This database is a collection of historical parish registers from the county of Essex in the country of England. The 121,000 records in this collection can range in date from the early 1500s to the mid- to late-1800s. Some non-parish records may be included from as early as the twelfth century. Parish records--primarily baptisms, marriages, and burials--provide the best source of vital record information in the centuries before civil registration. The records include baptisms/christenings, burials, marriages, tombstone inscriptions, obituaries, tax lists, wills, and other miscellaneous types of records. Also included are some records from non-conformist churches. All of the data was converted as it was originally presented in various published registers and books. For this reason, you will find interesting phonetic spellings and large descriptive tables of contents.
What should I know about this collection to access the data?
Some of the records may be in Latin or even a Welsh or Scottish dialect depending on location. The spelling is archaic, and is transcribed as it was written. There are many spelling inconsistencies and non-standard grammar. Phonetic spelling is often used. Try using variant spellings if a search yields no results.
The individual files in this database may not include all dates and records for each parish/church. Use caution in assuming that any database is a complete set of records--even for the parishes and time period listed. Due to the legibility of the original sources, there may be gaps in the records, including partial sentences, cut-off words, and other omissions.
Due to the nature of the records and because the records were originally compiled by a third party, it is difficult to absolutely verify the completeness and validity of the data. The information in this collection is as correct as it was when Ancestry.com received it, and has merely been reproduced in an electronic format.
What historical background should I know to use this data?
A large number of parish records date from the sixteenth century, when a series of mandates required clergy to compile records of baptisms, marriages, and burials within the parish, and to send an annual copy to the Bishop. Essentially, there are two sets of records: the parish copy and the copy the clergyman sent to the Bishop each year, known as Bishops Transcripts. Many records were destroyed, lost, or simply not kept during the Civil War (1642-1660). Of the surviving records, many have since been transcribed and collected by genealogical societies. The records are a valuable resource for finding vital information of people of the time. The content of the records may vary between the two sets.
Civil registration of births, deaths, and marriage, often called General Registration, began in July of 1837. It provides a national vital records index that simplifies searches and includes people who may not have been associated with a church. The civil records are more readily available than parish records (parish records after 1837 often aren't filmed) and are easier to use. But many births went unrecorded in the early years of civil registration, so parish records are still extremely valuable.
Essex: - Registers of Marriages, 1559-1837