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Essex Ancestors - User Guide

Essex Ancestors is an exclusively online service from the Essex Record Office (ERO), offering images of genealogical records in return for a subscription.  It was launched in 2011 as a way of raising money to sustain and improve our services, and in particular to support continued growth in the number of images available from the ERO online.

This is a brief introduction.  For more details please watch the introductory video or see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Coverage: parish registers and wills

Essex Ancestors currently covers two types of records:

First, Church of England parish registers deposited either in the ERO or in Waltham Forest Archives.  These registers, from over 400 parishes, cover the present county of Essex, including Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock, and also those parts of north-east London that used to be in Essex.  For a few parishes the registers go back to 1538, when parish registers were introduced, but in most cases the surviving registers start somewhere between the late 16th and early 18th centuries.  Essex Ancestors includes images of all deposited registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, excluding marriage registers after 1957.  If you find any registers that seem to have been omitted in error from the digitisation programme, please let us know.

Essex Ancestors also includes images of some original wills from Essex and eastern Hertfordshire, 1441-1720.  These come mainly from a single court of probate, run by the Bishop of London's Commissary in Essex and Hertfordshire.  Images of pre-1720 wills from other local courts, and of wills from all the local courts for the period 1720-1858, will be added later.


The images in Essex Ancestors are large colour images made directly from the original documents, not scanned from microfilm.  They each include a visible watermark, and are labelled with the reference of the document that they come from.

The images of parish registers are not indexed, and you may want to try some of the name indexes available on the Internet before you subscribe to Essex Ancestors.  The images of original wills are searchable by the name of the person making the will, their occupation and their place of residence.

Currently the software includes no means of printing images.  However, your browser may allow you to right-click on a full-sized image and either email it to yourself; or save it elsewhere; or copy and paste it into another application.  The use of such copies is subject to our terms and conditions.

Like all such systems, Essex Ancestors includes mistakes.  But since we hold the original records ourselves we are able to correct them.  Please do report any problems to us at

Your account

In order to subscribe to Essex Ancestors you must first register your name, address and other details online, supply an email address and set a password.  Your email address and your password together form the key to your secure account, and you cannot register with the same email address as another user.  Once you have registered, you will be able to update these account details yourself.  Please be sure particularly to keep your email address up-to-date.

Existing accounts on Seax, our online catalogue, can also be used for Essex Ancestors.  Holders of these accounts simply need to login online, supply an email address if they have not already done so, and set a password.

Once you have a secure account, you will be able to buy a subscription to Essex Ancestors using your credit or debit card.  Subscriptions are available for various periods between 1 day and 1 year:

1 Day (24 hours) - £5.00
1 Week (7 days) - £15.00
1 month (30 days) - £25.00
6 months (182 days) - £50.00
1 year (365 days) - £75.00

Prices include Value Added Tax (VAT) at the current UK rate.  Your subscription will be activated automatically the next time you log in online, and it will then run continuously for the period that you have chosen.  You can only buy one subscription per calendar day.  Any further subscriptions bought after that will be stacked on the system until your present subscription expires; they will then be activated at log-in in the same way.  Details of your current subscription, and of any pending subscriptions, are listed for you when you log in to your account.

Seax, our online catalogue, is free to view, and in order to use it you do not need to register.  The search facilities are the same for both registered and un-registered users.  However, when an un-registered user, or a registered user without a subscription, finds a catalogue entry online for a document that is included in Essex Ancestors, they will see a prompt to register or to subscribe.  For subscribers, the associated images will be displayed automatically.

In the ERO searchroom, all our images are free to view, and unless you also wish to use original documents you will not need any kind of account.  To use original documents, you will need a County Archive Research Network (CARN) account on Seax, for which you will need to produce either a valid CARN ticket issued elsewhere or proof of identity incorporating your name and home address.  These CARN accounts can also be used subsequently to subscribe to Essex Ancestors if you wish.

Please note that currently the searchroom does not have any self-service facilities for printing images, although prints can be obtained through the searchroom staff.

Some alternatives

Essex Ancestors is an addition to our existing services, not a replacement for them.  Most of the records held by the ERO have not yet been digitized and can still be consulted in the original - or sometimes on microfilm or fiche - in the ERO searchroom at Chelmsford, free of charge.  The searchroom also provides free access to the images in Essex Ancestors.  And images of some records other than parish registers and wills (about 74,000 images) are still available online for free.

If you would like to order a copy of a document, or you can identify a particular page or entry that you need, our Reprographics Service will be happy to help, whether or not the document is available on Essex Ancestors.  For further details and an order form please email

We also have a search service, which for a fee will search most English-language records held by the ERO and provide a written report.  For further details and an application form please email

Last updated 5 February 2014.