Theresa Thanks for confirming my thoughts on your branch of the family. You say you are new to this hobby and would like to know how to go about gathering more information. The following may help. I have been extremely lucky as my father and uncle started researching the Fray name in the early 60’s and I have access to their research. Also both my Uncle and I have worked in London for a while and have had the opportunity to extract Fray entries from the Indexes to Births, Marriages and Deaths.
I have also spent some time tracing all my Grandparents, Gt Grandparents etc. So I have been through the same initial processes myself. Genealogy can be and extremely time consuming hobby, even with all the indexes and reference aids that have become available with the rapid increase in interest over the last 10 years.
The starting point is usually via certificates for Births, Marriages and Death. The indexes to these records are currently held at the Family Record Centre at Myddleton Place, London. (not far from Mount Pleasant Sorting Office if you know London). Registration started in 1838 but many people failed to register family events until it became compulsory in 1870’s. The indexes are by forename within surname and give the registration district, and a reference. A book may contain the references for the whole year or more usually just one quarter. The references that I quoted to Chris were from these books. The quarters used are Mar, Jun, Sep and Dec. So a birth in Mid February you would expect to be in the March quarter as that indexes all births registered between 01Jan and 31Mar. However, an event (B, M or D) need not be registered immediately and can be registered up to 6 weeks later so the indexes to the Jun quarter (01Apr to 30 Jun) would also need to be checked. I have copied out every entry for Fray from these indexes up to 1965 plus a few more recent years. The content found in the indexes has varied over time. The early death indexes had no additional information, later the age at death is recorded in the index and more recently still the date of birth. (Death certificates should always be taken with a pinch of salt… the ‘witness’ providing the information may not have known the person that well). The later marriage indexes record the spouses surname and later birth indexes record the mother’s maiden name. This is how I could ‘guess’ the relationships in your family. Copying out all the references to a surname is very time costly but does allow you to cross reference and work out ‘trees’ without the need to purchase too many certificates. Certificates can be ordered from the Family Record Centre by filling in a short form with the reference details from the index. When I last got one it cost £6.50 to have the certificate posted to my home address and took about 10 days. You can pay more to collect it the next day, or to order it by post rather than in person (I think this is about £20). WHSmith stocks several family tree magazines with adverts from people who will go to the FRC and order it in person for you and charge considerably less than £20.
The Family Record Centre also holds census returns and indexes to wills. I have copied the Fray references from the later from 1858 up to about 1940 (if my memory serves me correctly… I’m in work so can’t check).The 1881 census has been indexed by county, and I have used this to find all families where a Fray resided. The indexing is not as wonderful as it might be – there were more Frays alive in 1881 than appear on the census! Perhaps some refused to complete their forms but I suspect some are indexed as Fry and I haven’t yet looked at the Frys for the missing Frays. Some 1851 censuses have been indexed too but usually by district, so as with the other censuses (1841, 1861, 1871 & 1891) you need to have a good idea as to where a family was living. The more definite the address the better. It can be very disheartening to spend the day trawling through reels of mircofilm to not find anything (and its not very sympathetic on the eyes either).
This may sound like you can only do research if you can get into London, but the county records offices will have the census details for their area and the good records offices also hold micro fiche of the indexes to Births, Marriages and Deaths and the Wills from 1858. Having access to the BMD indexes on ‘fiche is a mixed blessing the early years can be awkward to read, however, the indexes at the FRC are LARGE, HEAVY books and you often need to jostle for table space to open them up. Using the fiche can be a more relaxing and much more pleasant experience.
The other big source of information is the IGI. This is an index of births and marriages compiled by the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). The births and marriages mostly come from transcripts of parish registers (which means they are copies of entries from a copy of the register and may contain inaccuracies) or from details submitted from church members (some of whom seem to have ‘made-up’ histories in order to baptise more ancestors into their church). In general though this can provide a useful clue as to where to ‘go looking’ for a family. Most of the entries are for dates before 1840 so you need to have information from certificates or census to bridge the gap. Again, the IGI is stocked as a set of fiche for each county and can be consulted at the FRC, almost all county records offices and also on the internet. Whilst the internet helps you to search for an individual countrywide it is not very good at providing all those with one surname, as to get the detail, you need to go into every person it returns. I have prints of all counties where there were Frays and this lists all Frays in the county giving details of parents of a child and spouse at a marriage. Being together on a page it then becomes much more obvious if there are several children to one set of parents. If you have lots of one surname that you want to print off, then rather spend all your time at the records office doing so I recommend contacting Family Tree Services (who often advertise – Tel / Fax 01733 890458 or write to 30 Eastfield Rd, Peterborough, Cambs. PE1 4AN or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ). They charge about 20p a sheet which considering the labour I think is quite good, especially as most records offices seem to expect visitors to have a pocket full of loose change to feed their printer / photocopiers.
Of course once you have found you ancestor in the IGI you should go back to the original document to verify it. This will definitely mean a trip to the relevant record office. You will probably find they hold registers that haven’t been included in the IGI that may allow you to trace the family further back. Also you may find that there are other parish records (Poor relief, Settlement orders, bastardy bonds etc.) or civil records (schools, hospitals, trade directories, land tax) that will give you an idea as to what the family was doing there and where they came from. Never forget the burial registers (the Latter Day Saints don’t record these on the IGI) and you may find burials for the earlier generation who moved to the area.
Well those are my ‘how to start tips’ in case you want to follow other family lines than the Frays.
For the Frays, the next step is to get either the certificate for Walter Newman Fray’s marriage as this should provide you with both his and his wife’s father’s names and their occupation. It may also give an address. The reference is Surname Forenames Year Quarter Registration District Volume Page FRAY Walter Newman W 1891 Mar Elham 2a 1432
Or his Birth as this will provide, his father and mothers names, her maiden name and his profession. It may also provide an address. Surname Forenames Year Quarter Registration District Volume Page FRAY Walter Newman 1868 Sep Kensington 1a 90
Note that, as well as the references I had listed under my response to Chris, there are also marriages of Surname Forenames Year Quarter Registration District Volume Page FRAY Walter Watkin 1862 Jun Kensington 1a 29 FRAY William Watkins 1871 Dec Westminster 1a 708 FRAY William Watkin N 1896 Mar Westminster 1a 749 Who look like they could be relatives?
And a death Surname Forenames Year Quarter Age Registration District Volume Page FRAY Jane A 1946 Jun 76 Canterbury 2a 1393 Could this be Amelia Jane? I have no death of an Amelia.
I have already got details of a family baptised in Montgommery, 1815-1833 who also used Watkin as a second forename. Their father was born in Enfield and had a sister born in St Albans. Several in the family left wills. One of the children was rather litigious arguing over her inheritance, against her brother and also brought cases against her employer.
Let me know if you need any more help and what the certificates turn up, I’d be very interested.