Set 451 to win, they were bowled out for 74 in 28.5 overs, losing by 376 runs with 25.1 overs left on day three.
It was the heaviest defeat in their history by a runs margin, eclipsing a 324-run defeat to Gloucestershire at Cheltenham in 1994.
It was their lowest completed score since they were dismissed for 67 by Lancashire at Old Trafford in 1999, and it meant that all four of their lowest scores this year came in their two games against Essex.
On a day when Essex lifted the Championship trophy, which was presented to them after the match in front of the pavilion, Yorkshire lifted only the white flag, their performance not merely inadequate but inexcusable, a fact readily acknowledged by first team coach Andrew Gale.
“I’m not going to mince my words, quite frankly that’s embarrassing for a Yorkshire team,” said Gale. “It’s one of the worst performances I’ve ever been involved in. We’ve prided ourselves as a club in the past five/six/seven years on being a mentally tough side and a hard side to beat.
“Quite frankly, that was soft cricket out there and Yorkshire at their worst.”
After Essex declared midway through the afternoon on 334-7, no one expected Yorkshire to chase down a target of 451.
They have only three times chased over 400 in their history, the highest of those a score of 406-4 against Leicestershire at Grace Road in 2005.
But what every Yorkshire supporter here or back home would have wanted to see – and had a right to expect – was some fight.
Instead, Yorkshire simply took flight, collapsing timidly to their fifth defeat of the season as Essex in contrast, claimed a 10th victory that saw them end their campaign unbeaten.
On a pleasant day weather-wise, with sunshine for most of the time, Yorkshire’s second innings was immediately in distress when both openers fell in the first 16 balls.
Adam Lyth was caught behind off Sam Cook, although it seemed as though the delivery might have brushed his back pad, which perhaps explained why Lyth trudged off venting his frustration towards umpire Russell Evans.
There was no such mitigation for Kraigg Brathwaite, who propped forward tamely to Jamie Porter and was lbw, his short-term signing proving unsuccessful. Alex Lees had his middle stump knocked out by Cook, who then trapped Gary Ballance lbw pushing forward before having Jack Leaning caught behind stuck on the crease to leave the visitors 33-5.
Cook, the 20-year-old right-arm pace bowler, had Yorkshire in knots during an opening spell of 4-16 from six overs from the River end, proving that Essex have much more to their armoury than Porter and Simon Harmer, the country’s leading wicket-takers with 75 and 72 respectively.
Yorkshire crashed to 35-6 when Andrew Hodd tried to reverse-sweep the off-spin of Harmer and was lbw, although the ball may possibly have hit him outside the line.
It hardly mattered, for it was a curious shot to be playing in the circumstances.
Steve Patterson went to the first ball after tea, also stuck on the crease as he edged Porter behind, and when Cook had Jack Brooks caught at first slip to register his fifth wicket, the score stood at 38-8.
Matthew Fisher and Karl Carver added 34 inside 11 overs to avert total embarrassment, Carver finally going lbw to Harmer.
Fisher, the only man to reach double figures, was last out when he gloved behind a bouncer from Neil Wagner, prompting wild celebrations among the Essex players and supporters.
Earlier, the hosts made largely comfortable progress as they extended their overnight 134-2, which had already given them a lead of 250.
Dan Lawrence, who resumed on 75, went lbw early in the piece to Ben Coad, his 50th Championship wicket of the summer, Lawrence scoring 83 from 156 balls with 10 fours and two sixes and sharing 139 with Nick Browne.
Browne, 53 overnight, was also out for 83, edging Patterson to Lyth at second slip, having faced 166 balls and hit 11 fours.
When Fisher pinned James Foster lbw, Essex were 205-5, which stretched to 275-5 at lunch as captain Ryan ten Doeschate went to an 81-ball half-century.
The lead, at that stage, was 391, and after Fisher had ten Doeschate caught behind and Neil Wagner caught at first slip by Lees at the second attempt, Essex pulled out, Harmer finishing unbeaten on 58 from 93 balls.