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Ancestry.com. U.K. and U.S. Directories, 1680-1830 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2003.
Original data: Avero Publications. Biography Database, 1680-1830. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England: Avero Publications, 1998.

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

This database was originally published under the name of Biography Database, 1680-1830 by Avero Publications, but Ancestry.com has renamed it online to help researchers better understand what it contains. The database is actually a massive collection of U.K. and U.S. biographical records, directories, and lists from the following sources:

  • National, town, and trade directories of the United Kingdom and United States
  • All known book subscription lists
  • All birth, marriage, death, promotions, and bankruptcies from a number of regular journals, including the Gentleman's Magazine from its inception in 1731 to 1870
  • All extant society membership lists from the period
  • A number of miscellaneous additional biographical sources contributed by individual academics, who consulted for the project.

The database makes available biographical sources that were previously too large and too dispersed for practical consultation. It also lets genealogists trace some individuals and families from birth to death, including everything in between, such as marriage, work, reading interests, offices, children, and social groups.

The entire data collection has been distributed in three installments, which together provide information on more than 2.5 million individuals. A new installment is published each year, with the most recent being the third set. This database now represents all three installments.

The third set of data—about 1 million records—could revolutionize Scottish research from 1680 to 1830, for it now contains all of the Scottish directories published up to 1830. There are nearly 100 of these directories: 37 for Edinburgh, 28 for Glasgow, three national directories, and other directories for Aberdeen, Angus, Ayr, Dundee, Greenock, Paisley, and Renfrewshire. The third set also contains all known Welsh directories and includes directories for Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, and a few other places in the United States.

The first and second sets contain another 200 directories, including many London directories and other directories for Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, Liverpool, and Manchester. These sets also contain U.S. information for Albany, Boston, and Brooklyn.

Contents of the third section of Biography Database, 1680-1830

Scottish Directories

Aberdeen: 1824, 1825, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830
Angus: 1829, 1830
Ayr: 1830
Dundee: 1782, 1809, 1818, 1822, 1824, 1829
Edinburgh: 1774, 1776, 1778,1780, 1782, 1794, 1797, 1800, 1801, 1804, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1808, 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, 1813, 1814, 1815, 1816, 1817, 1818, 1819, 1820, 1821, 1822, 1823, 1824, 1824 [diff. ed.], 1825, 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830
Glasgow: 1801, 1803, 1804, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, 1813, 1814, 1815, 1816, 1817, 1818, 1819, 1820, 1821, 1822, 1823, 1824, 1825, 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830
Greenock: 1815, 1820, 1828
Paisley: 1810, 1812, 1820, 1823, 1827, 1828
Renfrewshire: 1829, 1830

United States Directories

Baltimore: 1752, 1796, 1799, 1800-01, 1802, 1803, 1804, 1807, 1808, 1810, 1812, 1814-15, 1816, 1817, 1819, 1829
Boston: 1826, 1827, 1828
Charleston: 1782, 1785, 1790, 1794, 1801, 1802, 1803, 1806, 1807, 1809, 1813, 1816, 1819, 1822, 1824, 1828

Other Directories

London: 1790
Cheltenham: 1800
Gorleston: 1828
Whitehaven: 1762 [A MS local census]

The collection also includes national directories with Scottish listings for Holden (1809-11) and Pigot (1820 and 1825); the circulation of the North British Commercial Advertiser in 1827; Scottish book subscription lists to 1800; Welsh directories, including Aberystwyth (1816), Cardiff (1796, 1813, 1829), and Swansea (1802, 1830); all known Welsh book subscription lists to 1830 [catalogued by Eiluned Rees in the Journal of the Welsh Bibliographical Society XI, Nos. 1-2 (1973-74)]; and society membership lists for the Society of Arts (1772, 1783-1800) [19 annual lists)].

Directories

Town directories stem from the mid-18th century, with the first regular series beginning in London in the 1730s. After 1800, such publications became regular throughout the English-speaking world. Trade directories appeared in the 1790s, but became common after 1820. These sources provide a means to investigate ancestors in trade and industry long before censuses began to record such data. While retaining the original information, the directory records have been enhanced: gender has been added to all individual records. In addition, the occupations, which represent many thousands of job descriptions, have been classified into general trades and generic groupings. Occupations are also given a modern classification and description; for example, the occupation of anchor smith has the additional category of shipbuilding.

Contents of the first and second parts of Biography Database, 1680-1830

UK—National
National Bailey's Northern Directory, 1781
Bailey's British Directory, 1784 (Vol. 1: London, Vol. 2: Western, Vol. 3: Northern, and Vol. 4: Eastern)

UK—Local
Bilston: 1770, 1780, 1781
Birmingham: 1767, 1770, 1774, 1775 (Swinney), 1776, 1777, 1780, 1780, 1781, 1785, 1787, 1788, 1791, 1792 (Birmingham section of The Universal British Directory), 1797, 1798, 1798[1792], 1800 (Bisset), 1800 (Chapman)
Boston: 1789, 1796, 1798
Brighton: 1799, 1800
Bristol: 1775, 1785, 1787, 1792, 1793, 1795, 1797, 1798, 1799
Dover and Deal: 1792
Dudley: 1770, 1780, 1781
Edinburgh: 1774, 1776
Glasgow: 1783, 1787, 1789, 1791
Hampshire: 1784
Leeds: 1797, 1798, 1800
Leicester: 1794
Liverpool: 1766, 1774
London: 1674, 1738, 1740 (2), 1741, 1744, 1745, 1749, 1752, 1753, 1755, 1758, 1759, 1760 (2), 1761, 1763 (3), 1765 (2), 1767 (2), 1768 (2), 1769 (2), 1770 (2), 1771, 1772 (2), 1774 (3), 1775 (3), 1776 (2), 1777 (4), 1778, 1779 (3), 1780 (2), 1781, 1783 London (Kent's): 1780, 1781, 1782, 1785, 1786, 1788, 1789, 1791
London (Lowndes's): 1781, 1782, 1783, 1784, 1785, 1786, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791
London (Bailey's): 1790
London (Andrew's): 1789, 1790
London (Wakefield's): 1790
Manchester: 1772, 1773
Newcastle upon Tyne: 1778, 1782,1787, 1790, 1795, 1801, 1811, 1824
St. Helena: 1830
Sheffield: 1774, 1787, 1797
Walsall: 1770, 1780, 1781
Willenhall: 1770, 1780, 1781
Wolverhampton: 1770, 1780, 1781

Trade
This database includes a musical directory for the year 1794, by Joseph Doane.

United States
Albany: 1813, 1814, 1815, 1816, 1817, 1818, 1819, 1820, 1821, 1822, 1823, 1824, 1825, 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830
Boston: 1780 (Assessors' Taking Books), 1800, 1803, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1809, 1810, 1813, 1816, 1818, 1820, 1821, 1822, 1823, 1825, 1829, 1830
Brooklyn: 1822, 1823, 1824, 1825, 1826, 1829, 1830

Book Subscription Lists
Publication by subscription began in 1617, and lists proliferated from 1710. As a result, the lists often provide a kind of local directory for the years before true directories developed in the provinces. There were basically three kinds of books sold by this process: substantial works of national appeal and high cost; local works; and, later in the century, vanity publications, textbooks, and religious works. The database has additional software that enables the user to compare book subscription lists against one another. The index of books purchased includes a subject description so the buyers of particular kind of works may be examined together for the whole or any part of this period. Lists for 1487 have been filed. The great majority have a London imprint, often with a provincial imprint that represents the real area of support.

Provincial imprints include: Dublin (157), Oxford (101), Cambridge (50), Edinburgh (38), Newcastle (35), York (26), Bath (22), Glasgow (19), Birmingham (17), and Bristol (17). There are also more than 140 towns with less than 15 imprints. Also, 236 subscription lists, ranging in date from 1705 to 1833, with a concentration in the late-18th and early-19th centuries. There are eight lists up to 1739, six in the 1740s, 17 in the 1750s, 32 in the 1760s, five in the 1770s, four in the 1780s, 104 in the 1790s, 33 in the 1800s, 19 in the 1810s, 10 in the 1820s, and three in the 1830s (one of these lists contains nearly 9,000 names).

Journals
The database includes details of births, marriages, and deaths announced in the Gentleman's Magazine (1731) and the Scots' Magazine (1739). Marriages are fully detailed (by date, place of marriage, and dowry, if any) in the records of both husband and wife. Obituaries often record the value of the decedent's possessions or note unusual bequests, cause of death, etc. Promotions and appointments to a variety of offices are also included. The appointments range from the permission for a clergyman to hold more than one position through military/naval promotions to political advancements. This data is supplemented by summaries of biographies from the Annual Biography and Obituary (1817) and the Annual Register (1758).

Included in this installment, you will find the births, deaths, marriages, promotions, bankruptcies, courts martial notices of the Gentleman's Magazine for the years 1731-70, inclusive.

Society Membership Lists
Every aspect of social life was advanced by the formation of societies—agriculture, the arts, history, science, education, and social welfare. These membership lists are included in the Biography Database.

Included in this installment, you will find:

  • The membership of the Royal Society to 1815.
  • The membership of the Literary and Philosophical Society, Newcastle, 1793 to 1830
  • Boston (MA) Anthology Society
  • Literary and Antiquarian Society of Perth, Transactions of, Perth, 1827
  • Royal Society of London, members 1816-1860
  • Society of Antiquaries of London, members 1717-1796
  • Society for Constitutional Information, Tracts, London, 1783
  • Society for the Improvement of Naval Architecture, London 1791 and 1792
  • Society of Cymmrodorion in London, London, 1777
  • Sussex Society for the Encouragement of Agriculture and Manufactures, Lewes, 1772

Additional Data

Additional specialist data sources have been contributed by individual academics. For example, Trevor Hearl's St. Helena records (mostly East India Company records, including a list of people permitted to visit Napoleon) and Michael Turner's apprenticeship records of the London Stationer's Company. Included in this installment, you will find: Trevor Hearl's collections of biographical data from St. Helena and Michael Turner's apprenticeship lists from the Stationers' Company, 1701 to 1800.


*While the title of the database indicates a date range from 1680-1830, a few records extend beyond that range to as early as 1640 and as late as 1860.

**The location field refers to towns and counties rather than specific street addresses.
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