Wednesday, 1 May 2013

More UK directories released on Ancestry

Ancestry ( has launched yet another UK directories collection on its platform, entitled UK, City and County Directories, 1766 - 1946. Here's the blurb:

This database is a collection of directories for various areas of the United Kingdom from the 1700s to the 1900s. Various types of directories exist, including:
  • Street: listing of residents, businesses, and tradesmen according to street address
  • Commercial: includes businesses, but may also include private residences; generally an alphabetical listing of traders
  • Trade: not just for businesses, but anyone with a recognized trade or profession; an alphabetical listing of trades and businesses
  • Court: lists wealthy residents and government officials
  • Post Office: listing of householder's names and addresses

Many directories are named after the publishers, such as Pigot and Kelly. Most directories originally included maps. Over time, many of these maps were removed. Where still available as part of a directory, the maps are included in this database. The database is searchable at

The page advises that for a list of the directories contained in the collection, you should visit However, this is incomplete. There is no mention of all the various Perth trade directories from 1837 to 1974 (lots of gaps), for example, nor the various directories for Fife. I've no idea if the English or Welsh holdings are all listed on the page. Nothing is in the collection for Northern Ireland, unless it's in one of the UK volumes.

Other Ancestry directories databases:

U.K., City and County Directories, 1600s-1900s

U.K. and U.S. Directories, 1680-1830

UK, Midlands and Various UK Trade Directories, 1770-1941

British Phone Books, 1880-1984

And many, many more...


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  1. Ancestry says this of the new release: "We've recently improved our OCR technology, and re-scanned all the hundreds of directories in this collection. That means your search results should be more accurate, and you should find it much easier to spot your relatives on the results page."

    However, anybody listed in a directory with an initial rather than a forename, has had their initial replaced with a forename of Ancestry's choosing! So for example E becomes Edward, G becomes George, J becomes James and T becomes Theodore. There were an awful lot of people named Theodore in Britain according to this database! I suspect a global search-and-replace error. Whatever the cause, this problem neither makes search results more accurate, nor does it make it easier for people to spot their relatives on the results page.

    I have tweeted and emailed Ancestry with no response, however a message to an Ancestry message board has just elicited a reply from Ancestry, and I have given them some examples of the problem to look at.

  2. Hi Chris - the latest from Ancestry: "This is definitely not working as designed and needs to be corrected. I'll get my team right on this to try and troubleshoot what is going on and then post a new version of the index."

  3. Thanks Steve - much appreciated. Will re-tweet to alert people to the update