About Us

Our President is The Lord Petre, Lord Lieutenant of Essex.

Our Patron is the Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell,  Lord Bishop of Chelmsford

The Essex Society for Family History was founded in 1974 and became a registered charity in 1984.

The Essex Society today

We now have a Research Centre in Chelmsford which was opened in July 2000 which provides access to our extensive library of microfiche and to many computer files of local indexes etc. Our Library is also housed in the Research Centre. (For more information click on the "Services" tab at the top of the page)..

The area covered by the ESFH is that of the old Essex county with the exception of 'London Boroughs' which are considered to be in the area of East of London FHS and Waltham Forest which is in the area of Waltham Forest FHS.

Our headquarters is in Chelmsford and we have branches in Colchester, Harlow, Saffron Walden and Southend-on-Sea. Regular monthly meetings are held at each of our centres.

Meetings are open to both members and non-members but priority is always given to our members.

A printed copy of our magazine "The Essex Family Historian" is issued free to members or an Electronic copy at a reduced membership fee is available on our website to members using our Members Only area.

For the benefit of members who cannot get to the local meetings in Essex we operate a CDs by Post service from our On Line shop.

All the work of the Society is undertaken by volunteers. There are no paid officials.

Research on a particular surname or family is not organised by the Society, but members with similar aims and interests can get in touch with each other through the Society.

We also offer Search Services to members and non-members.


The History of the Essex Society for Family History.


In 1974 John Rayment, our Founder, first Chairman and late President attended a Genealogical Conference in Canterbury. Much to his horror, so he said, he was talked into forming an Essex Family History Society. A committee was arranged and John was asked to be the Chairman.

The inaugural meeting took place in the Shire hall, Chelmsford, when it was decided that the name of the Society would be The Essex Society for Family History. Dr. Emmison, then County Archivist, agreed to be President and Donald Jarvis, our immediate past President was elected Vice-Chairman.

About eighty people attended the inaugural meeting and from this the Society was formed in September 1974. The first magazine was published in November 1974.

At the beginning, meetings were held in the evenings in the Council Chambers, Basildon and then at the Quaker Meeting House, Rainsford Road, Chelmsford, the usual evening meetings on Monday or Thursday. On occasions meetings were held in other parts of the County.

During the first four years Sir John Ruggles-Brise was our Patron. Since then the Lord Bishop of Chelmsford has been our Patron.

In 1977 the first Saturday afternoon meeting was held in Christ Church United Reformed Church, Chelmsford, in one small room. This quickly became too small and eventually we spread over the whole of the ground floor.

In 1984 we became a Registered Charity. In 1985 a branch was formed at Colchester and since then three more have been set up in Saffron Walden, Southend-on-Sea and Harlow together with a Computer Group in Chelmsford.

In 1987 the first Postal Book Service was started. With the changing world of computers this was replaced by the current CDs by Post Service, giving members who cannot get to a meeting a chance to buy CDs which are of interest to Family Historians.

In July 2000 we opened the doors of our new Research Centre which is located in the new Essex Record Office building in Wharf Road, Chelmsford. We provide microfiche viewers and computer facilities, our library is now located there and we also offer CDs for sale. We also operate from the Centre our e-commerce activities and our search and courier services which are provided to obtain birth, marriage and death certificates.

From September 2000 we moved our Chelmsford meetings into the Lecture Theatre of the new Essex Record Office with its state of the art sound visual and computer facilities.

Over the years we have donated to various projects and it is hoped that we will be able to continue to do this. Since the inauguration of the Society, there have been many members without whose time and work the Society would not have remained in existence and become the largest Society in Essex with currently over 1,700 members.

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