Earls Colne Records

Earls Colne has the one of the best documented histories in the world.

Cambridge University has relaunched a website which contains over three hundred years of history of Earls Colne, as recorded in contemporary documents.. It also contains the very detailed diary of Ralph Josselin, a seventeenth century vicar.

How the website began...

While Alan Macfarlane was working in the Essex Record Office he came across a typescript of the diary of Ralph Josselin, Vicar of Earls Colne from 1640 to 1683. The many references to his family and wider kin intrigued him, and later, when he was studying anthropology, he wrote a book on his family life. As a result of this he was asked to edit a full edition of his diary for the British Academy. The many references to fellow villagers made him wonder how much he could find out about them from other records. So he decided to try, in collaboration with Sarah Harrison, to gather together everything about the village of Earls Colne that might refer to Josselin and his contemporaries. They were amazed by just how much there was and decided to use this village as an experiment to see whether it was possible to reconstruct an historical community.

This was not a simple task. Many of the documents were in Latin, some of them, for example the manor court records, were hundreds of feet long. The archives were scattered in record offices across the country and in private hands. It was clearly going to be a large task to bring together all the surviving records of a parish for a period of hundreds of years. They did not realize, in 1973, when this project formally began, that it would take twenty-seven years...

tracing your rootsI receive a lot of letters from visitors to the site who are tracing thier family history and it has finally dawned on me that if I publish all these various letters it may help other people tracing their family roots, here are the letters I have received so far.