Articles on the History of Essex, Researching your Ancestors, and British History

Parish Registers at the Essex Record Office

parish chest
Parish Chest in St. Mary's Church, Kempley. The Essex Record Office now cares for parish registers in a slightly different way.
Bob Embleton on Geograph CC BY-SA 2.0

Unlike the census returns, the online availability of originals of Parish Registers held by Record Offices is patchy, which makes it very frustrating for anyone researching their family history, especially if they are often many miles from the relevant Record Office, or even in another country. (See also Parish Registers: a Background, where further resources are detailed).

The Essex Record Office, however, have made great efforts to have these documents accessible by placing images of them on their website through their Essex Archives Online website.

There are now scores of registers available online, thus saving a trip to the Record Office. They are accessible via a pay-to-view subscription (full details on their website but reasonable day or week rates are available). If you can visit the Record Office in person, then it is free to use.

Remember these are not transcripts, but the originals and are not indexed. You will have to select the parish you are interested in and then trawl through them by date. But be warned, you may have some problems with the writing or poor quality of the image.

Often it is necessary to widen your search from just one parish. A useful resource for finding out contiguous parishes (those parishes that immediately surround a parish or location) is England Jurisdictions 1851 on

Also available on Essex Ancestors are Wills. See our articles on Wills before 1858.

While on the subject of images, there are many other gems to find in other digital images provided by the ERO - just search their Catalogue under 'Images'. For instance:

Manor County Primary School, Braintree, junior school Adminission Register which dates from 1894 to 1905 (E/MA 67/2) is a wealth of information. Child's name, dob, date admitted, place of birth, parent's name, address, occupation, place last school attended.

The Register of Electors 1918 (C/E 2/1/1) for numerous parishes in Essex listing all those eligible to vote in that parish.

Photographs of the damage caused in the Essex earthquake of 1884 (I/LS/COL/00043 and I/LS/COL/00067).

I hope that this has helped and encouraged your use of this wonderful resource supplied by the Essex Record Office.

Useful links: About the Essex Record Office

Search History House

Find your Ancestors in the Newspapers

Essex Standard Newspaper

Newspaper archives are now a very important source of information for researching your family tree.

Find your ancestors in the newspapers.
Try our example search to discover if your ancestors are in the British Newspaper Archive.

Also look at other newspaper archives and learn how they can help you research your ancestors. >>more

Looking for pictures to add to your family tree album?


Ebay is a good source of old images of Essex towns and villages. Throughout this site you will find many examples of postcards you can find on Ebay, some orginals, others digitally restored and enhanced. To go straight to the ebay pages this link is formatted for .