Your ancestors’ surnames could be the key to discovering your Essex family history. Before the Industrial Revolution, many families lived and died in the same village for hundreds of years. This led to many surnames developing that are unique to certain areas.
Essex is first mentioned in Anglo-Saxon chronicles and is now the seventh most populous county in England. Therefore, your ancestors may well have lived in the area at some point. If you or your ancestors have one of these surnames, you could have Essex family history yourself.
Find out if you have Essex ancestors and discover where to find Essex records online and in the archives with our December 2021 issue on sale now.
The top 10 surnames for Essex family history
This name is particularly common in the borough of Colchester.
Essex, and specifically Ilford, is a Dowsett hotspot.
This surname is derived from the Old French word ‘genterie’.
The highest concentration of this Munn patronymic is in Colchester.
This name is common in Durham, Chelmsford, North-East London and Colchester.
Essex once boasted about half of all of the Playles found in the UK.
The name has many derivations, such as the Middle English rote meaning ‘cheerful’.
This name is a variant of ‘Smead’.
One Essex namesake was Charles Spurgeon, a Baptist preacher and writer who founded the children’s charity Spurgeons.
You can discover the history behind more surnames in the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain.
Jonathan Scott is the author of A Dictionary of Family History