AMERICANS are being urged to research their family history at the Essex Records Office in a bid to encourage US residents to visit Harwich.

Top tips on how to trace your family history in England have been compiled by the group behind the Mayflower 400 project, which aims to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower ship taking the Pilgrim Fathers to America.

Thousands of tourists are expected to travel to the UK for the milestone anniversary next year.

And with more than 35million descendants of the passengers and crew who sailed, the project hopes to encourage as many as possible to UK shores and particularly the 11 destinations linked to the Mayflower - including Harwich.

One of the locations for researching family history is listed as the Essex Record Office in Chelmsford, which has a remote search option on it’s website for users not living in the area.

Emma Tatlow, Mayflower 400 and US Connections project manager, said: “With millions of US residents having English ancestry and the 2020 anniversary of the Mayflower sailing to the New World, and a growth in US inbound visitors to the UK, now is the perfect time to be promoting Harwich and other regions of England with historical and cultural connections to the UK in the US.

“The programme of events in Harwich and the existing developments with Christopher Jones House and the Welcome Centre provide international visitors with even more reason to visit the region.

“Visitors will also benefit from the services available at Essex Records office to uncover their own personal connections to the county as well as those connections to well-known Americans; presidents, explorers and pioneers – including Christopher Newport, who led the pioneering settlement of Jamestown, and Christopher Jones.”

Mayflower 400 and US Connections are marketing the tours of top Mayflower-related destinations to the US travel trade, including the new top tips for ancestry searches.

The Mayflower 400 website also has an interactive map showing the names and birth places of many of the 102 passengers and crew who sailed on board.

It shows four people in Harwich as crew on the ship, including the town’s Captain Christopher Jones - master of the Mayflower.

Scant details are known of Richard Gardinar and Robert Choppin, who are believed to have returned to England.

But John Alden, the ship’s cooper, is said to have married passenger Priscilla Mullins, from Dorking, and settled in Duxbury, Massachusetts. The pair are believed to have had ten children.

Other places to research include Brunel Institute and the Box in Plymouth.

For more information, visit