He was born in Warrington, Lancashire and was the younger son of Henry Streeter Essenhigh and Elizabeth Clare. He was later to assume his mother's maiden name. He was educated at Warrington Secondary School and the Manchester School of Art. He originally worked for a local cable manufacture company. He subsequently gained a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London, where he studied applied art and architecture.
On the outbreak of World War I, he joined the University of London Officer Training Corps before being commissioned as an officer in the 3rd Battalion, The Manchester Regiment. He rose to the rank of captain before losing his leg in action during a coastal assault on 27 June 1917 at Nieuport on the Belgian coast.
While recuperating in hospital, he studied law. He was called to the bar by Gray's Inn in January 1922. He practiced on the Northern Circuit. In 1924 he married Dr Helen Hogg of Cambuslang, Glasgow, and they had four children.
He stood as a Conservative candidate in the 1929 general election. He contested the Newton constituency of Lancashire, but lost by over 6,000 votes to the sitting Labour MP Frederick Lee. As Labour's vote collapsed at the 1931 general election, Essenhigh stood again and took the seat with a majority of only 381 votes. Lee regained the seat at the 1935 general election, and Essenhigh did not seek election again.
In 1936 Essenhigh was appointed a county judge for Circuit No.13, which included parts of Derbyshire and Yorkshire and included the city of Sheffield. He retained this position until his death, aged 65, in 1955.
- "ESSENHIGH, His Honour Judge Reginald Clare". Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. December 2007. Missing or empty
- Obituary: Judge Essenhigh, The Times, 3 November 1955; p. 14
- "General Election: Nominations". The Times. 21 May 1929. p. 8.
- "The New House Of Commons List Of Members, Constituencies And Parties". The Times. 29 October 1931. p. 7.
- Two New County Court Judges, The Times, Saturday, 24 October 1936; p. 14
- Craig, F. W. S. (1983) . British parliamentary election results 1918-1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Reginald Essenhigh
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for Newton