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Date updated: 2/15/2021

Guildhall Library holds sources containing information on members of many different professions and trades. This brief guide covers only the main occupations and some of the most useful general sources.

London and provincial trade directories provides an excellent source for checking when a firm or tradesman was in business and where their premises were located. 

  • London directories: 1677 onwards
  • National directories: 1781 onwards
  • Individual county and provincial town directories: mid-nineteenth century onwards

Other general sources worth checking:

  • Who's Who: 1897 to date (hard copy) and 1897-1996 (electronically)
  • Dictionary of National Biography and other general biographical directories
  • British Biographical Archive: available on microfiche 
  • The Gentleman's Magazine: 1731-1907 contains many brief biographical notices of prominent men and women
  • 17th and 18th century Burnley Collection newspapers
  • 19th century British Library newspapers
  • Times Digital Archive: 1785-1985
  • Daily Mirror: 1903 onwards

Sources to help trace members of the legal profession:

  • The Law List: 1787-1976 and covers solicitors and barristers, and their professional predecessors
  • Waterlow's Solicitors' & Barristers' Directory, formerly The Solicitors' and Barristers' Directory and Diary:  from 1978 and is used to check current members of the legal profession
  • Printed admission lists of three of the Inns of Court (Gray’s Inn 1695-1889, Lincoln’s Inn 1422 -1893, Middle Temple 1501-1975), and trade directories
  • Inner Temple admission registers: 1547-1850

Sources to help trace members of the medical profession:

  • The Medical Register: 1861 onwards and is the official record of qualified doctors and physicians
  • The Medical Directory: 1847 onwards which lists qualifications plus some subsequent career details
  • Additional sources of information on surgeons and physicians can be found in the records of the Society of Apothecaries and there is also a list of apothecaries 1815-1840 available on microfiche
  • Army Surgeons are listed in the Army Lists, and there is a two-volume directory, Medical Officers in the British Army 1660–1960
  • Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons covers 1930-1973 and the Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London (later Munk's Roll) covers 1501-1988
  • PJ Wallis's Eighteenth Century Medics is a useful checklist with limited biographical details

Sources to help trace members of the Clergy:

Church of England clergy

  • Crockfords Clerical Directory: 1858 onwards
  • The Clergy List: 1842-1917 with some gaps
  • The Clerical Guide: 1817, 1822, 1829 and 1836
  • Alumni lists such as Foster's Alumni Oxonienses and Alumni Cantabrigienses

Roman Catholic Church

  • Catholic Directory: 1850 onwards with some gaps

Other sources

  • United Methodist Ministers and their Circuits: 1797-1932, arranged alphabetically by geographical area of the circuit ministry
  • Baptist Handbook: six volumes between 1899 and 1927

Sources to help trace members of the Armed Forces:

The following sources list all commissioned officers in these forces: 

  • The Army List: 1714 onwards
  • The Navy List: 1782 onwards
  • The Air Force List: 1918 onwards

The lists give little information other than confirmation of the existence of individuals, but can help trace careers.

  • The London Gazette lists military promotions and gallantry medals, decorations and honours
  • The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery and Memorial Registers, are also available in the library
  • Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919 and the Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945 are available electronically

Sources to help trace members of the Merchant Navy:

The library does not hold crew lists for merchant navy personnel but does have:

  • Lloyd's Captains Registers: a series of volumes listing alphabetically masters and mates who received their certificates between 1851 and 1948. Information listed includes dates of qualification and names of vessels in which they served. The first volume, covering up to 1869,  is available at the library. All other volumes are in the care of the London Metropolitan Archives.

Sources to help trace members Parliament:

Members of Parliament: Return to two orders of the Honourable the House of Commons…  lists in two volumes:

  • The Parliaments of England, 1213-1702
  • Parliaments of Great Britain, 1705-1796
  • Parliaments of the United Kingdom, 1801-1874
  • Parliaments and conventions of the estates of Scotland, 1357-1707
  • Parliaments of Ireland, 1559-1800

Biographical profiles of Members of Parliament:

  • The History of Parliament Trust series, The House of Commons: 1386-1421, 1509-1558, 1558-1603, 1660-1690, 1690-1715, 1715-1754, 1754-1790, and 1790-1820
  • History of Parliament 1439-1509 published by the Committee on the History of Parliament 
  • Members of the Long Parliament by Brunton and Pennington covers the period 1640-1653
  • Who's who of British Members of Parliament, 1832-1979
  •  Dod's Parliamentary companion,1850 to date
  • Parliamentary profiles: held from 1984 (with some gaps), provides a slightly irreverent view of MPs: "the fullest possible portrait of each politician, with all the warts allowed by the law of libel, well-stretched"
  • Papers of British cabinet ministers 1782-1900
  • Papers of British politicians 1782-1900
  • Parliamentary histories for many towns and counties have been published and details of these can be found in the library catalogue

A full guide to these records can be obtained in the library. There is no overall name index to the records and they relate mainly to practitioners in the City of London and its vicinity. Guilds in towns outside London would have had separate membership lists and local record offices may hold surviving records. Guildhall Library holds a microfiche index to apprenticeship records on which tax was paid, covering 1710-1774 – now also available on Ancestry.

More information

Email Guildhall Library Team or call 020 7332 1868