The Post Office Annual Directory of 1814, Great Resource Find

Earlier in March, my sweet granddaughter (the youngest, who is barely age 6) decided she wanted to mail me a picture she had colored. First, please understand, we live a little over 6 miles apart. Anyway, without the knowledge of her parents, she colored me a beautiful picture of a flower, placed it in an envelope, sealed the envelope, and addressed it to “Grandma” and wrote “from Em.” Then she proceeded to carry it out to the mailbox, place it inside, and put up the flag, just as she had seen her parents do on multiple occasions.

Fortunately, my son received a Ring camera notice while he was picking up the weekly grocery order, so when he arrived home, he investigated. Miss Em was angry when he took it out, saying “Grandma needed a picture from her.” So, he brought it inside and assisted her in writing my address on the envelope, put a stamp on it, and placed it back in the mailbox. Two days later in the email from USPS telling me what to expect for the day was a letter, not with my given name on it, but one prominently written in six-year-old printing, stating it was to go to “Grandma.” If you other grandmothers are reading this, you know where this letter is going in my cherished stash.

Anyway, the idea came to me I had not shared anything on the British Postal System.

There is a great resource I discovered some time back in the Google Books Project.

That is the link direct to it.  You can download it for free as a PDF.

It is also available on Amazon, but costs some $35. The print copy has one advantage over the free one, it is easier to search, for flipping back and forth through pages easier to manage than it is to scroll.

It is the British Post Office Directory for ‘London and Parts Adjacent’.  It contains a list of over 17000 merchants, traders and significant people in London, with their addresses, trades and other details, as well as information on postage costs and schedules, where the post inns where, the mail coach schedules, the councillors, the banks, the newspapers, the insurance offices, army and navy offices, the East India Company and other major trading company offices, and more!  

It is obviously a source every historical writer of Regency, Georgian, or Victorian stories should have at his/her fingertips, but maybe it is only me who can become lost for hours in such interesting tidbits.

There is over 500 pages of the scanned original dealing with the street view of London in 1814. It is by far the most comprehensive insight into what existed and where it was that I have ever found. However, as I mentioned above, wading through it can be a challenge, as, due to the printing conventions of the day, the lower case ‘s’ looks almost the same as a lower case ‘f’ so it is pretty much impossible to use optical character recognition to transfer it into a Word doc or other easily searchable format. Even in the PDF, with all of the clever things Acrobat can do now, you still cannot really search it. So be ready to spend hours reading or cough up the $35 for the print book!

Perhaps, it might be best to keep in mind the Amazon “warning”: “This work is in the public domain in the United States of America and possibly other nations. . . . As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.”

There are a couple of other equally amazing resources in google books library, which are equally capable of swallowing a person for days, but this is the most useful for answering questions like mine about tea shops, banks, warehouses, etc.


About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
This entry was posted in books, British history, business, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, real life tales, Regency era, research and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Post Office Annual Directory of 1814, Great Resource Find

  1. Thank you for this!

  2. What a great find! Thanks for sharing this.

Comments are closed.