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THE   ORIGINS   OF   THE   RAYMENT   SOCIETY
 
 
The first known attempt to carry out any systematic general research into the Rayment surname was made in the 1960ís by the late John Leonard Rayment of Ongar in Essex, England, many of whose original research manuscripts are now in the possession of the Society. Johnís interest in family history appears to have started with his efforts to trace his own Rayment ancestry, but this seems to have rapidly broadened into an interest in all aspects of genealogy. He first become chairman, and later president of the Essex Society for Family History, in addition to having been a founder member of both the East of London Family History Society and of our Society. He was also elected a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists for his services to genealogy and, as a result of this and his commitments on the lecture circuit, together with work on his book about Monumental Inscriptions, he was unable to carry out much further research into Rayment family history.

It was in the early 1980ís that a small group of unrelated people comprising David Rayment of Bristol, Roy Rayment of Romford, Sylvia Bailey of Billericay and Michele Snook of Heathfield, each of whom individually had been researching their Rayment ancestors, decided to co-operate by amalgamating the information that they had each obtained, and by organising all their further research in such a way that any duplication of effort was avoided.

With the benefit of John Raymentís advice and much concentrated hard work by this group, the decade grew to a close with comprehensive information having been gathered and collated. It was from these beginnings that the present Rayment Society grew, the original group having been joined by a number of other interested researchers, to form the Society in early 1991, John Rayment then becoming its first president until his untimely death from a heart attack later that same year.

In 1994 the Society inaugurated a 24 hour recorded telephone news bulletin called Newsline. Although quite popular from the beginning, it became even more so with the introduction, in August 1996, of the Noticeboard feature, which offers members the opportunity to make announcements and requests for help. Newsline has continually developed and expanded in the light of the experience gained from its operation, and is perhaps one of the most appreciated of the many services currently available to the Societyís members, almost certainly being the only service of this type to operate anywhere in Europe.

During the next few years the Society gradually began to broaden its research to include the more common variants of the Rayment surname such as Raiment, Raymant, Raymond and Raymont. As a result of this and of subsequent research, the Societyís records now encompass more than twenty known variants.

Since the beginning, there had been a nucleus of willing volunteers who had continued to contribute much of their time, effort and money to the Society in order to support its original policy of avoiding the introduction of membership subscriptions and of fees for services, because it was thought that such charges might well deter many people from joining.

However, by the end of 1997, with the constant increase in membership numbers, coupled with a massive increase in expenditure on research work and printing costs, it became increasingly evident that the volunteers, many of whom had by then retired, could no longer afford to fund the Society entirely from their own resources. Several other avenues of funding including sponsorships were then explored to no avail, and so the decision was reluctantly taken at the General Meeting which followed in February 1998, to introduce both a joining fee for new members and a small membership subscription, in order to help defray the cost of running the Society.

In February 1998 the Society (through itís Chairman) became a full member of The Guild of One Name Studies and is now looking forward to becoming a member of The Federation of Family History Societies and to the possibility of achieving the status of a Registered Charity.

Work is currently in progress to computerise the bulk of the Societyís archives and some of the more important records are now available on-line to members.
 
 
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