British national directories 1781-1819: an index to places. Introduction
Before the series of county based directories introduced by Pigot in 1820, there was a series of national directories, normally issued as supplements to London directories, which covered over one thousand places throughout the British Isles, the majority of which had no directory of their own. This index records the coverage. The directories included are:
1781. Bailey's northern directory for 1781. - Warrington: Printed by William Ashton. (Norton 1).
1783. Bailey's western and midland directory for ... 1783. - Birminghan: Printed by Pearson and Rollason. (Norton 2).
1784. Bailey's British directory ... for ... 1784. - London: Printed by J.Andrews. (Norton 3).
1791. Universal British directory of trade, commerce & manufacture ... volume the second [third, fourth, fifth]. - London: British Directory Office, [1793-98]. (Norton 13-19).
The dating of the information contained in the various volumes is complicated by the compiler's habit of pagiarising, partly revising sections, and mixing editions of parts in the various issues. However the follwing approximate date spans can be assigned to the earliest version found in volumes 2-5:
Vol. 2: Mid 1791 to late 1792.
Vol. 3: Late 1792 to late 1794.
Vol. 4: Late 1794 to early 1798.
Vol. 5: 1798.
1805. Holden's triennial directory for 1805, 1806, 1807. - London: Sold by the Proprietor, . (Norton 21).
Reissued in 1808 (Norton 22).
1809. Holden's triennial directory (fifth edition) for 1809, 1810, 1811 - London: Printed by J.Davenport [et al.]; sold by the Proprietor. (Norton 23).
1811. Holden's annual London and country directory of the United Kingdoms & Wales, in three volumes, for ... 1811. - London: W.Holden. (Norton 24).
1814. Holden's annual directory. Class the fifth. Combining the calico, cotton, silk, woollen & ... other connected manufacturers & tradesmen. ... First edition ... 1814 & 1815. London: W.Holden. (Norton 25).
1814. [Pigot] The commercial directory for 1814-15. - Manchester: Wardle & Bentham. (Norton 29).
1816. Holden's annual directory. Class first, combining the merchants, shipowners, bankers, &c ... for 1816 & 17. - London: Printed for the Proprietor.(Norton 26).
1816. [Underhill] Biennial directory. Class third, comprizing the [metal trades]. - London: Printed for the Proprietor. (Norton 28). Underhill also published Class second in 1816, containing agents, brokers and other commercial practitioners (Norton 27). This was not checked for the present index, but its coverage is similar to the other two directories published in that year.
1816. [Pigot] The commercial directory for 1816-17. Manchester: Printed by Wardle & Pratt. (Norton 30).
1818. [Pigot] The commercial directory for 1818-19-20. Manchester: James Pigot & R. & W. Dean. (Norton 31). Reissued in 1819 as The commercial directory for 1819-20 (Norton 32) with a supplement. Page references higher than 500 in this index refer to entries in the 1819 supplement.
More information on these and other early directories can be found in:
Norton, Jane Elizabeth. Guide to the national and provincial directories of England and Wales, excluding London, published before 1856. (London: Royal Historical Society, 1950)
The references are normally to pages. In the case of the Universal British directory, the five volumes of which were published over a number of years, the reference is to the volume followed by the page, and with Holden's directory for 1811, which is unpaginated, the reference is to the volume number. Where the entry departs too far from true alphabetical sequence in the 1811 directory, attention is drawn to this. While an attempt has been made to standardise place-names, normally to bring them into line with the Ordnance Survey, there are doubtless some variants that have been missed.
All places which have separate entries have been included, as well as localities appearing as sub-sections of main entries, where there is a listing of inhabitants. In volume five of the Universal British Directory there are a large number of main entries which do not include lists of inhabitants.
The directories except Pigot's have been published on microfilm by EP as part of their London directories series, and so should be available in a number of research libraries. The microfilms are held, for example, in the Westcountry Studies Library in Exeter. The present index is based on the copies used in the microfilm, the originals of which are in Guildhall Library, London.
This index was first compiled by myself for the internal use of Guildhall Library who subsequently undertook a substantial amount of editorial work on the cards. After the index had been recompiled in Exeter from the microfilms, Guildhall Library kindly allowed me access so that checking of my own work was possible and additional information from Pigot's directories could be incorporated. I am most grateful to the staff at Guildhall Library for allowing this, and take this opportunity to reassure them that any errors in the present index are entirely my own.
Exeter, January 1989, revised February 2001.
This page last updated 30 Jan 2001
© Ian Maxted, 2001.