When Directories first started to appear in the 18th century, editors made decisions about categorising the people they mentioned. The first categories included the nobilty, the gentry and the church. By the start of the 19th century, the chief residents (including property-owning farmers and important tradespeople) were also listed. It was not until the end of the 19th century, however, that anyone thought of including ordinary villagers.
These people were at the heart of every community and including them gave rise to useful trade listings for anyone wanting a specialist job done or, perhaps, a bonnet made. For the first time, the people listed owned no property and had no social status and were not exclusively male thus giving us a very interesting, and perhaps surprising, insight into the contribution made by women to the economic life of the area.