Friday, October 18, 2013

The Commerical Directory's Miscellaneous Tradesmen, etc.

The Commercial Directory of which the above is the title-page was chock-full of information. Anything needed to carry on business in the northern part of England was included. For every sizable town, there are lists of businesses, lists of carriers both land and water, bankers, and post offices.

The merchants, manufacturers and etc. for each place are categorized. Categories include ironmongers, linen drapers and surgeons. Inns and coopers, attornies [sic], and cabinetmakers are well-represented. There are at least three entries in every grouping. Also, there are multiple entries for crafts and jobs that scarcely exist any more: stone masons, and woolstaplers, and bell hangers. But for every town there is a 'miscellaneous' section. These are people working uniquely at a craft or occupation in their community.

For Birmingham, the 'miscellaneous' list is large, reflecting the fact that the entire list of Birmingham occupations takes up more than thirty-five pages in the directory. Here is a portion of the 'miscellaneous' category:

It was remarkable how many items were manufactured by small, independent workers. Things that now are turned out in the millions by huge factories were, during the Regency, produced by individuals often working in their own homes. For example, above Ralph Heaton, a button-shank-maker, and William Evans, key-maker.

from The Book of English Trades
There were specialist manufacturers: John Taylor, sword and bayonet scabbard-maker, and Moses Westwood, plated metal and brass ball-maker. And specialist merchants: S. and J. Waddington hop and seed merchants, and John Harris tallow & yarn merchant. And there are of course manufacturers and sellers of things that we no longer recognize e.g. Derbyshire spars, and patent shoe-latchets.

This Commercial Directory makes it clear that the Regency world was a bustling, mercenary place. Those with a trade or a craft were fortunate indeed, earning a living by providing a product to turn the wheels of commerce.

I will be revisiting the Commercial Directory in the future to share more of its fascinating information.

'Til next time,


N.B. Both The Book of English Trades and The Commercial Directory for 1818-19-20 are available from Google Books.


Anne Gallagher said...

Almost their version of a modern day yellow pages. Interesting occupations indeed.

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

It is like a 'yellow pages'. And very similiar to the City Directories that used to flourish before the days of the Internet.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating glimpse into the minutiae of life in that time. Thank you for this post!

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

You are most welcome, Laurie. Thanks for stopping by!

The Greenockian said...

I often use the Greenock Trade Directories when looking for information about local people. They are a wealth of information.
The Greenockian

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

And they can be a great source for family history information. I have used the ones in my city from the early 1900s, for this purpose.

Thanks for visiting, Greenockian!