While easily deduced, the Medieval English concept of ''Waif and Stray'' actually had a slightly different meaning and outcome. As early as the 12th Century AD, Anglo-Saxon England had various Laws regarding the errant loss (through One's fault or not), of Cattle. Wandering away at times, they might end up on another's Land. Laws were different from Region to Region, but – after a certain amount of time, the animal could be claimed by this second person. Regardless of provided identification, after a prescribed period, The ''Stray'' could thus become owned by another. Later, when much of English Laws was codified and changed, Stray Claims remained ''on The Books''.
As far as the term ''Waif'', it was applied to the finding of lost property – again found on another's property. As with animals, after a certain period of prescribed time, such items could be claimed as One's. Much later, when again Laws were modified to specifically address ''lost property'', the term ''Waif'' was applied only to lost or abandoned minor aged children, which fell under control of The Crown or Territory therein.