Harwich St. Nicholas

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The large church of Harwich St Nicholas

Harwich was an extremely busy, bustling town, so there are a huge amount of entries to transcribe from the registers. They include locals as well as Europeans, and also lots of sailors and soldiers. There are historic churches in Rotterdam attended by British merchants and sailors – their registers are available online.

Note that in the late 1600s/early 1700s, there’s lots of marriages in Dedham of couples who are from Harwich.

You can search for these at FreeREG, and see the original parish registers on ERO’s Essex Ancestors.

You might want to read: A season at Harwich, with Excursions on Land and Water, to which is added Researches, Historical and Natural, and Miscellaneous, by WH Lindsey, 1851 (archive.org). It includes historic maps and images.

Transcribed by Arny Webb (except marriages 1706-1754 by Helen Barrell).


  • Earliest register (transcription in progress April 2021) runs: baptisms Nov 1559-
  • Gaps (baptisms): Only two baptisms 1565, none 1566-68, only one in 1569, none 1570, resumes June 1571. Very faded late 1573, and most of 1574. None Aug 1575-June 1576. None for most of May 1578-early Jan 1578/9. No baps Oct-Dec 1582. Baptisms for January and March 1583 entered, but unclear if they are 1582/3 or 1583/4. Then April 1584 baptisms begin – so most, if not all of 1583 baptisms lost. Entries very faded 1592-1593. No baptisms Jan 1593/4 to July 1594. Only 8 baptisms in 1642, 9 in 1643, 11 in 1644, 3 in 1650, 5 in 1653 (20-30 are usually recorded annually).
  • Few parents’ names given with baptisms from the mid-1580s to the late-1590s.
  • Chrysmas Raymond was baptised on 25 December of 1579, and Christmas Rayner was baptised on 20 December 1646.
  • Elizabeth, illegitimate daughter of Rebecca Hunt of Ruscall [Rushall?], Norfolk, and John Tower of Hardwicke, Norfolk, was baptised in Harwich on 11 June 1610.
  • Baptisms in Latin from late 1604 to 1618, from early 1635 to mid-1639, and from 1642-50.
  • The first register’s baptisms run from 1559 to 1652, with a handful of baptisms for the 1660s and 1670. The second register has baptisms from 1653 to 1705. I have combined them so that they run consecutively in the spreadsheets.
  • Gaps in second register – baptisms from 1653 to Sep 1665. Resumes properly in 1681, with entries between entered out of date of order. Very likely that not all births/baptisms were recorded in that period.
  • No marriages 1642-44, and none for nearly thirty years from 1666 to 1694.
  • No burials June 1565 to June 1571. No burials May to December 1581. No burials April to December 1583. Only two burials 1644. Burials 1645 begin on 31 December. No burials 1650. One burial each for 1668 and 1672/3 in the early register, which otherwise ends in Feb 1652/3.
  • On 8th March 1627/8, Jonas, son of Jonas and Mary from Whitby, Yorkshire, was baptised at Harwich. The surname wasn’t recorded. However, on 6 Feb 1630/1, John son of Jonas Harte was baptised in Whitby – could it be the same father?
  • A larger than usual number of burials in 1587 and 1588, particularly November 1587, and August and September 1588. The plague was at large at the time, which might explain the increased number of deaths.
  • Over 400 people buried in plague year 1665, between March and mid-December.
  • Burials stop mid-December 1665. One burial 1666, one 1668, one 1677, one 1679, before they recommence. Note in register after the 1679 burial: “through the negligence of the clarks the succession of the register in burialls is interrupted and no records to be found until the year 1695.”






  • None recorded



In several cases, the occupation of the groom is recorded, as well as each spouse’s abode. There are several brides from the Netherlands who make an appearance in this register.