Brentwood, Essex Genealogy
'Brentwood (St Thomas of Canterbury), is a small town, a chapelry, and a subdistrict in Billericay district, Essex. The town stands adjacent to the Eastern Counties railway, near Watlingstreet, it is 5 3/4 miles NE by E of Romford. There are Roman Catholic, Independents and Wesleyan chapels.'
Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.
Contributor: Include here information for parish registers, Bishop’s Transcripts, non conformist and other types of church records, such as parish chest records. Add the contact information for the office holding the original records. Add links to the Family History Library Catalog showing the film numbers in their collection.
Census records from 1841 to 1911 are available online. For access, see England Census Records and Indexes Online. Census records from 1841 to 1891 are also available on film through a Family History Center or at the Family History Library.
Poor Law Unions
'The South Weald, Essex parish records include churchwardens' accounts 1584–1718; vestry minutes 1732–1842; and overseers' accounts and rates 1731–61. Among other papers are several relating to the workhouse between 1813 and 1836.
'By the later 17th century Brentwood had become virtually independent for civil parochial purposes. The South Weald parish vestry continued to govern the whole parish for church purposes, and the rural area for civil purposes. 'General' vestry meetings were held at Easter for the election of churchwardens, and occasionally at other times for church business, with a normal attendance ranging from 6 to 10. Between 1601 and 1616 attempts were made to set up a 'select' vestry by election in the general vestry, but the scheme lapsed. In 1706 the general vestry resolved to petition the bishop for a select vestry, but that attempt also failed. 'Particular' vestry meetings were held monthly to regulate poor relief, with an attendance usually ranging from 4 to 6. Ralph Bridges, vicar 1713–58, attended regularly and sometimes wrote the minutes. Francis Wollaston, vicar 1794–1823, was also active in parish affairs. Samuel Smith (d. 1732), lord of the manor of South Weald, and his brother Hugh Smith (d. 1745) attended regularly in person or by proxy. Christopher T. Tower (d. 1867) lord of the manor from 1810, usually attended.
'The general vestry appointed churchwardens, one for the village and one for Brentwood. The village warden was chosen in alternate years by the vicar and the parishioners. The Brentwood warden was chosen by the town, which also appointed a warden for St. Thomas's chapel. A warden usually served for a year, but several remained longer, especially in the 18th century. There were two overseers of the poor, one nominated for South Weald village and one for Brook Street, selected from nominations at the particular vestry next after the Easter general vestry. The overseers customarily divided the year, each being responsible for six months. Few overseers served continuously for more than a year. A woman served in 1748. From 1822 to 1824, and from 1829 to 1835, there was a paid assistant overseer. The appointment of constables has already been mentioned. There were two surveyors of highways, one each for the Uplands and Brook Street. Minor officers included the clerk and the sexton, who in the 18th century shared the use of a small house in the churchyard. John Strutt was clerk from 1801 to 1855.'
'At the end of the 17th century the poor were accommodated in a "town house." In 1703 they were placed in the Three Mariners. A workhouse was established in 1737. Rented premises were used until 1745, when a house was bought. That was probably the building in Back Street used as the workhouse in 1788 and later. It was enlarged in 1805 and again in 1828. Articles of agreement with the workhouse master in 1786 provided that the paupers' labour should be limited to 10 hours a day, with holidays at Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun. Out-relief continued, in spite of occasional attempts to withhold it, as in 1753 and 1833. From 1784 the vestry was employing a succession of local doctors on regular contracts. Before then doctors from as far away as Braintree were paid to treat individual paupers.
'At the beginning of the 18th century the annual cost of poor relief was usually between £60 and £90. It rarely exceeded £100 until it rose sharply to £222 in 1739 and £251 in 1740. It later fell to £104 in 1753. In the 1780s it was between £300 and £400. It rose from £448 in 1790 to £1,030 in 1801. Between 1801 and 1811 it ranged between £600 and £1,000. Between 1811 and 1817 it averaged £952. The figures are similar to those for South Weald, which, however, had a slightly smaller population in the early 19th century.
'In 1835 Brentwood became part of Billericay poor law union. During the following years the growth of the town created serious problems of public health. The vestry in 1836 appointed lighting inspectors, and in 1841 adopted the Lighting and Watching Act, 1833.) In 1845 and 1850 vestry committees were appointed to carry out minor drainage works. In 1855 the vestry appointed a surveyor and an inspector under the Nuisances Removal Act of that year, but in 1857, after public agitation, the General Board of Health ordered an inquiry into the sanitation of the town. The report of the inspector, Alfred Dickens, noted the lack of paving, poor water supply, and primitive drainage, mainly by cesspools. He recommended that a local board of health should be formed for the parish. An order to that effect was issued in 1858, but it was cancelled in the same year, probably because the General Board of Health was dissolved at that time.
'Local agitation for sanitary reform was revived in 1865. In 1866 Billericay union laid drains in the Ongar Road and Shenfield common areas, at a total cost of £199. Early in 1867 they sent to the Home Office a critical report on Brentwood's drainage. It provoked a bitter reaction from the parish vestry, which denied that there was any serious danger to public health, asserted that cesspool drainage was adequate for the town, and accused the union of creating great nuisances when trying to cure small ones. In July 1867 the union appointed a committee to carry out sewerage works in the town. The vestry appointed a similar committee in the following November, but no further progress seems to have resulted, and the government, invoking section 49 of the Sanitary Act, 1866, had by 1871 carried out the works compulsorily. Brentwood, like Epping, was one of only seven places in the country where section 49 was fully applied.
'Under the Local Government Act, 1872, the guardians of Billericay union became the rural sanitary authority for the district. A special drainage district, managed by a local committee of the authority, was formed in 1878 for Brenwood town, including the southern fringes lying in South Weald and Shenfield. The committee came under constant attack from Benjamin Baker, a local surgeon and property developer, who was said to have resisted the extension of main drainage. Other difficulties arose, in 1881, from the failure of the contractor who had leased the sewage works. In 1882 ratepayers pressed for the formation of a local board, but without success. A parish council, with a works committee, was formed for Brentwood in 1894, and in 1899 an urban district council, of 12 members, was at last appointed.
'The urban district, as originally constituted, was conterminous with Brentwood parish. It was thus smaller than the special drainage district of 1878, which continued under the joint control of the U.D.C. and Billericay R.D.C. In 1914 the U.D.C. sought to annex parts of South Weald, Shenfield, and Great Warley. It was unsuccessful, but in 1934 the urban district was extended to include the parishes of Hutton, Ingrave, and South Weald, and parts of Great Burstead, Little Burstead, Childerditch, Cranham, Dunton, East Horndon, West Horndon, Mountnessing, Shenfield, Upminster, Great Warley, and Little Warley, thus increasing its area from 460 a. to 18,269 a. The enlarged U.D.C. had 6 wards and 24 members. In 1973 there were 9 wards and 30 members for the same area. The council offices were in the Town Hall, High Street, until c. 1926, and later in Queen's Road. By 1937 they had moved to Ingrave Road, where new buildings were completed in 1957.
'In 1974 Brentwood urban district was joined with the parishes of Ingatestone and Fryerning, Mountnessing, Doddinghurst, Blackmore, Navestock, Kelvedon Hatch, and Stondon Massey to form the Brentwood district with a total area of 36,378 a. In 1976 the new district was divided into 18 wards, with 39 councillors. The district council has always had a Conservative majority.'
Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Essex Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.
Maps and Gazetteers
Maps are a visual look at the locations in England. Gazetteers contain brief summaries about a place.
- John M. Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (London and Edinburgh, 1870). Digital version at .
- Essex Ancestors: Unearth Your Roots, Seax - Essex Archives Online From the Essex Record Office, accessed 3 March 2012.
- Essex Coverage in FreeReg, FreeREG, accessed 15 April 2012.
- "Boyd's Marriage Index - Parish details by county," Origins.net, accessed 12 June 2011; Percival Boyd, A List of Parishes in Boyd's Marriage Index (London: Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd., 1994). FHL Book 942 K22L 1994
- 'Parish Records - National Burial Index Records 1538 - 2005 Coverage,' Find My Past, accessed 11 April 2012. For a breakdown of missing years, see 'National Burial Index - Coverage: Essex,' Federation of Family History Societies, accessed 23 April 2012.
- 'Parishes: South Weald', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 8 (1983), pp. 74-90. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63843 Date accessed: 04 February 2011.
- 'Parishes: Brentwood', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 8 (1983), pp. 90-109. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63844 Date accessed: 04 February 2011.
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