Essex County, Massachusetts

Essex County

Essex County was founded on May 10, 1643 as one of four original counties created in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The county was named for the English county of Essex.

Currently the Essex County Seat is situated in Salem & Lawrence and the county government was abolished on July 1, 1999

Places adjacent to Essex County are Rockingham County, New Hampshire (north), Suffolk County (south), Middlesex County (west).

Cities and towns situated in Essex County are made up of Amesbury, Andover, Beverly, Boxford, Byfield, Danvers, Essex, Georgetown, Gloucester, Groveland, Hamilton, Haverhill, Ipswich, Lawrence, Lynn, Lynnfield, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, Nahant, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, Peabody, Rockport, Rowley, Salem, Salisbury, Saugus, Swampscott, Topsfield, Wenham and West Newbury.

Essex County vital records can be found at the Massachusetts Office of Vital Records has copies of birth, marriage, divorce and death records. There is a fee for each copy requested. Please refer to the information to the Statewide Vital Records in Massachusetts for current fees and application process. Vital Records have been registered in Massachusetts since 1635. Statewide collection began in 1841. There is a fee for each copy requested. Records for events that occurred from 1841-1910 are available at the State Archives.

You can search online for Essex County Birth, Marriage, Divorce or Death Records. You can also Order Electronically Online or can download an application for Massachusetts Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Death Certificate Applications to mail.

Essex County does have Federal Census Schedules to guide in looking into your family tree. Federal government Population Schedules are available for 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 (free index), 1890 (fragment), 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940.

Essex Co. Mortality Schedules can be obtained for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Essex Co. Industry and Agriculture Schedules can be found for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Essex Co. Union Veterans Schedules can be found for 1890. One can find free online and printable census forms that can help with your research.

Essex County Society and Family History Resources

A list of Essex County Historical  and Genealogical Societies, Forums, Message Boards, Libraries, Archives.

Essex County Courthouse and Government Records


Essex County Courthouse

Genealogist often overlook the great importance of Essex County court, probate, and land records as a useful resource of ancestry and genealogy details. Hidden away in Massachusetts courthouses and archives just about everywhere are the aspirations and frustrations of many Massachusetts inhabitants. The odds are great that your chosen ancestors have left a detailed document of at least quite a few facets of their lives in the Essex County court records. Even if your ancestors is not referred to in a Court case, take into account all of the other methods which often can have lead to her or him appearing in court records.

The following information and facts shows whatever birth, marriage, death, property, probate, and legal records will be in Essex County. The dates indicated below could be the first recognized records data for this particular county.

The county was divided into two districts in 1869. The Salem office is the "parent" county seat. After that it remained the probate office for the county, but the registry of deeds for only the Southern District. This registry also has all the "old" Norfolk County (1637-1714) and Ipswich Series Deeds, 1640-94, two of which have been transcribed by George Sanborn for the manuscript collection at New England Historic Genealogical Society. Essex court records to 1800 are at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Remember to get in touch with the clerk's dept to verify hours, mailing address, fees and other facts prior to visiting or asking for information because of many times changing contact details. The Department Offices DO NOT DO RESEARCH. The data files are readily available to interested parties, barring confidential issues. A lot of staff will aid persons in finding the resources, however it is up to the individual to perform the basic research. For Town Records contact the Town Clerk (Helpful Telephone Listings for your City/Town Hall)
  • Essex County Register of Deeds is the place where all transactions of a Real Property nature are recorded so that the public is made aware of their existence. Deeds, mortgages, tax liens, water liens, declaration of homestead and many other kinds of documents regarding the title and ownership of real estate are noted permanently in official records.
    • Southern District, 45 Congress St., Suite 4100, Salem, MA 01970 ; (978) 741-0201; The Southern District includes the towns of Amesbury, Beverly, Boxford, Danvers, Essex, Georgetown, Gloucester, Groveland, Hamilton, Haverhill, Ipswich, Lynn, Lynnfield, Manchester, Marblehead, Merrimac, Middleton, Nahant, Newbury, Newburyport, Peabody, Rockport, Rowley, Salem, Salisbury, Saugus, Swampscott, Topsfield, Wenham, and West Newbury.
    • Northern District, 381 Common Street, Lawrence, MA 01840; (978) 683-2745; The Northern District includes the towns of Andover, Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover.
    • Land Records: 1637
  • Essex County Clerk of Probate Court has many responsibilities which include the administration of estates, probate of wills, and the appointment of guardians, have been under the jurisdiction of the courts since the 1630s. County courts and later, county judges of probate, were responsible for these functions until 1783, when the probate courts were established. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the probate and family courts were given jurisdiction over adoptions, divorces, name changes, and domestic relations.
    • Address: 36 Federal Street, Salem, MA 01970
    • Phone: (978) 745-0350
    • Probate Records: 1635 
  • Essex County Clerk of Courts has jurisdiction over all civil, criminal, and equity cases.
    • Address: 34 Federal St., Salem 01970
    • Phone: (978) 744-5500
    • Court Records: 1636 
  • Essex County Town Clerks has copies of vital records (birth, marriage, divorce and death records). Clerks respond to inquiries regarding vital records, since most have indexes available. They also have tax lists that may still be available at the town office. Earlier taxes for the towns exist as well.
  • Massachusetts Office of Vital Records has copies of birth, marriage, divorce and death records. There is a fee for each copy requested. Please refer to the information to the Statewide Vital Records in Massachusetts for current fees and application process. Birth, marriage, and death records are connected with central life events. Vital Records have been registered in Massachusetts since 1635. Statewide collection began in 1841.

Essex County Links

The following are links to Family history and genealogy, Records and Resources relevant to Essex County. A lot of these genealogy links fall into 3 categories: Business oriented Sites, Personal Sites or Organization Sites. Some have free access some call for a cost. This is just a collection which has been compiled or submitted. I do not recommend or promote one genealogy site above another. Feel free to present your own preferred Essex County genealogy or family history associated sites.

Essex Co. MA Books, Newspapers & Publications

Essex Co. MA Birth, Marriage & Death Records

Essex Co. MA Court, Probate Land and Tax Records

Essex Co. MA Census Records

Essex Co. MA Cemeteries & Graveyards

Essex Co. MA Church & Bible Records

Essex Co. MA Family Websites, Pictures & Histories

Essex Co. MA General and History Websites

Essex Co. MA Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers

Essex Co. MA Military Records

Essex Co. MA Schools & Directories

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