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Preface to the Second Edition of Extraneus

from Extraneus, Book IX, Strange of Balcaskie

Author: John R. Mayer

Incorporating Comments on the
Composition and Revised Design
of this Work

Fortes fortuna adjuvat.
Fortune favors the brave.

Whoever may be opening a volume of Extraneus for the first time, I would encourage to peruse the book randomly, for it is hardly the type of document that lends itself to diligent or persistent reading. These annals form parts of vast patriarchies that comprise the families called Extraneus, Estrange, le Strange, L’Estrange, de Lestrange, Strang, and Strange. What parcels soever have been assembled herein have sometimes been collected at random and by chance, and I believe they should be studied in the same fashion, by happenstance and discovery. One may never tell what morsels they may cull, nor what harvest they may reap, from investigations of this type and this design. Every genealogist must lament the fact that the bulk of his work seems lifeless, forming merely a blinding succession of names, dates, and places, particularly when the living history of a family trails off into the mutable and fluid present and future. And yet, there are so many moments of excitement for the researcher in such work, when he finally comprehends time and space, finding the means to translate disparate facts into orderly historical narrative.

Prefacing the first edition of Extraneus (1986) were a few remarks about the scope of this work, the genealogists who have worked upon it for four centuries, and some of the problems which impede description of the lineages.

I have adopted a more flexible approach, determining to group families according to their principle regions of origin, and then carrying the lineages forward to the present day, within the same volume, however and wherever the family may have relocated itself. Under the new arrangement, therefore, [Le Stranges of Britain and Aquitaine appear in Volume I], Irish-American L’Estranges may be found together in Volume II, Scottish-American Stranges, Strangs, [and Strong(e)s] may be found grouped in Volume III, and Anglo-American Stranges may be found collected in Volume IV.

The new organization will facilitate what promises to be a controversial addition to the work. With this Volume III, Caledonii Robusti, I intend to divide the Stranges broadly into two groups, namely those that derive from the Strang family of Scotland, and those that descend from the Extraneus family of England. This will no doubt displease the school of Strange genealogists who believe in a single genesis and maintain that everyone named Strange comes ultimately from the same stock. The reader should be cautioned that the division to be introduced, that is the differentiation between Scottish and English families, is by no means proven, and may indeed be indiscernible among the Alloway Strange families. We might speculate, for example, that the Alloway Stranges were connected to Scotland through their maternal name Alloway, associated with England through an English branch of the Strange family, and therefore not related to Strang of Balcaskie.

In pursuing this course of study, one must necessarily define the criteria for inclusion, and demarcate the parameters of inquiry. Were the collator of this material to eliminate from the final work any family or any individual who is not, or does not seem to be, blood related to the Extraneus family of Norman England, then he would lay waste to an incredible diversity of research. Genealogical material is very naturally, and most often, collected and assembled together chiefly because of similitudes in the spellings of surnames. Even years from now, when the progeny of these families communicate with one another, they shall do so chiefly because their surnames are spelled the same, not because they possess any real knowledge of their kinship. Therefore, we should not shy away from this propensity to associate persons with surnames spelled the same or similarly, but embrace it as being a pragmatic and expedient means for modern man.

A Japanese author once compared his culture to that of America, observing that Japan is ruled by a ‘medium-ocracy’, whereas America is ruled by an ‘index-ocracy’. That is to say, Japanese tend to find what they want by searching for it through persons who possess real knowledge of the subject, whereas Americans fully expect to make their own way through life, by first marking everything with signposts, and then indexing the signposts. Whereas a Japanese novice prefers to seek out a personal mentor, medium, or guide, an American student may elect to behave as a lonely frontiersman, determined to blaze he own trail through the wilderness, and content with whatever territory he chooses or happens to map.

In these contemporary, technological times, he who loves the legendary and mythological may well long for the fireside company of a storyteller, some ancient father who would weave for him many magical tales of his ancestors. Sadly, our modern compulsion for mobility, and lust for independence, will surely deny us this dream. Great oral traditions of the past will no longer be transmitted next to the fireplace, but will need to be discovered between the covers to dusty tomes, collected by persons now vanished.

Our criteria for inclusion shall be simple. We shall examine any family and any individual whose name is Strange. We do not intend to expand our parameters to include extensive matriarchal and collateral lines, nor to include each and every trivial occurrence, but we do not intend to withdraw from the study of any Strange family, irrespective of whether or not a blood relationship exists. This means that Afro-American Stranges shall be included, as shall be adopted children, fictional Stranges, and those Stranges who either created, or appear in, literary works.

Extraneus may well be characterized as a social and genealogical history, but it may just as well be called a repository for history and lore, both mundane and literary, relating by name any and all strong, peregrine, extraneous, and foreign persons who ever used the surname Strange, as their birth name, adopted name, pseudonym, or sobriquet. I hope that orderly presentation of these Strange tales may serve the reader, from any purpose of diversion how light and cursory soever it may be, to any degree of critical and scholastic inquiry.

                          John R. Mayer
                          San Francisco, 16 September 1990
                          Revised on Easter, 7 April 1996

                          From Extraneus, Book IX, Strange of Balcaskie 

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