Although directories may have been compiled one or more years before their publication date they are a very useful source of information. The changing incidence of occupations over the years is an indication of how the town was developing. If you are interested in a family then these directories can supplement census information or help you locate somebody in the census. I am not aware of any directories devoted solely to Malton. A list of Trade Directories and where you will find them is given here.
I have transcribed a small number of Trade Directories. Click to view one of the following transcriptions:
In the 19th and early 20th centuries the trades carried on in the town were different to what survives today as were the goods and services. I have collected a number of advertisements from local newspapers and also a small number of invoices and receipts. These are organised alphabetically by name of the business or surname of the trader.
See the index here.
It was a relatively common occurrence for traders to become unable to pay their debts. The reasons included fraud, bad business practice, and misfortune (such as loss of stock through fire.) During the Victorian period commerce evolved considerably and attempts were made to reflect consequent changing needs in the bankruptcy law. In the period immediately before 1831 the management of the estate of a bankrupt was done by an assignee appointed by the creditors. For the London area, the 1831 Bankruptcy Act introduced the concept of a court appointed assignee, an Act of 1842 extending this to country areas. Formal bankruptcy could be avoided if either a certain majority of creditors (the definition of majority evolved with various legislation) entered a 'composition agreement' with the debtor where assets were sold and the proceeds used to pay the creditors so much in the £; or, entered into a 'deed of arrangement' whereby the debtor could continue trading, and pay his debts over an extended period.
For the benefit of creditors, announcements were made in The London Gazette summarising the status of proceedings. You can see an extract of the entries 1820-1868 from the London Gazette here. The Times, local newspapers and Perry's Bankrupt and Insolvent Gazette also contain bankruptcy announcements.
The name of Longster is one of the many which have been associated with the business life of Malton for several years. It was over a century ago that Mr. William songster, the great grandfather of the present head of the firm, originated the business which has now grown to such large proportions.
Mr. William Longster started in a very humble way. He began by taking four acres of clay ground on the banks of the river Derwent, and this group was so stubborn that it is said that whenever a piece of land needed digging the spade had to be first dipped into a bucket of water. But by continuous work, and by distributing several hundred loads od road sweepings over the land, the nursery grounds in course of time became considerably altered until now they are most productive.
After a time a small shop was opened in Old Maltongate, this being next to the shop now occupied by Mr. T. Blanchard. Here and at the nursery the business was carried on by the son of the founder, also named William. About sixty years ago the late Mr. George Longster succeeded to the business, which for some time was still carried on at Old Maltongate.
The Wheelgate shop was taken in the early seventies, but before this move, the nurseries had been enlarged to the extent of eleven additional acres of ground which Mr. Geo. Longster took from Earl Fitzwilliam on the Castle Howard-road, near the waterworks reservoir. Mr. George Longster died with tragic suddenness about thirty years ago while attending Pickering market, and after his death the business was carried on by his sons, Messrs. Tom, and George Longster, under the now familiar name of Messrs. George Longster and Sons.
Under their management the business was largely developed, especially in the glass department, and an additional eight new glass-houses were erected at the nurseries. These houses were very largely used for the cultivation of chrysanthemum, which at this time was becoming exceedingly popular.
About four years ago Messrs. Longster and Sons acquired the business of Messrs. J. Slater and Sons, and took over from that firm the shop at the corner of Yorkersgate and Railway-st., with extensive warehouses at the back of the premises, 25 acres of established nursery ground and several greenhouses. At present the firm cultivates forty acres of land, the nurseries being known as the Derwent and Castle Howard-road grounds, and in the spring and summer the nurseries are favourite rendezvous for residents and visitors. The Derwent nurseries, with their charming situation on the banks of the river, are perhaps the most popular, and it is nor surprising to find that the firm's kind permission to stroll about the grounds or rest on the seats which are placed under the old umbrageous trees is much appreciated and enjoyed.
During the summer, on Sunday afternoons, sacred concerts are frequently given by the local bands, and the collections taken are usually devoted to charitable objects. But while the Derwent nurseries are the more popular, the Castle Howard-road grounds are well worth visiting. There are all kinds of flowers and plants to be seen various stages of cultivation, and the acres of fruit trees, for which the firm is famous all over the North, afford a splendid spectacle when out in full bloom or when laden with luscious fruit.
Messrs. Longsters specialise in other branches of their business besides fruit trees, some of the more important being rose trees and herbaceous plants now generally known as perennials. With respect to the last-mentioned, Messrs. Longsters have achieved distinct success with their exhibits at York Gala for several years.
The reference to York Gala reminds us that the late Mr. Geo. Longster was the originator of the Malton Gala, and with Mr. Jas. Horsley, he was one of the earliest promoters of the Norton Chrysanthemum Society, the second oldest society for the encouragement of the growth of the autumn bloom in the country. The present head of the firm is a fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society and a member of the North of England Horticultural Society; and the firm has won several competition cups and numberless certificates of merit at all the principal exhibitions.
Messrs. Longsters give much attention to forest trees, and they have executed many contracts for planting with most of the estate agents in the district. They are also successful in landscape gardening, and the grounds of many mansions in the North have been laid out by them. Another feature of the business is the making up of artistic floral designs by lady florists, and some of the work which has been thus turned out has gained the encomiums of well-known judges.
In the seed department the firm is specifically noted for their farm seeds, and Messrs. Longsters give prizes annually to their customers in connection with competitions held at the Malton Fat Stock Show. The following catalogues are issued by the firm and copies will readily be posted on application being made to that effect: Spring list of seeds, summer list of bedding plants, agricultural seed list, autumn bulb list, and a general nursery catalogue (September). A member of the firm attended the various markets at Scarborough, Pickering, Helmsley, Kirbymoorside, Driffield, etc., and the firm's goods are sent regularly to all parts of the North.
The Castle Howard nurseries are situated in one of the most exposed parts of North-East Yorkshire, and having at their disposal a few additional acres of virgin soil the firm is able to keep stocks well matured and of healthy growth, free from insect pests. It may be mentioned that the firm employs about forty hands.
At the beginning of the year the partnership subsisting between Mr. Geo. Henry Longster and Mr. Harold Longster was dissolved by consent, and henceforward the business will be carried on by Mr. Harold Longster under the same style as before.
Malton Trades and Industries, Yorkshire Gazette, 27th January 1912
The gradual development of the firm of Messrs. Fitch and Co. makes an interesting story. Everybody in this district is acquainted with the headquarters of the firm at Nos. 16-24, Market-place, Malton, where a reputation has been gained for millinery, dresses, linen, silks, and all that can be included in the term general drapery, as well as carpets, linoleum, and all kinds of household furniture. The business, as it now exists, is an amalgamation of what were originally three separate establishments. One of these was founded by the late Mr. James Fitch at 16 and 18, Market-place, which premises had bee rebuilt by the late Mr. Jefferson, chemist, who had the business now carried on by Mr. James Buckle. A Mr. Foster had previously occupied those shops as a hatter and mercer, but he, with his family, emigrated to the United States, and Mr. Fitch took over his business. The need of increased accommodation was soon recognised by Mr. Fitch, and he had to extend the shop. As the business still continued to grow rapidly, enlargements had repeatedly to be made, and large showrooms were added.
What is now the carpet and linoleum shop was originally used in the old fashioned way as a combined drapery and grocery establishment, the occupier being Mr. Clegg. At that time one half of the shop was utilised for groceries and the other half for drapery goods. Later on a very successful drapery business was carried on here by the late Mr. Paul Hicks, after he had resigned an important position which he held under the late Mr. Peter Robinson, Oxford st., London. Mr. Hicks, it will be remembered, died at West Park, York-rd., a few years ago. He was succeeded in the business by Mr. Goldthorpe, and he in turn by Mr. Barker, after which the shop and business were added to the already large establishment of Messrs. Fitch and Co., as the firm was now called.
The premises now used as the furniture shop were occupied for many years by the late Mr. Andrew Taylor, J.P., who carried on a very prosperous drapery business. On retiring, Mr. Taylor was succeeded by Mr. Newby, who, however, did not long retain the shop and it also was merged in the firm of Fitch and Co.
It is interesting to recall the fact that these premises were rebuilt by Mr. Andrew Taylor's grandfather in 1783, and after being occupied by him for some years passed to his son, and ultimately to Mr. Andrew Taylor. Thus for a great many years the name of Taylor was associated with the Market-place. In the "good old days" nearly all tradesmen lived over their shops, and, consequently, in the rebuilding schemes already mentioned provision was made accordingly. Many of the rooms which are now stocked with furniture, were then occupied by the tradesman and his household. After Mr. Taylor's shop was acquired by Fitch and Co. extensive workshops were built in the rear, and here cabinet making, joinery, upholstering, and polishing were carried on.
After the death of Mr. Fitch the business passed into the hands of Messrs. Hedley, Swan, and Co., who have a large establishment at Sunderland, but about twelve years ago Messrs. Marwood Brothers took the business and under their capable management it has further developed. In the season, between 50 and 60 workers are employed. Of late year the furniture removing part of the business has been enlarged, and the firm's pantechnicon vans have been practically all over the country.
Few, if any, towns of the size of Malton poses a business which has grown and extended on such a large scale, and it is quite unusual to find in a country district such a large and well-chosen variety of up-to-date general drapery, carpets, linoleum, and furniture as is to be seen in the shops and windows of Messrs. Fitch and Co. Messrs. Marwood Brothers have the advantage of being natives of the district, and are consequently fully conversant with the tastes and requirements of this customers. Proof of their successful methods in this direction is shown by the increasing number of clients who visit this establishment as each season comes round. Ladies who inspect the shops and showrooms cannot fail to be pleased with the excellent quality and variety of the goods exhibited.
Messrs. Fitch and Co. have a branch establishment in Burgate, Pickering.
Yorkshire Gazette, November 18th, 1911
The roots of the Co-operative Movement probably lie with the Rochdale Pioneers in the mid 1840s. Malton may well have been a comparatively late starter (a society was formed in Settrington in 1874), and there is evidence of a failed attempt.
Late in 1884 a meeting was held in the Corn Exchange to consider the desirability of forming a Co-operative Society, Mr. Barker, an employee at Mr. Yates' foundry was appointed Chairman, Mr. Briddon, kitchen range fitter, of Malton, Mr. Dowson, goods guard and others addressed the meeting before it was adjourned until Saturday  It would appear that local tradesmen were apprehensive about the Co-operative Society becoming successful, and an interesting court case was heard in the summer of 1885 when Mr. Briddon claimed he had been illegally dismissed by his employer, Mr. Yates, iron founder, without notice … … 'because he had been instrumental in forming a Co-operative store in the town' He was claiming £26 damages for unfair dismissal and won the case. 
Eventually, the Malton & Norton Co-operative Society came into being on 21st March, 1901. The initial premises were the rental of an old brewery at 56 Castlegate (these were later purchased in 1908). A Mr. G Hillman was appointed manager, and Mr. G. Watson, a signalman, secretary. A dividend was paid in the first quarter. Sales during the first year were £3,769 and the membership was 285. In 1903, the range of goods offered was extended to include drapery, boots and hardware.
In 1908 a collective life assurance scheme was offered. In 1915 there was amalgamation with the Settrington society. Late in 1918 a further shop was acquired in Castlegate to house a boot and shoe department . Also in 1918 premises were acquired in Rillington and Norton. The picture here is believed to have been taken outside the Castlegate premises in the early 1900s. In 1921 the warehouse at the back of the Castlegate premises was destroyed by fire and when considering the options for continuing the business, rather than re-build, the society purchased property in Wheelgate including 21 cottages known as Wheelgate Square. Further information can be had in the societys’ Jubilee Souvenir 1901-1951 booklet.
From the advertisement below, it seems likely that the Co-op purchased the building occupied by and the business of Taylor & Rowntrees who had ‘Stores & Cafe: Wheelgate House, Malton’. This is confirmed in a report covering the opening of the new Wheelgate store on Saturday 7th October 1923 . This refers to the buildings having previously been occupied by Messrs. Taylor and Rowntree, grocers, and by Mr. J.W. Robinson, pawnbroker. In opening the premises, Mr. George Cartwright said that "He was looking forward to the time when their premises would extend right down to the Butcher Corner"
 York Herald, 16 December 1884
 York Herald, 25 July 1885
 Yorkshire Gazette, 8 February 1919
 Malton Messenger, 13 October 1923
William Henry Franklin established the Public Benefit Boot Company in 1875, opening a shop in Hull. A number of branches were subsequently opened, and towards the end of the century there were mergers and acquisitions forming a sizeable business.
The shops were distinguished by large glass windows and mosaic thresholds. The Malton shop was in Saville street and opened around 1909/1911. The shop is now occupied by Harrison & Hargreaves and retains the mosaic threshold.
James Thompson of Yorkersgate was one of the Malton undertakers. In 1855 he is looking for an apprentice for his Joinery, Cabinet-making and Upholstering Business and in the same advertisement he thanks the public for ‘the liberal patronage he has received for his hearse’ ... continuing ‘experience has proved to him that reasonable charges are the best means of securing patronage; and he has now made arrangements for supplying the hearse at one-fourth of the usual charge, viz., 5s to Old Malton, which was formerly charged 20s. The hearse can be supplied without horses if required, as well as Mourning Coaches, Cabs, and every other Funeral requisite’ . Mr Thompson also sold pianos, secondhand furniture, paintings and prints
 Malton Messenger, 2 June 1855
Originated by the Malton, Norton and District Chamber of Trade and designed to encourage 'shopping locally.' See an article taken from the Malton Messenger here.
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