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2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

I am undertaking a One-Name Study of the Stranney/Straney surname. My work started about thirty years ago as a general family history project. However, for the last ten years or so my curiosity about the origins of the Stranney name has prompted me to spend more and more time collecting information exclusively on it alone. My information is taken from a wide range of sources and includes material on families who lived in Ireland, England, Scotland, USA and Australia. I welcome all enquiries about this name. My contact details are below.

Variant names

The registered variants of the name are Stranney and Straney. Older records show many other spellings of the name such as: Strany, Stranny, Strainey and Strawney. Because these latter have occurred infrequently in the past and stopped appearing in records completely early in the 20th century, I consider them to be misspellings. Of the two variants Straney appeared first in time (late 18th century). Stranney does not appear until the late 19th century. Both spellings have persisted until the present. Today, worldwide, Straney is by far the most common spelling.

Name origin

The origin is not clear. The earliest known location of the name (spelt '€˜Strany'€™), in 1708, is in the eastern part of County Down in Northern Ireland. It may be linked to the Strain or Strachan surnames for which there are examples going back to the early 17th century. This would mean it could be a locative surname perhaps originating from the parish of Strachan in Kincardineshire, Scotland, formerly Strathaen. The name may come from stra or strath, a vale, from the root strath, a valley, through which a river runs, and chan or ceann, the head, meaning 'the head of the valley,' or 'a little valley,' from Strathan. Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin, in 1764, had a friend called William Strachan, a publisher and editor, whom he always referred to as "€œStraney"€ (an affectionate phonetic pronunciation of Strachan?). Celebrated figures in history can set fashions which the rest of us are often keen to follow. Perhaps this encouraged the more common use of "€œStraney"€ as a surname.

The name could also be one based on a bodily characteristic or personality trait. If its origin is from the Irish language or Scots Gaelic it could mean '€˜nosey'€™, '€˜big-nosed'€™ or '€˜inquisitive'€™. If its origin is from Medieval English it could mean '€˜demented'€™ or '€˜passionate'€™.

All of the above theories are consistent with an origin within a geographical circle which includes east County Down in Northern Ireland, south-west Scotland and north-west England.

Historical occurrences of the name

Before the beginning of the 20th century Stranneys/Straneys were mainly farmers, tradesmen and labouring folk, sailors and similar. In the 20th and early 21st centuries a percentage of them were/are ministers, teachers, lecturers, scientists and such like. I have, however, yet to find any in recorded history that have become famous or celebrated! There is an interesting record of a Paul Straney, 50 years old, Tallow Chandler, native of Downpatrick in County Down, who was transported from Lancaster, England to Tasmania in 1837 for larceny.

Name frequency

The 1881 Census for Scotland, England and Wales, shows: 6 occurrences of Stranney (Yorkshire and Cumberland) and 32 occurrences of Straney (Lanarkshire, Cumberland, Lancashire, Gloucester, Middlesex and Surrey. The 1880 US Federal Census shows the following: No Stranney households; 76 Straney households (the majority of these in the north-eastern states). The 1911 Census for Ireland shows 8 Stranney households (all but one household in the eastern part of County Down); 12 Straney households (the majority of households divided equally between Belfast and the eastern part of County Down, one outlier in Dublin.

Before 1900 in particular, there is evidence of emigration from Ireland, England and Scotland to the USA primarily. The earliest recorded migrant to the USA was a Nicholas Straney who was in Maryland in 1790. A much smaller number have left those same shores for Australia (one involuntarily). A small number have also emigrated to Canada. Some of this latter have then moved into the USA.

Distribution of the name

Information on the distribution of the name has been included in the above 'Frequency' section.


An extremely wide range of sources have been searched and much of the information collected still needs to be filed and sorted in a more meaningful way to allow for proper analysis. Images of Irish BMDs from 1864, 1845 and 1864 respectively until 1910 have been systematically collected and must be close to 100% (of those available) for that period. A mixture of images and transcribed information for BMDs for Scotland and England have also been collected but are incomplete (perhaps 40% of those available). Census images covering 1790 to 1930 of the US Federal Census have been systematically collected a couple of years ago. However, this US census collection needs to be updated, as more data has become available online. My priority for the immediate future is to sort and file the above existing information so as to permit more effective data analysis.