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About Kelly's Directories...

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Trade directories first appeared towards the end of the 18th century and were published by a number of companies such as John's, Pigot's and the one which has survived to the present day, Kelly's.

The first Kelly's Directory was devoted to London and appeared in 1799. In later years the company's publications gradually extended to cover the whole of Great Britain, county by county, with extra editions devoted to major towns, providing not only a description of each location and its major historical events, architectural features, agriculture and geology, but also a list of the 'Commercial Residents'.

This situation continued until the end of the 19th century when the category of 'Private Resident' (i.e. 'Rich') was introduced listing those of private means who were presumeably regarded as potential sources of revenue for the tradesmen!

It is the 1901 edition for Monmouthshire that is the subject of this project, which lists all the Private Residents, Professionals, Clergy and Tradespeople including farmers. It belonged to my grandfather who, was as village Postmaster, baker and confectioner.

And to those dear souls who persistently email me long lists of people whose names they can't find in the lists, will you please note that Employees or the Unemployed are NOT listed!

However, from the 1920s, all residents were included - together with a new feature - telephone numbers.

My grandfather's house, where I now live, still has a pair of substantial ceramic terminals the size of large coffee jars, mounted on a stout iron bracket high up on the outside wall, which was the cable terminal for his Post Office telephone, the number of which was "9", then "79", and later "779". It still is number 779 - but today preceded by an additional nine digits.
Interestingly, there are still old-timers round here who answer their telephone with the three digit number. Old habits die hard.

It was the free telephone directories which brought about the end of the old style Kelly's Trade Directories. However the company is still in existence - using 200 years of expertise to make telephone directories for the telecom companies!

I sincerely hope that this project is of interest and helps you with your family research - the feedback I receive indicates that the effort is worthwhile, and I thank all those concerned for their kind comments. To those who have asked how do I find the time, well - I'm one of those "silver surfers", and as the number of internet users in the over 55 age group increases, so does the number of us who find this sort of activity to be enormously enjoyable. I maintain that such projects keep the brain active - however I am occasionally still to be found standing in the garden shed wondering what I went in there for...

Best wishes, and may all your researches prove fruitful


Bryan Morgan
Caerwent, Monmouthshire, October 1999


"When I was sixteen I was appalled at the ignorance of my father.
By the time I was twenty-one I was amazed how much the old man had picked up..."
(Mark Twain)

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