Frederick Emmison, M.B.E., D.U. Essex

`Derick' Emmison was born in Bedford on 28 May 1907 and educated at Bedford Modern School where he was an outstanding pupil. Family circumstances prevented his taking up a place at Cambridge, but he found perfect employment in the Bedfordshire Record Office to the ultimate benefit of archives administration nationwide. In 1938 Emmison was appointed the first county archivist for Essex, and so began his long sojourn in Chelmsford and a supremely successful career in the archival field. The Essex Record Office, presently recognized as nationally pre-eminent, was his own creation and, through it, he made a major contribution to historical scholarship in the county at every level. His work was interrupted by the war when the office was manned only by Emmison and his archivist wife, both of whom also undertook Civil Defence duties, but he used this sterile period to plan ahead and, immediately post-war when expansion was possible, he opened up the archives to students, endowed an annual prize for research by Essex schoolchildren and published a number of popular, but discerning, guides and booklets. He gave generously of his time and expertise to his staff long before university schools of archives were established, and nine members went on to become county archivists themselves. Alongside his professional publications, such as Archives and Local History (1966), and Catalogue of Essex Parish Records, 1240-1894 (1966) Emmerson published a stylishly written volume on Tudor history, Tudor Secretary: Sir William Petre at Court and Home (1961), followed by the 5-volume Elizabethan Life (1970-80), a work of sustained scholarship drawn mainly from Essex sources. His 12-volume series, Essex Wills, covering the period 1558-1603 (of which two remain to be published) contains a far greater corpus of material than that for any other English county and was published with American support. To mark his retirement in 1969 Emmison donated £1,000 jointly to the Historical Association and the British Records Association to improve facilities for the study of local archives and to encourage better publications, exhibitions and other amenities. Emmison was a talented pianist and his virtuoso performance on the newly purchased mid-sixteenth century virginal in the Long Gallery at Ingatestone Hall in 1958 will long be remembered since it was recorded for sale by the Friends of Historic Essex, of which he was successively honorary secretary, treasurer and editor. Emmison was a founder member, in 1932, of the British Records Association and in 1947 of the Society of Local Archivists; he was a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners; the recipient, in 1974, of the Julian Bickersteth Medal of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies and in 1987 of the Historical Association's Medlicott Medal. Small of stature, spruce, elegant and exuding confidence, he was regularly seen at Burlington House until failing eyesight marred his last years. He died on 9 November 1995.