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Understanding parish registers

We hold parish registers which record baptisms, marriages and burials in parishes across Essex. Registers were created by both Anglican and nonconformist churches, and can date back to 1538.

How to view our parish registers

If you purchase a subscription, you can view on this site images of almost all the Anglican parish registers that we hold.  The only registers not available as images are baptism registers less than 16 years old, baptism registers from mental hospitals, and marriage registers from after 1957.

You can also view the same images for free in the ERO Searchroom, or at the Archive access points in Saffron Walden Library and Harlow Museum.

How to find and view a parish register on Essex Archives Online

  1. Visit the Parish Registers page
  2. Use the dropdown menu to select the first letter of the name of the parish you are searching for
  3. A second dropdown menu will appear – use this to select the parish
  4. A third dropdown menu will appear – use this to select the church
  5. You will be shown a list of all the parish registers we hold for the church you have selected - check the format column to make sure that the records are available as images
  6. Once you have found a register you would like to see, click View to see a written description of the register and a thumbnail image
  7. If you are logged into a live subscription, you will be able to see the full-size image by clicking the thumbnail
  8. There are two ways to navigate through the images:
    • Use the arrows at the top of the page to move one page forwards or backwards at a time, or to jump to the first or last page
    • Use the dropdown menu in the top left of the screen to jump to select an image to jump to

Help with parish registers

We can help you make the most of parish registers in the following ways:

  • We run regular Discover: Parish Registers workshops where you can get detailed help from an expert archivist – check our events listings
  • For help with understanding old handwriting, purchase a copy of our publication Examples of English Handwriting, 1150-1750 by Hilda Grieve. It costs £6 (+P&P) from the ERO Searchroom, or you can order it by phoning 033301 32122
  • If you get really stuck, our search service can transcribe documents for you