How to look for records of... People in business and trades
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
Most surviving historic business and trade records in the UK are held by local archives. There are specific guides covering occupations for which records are held at The National Archives.
What do I need to know before I start?
Records available only at The National Archives in Kew
Records in other archives and organisations
Did you know?
From 1851 trades could be listed in the census in order of importance.
People often had multiple seasonal occupations. Records of seasonal, casual, or part-time work in the census are erratic, particularly the work of women and children, and in agriculture.
Very general terms are sometimes used in the census – such as ‘labourer’ – making it difficult to find a person’s exact occupation.
Many trade directories survive.