Impregnable on census night.

 

The book for HMS Implacable revealed all - it was divided into two sections, with those crew actually on-board shown on pages 1 to 12, whilst pages 15 onwards gave a "LIST of the OFFICERS, MEN, BOYS and MARINES borne on the Books of the Ship but NOT ON BOARD on the NIGHT of SUNDAY, April 2nd, 1871".

 

Only page 15 was pre-printed - subsequent pages had been ruled and annotated by hand, as you can see from the example below (this was probably of necessity, and explains why the ships Indus and Impregnable commandeered entire books for their absentee personnel):

 

 

Note: a key difference I've noticed between Ancestry and Findmypast is that Ancestry generally index deleted entries on the census, whereas Findmypast don't - it's debatable which approach is best. These particular records have been indexed by both sites, however.

 

It's not that unusual for the same person to appear twice on the census, and it's often fairly easy to deduce why that might have been - even today we are encouraged to complete the census form ahead of schedule, the assumption clearly being that we have a crystal ball. In practice children might be at their grandparents, itinerant workers could be in transit, and some unfortunate individuals will be in hospital.

 

Please don't write in just because one of your ancestors is listed twice in the census, but if you have an example of someone who is recorded twice in particularly interesting circumstances - for example, someone who has two families, each apparently unaware of the other - then I'd be very interested to hear about them.

 

REWRITING HISTORY: the mother who bore 33 children - or did she?

This article is the first in an occasional series in which I will be examining stories that have been accepted as true, but which can now be more fully researched using the wealth of online resources available to family historians. The series was inspired by an email from Peggy in Australia who spotted the story of Mary Jonas while transcribing births as a FamilySearch volunteer.

 

In Overleigh Cemetery, Chester there is a memorial to John Jonas and his wife Mary, who is described as the "mother of 33 children" - you can see the headstone and inscription here.

 

The death of Mary Jonas was reported in the Cheshire Observer on the 9th December 1899 under the heading "Death of a local celebrity", and according to the article Mrs Jonas "was a successful competitor some time ago in a competition promoted by a London periodical for mothers in the United Kingdom having the largest number of children".

 

(The image on the right is copyright of the British Library Board and reproduced by kind permission of Findmypast.)

 

A number of Internet sources name the periodical as Tit-Bits, a weekly magazine published between 1881 and 1984. By 1881, when the magazine was first published, Mary Jonas would have been nearly 70 years of ago - assuming that she was indeed 87 years old at her death in December 1899 - so her child-rearing days would have been well behind her. I naturally wondered how the magazine verified her feat - did she produce birth certificates or baptismal certificates for each of her children?

 

One Internet source suggests that she had 15 sets of twins, each made up of one boy and one girl - an incredibly convenient arrangement that I found hard to believe, so I decided to embark on some research of my own, starting with the marriage of John Jonas to Mary Thomas at the church of St John the Baptist, Chester (in the registration district of Great Boughton, which spans the border of Cheshire and Flintshire).

 

 

Image copyright Cheshire Archives and Local Studies Service, reproduced by kind permission of Findmypast

 

According to the marriage register Mary was already 24 years old when they tied the knot on 17th June 1839, so to bring 33 children into the world would be quite an achievement - though she hit the ground running, as she was already pregnant with twins at the time of the marriage (they were baptised less than three months after the wedding). In 1841 there were 2 children recorded on the census; in 1851 there were 8, and there were the same number in 1861, although 2 of them had been born after the 1851 census. Across the three censuses there was evidence of 10 children, including two pairs of twins - a large family, it's true, but could there really have been 33 children in all?

 

Fortunately the new GRO birth indexes make it easy to track the births of John and Mary's children, because the mother's maiden name is shown (the contemporary indexes only showed this information from the 3rd quarter of 1911). Searching the new indexes using the surname Jonas and maiden name Thomas I was able to identify only 19 children, including 6 pairs of twins (of which only four were girl-boy) - all were registered in Great Boughton. As a crosscheck I searched the Cheshire baptisms at Findmypast, finding the baptisms of 15 of the children - and apart from one with an apparent change of name there no discrepancies.

 

Of course, it's just possible that there were other children who were not baptised, whose births were not registered (or which appear in the indexes under slightly different surnames), and who died before they could appear in the census - but it's inconceivable that there were as many as 33 children born alive. Perhaps the figure of 33 includes stillborn children? It's just about possible, however given the other discrepancies in the story I'm inclined to believe that the numbers were simply exaggerated.

 

Understanding family photos: one-day course in London SOLD OUT

On Saturday 4th February Jayne Shrimpton, the professional dress historian, portrait specialist, and photo ‘detective’ will be gresenting a full day course at the Society of Genealogists in London. At a cost of just £35 (less for SoG members) it's a great opportunity to learn how to 'read' family pictures, and participants are invited to submit photos in advance for analysis on the day.

 

Update: unfortunately all the places have now been filled - but I will let you know if the course is going to be re-run.

 

 

First test results from Living DNA OFFER ENDS SUNDAY

LostCousins member Debbie Kennett lectured on DNA testing at Genealogy in the Sunshine in both 2014 and 2015 - she's also in great demand at other events, is the author of The Surnames Handbook and DNA & Social Networking, and an Honorary Research Associate attached to the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London. It's not surprising, then, that she was invited to be one of the first to try out the new Living DNA test which promises to offer a far higher resolution guide to British ancestry than the tests offered by other companies.

 

Yesterday Debbie posted a blog article entitled "My Living DNA results Part 1: family ancestry maps", which will be of interest to anyone who has taken a DNA test, or might consider doing so - you'll find it here.

 

You can find out more (and support LostCousins) when you follow this link. Use the voucher code XMAS16 to claim a 10% discount - the discount is valid until Sunday 15th January.

 

Review: File Under Fidelity

File Under Fidelity is the final book in Geraldine Wall's excellent trilogy featuring Anna Ames, an heir hunter who tries - not always successfully - to balance the needs of her family with those of her clients. If you've read the first two books you'll know that there are numerous loose ends to tie up in the third book - but things didn't happen quite as I expected, oh no!

 

I'm not going to reveal any more because if you have read the first two books (File Under Family and File Under Fear) you won't need to be convinced to read this one, and if you haven't - well, I wouldn't want to give too much away! Highly recommended, especially if you like a bit of humanity with your genealogical mystery - and whilst this trilogy is only available in Kindle format, you don't need a Kindle device (I read this book on my smartphone).

 

You can support LostCousins when you order this book - or any other item - from Amazon using the relevant link below:

 

Amazon.co.uk               Amazon.com                 Amazon.ca

 

Peter's Tips: Best of 2016 (part three)

In the third part of my review of 2016 I'm focusing on books. The links are to my original reviews of the books - I can't see any point in repeating myself - and when you go to the reviews you'll find links to the books at various Amazon sites, so you can support LostCousins if you feel so inclined.

 

 The first book I reviewed in 2016 was Family History Nuts & Bolts, the updated version of a book that I found very useful indeed. The earlier edition had been recommended by the author of Genealogy: Essential Research Methods, Helen Osborn - a long-term LostCousins member and founder of Pharos Tutors - with those two books on your shelves you can't go far wrong!

 

But the most popular books that I write about are the genealogical mysteries - and 2016 brought a new book from Steve Robinson, one of my favourite authors - Kindred. Some people reckon it's his best so far - all I can say is that I've enjoyed every one. The Irish Inheritance was by an author new to me - but what a cracking story, so I'll certainly be looking forward to the next book from MJ Lee. However my favourite book of 2016 has to be The Death of Tommy Quick and Other Lies from DJ Wiseman, which was breathtakingly good - you really mustn't miss it!

 

It's not often I read fiction that isn’t a genealogical mystery, but I'm prepared to make an exception for LostCousins member Anne Harvey - whose stories set in the 1950s recreate the era very well. Bittersweet Flight is her second book, and every bit as good as the first - so I was delighted to find out yesterday that she's writing a third.

 

The final work I'd like to mention is A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford - because it really puts what we family historians do into perspective.

 

Stop Press

This is where any last minute updates and corrections will be highlighted - if you think you've spotted an error (sadly I'm not infallible), reload the newsletter (press Ctrl-F5) then check here before writing to me, in case someone else has beaten you to it......

 

That's all for now - but I'll be back again soon.

 

Description: Description: peter_signature

 

Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins

 

© Copyright 2016 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