Waltham Abbey, Essex Family History Guide

Waltham Abbey is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Essex.

Other places in the parish include: Holyfield, Sewardstone, and Upshire.

Alternative names: Waltham Holy Cross

Parish church:

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1563
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1800

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Presbyterian, Society of Friends/Quaker, and Wesleyan Methodist.

Adjacent Parishes

  • Theydon Bois
  • Cheshunt
  • Nazeing
  • Epping
  • Loughton
  • Enfield St James
  • High Beech

Parish History

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

WALTHAM-ABBEY, or W.-Holycross, a small town, a township, and a parish, in the district of Edmonton and county of Essex. The town stands on the river Lea, 1 mile E of Waltham-Cross r. station, and 12 N by E of London; was founded by Earl Tovi, the standard-bearer of Canute; took its name of Waltham from a house built by Tovi in what was then the weald or great wood of Essex; got the suffix names of Abbey and Holycross from a famous abbey, which originated in a church founded by Tovi, for receiving and preserving what he supposed to be a piece of the true cross of Christ; became the scene of royal visits and some important events, in connexion with its abbey; passed to the Crown soon after the death of Tovi; was given, by Edward the Confessor, to Harold, Earl Godwin’s son, who eventually ascended the throne; received Harold’s body for sepulture, after the battle of Hastings; went afterwards, in divided portions, to followers of the Conqueror; was recovered by Henry II., and vested in the abbey; acquired from Henry III. the rights of a market and fairs; was the scene of a meeting of Henry VIII. with Cranmer, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, which originated one of the main movements toward the Reformation; went, at the dissolution of monasteries, to Sir A. Denny; was visited by Charles I.; numbers among its natives John of Waltham, Bishop of Salisbury, and Roger of W., a monkish writer of the time of Henry III.,-and among its residents Hall, Bishop of Norwich, and Fuller, author of the “Worthies;” is now a seat of petty-sessions and county courts; consists of one main street, and several smaller streets; and has a post-office under Waltham-Cross, several inns, a police station, a church, Baptist and Wesleyan chapels, an endowed school with £161 a year, two other public schools, alms houses with £67 a year, other charities £140, a brewery, malt-kilns, flour-mills, a manufactory of percussion caps, extensive powder-mills, belonging to government, a weekly market on Tuesday, and fairs on 14 May and 25 and 26 Sept. The church founded by Tovi was reconstructed and made collegiate, in 1062, by Harold; the collegiate church was converted into a mitred Augustinian abbey, in 1177, by Henry II.; and the abbey was extended and enriched at successive periods,-had a splendid cruciform church, with lofty central tower,-and is now represented chiefly by the church’s nave now the parish church, by the Lady chapel now a school-room, and by the precinct gate and bridge. Henry III. was a frequent visitor of the abbey; Richard, king of the Romans, was here in 1248; Richard II. was on the grounds, at Romeland, when he received tidings of Wat Tyler’s insurrection: and the body of Edward I. lay here in state for 15 weeks. Pop. of the town in 1861, 2,873.

The township includes all the town, and extends beyond it. Real property, £6,631; of which £40 are in fisheries. Pop. in 1851, 2,329; in 1861, 2,933. Houses, 512. The royal small arms factory at Enfield-Lock is partly within the boundary; and the increase of pop. arose from the employment of workmen there. The parish contains also Holyfield, Sewardstone, and Upshire hamlets; forms a sub-district of Edmonton district; and comprises 10,876 acres. Pop. in 1851, 4,303; in 1861, 5,044. Houses, 897. The property is much sub-divided. The living is a donative in the diocese of Rochester. Value, £.300. Patrons, the Trustees of the Earl of Norwich. The p. curacy of High Beech is a separate benefice.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].


Below is a list of people that were declared bankrupt between 1820 and 1843 extracted from The Bankrupt Directory; George Elwick; London; Simpkin, Marshall and Co.; 1843.

Allistone John, Waltham abbey, Essex, shopkeeper, Aug. 4, 1826.


Vision of Britain historical maps


  • County: Essex
  • Civil Registration District: Edmonton
  • Probate Court: Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of London (London Division)
  • Diocese: Pre-1846 - London, Post-1845 - Rochester
  • Rural Deanery: Pre-1845 - Waltham, Post-1844 - Epping
  • Poor Law Union: Edmonton
  • Hundred: Waltham
  • Province: Canterbury