Irish Family History Specialists

Monthly Archives:

New City Pictorial Directory

Most Irish family history researchers will be familiar with Thom’s Directories. In 1850, Henry Shaw tried to launch a competing publication, the New City Pictorial Directory. It was not a commercial success, and the 1850 edition was destined to be the only one. It provides a unique insight of the city in 1850 though because – as the title suggests – it was pictorial.

Henry Shaw had established himself as a newspaper publisher in 1848. He was not the only one to do so; thanks to technical advances of printing technology, a lot of newspapers were established in the nineteenth century. Many would only exist for a short time. Shaw’s The Commercial Journal and Family Herald existed from 1848 to 1872. The newspaper appears to have been off to a good start, claiming 9,000 subscribers (according to Shaw).

In 1850, as mentioned above, he published a city directory. This was possibly to expand his publishing business, or perhaps to promote his newspaper as subscribers to the full edition (there was a cheaper single sheet edition) received a free copy of the directory.

The directory contained:

  • Review of 1849
  • Calendar of 1850 events
  • List of government departments
  • Banking directory
  • Law directory
  • Street directory
  • Alphabetical list of nobility, gentry, merchants and traders

The unique part of the directory were the drawings. It displays many beautiful engravings of street frontages. Being a commercial publication however, many residential areas did not get such treatment and only those businesses who took out an advertisement received a detailed drawing of their premises, as opposed to just an outline. All main streets were included. But also, in some cases, smaller streets, if a business in such street would have taken out an ad. If this was not the case, no pictorial view of these smaller streets would be included.

If your ancestors owned a business in the city of Dublin in 1850, you might be lucky and a drawing of their premises might exist.

The National Library of Ireland and Marsh’s Library have a copy in their holdings. We have also seen second hand copies being offered on various websites.