Let your fingers do the walking and find your 19th century Irish ancestors in the pages of Thom’s Directory. A street directory and almanac for Ireland’s capital city Thom’s lists traders, clergy, lawyers, gentlemen and many more across much of the 19th century. Find out what your ancestors did for a living and what their neighbourhood was like in this unique resource.
Each record is a page from the directory on which the name you have searched for appears. The amount of information varies but you can find out the following about your ancestor:
As the directories cover a wide range of years you can also chart your ancestor’s changes of address and occupation.
First published in 1844 by Alexander Thom, the directory is still being published today. Earlier directories lack the scope of later editions but by the end of the 19th century the directory had almost 2,000 pages, broken into several main sections. The full title gives an indication of its scope: “Thom's Official Directory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for the year 1884. Comprising British Foreign and Colonial Directories, Parliamentary Directory, Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage Directory, Naval and Military Directory, Statistics of Great Britain and Ireland. Government Offices' Directory, University, Scientific and Medical Directory, Law Directory, Ecclesiastical Directory, Banking Directory, Postal Directory, County and Borough Directory, Lieutenancy and Magistracy of Ireland. Post Office Dublin City and County Directory.”
The initial section is a comprehensive list of the civil servants, politicians and ruling classes from the Queen down. The bulk of the directory then focuses on Ireland. Beginning with statistics compiled from the previous census, there are also listings of landowners of 1,000 acres upwards, on a county by county level, followed by lists of various state officials, as well as other civil, military and religious officials in the country. Also included is a listing of clubs, societies and institutions.
The county by county sections provide statistical information compiled from the census, as well as the leading civil servants in each county, including local magistrates, Boards of Guardians of the Poor Law Unions, and information on the Petty Sessions and county fairs.
The final portion of Thom's is made of information on Dublin City and County. Much of the information for the city is similar to that provided for the counties but it also includes a street directory listing inhabitants of each of the dwellings. This is followed by the county directory which extends from Balbriggan to Dún Laoghaire. It also includes many of the areas now considered part of Dublin city, such as Rathmines and Swords. Many of these areas include a street directory.
Next comes a listing of the nobility, gentry, merchants and traders of the city and suburban areas. The directory is concluded with the Annals of Dublin, with details of important events in the city from 140 AD to the time of publication.
In the absence of full census records for the 19th century, Thom’s provides a detailed picture of Dublin during that century. While it does not have the household details that a census would provide it covers most heads of businesses and households living in the street. The only people who do not appear in the pages are those who sadly rarely feature in historical documents, those who held small holdings and the poor but even so, Thom’s is a valuable piece of social history for Dublin.
You can search Thom’s Directory by name and by year and can also filter by publication
Names are listed surname first and first names are often abbreviated so bear this in mind when searching. William, for example, is often listed as Wm and James as Jas.
People often appear twice in any given directory. Once listed at their address in the street directory, the second time listed alphabetically by profession.