Trade and household directories first appeared in London at the end of the 17th century and spread to provincial towns about a hundred years later. After various attempts from the 1780s onwards to publish a single national directory had proved largely unsuccessful, a pattern emerged by the 1850s of country directories, with a few national publishers (Kelly and White are the best known) and many local firms who issued a single town or county directory.
The Directories provide indexes to the whereabouts and occupation of tradespeople; the private addresses of wealthier residents were often listed as well. The earliest lists give only partial coverage, but those for the first half of the 20th century are more inclusive.
Directories are a valuable extra resource for family historians, as they fill in the gaps between census returns (particularly for the period between the 1911 census and the 1939 register). Sometimes a person may have lived in Badsey, Aldington or Wickhamford for just a year or two but, if that did not coincide with a census, then evidence of their residence in the village may pass unnoticed.
It should be noted that rival directories sometimes gave different information, so it is worth checking the various sources; for example, Smith’s Household Almanack (published by a local firm) lists significantly more names than Kelly’s Directory (published by a national firm). Furthermore, they can contain incorrect data, as it was often down to the traders to inform the compilers that they had moved for ceased trading. Alternatively, the agents working for the compilers sometimes used information from earlier directories to prepare new versions.
Listed below are the trade and household directories in which entries for Badsey, Aldington and Wickhamford appear from the late 19th century.