Scottish Post Office Directories

Trade directory

Various names for same profession

Trade directories list a place's inhabitants alphabetically by their professions.

Depending on the publishers and dates of publication, the naming of professions can differ between directories. For example, you might find the term 'copper merchant' in one volume and 'metal merchant' in another.

The rise and fall of businesses

Trade directories give valuable insight into the history and development of businesses and professions.

They depict, for example, the rising number of photographers or railway guards in the mid-19th century as vividly as the decline of jobs such as causewayers or bellmen.

Coal dealers, drapers, sugar refiners or cork merchants are still needed today. However, their work is carried out at a more industrial scale compared with the small and often private businesses recorded in the historic directories.

Several businesses at once

Many 19th-century businessmen offered several unrelated services at the same time.

An advertisement in 'Leslie's directory for Perth and Perthshire' for 1891-1892 shows that Mr W Cuthbert from Dunkeld worked as an Aerated Water Manufacturer while also offering job and post hires.

The 'Directory for the city of Aberdeen and its vicinity' for 1824-1825 includes an entry for Peter Wright, who lists himself as 'ivory turner, musical instrument maker, and dentist'.

It was also not uncommon for businessmen to be manufacturers and retailers at the same time.

The 'Post Office Edinburgh and Leith directory' for 1889-1890, for example, lists William Veitch & Sons as cabinetmakers as well as carpet warehousemen.


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