University of Leicester Special Collections

I love it when I find a new website that really helps my genealogical research. I was researching my 4th Great-grandfather, Stephen Blackhurst, Sr. (c. 1779-1847) and found “Historical Directories of England & Wales,” on the University of Leicester, “Special Collections” webpages.  They have multiple directories from 40 county’s in England and Wales.  In my case I searched for Blackhurst and found over 100 returned items.  I then added “Yorkshire” to my listing and found 15 records.  Stephen died in 1847, so eliminated directories 1850 and newer. I looked closely at the Directories for 1833, 1841, 1847, and 1849 (he should have been gone for that one).

Stephen Blackwell in the 1833 Sheffield City Directory

Sure enough, there he was; a shoe maker at the Old Workhouse in Pitsmoor and he’s a shoemaker at 57 Pye bank in the 1839 and 1841 directories as well. He was not listed in the 1849 directory (he died in 1847), but two of his children, Adamson and Mary were listed.  Adamson was a shoe and butcher knife maker, at 102 Matilda St., and Mary was a dressmaker at 19 Chapel Street. I’m not 100% positive that this Mary Blackhurst is the right Mary Blackhurst (some of Mary’s siblings could have had a daughter Mary who could be this Mary), but it is likely enough to add it as a tentative entry.

To find the city directories, visit the University of Leicester Special Collections, then select Historical Directories of England & Wales. You can then browse or search the collection by county.  For those of you with Leicestershire ancestors, they have an additional 50 directories at Historical Directories of Leicestershire.

I can hardly wait to apply these city directories to my wife’s line in Workington and Cumberland County, England.

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