Charles II, 1660
An Act for Erecting and Establishing a Post Office.

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History of Parliament Trust

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John Raithby (editor)

Year published

1819

Pages

297-301

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'Charles II, 1660: An Act for Erecting and Establishing a Post Office.', Statutes of the Realm: volume 5: 1628-80 (1819), pp. 297-301. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=47283 Date accessed: 24 October 2014.


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Reasons for passing this Act.

A Letter Office erected in London.; A Master of the Office to be appointed by the King by the Name of Post Master General.; Power and Duty of Post Master General.; Exception as to Letters sent by Coaches, &c.; by Ships,; by private ; Friends, and as to Messengers carrying Commissions, &c.;.

WHEREAS for the maintenance of mutuall Correspondencies and prevention of many Inconveniencies happening by private Posts severall publique Post Offices have beene heretofore erected for carrying and recarrying of Letters by Posts to and from all parts and places within England Scotland and Ireland and severall parts beyond the Seas the well ordering whereof is a matter of generall concernment, and of great advantage as well for preservation of Trade and Commerce as otherwise, To the end therefore that the same may be managed soe that speedy and safe dispatches may be had which is most likely to be effected by erecting one Generall Post Office for that purpose, Be it therefore enacted by the Kings most Excellent Majestie & the Lords and Co[m]mons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same that there be from henceforth one Generall Letter Office erected and established in some convenient place within the Citty of London from whence all Letters and Pacquets whatsoever may be with speede and expedition sent unto any part of the Kingdomes of England Scotland and Ireland, or any other of His Majestyes Dominions or unto any Kingdome or Country beyond the Seas, at which said Office all Returnes and Answers may be likewise received, and that one Master of the said Generall Letter Office shall be from time to time appointed by the Kings Majestie His Heires and Successors to be made or constituted by Letters Patents under the Great Seale of England by the name and Stile of His Majestyes Post Master Generall, which said Master of the said Office and his Deputy and Deputyes by him thereunto sufficiently anthorized, and his and their Servants and Agents, and noe other person or persons whatsoever shall from time to time have the receiving takeing up ordering dispatching sending post or with speede and delivering of all Letters and Pacquets whatsoever which shall from time to time be sent to and from all and every the parts and places of England Scotland and Ireland and other his Majestyes Dominions, and to and from all and every the Kingdomes and Countryes beyond the Seas, where he shall setle or cause to be setled Posts or runing Messengers for that purpose. Except such Letters as shall be sent by Coaches common knowne Carriours of Goods by Carts Waggons or Packehorses and shall be carryed along with their Carts Waggons and Packehorses respectively, and except Letters of Merchants and Masters which shall be sent by any Masters of any Shipps Barques or other Vessell of merchandize or by any other person imployed by them for the cariage of such Letters aforesaid according to the respective directions, and alsoe except Letters to be sent by any private friend or friends in their wayes of journey or travill, or by any messenger or messengers sent on purpose for or concerning the private affaires of any person or persons, and alsoe except Messengers who carry and recarry Commissions or the Returne thereof Affidavits Writts Processe or Proceedings or the Returnes thereof issueing out of any Court.

II. The Post Master General, and no other, to provide Horses for riding Post.

And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That such Post Master Generall for the time being as shall from time to time be made and constituted by His Majesty His Heires and Successors and the respective Deputyes or Substitutes of such Post Master Generall and noe other person or persons whatsoever shall prepare & provide Horses and Furniture to lett to Hire unto all Through posts and persons rideing in post by Commission or without to and from all and every the [parts &; (fn. 1) ] places of England Scotland and Ireland where any Post rodes are, or shall be setled and established.

III.

Rates for carrying Letters.

And be it further enacted by the Authoritie aforesaid That it shall and may be lawfull to and for such Post Master Generall to be constituted and appointed as aforesaid and his Deputy or Deputies by him thereunto sufficiently authorized to demand have receive and take for the portage and conveyance of all such Letters which he shall soe convey carry or send post as aforesaid, and for the providing and furnishing Horses for Through posts or persons rideing in post as aforesaid according to the severall Rates and Summes of lawfull English money hereafter mentioned and not to exceed the same (that is to say)

For the port of every Letter not exceeding one sheate to or from any place not exceeding fowerscore English miles distant from the place where such Letter shall be received Two pence,

And for the like port of every Letter not exceeding two sheets Fower pence,

And for the like port of every Pacquet of Letters proportionably unto the said Rates,

And for the like port of every Packquet of Writts Deeds and other things after the Rate of Eight pence for every [one (fn. 2) ] ounce [weight (fn. 1) ]

And for the port of every Letter not exceeding one sheete above the distance of fowerscore English miles from the place where the same small be received Three pence,

And for the like port of a Letter not exceeding two sheets Six pence, and proportionably to the same Rates for the like port of all pacquets of Letters,

And for the like port of every other pacquet of Writts Deeds or other things after the rate of Twelve pence of English money for every ounce weight,

And for the port of every Letter not exceeding one sheete from London unto the Towne of Berwicke or from thence to the Citty of London Three pence of English money,

And for the like port of every Letter not exceeding two sheets Six pence and proportionably unto the same rates for every pacquet of Letters

And for every other other pacquet of greater Bulke One shilling and six pence for every Ounce weight,

And for the port of such Letters & Pacquets as shall be conveyed or carryed from the Towne of Berwicke unto any place or places within forty English miles distance from Berwicke or any other place where such Letter shall be received Two pence

And for every Letter not exceeding two sheets fower pence and proportionably to the same rates for every pacquet of Letters

And for every other pacquet or parcell Eight pence for every Ounce weight,

And for every Letter not exceeding One sheete to be conveyed or carryed a further distance then forty English miles fower pence,

And for the like port of every double Letter Eight pence, and proportionably unto the same Rates for the like port of every pacquet of Letters

And for the like port of every other pacquet One shilling for every Ounce weight,

And for the port of every letter not exceeding one sheet from England unto the Citty of Dublin in Ireland, or from the Citty of Dublin in Ireland unto England Six pence of English money,

And for the like port of every letter not exceeding two sheets One shilling and proportionably to the same rates for every pacquet of letters,

And for the port of every other pacquet of any kinde of greater Bulke two shillings for every Ounce weight,

And for the port of such letters or pacquets as shall be conveyed or carryed from the Citty of Dublin unto any other place or places within the Kingdome of Ireland, or from any other place unto the said Citty, or to or from any other place within the said Kingdome according to the rates and summes of English money hereafter following vizt

For every letter not exceeding one sheete to or from any place within Forty English miles distance from Dublin or any other place where such letter shall be received Two pence,

And for every letter not exceeding two sheets Foure pence, and proportionably to the same rates for every pacquet of letters,

And for every other pacquet of greater bulke Eight pence for every Ounce weight,

And for every letter not exceeding one sheete to be carryed or conveyed a further distance then forty English miles Foure pence,

And for the like port of every letter not exceeding two sheets Eight pence and proportionably unto the same rates for the like port of every [pacquet (fn. 3) ] of Letters,

And for the like port of every other packquets of greater bulke One shilling for every Ounce weight,

And for all and every the letters pacquets and parcells of outwards that shall be carried or conveyed to, or from any of His Majestyes said Dominions to or from any other parts or places beyond the Seas according to the severall and respective rates that now are and have beene taken for letters pacquets and parcells soe conveyed being rated either by the Letter or by the Ounce weight That is to say

s. d.
Morlaix Saint Maloes Caen Newhaven and places of like distance, portpaid to Roaen is for Single o vj
Double [j o (fn. 4) ]
Treble [j vj (fn. 5) ]
Ounce [j vj (fn. 5) ]
s. d.
Hamburgh Collen Frankfort port paid to Antwerp is Single o viij
Double [j iv (fn. 6) ]
Treble [ij o (fn. 7) ]
Ounce [ij o (fn. 7) ]
s. d.
Venice Geneva Legorne Rome Naples Messina and all other parts of Italy by way of Venice franct pro Mantua Single o ix
Double j vj
Treble ij iij
Ounce ij viij
s. d.
Marcelia Smerna Constantinople Aleppo and all parts of Turky port paid to Marcelia Single i o
Double ij o
Three quarters of an ounce ij ix
Ounce iij ix
s. d.
Genova Legorne Rome and other parts of Italy by way of Lionsfranct pro Lyons Single j o
Double ij o
Three quart[er]s of an ounce ij ix
Ounce iij ix
And of Letters sent outwards
s. d.
To Bourdeaux Rochel Nantz Orleans Byon Towers and places of like distance port paid to Paris Single o ix
Double j [iv (fn. 8) ]
Treble ij iij
Ounce ij o
s. d.
And for Letters brought from the same places into England Single j o
Double ij o
3 quarters of an ounce iij o
Ounce iiij o
Alsoe Letters sent outwards
s. d.
To Noremberg Bremen Dantzick Lubeck Lipswick and other place of like distance post paid to Hamburgh Single j o
Double ij o
3 quarters of an ounce iij o
Ounce iv o
s. d.
And for Letters brough from the said places to England Single o viij
Double j iv
Treble ij o
ounce ij o
And for the Port Letters brought into England from
s. d.
Calais Diep Bulloigne Abbeville Amiens Saint Omers Montrell Single o iv
Double o viij
Treble j o
Ounce j o
s. d.
Rouen Single o vj
Double j o
Treble j vj
Ounce j [iij (fn. 9) ]
s. d.
Paris Single o ix
Double j vj
Treble [j (fn. 10) ] iij
Ounce ij o
s. d.
Dunkirke Ostend Lisle Ypre Courtrey Gaunt Bruxels Bridges Antwerpe and all other parts of Flaunders Single o viij
Double j iv
Treble ij o
Ounce ij o
s. d.
Sluce Flushing Midleburgh Amsterdam Roterdam Delfe Hague and from all other parts of Holland and Zealand Single o viij
Double j iv
Treble ij o
Ounce ij o

IV. Proviso for Merchants Accounts, &c.

and for Covers of Letters to Marseilles, &c. to be sent to Turkey.

Provided alwayes That all Merchants Accompts not exceeding one sheete of paper and all Bills of Exchange Invoices and Bills of Ladeing are and shall hereby be understood to be allowed without Rate in the price of the Letters, and likewise the Covers of Letters not exceeding one fourth part of a sheete of paper sent to Marseiles Venice or Legorne to be sent forward to Turky shall be understood to be allowed to passe without rate or payment for the same and according to the same rates and proportions for the port of Letters pacquets and parcells to or from any of the parts or places beyond the Seas where Posts have not beene heretofore setled and may hereafter be setled by the said Post Master Generall for the time being his Executors or Assignes.

V. Rate of Hire for Post Horses.

And it shall and may be lawfull to and for such Post Master Generall and his Deputy and Deputyes to aske demand take and receive of every person that he or they shall furnish and provide with Horses Furniture and Guide to ride post in any of the Post roads as aforesaid Three pence of English money for each Horses hire or postage for every English mile and Foure pence for the Guide for every Stage.

VI. Recital that Ship Letters have been detained or delivered to improper Persons.

Ships Letters to be put into Post Office.; Exception.

And whereas upon the arrivall of Shipps from parts beyond the Seas into severall Ports within His Majesties Dominions many Letters directed to severall Merchants and others have beene detained long to the great damage of the Merchants in want of that speedy advice and intelligence which they might have had if the same had beene forthwith dispatched by the setled Posts, and sometimes such Letters have beene delivered by the Masters or Passengers of such Shipps to ignorant and loose hands that understand not the way and meanes of speedy conveyance and delivery of Letters whereby great prejudice hath accrued to the affaires of Merchants and others as well by the miscarriage of many Letters soe brought as oftentimes by the opening of the same to the discovery of the Correspondencies and secrets of the Merchant. Be it further Enacted by the Authoritie aforesaid That all Letters and Pacquets that by any Master of any Shipp or Vessell or any of his Company or any Passengers therein shall or may be brought to any Port Towne within His Majestyes Dominions or any of the Members thereof other then such Letters as are before excepted, & may be sent by common knowne Carriours in manner aforesaid or by a friend as aforesaid shall by such Master Passenger or other person bee forthwith delivered unto the Deputy or Deputyes onely of the said Post Master Generall for the time being by him appointed for the said Port towne and by him or them to be sent post unto the said Generall Post Office to be delivered according to the severall and respective directions of the same.

VII. Post Masters only to carry Letters.; Exception.; Carrying Letters, letting Post Horses, &c. to hire contrary to this Act, Penalty.; Penalties how divided.

And be it further Enacted by the aforesaid Authoritie That noe person or persons whatsoever or Body Politique or Corporate other then such Post Master Generall as shall from time to time be [nominated & (fn. 11) ] appointed by His Majestie his Heires or Successors and constituted by Letters. Patents under the Great Seale of England as aforesaid and his Deputy and Deputyes or Assignes shall presume to carry recarry and deliver Letters for Hire other then as before excepted or to sett up or imploy any Foote-post Horse-post Coach-post or Pacquet Boate whatsoever for the conveying carrying and recarrying of any Letters or Pacquets by Sea or Land within His Majestyes Dominions or shall provide and maintaine Horses and Furniture for the horsing of any Through posts or persons rideing in post with a Guide and Horne as usuall for Hire upon paine of Forfeiting the summe of Five Pounds of English money for every severall offence against the Tenor of this present Act, And alsoe of the forfeiture of the summe of One hundred Pounds of like English money for every weekes time that any Offender against this Act shall imploy maintaine and continue any such Foote post Horse post Coach post or Pacquet boate as aforesaid, which said severall and respective Forfeitures shall and may be sued for and recovered by Action or Actions of Debt Plaint or Information in any of His Majesties Courts of Record wherein noe Essoigne priviledge protection or wager of Law shall be admited, and the said severall and respective forfeitures that shall happen from time to time to be recovered shall be and remaine the one moyety thereof to His Majesty and His Heires and Successors and the other moyety thereof to such person or persons who shall or will informe against the Offender or Offenders against this present Act, and shall or will sue for the said forfeitures upon the same.

VIII. Proviso where Post Master doth not provide Horses.

Provided alwayes that if any Post Master of any respective place doth not or cannot furnish any person or persons rideing in post with sufficient Horses within the space of one halfe houre after demand, that then such person or persons are hereby understood to be left at liberty to provide themselves as conveniently they can, And the persons who shall furnish such Horses shall not therefore be lyable to any penaltyes or forfeitures contained in this Act.

IX. Post Master General not providing Horses, &c. Penalty £5.

Provided alwayes That if through default or negclect of the Post Master Generall aforesaid any person or persons rideing in post shall faile as aforesaid of being furnished with a sufficient Horse or Horses for his or their use after demand as aforesaid That in every such case the said Post Master Generall shall forfeite the summe of Five Pounds sterling, the one moyety to His Majesty His Heires and Successors, and the other moyety to him or them who shall sue for the same in any Court of Record to be recovered by Bill Plaint or other Information wherein noe Essoyne Protection or other wager in Law shall be admitted.

X. Proviso for carrying Letters, &c. to the next Post Stage.

Provided alwayes and be it Enacted That noe thing herein contained shall be understood to prohibite the carrying or recarrying of any Letters or Pacquets to or from any Towne or Place to or from the next respective Post road or Stage appointed for that purpose But that every person shall have free liberty to send and imploy such persons as they shall thinke fitt for to carry the said Letters or Pacquets as aforesaid without any forfeiture or penalty therefore Any thing contained in this Act to the contrary notwithstanding

XI. Carrying Mail out of England in Foreign Vessels. Penalty £100.

Provided alwayes That if the Pacquet or Mail shall be carryed out of England into any part beyond the Seas in any Ship or Vessell which is not of English built and navigated with English Seamen That in every such case the said Post Master Generall shall forfeite the summe of One hundred Pounds sterling, the one moyety to his Majestie his Heires and Successors and the other moyety to him or them who shall sue for the same in any Court of Record to be recovered by Bill Plaint or other Information wherein noe Essoyne Protection or other wager in Law shall be allowed.

XII. Officers in the Post Office to take the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy.

Provided alsoe and be it Enacted by the Authoritie aforesaid that noe person or persons shall be capeable of haveing useing or exercising the Office of Post Master Generall or any other imployment relating to the said Office unlesse he or they shall first take the Oathes of Alleigiance and Supremacy before any two Justices of the Peace, of the respective Countyes wherein such person or persons are or shall be resident, which said Justices are hereby authorized to administer the said Oathes accordingly.

XIII. Proviso as to Marhasion, Kendall, Penrith, Lincoln, and Grimsby.

Provided alsoe and be it enacted by the Authoritie aforesaid That a Letter or Pacquet post shall twice every weeke come by the way of Trurow and Penrin to the Towne of Marketiew alias Marhasion in the County of Cornwall and once a weeke to Kendall by the way of Lancaster and to the Towne of Penrith in Cumberland by the way of Newcastle and Carlisle & to the Citty of Lincolne and the Burrough of Grimsby in the County of Lincolne Any thing in this Act contained to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.

XIV. Post Master to continue constant Posts.

Penalty £5.

Provided alsoe and be it Enacted by the Authoritie aforesaid That such Post Master Generall to be from time to time appointed by His Majestie His Heires and Successors as aforesaid shall continue constant Posts for carriage of Letters to all places though they lye out of the Post roads as hath beene used for [the space of (fn. 12) ] three yeares last past at the rates herein before mentioned under paine of forfeiture for every omission Five Pounds to be recovered by Action Suite or Plaint in any His Majesties Courts of Record, the one moyety to the use of His Majestie the other moyety to the use of the Informer.

XV. The Post Master General, &c. to observe such Orders as His Majesty shall make.

His Majesty may grant the said Office for Life or Years, not exceeding 21 Years.

And for the better management of the said Post Office, and that the people of these Kingdomes may have their intercourse of Commerce and Trade the better maintained and their Letters and Advices conveyed carryed and recarryed with the greatest speede security and convenience that may be Be it further Enacted That the said Post Master Generall soe nominated appointed and constituted as aforesaid and his Deputyes shall from time to time observe and follow such orders rules directions and instructions for and concerning the setlement of convenient Posts and Stages upon the severall roads in England Scotland and Ireland and other His Majestyes Dominions, and the providing and keepeing of a sufficient number of Horses at the said severall Stages as well for the carrying and conveying of the said Letters and Pacquets as for the horsing of all thorow Posts and persons rideing in post by warrant or otherwise as aforesaid as His Majestye His Heires and Successors shall from time to time in that behalfe make and ordaine, And that His Majestie His Heires and Successors may grant the said Office of Post Master Generall together with the powers and authorities thereunto belonging and the severall rates of portage above mentioned and all proffits priviledges fees perquisites and emolluments thereunto belonging or to belong either for life or terme of yeares not exceeding one and twenty yeares to such person or persons and under such Covenants Conditions and yearely Rents to his said Majestie His Heires and Successors reserved as His said Majestie His Heires and Successors shall from time to time thinke fitt for the best advantage and benefit of the Kingdome,

XVI. No Horses to be taken without Consent of the Owners.

Provided alwayes and be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That noe person shall have power to take use or seize any Horses for the service mentioned in this Act without the consent of the owners thereof, Any usage or pretence or any thing in this Act contained to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.

XVII. Rates of Inland Letters to be paid where delivered. Exception.

Provided alwayes and be it Enacted by the Authoritie aforesaid That all Inland Letters sent by any pacquet Post established by this Act as aforesaid doe and shall pay the rates and prices before mentioned at such Stage where they are last delivered onely unlesse the party that delivers the Letters desireth to pay elsewhere, Any thing in this Act to the contrary notwithstanding.

XVIII. Proviso for Letters sent to and from the Universities.

Provided alwayes that all Letters and other things may be sent or conveyed to or from the two Universities in manner as heretofore hath beene used Any thing herein to the contrary notwithstanding.

Footnotes

1 interlined on the Roll.
2 O. omits.
3 Pacquetts O.
4 xijd. O.
5 xviijd. O.
6 xvjd. O.
7 xxiiijd. O.
8 vj O.
9 vj O.
10 ij O.
11 interlined on the Roll.
12 interlined on the Roll.