Directories and court guides
These guides show who lived where in London. They are slightly limited, but useful for tracing people and residential histories during years not covered by the census.
First published in 1677, the London Directory evolved from alphabetical name listings to complex reference works listing residents and workers by trade, commercial name, profession and street.
We hold London directories from 1736 to 1991 which can be accessed on microfilm in the searchroom, along with copies of some earlier directories from the Guildhall Library's collection.
We also hold local directories for St Marylebone, Paddington and Pimlico dating from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century.
- before 1816, directories are arranged by surname and have no street listings
- from 1817, some directories had listings by residential address and Kelly's Directories contain street listings from 1842
- from 1855 the principal sections of Kelly's Directories are streets, commercial, trades and court
- people had to pay to be included in directories, so they aren't comprehensive but mainly list individuals involved in trade, commerce and the professions
The Historical Directories site offers online access to selected local directories for England and Wales from 1750 to 1919.
Court guides list people of social standing:
- Boyle's Court Guides have street directories from as early as 1792 as well as the court section listing people of social standing
- Royal Kalendars are useful for looking up civil servants
Access Boyle's Court Guides, Royal Blue Books and Royal Kalendars for selected years between 1792 to 1940 at Westminster City Archives.