Falmouth Packet Archives 1688-1850
GPO - PMG's & Secretaries
The earliest mention of chief Post-Master for England, is in Camden’s Annals, under date 1581. James I. erected the first Post-Office for the conveyance of letters to and from foreign parts, which he placed under the control of one Matthew de l’Equester. This office was afterwards claimed by Lord Stanhope; but, in 1632, was confirmed and continued to Wm. Frizel and Thomas Witherings, by Charles I.; and in 1635, all private inland posts were forbidden.
In 1656, a new and regular Post-Office was established, by the authority of the Protector and his Parliament, upon nearly the same plan as at present; and in 1660, an act of Parliament passed, re-establishing the regulations of 1656, with some improvements, and authorizing the king to establish a Post-Office in London, and Post-Houses in such parts of the country as were unprovided, both on the post and by-roads
The General Post-Office was originally situated in Cloak-lane, near Dowgate; whence it was afterwards removed to the Black Sean, in Bishopsgate-street; and finally to the mansion of Sir Robert Vyner, in Lombard-street,
This office is under the control of two noblemen, holding a situation termed joint post-masters general. The present post-masters are the Earl of Chichester and the Earl of Sandwich, from whom all appointments in the office must proceed, and whose sanction is necessary to all orders and regulations. The duty of the secretary is, to manage, under the post-masters general, the correspondence by post throughout the country, to deliver his opinion upon all regulations submitted for the consideration of the board, and its orders are issued through this channel. The duty of the inland department is under the management of a superintending president, in conjunction with three presidents and three vice-presidents; it commences at six o’clock, and is usually finished at ten or eleven in the morning. The letters, after they are taken from the bags, are carefully counted, and the amount of postage taken, to check the account of the deputy post-masters in the country; they then pass through the hands of persons by whom they are all individually examined as to the correctness of the charges made by the post-masters from whence they come; and, after being stamped, are assorted to the different districts, as they are divided among the letter-carriers. Previous to their being issued from this office into the hands of the letter-carriers, the amount of each parcel of letters is twice counted up. Every letter-carrier is responsible for the account taken of those letters that belong immediately to his division. The payment of the postage is made by them into the receiver-general’s office three times a week, where a check for each day’s amount is kept against them. The utmost care and diligence are exerted, in order to prevent the public and the revenue from suffering from the numerous hands through which letters must necessarily pass before they reach the owners: the apparently precarious mode of collecting these levies, is regulated by plans that insure the revenue from frauds, that might otherwise so easily exist. The circumstance of this great engine to the commercial world, commencing its operations at so early an hour, enables the public to receive their correspondence before the business of the day is begun; an advantage which exists only in London.
The principal officers of the General Post-Office are,
The secretary and principal resident surveyor, Francis Freeling, Esq.
Superintending president of the inland office, Daniel Stow, Esq.
Comptroller of the foreign office, Arthur Stanhope, Esq.
Mr. Anthony Todd, a man of singular abilities and generally beloved, was secretary to the Post-Office sixty-one years: He died about twelve years ago (circa 1798)
CALENDAR OF STATE PAPERS, DOMESTIC SERIES, CHARLES II. (1666-1667)
Preface: "James Hicks, senior clerk of the Post Office, writes on Sept. 3rd, 1666, that Sir Philip Frowde had fled at midnight on the 2nd from the Post Office for safety. He himself stayed until 1 a.m., when his wife and children's patience could endure no longer, and fearing lest the streets would soon be blocked up, he escaped to the Golden Lion in Red Cross Street.
(13,000 houses were destroyed in the Fire of London.)
Falmouth. Aug.1, 1666.
3. Thos. Holden to Williamson (Joseph Williamson, Editor of the Gazette, later Secretary of State).
A French man-of-war chased two Falmouth vessels, which escaped. Took the Scilly packet boat and a collier.
So far, this appears to be the first reference to Falmouth AND 'packet' in these archives....22 years before Falmouth was chosen as a packet station. The Scilly packet boat, or bye-boat, operated from Penzance.
CALENDAR OF STATE PAPERS, DOMESTIC SERIES, CHARLES II. (1666-1667) [Directory, RIC Truro]
p.346. Bristol, Dec. 15, 1666 118.Sir Thos. Langton, Mayor of Bristol to Williamson.
Most of the Plantation ships, 30 vessels, sailed three days since. As the Golden Lion was unable to sail through neglect, sent the [mail] packet for Virginia to the Elizabeth, which is gone.
Encloses; 118 i) Receipt by John Weaver, commander of the Elizabeth, from Sir Thos. Langton, Mayor of Bristol, of two packets of letters on the King's business, for Sir. Wm. Berkeley, Governor of Virginia, and Col. Rich. Nicholls, commissioner for visiting the colonies in New England, and promise to deliver the same faithfully, or in case of meeting with an enemy, to throw them overboard.
Endorsed "Duplicate to the Plantations."
The above serves to illustrate the established practice of communicating via merchant vessels, around the time Falmouth was incorporated, in 1661.
----------------------------Notes on the history of the British Post Office
Between the time of Sir Thomas Frankland in 1690 until Lord Frederick Montague's tenure of office in 1826-7, no fewer than twenty-four of the Falmouth Packets were named after different Postmasters General.
The Act of 1657 was the first comprehensive attempt to regulate the Postal Service by statute. It established a government monopoly. For the first time the head of the Post Office was called Postmaster-General.
[Previously known as Master of the Posts, Comptroller General of the Posts, Postmaster of England]
During most of the 17th century the Post Office headship was in farm.
Annual rent was paid for the appointment, the holder retained the profits over and above his outlay.
The Headship of the Post Office prior to 1657.
1516-1545 Sir Brian Tuke [Reign of King Henry VIII]
1545-1566 John Mason
1567-1590 Thomas Randolph
1590-1607 John Stanhope
1607-1621 John Stanhope (Baron Stanhope of Harrington 1605. Died 1621)
1621-1635 Charles Stanhope (son of John Stanhope)
1619-1632 Mathew de Quester - Postmaster for Foreign Parts
1632-1640 Thomas Witherings - for England & Scotland
1635 -1637 Thomas Witherings - Postmaster for Foreign Parts
1637-1642 Philip Burlamachi - for England & Scotland, under the Secretaries of State
1642-1653 Edmund Prideaux - ditto -
1653-1655 John Manley - ditto -
1655 1660 John Thurloe - Secretary of State
[Falmouth was incorporated in 1661]
The Office of Postmaster General from 1660.
1660-1663 Col. Henry Bishop
-Annual rent £21,500, patent for 7years, surrendered 1663 (see "Bishop's
1663-1667 Daniel O'Neale - Died in 1664. Patent held by his widow until her death 1667
1667- 1685 Henry Bennett (Lord Arlington)
1667-1672 - Sir John Bennet Deputy PMG
1672 - John Ellis Deputy PMG
1672-1677 - Col. Roger Whitley Deputy PMG
1677-1685 - Philip Frowde Deputy PMG
1686-1689 Lawrence Hyde, Earl of Rochester (Philip Frowde continued as 'Governor' of the Post Office)
The office was a political appointment after the 1688 revolution & exile of James II
1689-1691 Major John Wildman
qf. Robertson, Alan W. The Maritime Postal History of the British Isles (p. A.54/A) Courtesy of Falmouth Library.
British Postmasters General
Commencing in 1691 two Postmasters General were appointed, to hold office conjointly.
At that time, one was a member of the Whig party and the other a member of the Tory party.
This joint appointment continued as a government policy until 1831. (Political ramifications waned)
1691-1708 Sir Robert Co 1691-1715 Sir Thom
1708-1715 Sir John Evelyn
1715-1720 James Cra
1715-1720 Lord Cornwallis
1720-1725 Galfridius Walpole 1720-1739
1725-1732 Edward Harrison 1739-1744 Sir John Eyles
1733-1759 Lord Lovell (Earl of Leicester)
1759-1762 Earl of Bessborough
1762-1765 Robert Hampden 1762-1763 Earl of Egmont
1765-1766 Earl of Bessborough, again 1765-1766 Earl
1766-1768 Earl of Hillsborough 1766-1771 L
1768-1771 Earl of Sandwich
1771-1789 H.F. Thynne (Lord Carteret)
1782- Viscount Barrington
1782-1783 Earl of Tankerville, again,
1784-1786 Earl of Tankerville,
1783-1784 Lord Foley
1786- Earl of Clarenden
1787-1794 Lord Walsingham
1790-1798 Earl of Chesterfield 1794-1799 Earl of Leicester
1798-1804 Lord Auckland 1799-1801 Lord Gower
1804-1806 Duke of Montrose 1801-1806 Lord Charles Spencer
1806-1807 Earl of Carysfort 1806-1807 Earl of Buckinghamshire
1807-1823 Earl of Chichester 1807-1814 Earl of Sandwich
1814-1816 Earl of Clancarty
1816-1823 Marquess of Salisbury
A Single Postmaster General since 1823*
[1823* Admiralty took over the Falmouth Packets]
1823-1826 Earl of Chichester
4 July, 1826 Lord Frederick Montague
17 Sep. 1827 Duke of Manchester
14 Dec. 1820 Duke of Richmond
[1830 Admiralty Steam packets start operating on some routes from Falmouth]
5 July, 1834 Marquess of Conyngham
31 Dec. 1834 Lord Maryborough
8 May, 1835 Marquess of Conyngham
[1837 Peninsular Steam Navigation Co. contracted Mail to the 'Groyne' (Corunna)]
30 May, 1835 Earl of Lichfield
[1840 Cunard's steamships were contracted to carry Mail from Liverpool - New York]
15 Sept. 1841 Lord Lowther (Earl Lonsdale)
2 Jan. 1846 Earl of St. Germans
14 July, 1846 Marquess of Clanricarde
[1850 Falmouth Packet Service ended December 1850]
6 May 1852 Earl of Hardwicke
1810-1821: Falmouth agent Christopher Saverland's Letters (S.L.) at Post Office Archives, Mount Pleasant, London.
Secretary of the Post Office (dates from the time of the first Joint Postmasters General)
1700-1714 Benjamin Waterhouse
1714-1720 Henry Weston
1720-1730 Joseph Goodman
1730-1737 W. Rouse
1737-1738 Thomas Robinson
1738-1742 John D. Barbutt
1742-1760 George Shelvocke (sic) [Shevlocke ?]
1760-1762 Henry Potts
1762-1765 Anthony Todd
1765-1768 Henry Potts
1768-1798 Anthony Todd
1798-1836 Sir Francis Freeling
29/9/1836 Col. W. L. Maberley ,
[until 22/4/1854, including when Packets operated from Southampton.(from January 1851)]