The earliest Hertfordshire information comes from National directories and only cover selected towns, in less detail than the later county directories.
Bailey's British Directory ... for ... 1784. Volume IV. The Eastern Directory [including towns in ... Herts ...] I have not seen this so can't say which towns it covers, or in what detail.
The Universal British Directory of Trade & Commerce comprehending ... all the Cities, Towns and Principal Villages in England and Wales. This was issued in parts between 1790 and 1798. A set of volumes has been reprinted so is available in a number of genealogical libraries and it is also available on CD from Archive CD Books. Hertfordshire trade directory entries are available on the Genhound web site. The following places in Hertfordshire have entries, which often include a mention of nearby villages:
- Volume 1: [London area only.]
- Volume 2: Baldock; Barnet; Berkhampstead (Berkhamsted); Bishops Stortford, Buntingford
- Volume 3: Hatfield; Hempsted (Hemel Hempstead); Hertford; Hitchin; Hoddesdon
- Volume 4: Royston; Ware; Watford
- Volume 5: [Later entries] St Albans, Standon*, Stevenage*, Tring*
- * Description of town but no trade directory
The St Albans entry starts with a description of the town and has separate name lists for the Corporation, Gentry, Physic, Law and Traders, &c., followed by descriptions of nearby country seats of the nobility. Apart from the Corporation the names are in alphabetical order (at least by first letter), and the information contained can be gathered from the first few entries for St Albans Traders
Agutter John, Painter
Atkinson Mrs, Crown Inn
Atterbury and Co. Maltsters
Ashdown Mrs, Victualler
Avis Daniel, Collar-maker
Bacon John, Grocer
Baldock -----, Farmer
Batten William, Grocer
Bennet James, Tallow-chandler
Blows Elizabeth, Broker
While one or two farmers are listed they would appear to be confined to those within the town boundary and there is no coverage of outlying farms, or nearby villages.
For more extensive examples see Hemel Hempstead Directory 1797, Hitchin Directory 1794 and St Albans 1798
Holden's Directories between 1805 and 1816. The initial edition did not include any Hertfordshire towns. Holden's Annual London and County Directory of the United Kingdoms and Wales, in Three Volumes published in 1811 contained information on Baldock, Barnet, Bishop's Stortford, Hertford, Hitchin, Rickmansworth, Royston and was available online on the Genhound web site - but the site closed in 2015 (see The Genes Blog). I don't know if the 1816 directory contained any additional towns.
If you can add to the information given above tell me.
Page updated June 2009 - Links to Genhound Web Site