Click here for the Glossary page
Click here for the main index of the Burton Latimer Heritage Society site
Click here to return to the previous page

Directories - An Introduction

The aim of the Directories Section is to provide details of the contents of various directories containing Burton Latimer people and businesses. Directories are an invaluable primary source for historians. From the middle of the 18th century to the 20th century local directories provided information on residents, trades, churches, gentry, public services and other facets of local history. Because they were published more frequently than the census, directories can also help family historians fill in the gaps between the census years and, post 1911, can point the way to new lines of research.

Some early directories were speculative ventures. These were established by entrepreneurial publishers in response to the expansion of trade.Other directories evolved from the lists of traders kept by the earliest registry offices. This type of directory was particularly common in provincial towns.

The ways in which publishers collected data varied considerably. Some obtained information by personal canvassing and combined the results with existing listings. Other publishers simply asked people to send in their names together with a small payment if they wanted to be included in the directory – this type of directory is less useful as a research tool because it is not fully representaive of a locality.

The best known and most numerous directories were those published as Kelly’s Directories and Handbooks, the origins of which can be traced back to 1799 when the first edition of The Post Office London Directory was published. In 1835, Frederic Festus Kelly was appointed His Majesty’s Inspector of Inland Letter Carriers and took over the production of the London Directory, which took his name. Kelly began producing provincial Directories soon after, ultimately covering every city, town, village and parish. The company’s name changed accordingly to Kelly & Co Ltd in 1882, later becoming Kelly’s Directories Ltd in 1897.

There are, of course, other directories, annuals and year books which contain details of Burton Latimer people and businesses such as  Whellan’s, Slater’s, Harrod’s, Wright’s, Bennett’s Business Directory and several County and Town Guides. Most of these can be found in local reference libraries and record offices, but this website will gradually bring them online in the forthcoming months.

J.M. - 2009

Click here to return to the Main Index
Click here to return to the Genealogy Index