England, Essex Parish Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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England, Essex Parish Registers, 1503-1997 .
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Flag of England|
|Location of Essex, England|
|Record Type||Parish Registers|
|Essex Archives Online|
- 1 What is in the Collection?
- 2 Collection Content
- 3 What Can This Collection Tell Me?
- 4 How Do I Search the Collection?
- 5 What Do I Do Next?
- 6 Known Issues with This Collection
- 7 Citing this Collection
- 8 How You Can Contribute
What is in the Collection?
This collection consists of church records from the county of Essex for the years 1503-1997. Various parishes from Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Kent are also included.
In its most basic sense, a parish register is a record of religious ordinances performed in the Church of England. Beginning in 1538, every parish priest was required to write down certain information about every baptism (officially termed “christening” in Anglican use), marriage, and burial that took place in his parish over the course of each year. He was then supposed to bind these pages into a single volume, thereby annually producing a comprehensive history of his ministerial efforts. After 1754, a new law required that marriages be recorded in a separate book, and banns—public proclamations of a couple’s intent to marry—were to be recorded in yet another book. Starting in 1812, pre-printed registers were introduced, and separate registers were then kept for baptisms, marriages, and burials. It should also be noted that many parish records were not kept during the Interregnum, 1649-1660, due to temporary changes in the hierarchy of the Church of England.
Due to this long and relatively stable tradition, parish registers are central to English genealogical research as they are often one of the only sources for finding families and individuals in England before the start of civil registration in 1837.
- Further information: Church of England Parish Registers
One of the 39 historic counties of England, Essex is a coastal county located in the region of East Anglia, with the River Thames forming its southern border. The London metropolis takes up much of the south and west of the modern county. For a list of parishes which historically made up this county, see the Essex Parishes page.
The index to this collection refers to baptism, marriage, and burial records. Baptismal record entries are the most common in the index, followed by burial records, with marriage records constituting the smallest portion.
What Can This Collection Tell Me?
The following lists indicate potential information given in each type of record. It must be remembered that every record may not provide all the listed information, as the procedures for keeping parish records evolved considerably over the centuries after 1538. It must also be noted that individual parishes often developed record-keeping traditions unique to themselves.
Baptismal Records may contain:
Included after 1812
Marriage records may contain:
Included after 1754
Included after 1837
Death records may contain:
Included after 1812
How Do I Search the Collection?
Before beginning a search in these records, it is best to know the full name of the individual in question, as well as an approximate time range for the desired record. When entered into the search engine on the Collection Page, this information provides the quickest, most reliable path to finding the correct person. Of course, other information can be substituted as necessary.
Search by Name by Visiting the Collection Page
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page to return a list of possible matches. Compare the individuals on the list with what is already known to find the correct family or person. This step may require examining multiple individuals before a match is located.
View Images in This Collection by Visiting the Browse Page
Images of digitized records in this collection may be accessed by following this series of links:
⇒ Select Browse through images on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the appropriate Name of County
⇒ Select the appropriate Name of Parish
⇒ Select the appropriate Event Type and Year Range to go to the images
Compare the information found on the images with what is already known determine if a particular record relates to the correct person. This process may require examining multiple records before the correct person is located.
Some of the records in this collection may be written in an old script that can be challenging to read. Refer to BYU’s Script Tutorial for assistance with reading the records.
- For a small fee, you may also view the images on the Essex Record Office website.
Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images of digitized records available for all users. However, the rights to view images on this website are ultimately granted by the record custodians. Due to their restrictions, some of the records in this collection are not allowed to be displayed in any electronic format, and therefore are not available for viewing online.
For additional information about image restrictions, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.
What Do I Do Next?
I Found the Person I Was Looking for, What Now?
- Make sure to fully transcribe and cite the record entry for future reference; see below for assistance in citing this collection. Save or print a copy of the image if possible.
- Use the information which has been discovered to find more. For instance, use the age listed in the record to estimate a year of birth, if that is yet undetermined.
- If in the appropriate period, use the information which has been discovered to find the individual in civil records. Particularly useful for research in nineteenth-century England are the England Census and the England Civil Registration records.
- Continue to search the index to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives. Note that family members often appear on an individual's vital records, such as in the role of witnesses to a marriage.
I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking for, What Now?
- When looking for a person with a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which individual is correct. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, occupation, or names of parents, to determine which candidate is the correct person. If listed, a personal title may be a clue to property ownership or occupation, either of which might be noted in other records.
- Check for variants of given names and surnames. For much of the period of this collection, spelling was not standardized; pay special attention to how the name should have been pronounced and try variations on the pronunciation. Simple clerical errors were also always possible. Furthermore, individuals were often listed under a middle name, nickname, or abbreviation of their given name. For women, it was not uncommon to revert to a maiden name after the death of a husband.
- Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible candidates which can then be examined for matches. Alternatively, try expanding the date range; this is especially useful in searching baptismal records, as it was not unusual for a child to be baptized weeks or even months after birth.
- Search the records of nearby parishes. While it was uncommon for an individual in this period to move more than about 40 miles from their place of birth, smaller relocations were not uncommon. For this particular collection, this step may require finding records in the bordering English counties of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, Hertfordshire and Middlesex to the west, or Kent across the estuary of the River Thames to the south. If the individual lived in the southwestern portion of Essex, a thorough search of London records might be necessary. Note that marriages usually took place in the parish where the bride resided.
- Look at the actual image of the record to verify the information found in the online description, if possible.
- Some parish records might have been lost over time. If possible, use Bishop's Transcripts as a substitute. See the Essex Bishop's Transcripts page for more information.
- The individual in question may not have records in the Church of England at all, but rather might have belonged to a nonconformist denomination. See England Nonconformist Church Records for more information on nonconformist records.
For additional help searching online collections see FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.
Known Issues with This Collection
| Problems with this collection?|
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to email@example.com. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.
Citing this Collection
Citing sources correctly makes it easier to refer back to information that has already been discovered; proper citations are therefore indispensable to keeping track of genealogical research. Following established formulae in formatting citations also allows others to verify completed research by helping them find and examine records for themselves.
To be of use, citations must include information such as the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records, if available. The following examples demonstrate how to present this information for both this particular collection as well as individual records and images within the collection:
- "England, Essex Parish Registers, 1503-1997." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Church of England. Record Office, Chelmsford, England.
Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):
|The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for England, Essex Parish Registers, 1503-1997.|
|The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for England, Essex Parish Registers, 1503-1997.|
How You Can Contribute
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