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From: Stephen Hayes
To: All
Date: 2003-04-22 20:55:34
Subject: National Strays Index and Clearing House

* Forwarded (from: GEN_BRITAIN) by Stephen Hayes using timEd/2 1.10.y2k.
* Originally from Roy Stockdill (8:8/2002) to All.
* Original dated: Sat Apr 19, 06:37

From: roy{at} ("Roy Stockdill")

THERE was a query in a recent GENBRIT digest asking what the National
Strays Index was, and I fear I inadvertently deleted it before replying.
Here, however, is the answer.

The National Strays Index and the National Strays Clearing House are
maintained by the Federation of Family History Societies and full details
can be found at the following URL.....

What is a "stray"?, some newbies may well ask. Here is the
official definition from the website:

"A stray is a recorded event in which a person is described in the
record as being from, or connected with, a place outside the area in which
they normally lived. For the National Index most family history societies
interpret this as out-of-county, but some give a narrower interpretation
for their own indexes, particularly if they cover a city or a large
industrial area. However, in the case of
'out-of-parish' strays, one should be aware that a lot of this ground
may be covered already by the IGI, Boyd, and county marriage indexes.

"Census strays are different as they normally show people resident
outside their county of birth, but they are collected as a valuable source
for the study of family movement. The National Index contains no entries
for the 1881 Census, nor any entries which do not give the full Public
Record Office (PRO) reference for each family.

"The most frequent types of strays are from marriage and census
records, reflecting the systematic work within societies, but the service
distributes and indexes material from poor law records, death and burial
records, monumental inscriptions and baptisms. Some of the most interesting
are: the burials in coastal parishes of drowned seamen washed up from
wrecks, where the name of the ship is often given; baptisms of gypsy
children with fascinating names; militia men marrying girls from the
parishes in which they were stationed during the Napoleonic Wars. The list
is endless, and browsing can become addictive!"

The concept of "strays" began in the 1970s, when family history
was just taking off in a big way and societies were being formed. The idea
of a stray was that whilst consulting census records, etc, if you happened
to notice someone who was born outside the county where they were
enumerated (not necessarily related to you at all), as a favour to
genealogy at large you jotted it down and later passed it to the strays
coordinator for your society. There was then an interchange between
societies and, hopefully, somebody, somewhere might claim that
"stray" as a lost ancestor. Clearly, this practice is becoming
more infrequent as national censuses, and other sources, become
surname-indexed, and perhaps the necessity for a strays index is
consequently becoming less.

In my new role as Director of Projects for the FFHS, this is one of the
responsibilities which has fallen to me. Personally, my initial feeling is
that, given the huge amount of genealogical data that is now being released
on the Internet and on CD, etc, the role of a strays index will have to
change; even, perhaps, to consider whether it has become largely obsolete
(I am not saying this is the case at present, but is one of the things I
shall have to look at). For example, someone found living out of the county
where they were born on the 1881 or 1901 censuses cannot be regarded as a
"stray" when the entire country has been surname-indexed and they
are easily found (or relatively so).

Roy Stockdill (Editor, Journal of One-Name Studies) SoG Executive &
Director of Projects, FFHS Guild of One-Name Studies:-
Newbies' Guide to Genealogy & Family History:-

Never ask a man if he comes from Yorkshire. If he does he will tell you, if
he does not why humiliate him? - Canon Sydney Smith

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