James West, aged 23, of Brightwell, a
groom in Thame, Oxfordshire in 1851.
Frederick Wilson, aged 15, a page at
Brighton, Sussex in 1871, he came from Berkshire.
Henry Breadmore of Hun gerford married at
Hoxton, London, in 1881.
In 1891 Herbert Batten, aged 25, a teacher
from Twyford, was living in Paddington, London.
Do you recognise any of these people? Have you
lost someone from Berkshire and can't find them
anywhere? These are just four examples taken from
the new Berkshire Strays database.
What is a Stray? 'A stray is
a recorded event in which a person is described
in the record as being from, or connected with, a
place outside an area in which they normally
lived'. The Federation of Family History
Societies maintains a site devoted to strays at www.ffhs.org.uk/General/Help/Strays.htm.
James West, Frederick Wilson, Henry Breadmore
and Herbert Batten were all originally from
Berkshire but at some point in their lives were
absent from the county when an event was
recorded, three of them were shown in a census
and the fourth from his marriage certificate.
They are therefore 'Berkshire Strays'.
People from Abingdon have strayed to Bury St
Edmonds; from Aldermaston to Bristol; Hungerford
to Hastings; Maidenhead to New Zealand; Newbury
to Yorkshire and so on. There are thousands more,
some may be connected to your family.
Why a database? All
information received about a stray is entered
into a computer database which can be searched by
name, date, age, occupation, event, place and
county and place of origin. This will form an
index which will be user-friendly and easily
How will it help me?
Eventually it is expected that the database will
be available for researchers to use at the
Research Centre, and for the Society to provide a
service for those not able to visit the Centre
themselves. But that is all some way off. With
only 1400 entries at present the likelihood of
finding your ancestor is remote. However, when
there are many more entries the database will
give researchers an indication of where their
ancestors might have been, or in some cases
exactly where they were, at a certain period. In
other words instead of looking for a needle in a
haystack it will act like a magnet and find it
How can I help the index?
Send me your strays or any that you find in the
course of your research. Look through your notes
and your family tree to find anyone that left
Berkshire. Look at other entries on the copies of
the census, not just your family, as neighbours
may also be strays from Berkshire.
The only strays that are not required are
those on the 1881 Census as the information it
contains is readily available to most people.
What information do I need to send?
Details required are surname (preferably in
capitals), event, year, place of sighting of the
person, place of origin (i.e. their Berkshire
home town/village) and the source of the
information (e.g. census, parish records,
marriage certificate etc.).
Other useful, but not essential, details would
be forename, age, marital status, occupation,
relationship, full date and any other details you