Fordham, Essex Genealogy

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England  Gotoarrow.png  Essex Gotoarrow.png  Essex Parishes

All Saints Fordham Essex.jpg

Parish History

Fordham, is a village, a parish, and a sub district in Lexden district, Essex. The village stands near the lift bank of the river Colne, it is 2 1/2 miles E by S of Chapel railway station, and 5 miles NW of Colchester. There is a chapel of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion.[1]


Civil Registration

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.

Church records

Online Fordham, Essex Genealogy Parish Register Images and Indexes
Images 1589-1974 EssexAncestors[2] 1564-1943 EssexAncestors[2] 1563-2000 EssexAncestors[2]
Indexes 1564-1753 FindMyPast[3] 1564-1880 FindMyPast[4]

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

Online images are available Seax - Essex Archives Online From the Essex Record Office All Saints See also Countess of Huntingon's Connexion

By the 1690s Fordham had enough dissenters to raise £12 a year to obtain preaching on Sundays as well as weekdays. Their families were probably among those which frequently in that decade, and occasionally from the 1730s to the 1770s provided members for the then Independent chapel nearby in Isleham. In Fordham itself houses were registered for worship in 1712 by a tailor from Bury St. Edmunds (Suff.), in 1731 by a local yeoman, also a barn on Carter Street in 1770. The vicar reported in 1806 a few dissenters, then and in 1813 supposedly Baptists, but quiet and orderly, taught by Robert Fyson, a local farmer, who had registered a house for them in 1805, and whose family was long prominent in Fordham dissent. Another house on Carter Street was registered by a minister from Bury in 1815 and two different barns were registered in 1815-16.
In 1818 a congregation, still small, by 1820 styled Independents, registered a meeting house, presumably the Congregational chapel which still stands east of the north end of Mill Lane. Of grey brick, it has a plain three-bayed west front with round-headed windows above a gabled porch. Inside are original furnishings in pine with a gallery railed in cast iron. Probably completed in 1820, it could seat c. 385 people, with standing room for over 80 more, in 1851. A smaller building at the rear then accommodated a vestry and school. The minister, who held three Sunday services, claimed in 1851 an average attendance rising in the afternoon and evening to 170-200, besides up to 120 Sundayschool children, from a Sunday school started in 1844 by Philip Smith, promoter of Fordham British school. From the 1880s the chapel supported local Temperance societies. After the 1820s it had, probably for a century, a regular series of resident ministers, also dwelling by 1860 on Mill Lane, who occupied as a manse a house of 1848. The Congregationalists' full membership gradually declined from 70 in 1905 to 40-45 in the mid 20th century, when for a time the chapel was served from Soham, and below 40 by the 1960s when it was served with Burwell. Still maintaining its Sunday school, along with a youth club, in the 1970s, when it adhered to the United Reformed Church, and still with a minister in the 1980s, the chapel remained in use in the 1990s.
Methodism also flourished in Fordham by the mid 19th century. In 1849, to replace an old meeting house that was proving too small, the Wesleyans built, off Sharmans lane at the west end of the village, a chapel in Early English style, seating 266, but with only 76 places free, and standing room for 140 more. Besides the 88 children from its Sunday school, it had in 1851 attendances averaging 170, that might rise in the evening to 300. It then provided three Sunday services, like the Primitive Methodist chapel built in 1850 on New Path. That chapel, seating 200, only 30 places being free, was attended in 1851 by up to 100 people. It occasionally held 'camp meetings' in summer. Both Methodist chapels remained open into the 1930s. The Wesleyan chapel, a plain greybrick building with three bays to the front, four at the sides, was still open in the 1990s. The smaller Primitive one with only two bays at the side, likewise of brick and minimally Gothic, had probably closed by 1960 (fn. 99) and was converted into a house in 1989.

From: 'Fordham: Nonconformity', A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10: Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (north-eastern Cambridgeshire) (2002), pp. 417-418. URL: Date accessed: 12 February 2011.

Census records

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

Lexden and Winstree Poor Law Union, Essex

Incomplete Mount Bures manor records sur- vive from 1393 indicating that courts baron and leet met annually for the Fordham part of the manor until 1649; 2 to 9 men were sworn.  Four night watchmen served Fordham and Aldham in 1587.  Two constables were appointed for the Fordham part of Mount Bures manor from 1625.  By 1912 there was a village police constable.
There were two unendowed almshouses.  In 1775 two parishioners obtained Tyburn tickets.  In 1795, during the Napoleonic Wars, Fordham was combined with six neighbouring parishes to provide three men to serve in the navy.  The parish owned Heath meadow in 1838, which was apparently used for the benefit of the poor.
Fordham's poor relief costs per head of popu- lation were about average for the hundred. Net expenditure in 1776 was £220 and over the period 1783-5 averaged £228.  Costs were exceptionally high in 1802 at £896 and then between 1803 and 1808 increased from £225 to £591. In the period 1809-17 they ranged between £684 and £950, except for 1813 when they were £1,193, equivalent to 39s. 3d. a head.  Expenditure ranged between £1,137, or 32s. 8d. a head, and £711, or 19s. 7d. a head, between 1818 and 1832, showing a downward trend,  and averaged £677 in 1833-5. 
Fordham parish council was established in 1894 with seven members, including one woman, responsible for allotments, footpaths, footbridges, and the administration of Love's charity. Between 1907 and 1921 a technical sub- committee provided classes in arithmetic, draw- ing, citizenship, and carpentry, and organized at least one ploughing match. The council encour- aged residents to find odd jobs for the unem- ployed in 1933, a time of economic depression. From 1936 there were quarterly refuse disposal collections. An invasion sub-committee met during the Second World War concerned with the home guard, emergency food rations, casu- alties, informing the public about anti-gas meas- ures, and listing all tractors and motors. After the formation of Eight Ash Green parish council in 1949 the number of Fordham parish council- lors was reduced to five, together with a rural district councillor. 

From: 'Fordham: Local government', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10: Lexden Hundred (Part) including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe (2001), pp. 214-215. URL: Date accessed: 12 February 2011.

Probate records

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.

Web sites


  1. 1. Wilson, John M., Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales, publ. London & Edinburgh: 1870 See at: http//
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Essex Ancestors: Unearth Your Roots, Seax - Essex Archives Online From the Essex Record Office, accessed 15 May 2012.
  3. 'Boyd's Marriage Index - Parish details by county,', (WayBack Machine) accessed 15 May 2012.
  4. '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.