Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex Genealogy

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England  Gotoarrow.png  Essex Gotoarrow.png  Essex Parishes

Hatfield Broad Oak St Mary the Virgin .jpg

Parish History

Hatfield Broad Oak, or Hatfield Regis, is a village, a parish, and a subdistrict in Dunmow district, Essex. The village stands on an eminence, at Pinceybrook, 4 1/2 miles ENE of Sawbridgeworth railway station, and 5 1/2 miles SE of Bishop Stortford. The vicarages of Hatfield Forest and Hatfield Heath are separate benefices. There is an Independent chapel.[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

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

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

Dunmow Poor Law Union,Essex

The parish records include vestry minutes 1693–1712, 1715–45, and 1782–91; vestry agreements and memoranda 1806–61; overseers' bills, accounts, and rates 1732–1840; and surveyors' rates and accounts, 1790–1837.  In April 1693 a select vestry of eight members was set up, to meet monthly. It was reappointed in 1694 but there is no later reference to it. Open vestry meetings were in any case rarely attended by more than a dozen at that period, and even in the 18th century they were not much larger. Monthly meetings seem to have continued until 1697, but then to have become less frequent: George Stirling, vicar from c. 1684 to 1728, attended occasionally until 1707, but rarely thereafter. John Hooke, vicar 1728–53, attended all Easter vestries recorded during his time. Henry Wray, vicar 1753–1814, who was non-resident, never attended, though an assistant curate, James Butterfield, was sometimes present at the Easter vestry between 1785 and 1791. Sir Charles Barrington, Bt., attended several times between 1704 and 1711, but no other gentry were prominent in vestry.
In the period 1693–6 there were four churchwardens, one for each quarter of the parish. From 1697 to 1700 there were two, one for the Town and one for the rest of the parish. From 1700 to 1745 there was only one warden, except in 1706, when two were appointed. William Mead served from 1708 to 1729. In 1729 and 1730 the warden was 'nominated by the ministers, and the parish agreed'. Between 1783 and 1792 there were two wardens, one chosen by the vicar, the other by the parish. There were normally four overseers of the poor, one for each quarter, but the number was occasionally reduced to three by giving one overseer charge of both the Town and Bruntsend. Between 1696 and 1706 the number of surveyors of highways nominated in vestry varied from four to eight. From 1707 to 1733 it was always eight, two for each ward. Later in the century four surveyors held office. In the appointment of constables the vestry seems to have played no part, except occasionally between 1694 and 1711. Since that was the period when Sir Charles Barrington, Bt., was involved in parish government it is possible that he was responsible for the temporary change of practice.
Separate rates were levied by the surveyors. The constables appear to have levied separate rates until c. 1740, after which their expenses were met from the poor rates. Since no church rates are recorded it is likely that the churchwardens also were reimbursed by the overseers.
By the 18th century the parish was well furnished with charities, including almshouses. (fn. 454) A workhouse, opened by the vestry in 1711, occupied Chalkes, opposite the churchyard, at some time before 1745. In 1766 it stood near the south end of the village.  It had some 6–10 inmates in the 1730s, 12–18 in the 1770s, and 25 in 1821. In 1835 it contained a sitting room, parlour, 3 bedrooms, a workshop with 2 rooms above, a piggery, and a large garden.  Then, as previously, it was a rented building. In 1732 the master of the workhouse received, in addition to his salary, 1s. 6d. a week for each inmate. In 1815 the capitation fee was 3s. 6d. a week, subject to variation according to the price of flour. Attempts were made to secure an income from work done by inmates of the house. The men were put to brewing, while the women spun or did casual work outside the house. Between 1783 and 1786 the income from such labour averaged £66 a year, equivalent to 7 per cent of the amount raised by the poor rates. Even that modest level was not maintained: between 1787 and 1791 the labour income averaged only £8.
In 1708 the vestry was paying doles to 25 paupers, including 11 children. When the workhouse was opened the vestry resolved that all those seeking regular relief should be sent there, but the order proved ineffective. Between 1720 and 1722 some 18 or 19 were still receiving outrelief, in weekly sums ranging from 6d. to 2s. 6d., and in 1782–3 regular doles cost more than relief in the house. During the earlier 18th century the vestry often distributed firewood as well as cash. In 1831 the vestry embarked on a scheme, which was still in operation in 1835, for employing the poor in spade husbandry, on land rented or enclosed from the waste for the purpose, and in 1832 it collected subscriptions to assist those wishing to emigrate to America.
In the early 18th century medical care of the poor seems to have been provided on a casual basis, but by 1782 the vestry was paying an annual retainer to a doctor. The parish pesthouse, mentioned in 1741 and still in use in 1841, lay on the edge of the forest west of Little Barrington Hall.  In 1831, during a national cholera epidemic, a 'board of health' was set up, consisting of the curate, a magistrate, the churchwardens, overseers, and the doctor, who were to draw up sanitary regulations and inspect houses.
Between 1694 and 1725 the annual amount raised by the poor rate averaged £224, with a peak of £344 in 1712, near the end of a long period of war.  Between 1726 and 1745 the average rose to £315. The rates were kept down by a substantial income from charities: in 1698 the overseers received £71 from parish rents, as against £218 from rates. In 1776 expenditure on the poor amounted to £546. For the three years 1783–5 the annual average spent on the poor was £748, out of an average poor rate of £885. Between 1800 and 1821 the poor rates averaged £2,133, while expenditure on the poor averaged £1,870 between 1800 and 1817. (fn. 459) From the figures it seems that the costs of poor relief between 1776 and 1817 were somewhat higher at Hatfield Broad Oak than at Harlow, where the population was slightly larger.
In 1836 the parish became part of Dunmow poor law union. During the following years the vestry continued to concern itself with such civil matters as the village pump, drainage, and the fire engine, but in 1895 those functions were transferred to the new parish council. 

From: 'Parishes: Hatfield Broad Oak', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 8 (1983), pp. 158-186. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63851&strquery=hatfield broad oak Date accessed: 18 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//www.visionofbritain.org.uk/descriptions/index.jsp