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Title: The Early History of the Colonial Post-Office
Author: Woolley, Mary E.
Language: English
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              Papers from the Historical Seminary
                      of Brown University

  Edited by J. FRANKLIN JAMESON, Ph. D., Professor of History



                        MARY E. WOOLLEY

            Reprinted from the Publications of the
               Rhode Island Historical Society

                       PROVIDENCE, R. I.


A letter written in 1652, by Samuel Symonds of Ipswich, to John
Winthrop, Jr., at Pequot, says: “I cannot say but its besides my
intentions that I write not more frequently unto you; I can onely plead
this for my excuse (soe farr as it will goe) ... and the uncertainty
when and how to convey letters.”[1]

[1] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 4th Series, Vol. VII., p. 128.

A glance at the correspondence of that period shows that Mr. Symonds was
not the only one inconvenienced by the “uncertainty when and how to
convey letters.” With no domestic postal service the writers of that day
were dependent upon individual bearers and pressed neighbors, relatives,
merchants, sea captains, any and every one whom they could reach, into
the service. Indians were often used as messengers. Roger Williams
writing to John Winthrop, at some time in the ’30’s, speaks of word “by
this bearer Wequash whome (being a Pequt himselfe) I commended for a
guide in the Pequt expedition;” again, “I pray let your servant direct
the native with this letter;” and at still another time, “From your owne
hand (by Robin Causasenamont).”[2]

[2] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 4th Series, Vol. VI., pp. 242, 256,

John Endicott writes to John Winthrop, April 13, 1638: “Your kinde lines
I receaued by Mascanomet;” and a letter from the Isle of Wight (near
Long Island), dated “Aprill 27, 1650,” says, “I resavid yours by the

[3] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 4th Series, Vol. VII.

Until 1639 there is no trace of a postal system, but under the
_Massachusetts General Court Records_, of that year[4] (Nov. 5th), is
the following entry: “For preventing the miscarriage of letters, ... It
is ordered that notice bee given, that Richard Fairbanks, his house in
Boston, is the place appointed for all letters, which are brought from
beyond the Seas, or are to be sent thither; ... are to be brought unto
him and he is to take care, that they bee delivered, or sent according
to their directions and hee is alowed for every such letter 1d. and must
answer all miscarriages through his owne neglect in this kind; provided
that no man shall bee compelled to bring his letters thither except hee

[4] _Mass. Colonial Records_, I., p. 281. _Mass. Historical
Collections_, 3d Series, Vol. VII., p. 48.

This action on the part of the Massachusetts General Court was, as far
as can be discovered, the first effort by the colonies to provide a post
office. Eighteen years later, June 12, 1657, an ordinance was passed[5]
by the director general and council of the New Netherlands, forbidding
the boarding of incoming vessels until visited by the governing officer
and the letters delivered, the penalty for evading the law being fixed
at thirty guilders.[6]

[5] Laws and Ordinances of New Netherlands.

[6] Laws and Ordinances of New Netherlands, pp. 379, 380.

Since private shippers were in the habit of taking letters from the New
Netherlands and Curaçoa, without placing them in a sealed bag, the
directors of the West India Company, at the chamber in Amsterdam, in
1659 (October 30) adopted a resolution requiring captains of vessels to
enter into bond not to carry letters to Holland from New Netherlands or
Curaçoa, unless received from persons authorized to collect them, under
penalty of one hundred Carolus guilders; and on the second of the
following June (1660) the director general and council of the colony
passed an ordinance warning citizens to observe this resolution. A box
was placed in New Amsterdam, in the office of the secretary of the
province, for the receipt of letters, and for all those capable of
registry, three stivers in wampum were to be paid. These movements on
the part of Massachusetts and New Netherlands concerned foreign letters
simply; until 1672 there were apparently no arrangements for the
transmission and delivery of domestic letters. In December of that year,
there was an effort to start a monthly post between New York and Boston,
a project originating with Francis Lovelace, governor of New York. In a
letter to John Winthrop, governor of Connecticut, dated December 27,
1672, he says:[7] “I herewith present you with 2 rarities, a pacquett of
the latest intelligence I could meet withal, and a post ... by the
latter you will meet with a monthly fresh supply; so that if it receive
but the same ardent inclinations as first it hath from myself, by our
monthly advisers all publique occurences may be transmitted between us,
together with severall other great conveniencys of publique importance,
consonant to the commands laid upon us by his sacred majestie, who
strictly enjoins all his American subjects to enter into a close
correspondency with each other ... this person that has undertaken the
employment I conceaved most proper, being voted active, stout and
indefatigable.... I have affixt an annuall sallery on him, which,
together with the advantage of his letters and other small portable
packes, may afford him a handsome livelyhood.... The maile has divers
baggs, according to the towns the letters are designed to, which are all
sealed up ’till their arrivement, with the seal of the secretarie’s
office, whose care it is on Saturday night to seale them up. Only
by-letters are in an open bag, to dispense by the wayes.... I shall only
beg of you your furtherance to so universall a good work; that is, to
afford him directions where, and to whom to make his application to upon
his arrival at Boston; as likewise to afford him what letters you can to
establish him in that employment there. It would be much advantageous to
our designe, if in the intervall you discoursed with some of the most
able woodmen, to make out the best and most facile way for a post, which
in processe of tyme would be the king’s best highway; as likewise
passages and accommodation at rivers, fords, or other necessary places.”

[7] Brodhead, _History of the State of New York_, Vol. II., pp. 196-98.

The first post messenger started from New York, January 22, 1672/3, with
sworn instructions to behave civilly, to inquire of Winthrop how to
form the best post road, and to mark the trees for the direction of

To quote from the _Memorial History of New York_:[8] “It is recorded as
creating great excitement in the little village of Harlem, when that
first postman drew up at the tavern door to refresh himself, as he
undoubtedly did, with some good home-brewed Harlem beer--his ‘port
mantles’ (port manteaux) crammed with ‘letters and small portable
goods,’ the ‘locked box’ in the office of the colonial secretary
accumulating the next month’s mail, and what he had brought, being
carried to the ‘coffee house’ to be ‘well thumbed’ until called for.”
Notwithstanding this auspicious beginning, the project fell through,
probably because of the Dutch and other wars of the time, and was not
revived by this colony until 1684, when Thomas Dongan, governor of New
York, and Thomas Treat, governor of Connecticut, conferred concerning a
post between New York and the British colonies as far as Boston.[9]

[8] _Memorial History of N. Y._, Vol. I., pp. 355-56.

[9] Brodhead, _History of N. Y._, Vol. II., p. 413.

In the meantime Massachusetts had taken up the question again,[10] the
general court on January 6, 1673/4, ordering that post messengers, who
had previously received no stated allowance, should thereafter receive
3d. a mile in money and full satisfaction for the expenses of man and

[10] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 3d Series, Vol. VII., p. 49.

[11] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 3d Series, Vol. VII., p. 48.

In 1677 (June 1), further action was taken, the general court, in
response to a petition of sundry merchants of Boston,[12] appointing
John Hayward, scrivener, to “take in and convey letters according to the
direction;” evidently there was more than one candidate, and one account
poetically says of the court’s decision: “It Richard May suggested John
Hayward selected.” The same year (October 8, 1674), the general court of
Connecticut, meeting at Hartford,[13] gave specific instructions
regarding the allowance for post riders; from Rye to Hartford, 12s. for
the expenses of the horse, and 20s. for those of the man, with the
addition of 8d. from the “midle of October to the last of Aprill,” and
the special injunction that “hyred” horses should not be deprived of
their allowance. The number of routes mentioned, twenty-four, shows the
extent of the effort made at that time.

[12] _Mass. Records_, Vol. V., pp. 147, 148.

[13] _Colonial Records of Connecticut_, Vol. II., p. 242.

The next move came from New York, Gov. Dongan’s proposition of 1684,[14]
to which reference has already been made, adding to Lovelace’s scheme of
a post between New York and Boston, the suggestion that post houses be
established along the coast from Carolina to Nova Scotia. A letter to
him from Sir John Werden (August 27, 1684), whose title to the profits
from the English post office[15] was held to include the British
provinces, approves the project and suggests that the privilege be
offered for three or five years by way of form, with a reservation of
not less than one-tenth of the profits to the duke. Six months later
(February 18, 1684/5), Dongan writes[16] him that he had sent
_permission_ to set up a post house but no _power_ to do it, although
the neighboring colonies much desired it and in some places had
established foot and horse messengers. He adds, “I am going to
Connecticut to-morrow, to do all possible to settle a post office to
Pemaquid this spring and endeavor settlement of post house at Boston.”

[14] Brodhead, Vol. I.

[15] _Colonial Documents of N. Y._, Vol. III., pp. 349-350.

[16] _Colonial Documents of N. Y._, Vol. III., p. 355.

On his return from Connecticut (March 2, 1684/5), the governor ordained
in the New York council,[17] “That for the better correspondence between
the colonies of America, a post office be established; and that the
rates for riding post be per mile three pence; for every single letter,
not above one hundred miles, three pence; if more, proportionably.”

[17] _Colonial Documents of N. Y._, Vol. III.

A letter[18] from Sir Edmund Andros to John Allyn, dated November 23,
1687, speaks of a contemplated post from Boston to the farthest
settlements of Connecticut, John Perry to go between Hartford, Fairfield
and Stamford once a month in the winter, and every three weeks during
the summer, as Allyn suggests in his answer. A letter from Samuel
Sewall[19] to Samuel Mather, at Windsor, Connecticut, as early as March
6, 1685/6[20], mentions John Perry as bearer and a postage of 3d. That
this project was carried out is evident from the complaint brought
before the council of New York[21] by John Perry, that on his way to
Boston he was laid hold on by warrant from the usurper Leysler, brought
to New York and his letters opened, the apparent object being to destroy
commerce and trade.

[18] _Connecticut Records_, Vol. III., pp. 392, 393, 398.

[19] _Letter Book of Sam. Sewall_, Vol. I., p. 25.

[20] The discrepancy in dates leads to the supposition that John Perry
served as bearer before his actual appointment.

[21] _Colonial Documents of N. Y._, Vol. III., p. 682.

June 11th, 1689, the Massachusetts general court[22] appointed Richard
Wilkins, postmaster, to receive all letters and deliver them out at 1d.

[22] _Mass. Provincial Records._

In 1691/2, a new era opened for the colonial post office. On February
7th, of that year, William and Mary, by letters patent, granted[23] to
“Thomas Neale, Esq., his executors, administrators and assignes, full
power and authority to erect, settle and establish within the chief
parts of their majesties’ colonies and plantations in America, an office
or offices for the receiving and dispatching letters and pacquets, and
to receive, send and deliver the same under such rates and sums of money
as the planters shall agree to give, and to hold and enjoy the same for
the terme of twenty-one years.”

[23] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 3d series, Vol VII., pp. 50-51.

To govern and manage the general post office,[24] Neale appointed (April
4th, 1692) Andrew Hamilton, an Edinburgh merchant, who in 1685 had
emigrated to New Jersey, and become special agent of the proprietors.

[24] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 3d series, Vol. VII., p. 51, also
Palfrey’s _History of New England_.

On the deposition of Andros in 1689, Hamilton embarked for England to
consult with the proprietors; on the voyage was taken prisoner by the
French, but soon released, and in 1692 was made governor of New Jersey.
Hamilton’s application to the colonial legislatures[25] to “ascertain
and establish such rates and terms as should tend to quicker maintenance
of mutual correspondence among all neighboring colonies and plantations
and that trade and commerce might be better preserved,” met with a
favorable response from the colonial governments.

[25] Palfrey, IV., p. 329.

He first presented the subject to Governor Fletcher and the New York
legislature.[26] The council, meeting at Fort Wm. Henry, October 29,
1692,[27] after reading his proposition, and also a letter from the
queen to the governor, urging him to assist Hamilton in settling the
office, appointed Colonels Courtlandt and Bayard a committee[28] to
deliver the proposition to the house of representatives, and in November
(1692) the bill was passed by both houses and signed by the governor.
The chief provisions of the bill are as follows:[29] A general letter
office was to be “erected and established in some convenient place
within the city of New York,” one master of the general office to be
appointed from time to time by Hamilton, who with his servant or agent
should have the “receiving, taking up, ordering, dispatching, sending
post or with speed and delivery of all letters and pacquets whatsoever,
which shall from time to time be sent to and from all and every of the
adjacent collonies and plantations on the main land and continent of
America or any other of their majesties kingdoms and dominions beyond
the Seas.” The postmaster was to “prepare and provide horses and
furniture unto all through posts and persons riding in post.” Rates for
single letters to or from Europe, the West Indies or elsewhere to and
from beyond the seas, were 9d., and the same from Boston or Maryland to
New York; from Virginia, 12d., and to or from any place not exceeding
eighty miles from New York, four pence half penny.

[26] _Colonial Documents of N. Y._, Vol. IV, p. 200.

[27] _Journal of the Legislative Council of New York_, Vol. I, pp. 26,
31, 32, 34.

[28] _Journal of the Assembly_, pp. 26, 28.

[29] Copied from the original MS. at Albany.

All postmasters were freed from excise and all public services, with the
exception of the postmaster of the city of New York, who was exempt
only from public services. Any persons or “body politick or corporate
others than the P. M. Gen. aforesaid” presuming to “carry, recarry or
deliver letters for hire, other than as before excepted, or to set up or
imploy any foot-post, horse-post or pacquet boat whatsoever” for the
carrying of letters or pacquets, or providing “horses and furniture for
the horses of any through posts, or persons riding post with a guide and
horn,” should forfeit £100 current money, one-half going to the governor
and the other half to the postmaster-general. All letters and pacquets
brought by ship or vessel were to be delivered to the postmaster of New
York or to his servants, provided “that no letters going up or coming
down Hudson’s river and going to or from Long Island shall be carried to
the post-office, everything herein contained to the contrary
notwithstanding,” this clause, together with that regarding exemption
from public service and excise, being amendments by the council to the
bill as presented by the house.

The act was in force for three years,[30] and in 1695 (July 2d and 3d) a
bill was passed for continuing the act three years longer, “every
article,[31] rule and clause therein mentioned to remain in full force
and effect.”

[30] _Journal of Legislative Council_, I., pp. 79, 80.

[31] _Journal of the Assembly._

In 1699 (May 5) the act was again continued,[32] this time for two
years, the new bill stating that “the advantage which the inhabitants of
this province daily have, the mutual correspondence which they have with
their neighboring collonies and plantations and for the promoting of
trade and wealth of each other, encourage to the continuance of the
same.” In 1702[33] the act coming again before the Assembly and Council
was continued for four and one-half years from 1700; and in 1705[34]
(July 5, 6, 8 and 10, and August 14) it was re-continued for three years
from October, 1704.[35]

[32] _Journal of the Legislative Council_, I., pp. 136, 137, 138, 143.

[33] _Journal Legislative Council_, I., 186, 187, 189.

[34] _Journal of the Assembly_, pp. 154, 226, 227, 234.

[35] _Journal of the Assembly_, pp. 198, 200, 203.

Concerning the passage of this act Lord Cornbury wrote to the Lords of
Trade that it was absolutely necessary; otherwise the post to Boston and
Philadelphia would be lost.[36]

[36] _Colonial Documents of N. Y._, IV., pp. 1167-68.

At the meeting[37] of the first session of the eleventh Assembly at Fort
Anne, August 20, 1708, Governor Cornbury in his opening speech said:[38]
“I can’t omit putting you in mind that Act for encouraging a Post Office
is expired; that it is of so general Advantage that I hope you will
revive it.” The next month (September 3, 7, 10, 13, and 18, 1708) the
act was considered and passed. At a meeting of the council in New
York,[39] June 21, 1709, one of the members was ordered to go to the
assembly and “desire them to provide for and settle a Post from Albany
to Westfield for holding a Correspondence Between Boston and Albany for
the service of the present Expedition the Province of Massachusetts Bay
having already settled a Post from Boston to Westfield;” but action was
not taken before 1715.

[37] _Journal of the Council_, I., p. 247.

[38] _Journal of the Assembly_, 219, 223, 224.

[39] _Journal of the Legislative Council_, I., p. 285.

The letters of this period throw light upon the condition of the post
with regard to regularity and frequency.

The Earl of Bellomont writing from New York[40] to Secretary Popple in
London, May 25, 1698, says: “The sure way of conveying letters to me is
by way of Boston, whence the post comes every week to this place;” and
Lord Cornbury writes to the Lords of Trade,[41] December 12, 1702: “But
I entreat your Lords{pps} to consider that but few ships goe directly
from this port to England, So that I must depend upon the Boston and
Philadelphia posts for conveying my letters to such ships as may be
going to England; and sometimes both these Conveyances faile;” and again
in a letter to the Lords of Trade, June 30, 1704:[42] “I beg your
Lords{pps} to consider likewise the difficulty I lye under, with respect
to opportunity’s of writing into England, which is thus--The post that
goes through this place goes Eastward as far as Boston, but Westward he
goes no further than Philadelphia and there is no other post upon all
this Continent, so that I have any letters to send to Virginia or to
Maryland I must either send an Express who is often retarded for want of
boats to cross those great rivers they must go over or else for want of
horses, or else I must send them by some passengers who are going
thither. The least I have known any Express take to go from hence to
Virginia, has been three weeks, so that very often, before I can hear
from Coll: Nicholson what time the fleet will sail and send my packets,
the fleet is sailed. I hope we shall find a way to remedy that shortly,
for Coll: Nicholson and Coll: Seymour have wrote me word that they will
be here in September, and I do then intend to propose to them the
settling of a Post, to go through to Virginia.... I must further
acquaint Your Lords{pps} that our letters do not come safe by the way of
Boston, I have had several letters by that way which have been broken

[40] _Colonial Documents of N. Y._, IV., p. 317.

[41] _Colonial Documents of N. Y._, IV., p. 1017.

[42] _Colonial Documents of N. Y._, Vol. IV., p. 1113.

Cornbury’s scheme, as he tells us in another letter to the Lords of
Trade, written November 6, 1704,[43] was to lay a tax in each province
by act of assembly, for defraying the charges of the post, which might
then have gone from Boston to North Carolina, but his failure to meet
the men with whom he proposed to discuss it, thwarted the plan.

[43] _Colonial Documents_, p. 1120.

June 9, 1693, Massachusetts passed in council[44] an act for encouraging
the post office, selecting Boston as the place for the general letter
office, the master to be appointed by Hamilton. Rates to Europe or to
any place beyond the seas, were fixed at 2d., to different places within
the colonies, they varied according to distance; from Boston to Rhode
Island they were 6d., to the Connecticut colonies 9d., to New York 12d.,
to Eastern Pennsylvania or to Western Jersey 15d., and to Maryland or to
Virginia 2s. A fine of 40s. in the current money of the colony, was
imposed upon those who carried or delivered letters without authority,
one-half the fine recurring to their majesties for the support of the
government of the province, and one-half to the postmaster-general for
suing and prosecuting for same. Non-delivery or neglect of maintaining a
constant post was fined 5s., one-half going to their majesties and
one-half to the party aggrieved; the ferryman “neglecting, refusing or
delaying conveyance,” also forfeited 5s. The postmaster was to pay the
shipmaster one-half penny for each letter or pacquet brought, but all
letters of public concern for their majesties’ service were to be free
of charge.

[44] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 3d Series, Vol. VII.

That the first few years of the post in Massachusetts were not very
lucrative, is shown by the numerous complaints of grievances and
petitions of Duncan Campbell, appointed by Hamilton deputy
postmaster.[45] The charges are thrice the income, he complains, and
begs that a salary be given, urging the example of the governor and
assembly of New York in voting £50 per annum for the support of the
office in that province. This petition meeting with no response, he
asked for freedom from public rates, taxes and excise for retailing
strong drink, and in 1694 (June 20) obtained a grant of £25 per annum
from the public treasury of the province for two years. In 1696 (May 27)
he petitioned for a renewal of the act encouraging a post office and
also for a continuation of the postmaster’s salary. The salary was voted
(July 1, 1696), but no steps taken toward reviving the Post Office Act,
for in 1703 (May 26) John Campbell[46] renewed the petition to the
general court stating that the act had not been in force after 1696, and
praying that since Hamilton was out of purse to the extent of £1,400
restitution might be made by a continuance of the privilege to his
heirs.[47] The same petition was presented to Governor Joseph Dudley and
to the council and representatives in General Assembly two months later
(June 3, 1703), but with no result as far as renewal was concerned. Five
years later (Nov. 3, 1708), a committee was appointed to inquire what
allowance should be made for encouraging the post office, but up to the
time of Queen Anne’s Act in 1710 no decision had been reached.

[45] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 3d Series, Vol. VII., pp. 55-60.

[46] The successor of Duncan and famous as the publisher of the _News

[47] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 3d Series, Vol. VII., pp. 60, 69.

Campbell’s memorandum of 1703 (July 19) is interesting as showing the
cost of maintaining the office between Philadelphia and Piscataqua. The
annual outlay was £680, and the receipts little more than £400, leaving
a deficit of £275.

The Campbells had other grievances.[48] In a petition to the governor,
the council and the assembly, soon after the act of 1693, Duncan begged
that a fine be imposed for failure to deliver letters from ships to the
postmaster. In 1694 the request was repeated, and in answer to this
petition a bill was presented ordering all persons not bringing letters
which ought to be delivered into the post office, to pay four times as
much as was due on the letters, damages to be made good to the party
injured. The house voted in the affirmative May 8, 1694/5, but the
council seems to have taken no action in the matter. In 1696 (May 27)
Campbell sent a similar petition, asking also that the rates on foreign
letters might be advanced from two to three pence, and the payment to
masters of ships from an half penny to 1d., “which,” he adds, “will be a
great encouragement to masters not to deliver news to other persons.”

[48] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 3d Series, Vol. VII., pp. 56-60.

In 1703, John Campbell offered a memorial to the general court,
complaining “that every body carrying of letters to and from towns where
post offices are settled, is a very great hindrance and discouragement
to said office,” letters from Connecticut colony being carried to
Piscataqua, and after lying in the office there some weeks and months,
at last come to Boston, the office being blamed for the delay without a
cause, and that one-half the letters from Europe and West Indies and
other places by sea, were not brought to the office at all. The ferrymen
also came in for their share of blame, as being very backward in
carrying those employed in the post office, sometimes even demanding
money for ferriage. The petition was granted (July 22, 1703), and £20
for the year past and £40 for the one ensuing allowed to Campbell. Again
in 1706 (April 12 and October 30) £50 was granted to him. In 1709
(November 18) he wrote to the Governor that six months after his
appointment by Hamilton in 1701, he had represented to the General
Assembly that he could not serve, since the salary was so small, and two
members of the upper house had then suggested a salary of £40, which,
reduced by the vote of the lower house to £20, had been paid until
within three years. He recalled the fact that the post office saved the
country above £150 per annum, which it would be obliged to pay for
express, if there were no office. The public letters, passed free, had
cost more than the postmaster’s allowance, besides the charge of sending
the governor’s letters weekly to Roxbury “in times of snow or rain.” The
queen, unwilling to augment the charge of the office to what it was in
Hamilton’s time, was then at above £200 sterling charges yearly, to
support it between New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and if the several
offices had half salary allowed them, it would cost her majesty £100
sterling more. Accordingly he thought it but just that public letters
for the time past should be paid for, the postmaster recompensed for
sending the governor’s letters to Roxbury, and some provision made for
conveying them in the future. Otherwise, he would be obliged to
represent the case to the postmaster-general of Great Britain, which he
had foreborne to do, hoping that the general court would prevent it.

The council took no cognizance of the petition, as we learn from its
renewal in 1711.[49]

[49] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 3d Series, Vol. VII., p. 80.

The action of New Hampshire relative to a post, occurred at about the
same time as that of Massachusetts. John Usher,[50] writing to the New
Hampshire council, from Boston, March 25, 1693, said that the
postmaster-general in Boston was desirous of knowing what salary would
be allowed or how much a letter for a post from Piscataqua to Boston,
adding that it might be an advantage to gain news from England and the
West Indies, and that they would like a post weekly or once in two
weeks. The council (March 27, 1693) was of the opinion[51] that a post
was necessary, and that there should be an allowance per letter,
according to other places in like circumstances, proportionate to the
distance from Boston, “Every one to pay for his own Lett{r}.” A
record[52] in the “Journal of the Council and Assembly” of July 29,
1693, says: “Maj. Vaughan and Mr. Waldron were appointed to prepare and
drawe up a Bill for settling a Post Office in this Province,” and on the
fourth of August the council concurred with the bill which had been
passed by the lower house.

[50] _N. H. Provincial Papers_, Vol. II., p. 100.

[51] _N. H. Provincial Papers_, Vol. II., p. 101.

[52] _N. H. Provincial Papers_, Vol. III., p. 11.

It was enacted that[53] “a Poste Office and officers be henceforth
appointed and settled in some Convenient place within the Towne of
Portsmouth for Receiveing & dispatching awaye according to direction all
letters and packetts that shall be brought thereinto & no Person or
Persons whatsoever shall presume to Carry or recarry any letter or
letters for hire but only such as belongs to the Poste Office dureing
their power and authority from the aforesaid Thos. Nele Except such
letters of Merchants and Masters which shall be sent by any Master of
any Ship Boat or other vessel of Merchandise or by any other Person
employed by them for the carrying of such letters aforesaid According to
the Respective Direction And also Except letters to be sent by any
private friend or friends in their way of Journey or Travill or by any
Messenger or Messengers sent on purpose for or concerning the private
affaires of any Person or Persons.” Whoever offended against this Act
should “forfeit the sum of ten pounds one halfe to their Majesties
Towards the support of the Governor of this province The other halfe to
the Postmaster Genrl.” All “Letters & Packetts” were to be delivered by
the importer at the post house or to the post officer, receiving in
return a half-penny for each, the person to whom directed paying two
pence for each letter, and for a “Packett no lesse than 3 letters
besides Bills Loading Invoyces Gazette etc four pence. And for each
letter brought from Boston in to this Province not exceeding five pence
and Doble for a Packett and so proportionately for Letters on this sid
Boston shall be paid with the customary allowance in the Government from
whense they come.” Neglect of duty in keeping constant post or in
delivering letters was punishable by a fine of £5, “The one halfe to
their Majesties the other halfe to the party agreved.” All letters
concerning their majesties’ service were to be received and dispatched
with all possible speed free from charge. It was “further enacted and
ordained that the officer of the Post House haveing Licence granted to
Retaile Beer Sider & Ale within Doors according to Law shall have his
Excise free and no officer of the Excise shall demand anything of him
for the same and his Person to be excused from watching and warding.”
The foregoing Act was to continue in force for three years from the
publication, but in 1694 (May 12th), an additional act for the
encouragement of the post office was passed,[54] since “notwithstanding
a late act for the Setling a Poste Office within this Province Sundrie
Letters are brought by ships and other vessell a longe shore to the
Prejudice of those who are at the charge of keeping a poste goeing once
a week by land.” It was “Enacted by the Liet. Governor Counsill &
Representatives convened in Genl. Assembly” that thereafter all masters
of sloops or other vessels arriving within the Province should deliver
all letters brought in by them, except such as concerned the loading of
their vessels, to the collector or other post officer to be carried
“with all convenient speed” to the post house.

[53] Copied from the original, also in _Hist. Magazine_, Vol. III., p.

[54] _N. H. Provincial Papers_, Vol. III., p. 18.

The next year (May 21, 1695), a petition from Campbell for encouraging
the post office, was answered by a bill settling a salary of £12 for the
ensuing year.[55] In 1698[56] (April 7th) another petition from Campbell
for continuing the support of the post office was read in the council
and sent to the assembly, but returned without their allowing anything.
July 2d, 1703, a committee of both houses was appointed to consider the
petition of John Campbell, Duncan’s successor, and in February (8th),
1703/4, £21 4s. was voted.

[55] _N. H. Provincial Papers_, Vol. III., p. 30.

[56] _N. H. Provincial Papers_, Vol. III., pp. 61, 248, 257, 279.

A year later[57] (May 3d, 1705) the council and General Assembly voted
to pay £6 out of the next provincial rate, to Campbell for his
“extraordinary Service in forwarding his Excellency’s and Government
letters for her Majesty’s service relating to this province;” again in
1707 (April 8th) he was granted[58] £6 out of the treasury, and in 1708
(May 6th) another £6 for “diligent care of expresses and letters.”

[57] _N. H. Provincial Papers_, Vol. III., p. 304.

[58] _N. H. Provincial Papers_, Vol. III., p. 343.

The first entry in the Colonial Records of Rhode Island[59] regarding a
post is in 1774.

[59] _Colonial Records of Rhode Island._

Connecticut’s earliest efforts toward the establishment of a post have
already been mentioned in connection with New York and Massachusetts. On
May 10th, 1694, the court of election at Hartford passed the following
Act for the encouragement of a post office.[60]

[60] _Colonial Records of Connecticut_, Vol. IV., p. 123.

“Whereas their most excelent Ma{ties} King W{m} and Queen Mary by their
letters pattents have granted a Post Office to be set up in these partes
of N. E. for the receiving and disspatching of letters and pacquetts
from one place to another for their Ma{ties} speciall service and the
benefit of theire Ma{ties} good Subjects in these parts. This court
being willing to encourage so good a worke, doe order and enact that all
such persons as shall be imployed by the Post Master Gen. in the
severall stages within this Colony of Connecticut shall and may pass and
repasse all and every ferry within this Colony, from the day of the date
hereof for and during this courts pleasure, without payeing any rate or
sume of money either for his own or horses passage.”

May, 1698,[61] in response to a complaint that posts and other
travellers met with great difficulty in journeying through the colony,
especially in the township of Stonington, the court ordered the
selectmen to lay out convenient highways, kept cleared and open, unless
they passed through ancient common fields, or the general or county
court ordered otherwise, and “made good with sufficient causeis and
bridges as need shall require,” failure to observe these instructions to
be punished by a fine of £10 into the public treasury, and for a
continuance of the offence by an annual fine of £10 to be levied upon
the selectment or inhabitants.

[61] _Colonial Records_, Vol. IV., p. 246-47.

In May, 1704,[62] the general court decreed that since the post was
often impeded, “in cases extraordinarie the authoritie may grant a bill
to the Constables for the defraying of such charges as are really

[62] _Colonial Records_, Vol. IV., p. 468.

Watson,[63] in his _Annals of Philadelphia_, bases on MSS. in the
possession of the Pemberton family, his statement that as early as July,
1683, a weekly post was established by order of William Penn and a grant
given to a certain Henry Waldy of Tekonay to hold one, and “supply
passengers with horses from Philadelphia to New Castle or the Falls of
the Delaware; the rates from the Falls to Philadelphia 3d., to Chester
5d., to New Castle 7d., to Maryland 9d., and from Philadelphia to
Chester 2d., to New Castle 4d., to Maryland 6d.” Winsor, in the
_Narrative and Critical History_, adds that the notices of the departure
of the post were put on the meeting-house doors and in other public

[63] Watson, Vol. II., p. 391. Winsor, _Narrative and Critical History_,
Vol. III., p. 491. _Historical Magazine_, Vol. III., p. 221.

The same year (1683)[64] a law was passed at Philadelphia directing the
way in which official letters should be dispatched, in order that the
governor might obtain “true and speedy information regarding public
affairs, as well from Europe as the neighboring colonies and remote
parts of this province and territories thereof.” “Be it Enacted by the
authority aforesaid, That every Justice of the Peace, Sheriff or
Constable within the respective counties of this province and
territories thereof, to whose hands or knowledge any Letter or Letters
shall come, directed to or from the governor, shall dispatch them,
within 3 hours at the farthest, after the receipt or knowledge thereof,
to the next Sheriff or Constable, and so forwards, as the Letter
directs, upon the penalty of 20s. for every hour’s delay. And in such
cases, all Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs or Constables are hereby
empowered to press either man or horse for that service, allowing for a
horse or man, 2 pence by the mile, to be paid out of the public stock.”

[64] _Historical Magazine_, Vol. III., p. 223.

September 5th, 1700, Penn writes to Logan that he sends a package for
Governor Blackeston[65] to be forwarded to the sheriff of New Castle,
showing that the custom was in vogue seventeen years after its origin.

[65] _Penn and Logan Correspondence._

The _Duke of Yorke’s Laws_[66] under the laws made and passed by
Benjamin Fletcher, governor of Pennsylvania, and the council and
representatives, May 15th and June 1st, 1693, records one for the
erection of a post office in Philadelphia by Andrew Hamilton, “from
whence all letters & packets may be with all expedition sent into any of
the parts of New England and other adjacent colonies in these parts of
America, at which said office all returns and answers may be received.”
Andrew Hamilton, or some other postmaster-general appointed by the king,
was to demand and receive postage according to the following rates:
single foreign letters 2d., and each packet 4d.; letters sent from
Philadelphia to New York 4d. half penny, to Connecticut 9d., to Rhode
Island 12d., to Boston 15d., to points beyond Boston 19d., to Maryland
and Virginia 9d., and to every place within eighty miles of Philadelphia
4d. half penny. If foreign letters were left forty-eight hours uncalled
for, they were to be delivered and one penny more for each demanded from
receiver. Public letters were to go post free; ferriage was to be free
for all, and constant posts were to be maintained from Philadelphia to
New York and New Castle.

[66] _Duke of Yorke’s Laws_, p. 224.

At an assembly held at Philadelphia,[67] May 20th, 1697, Joseph Growden,
“chairman of the grand comittee appointed to consider of Andrew
Hamilton’s memorial for encouragement to support the post,” reported
“that it was the vote of the comittee that a bill be prepared for
encouragement to support the post both by the publick and upon private

[67] _Pennsylvania Colonial Records_, Vol. I., p. 524.

Since the charge of the office had much exceeded the postage,[68] the
assembly, “being sensible of the benefit of the said office to trade and
commerce, and to the province and territories in general if it be
continued, and of the great loss that will happen to both if it should
happen to fall for want of encouragement,” it was voted that the rates
be raised on foreign letters received from 2d. to 4d., on those sent
from Philadelphia to New York from 4½d. to 8d., and other rates
proportionately. Hamilton was to receive £20 in the silver money of the
province from the public treasury annually for three years, the period
during which the law was to be in force.

[68] _Duke of Yorke’s Laws_, p. 262.

In 1700, a bill was passed to be in effect seven years, which says:[69]

[69] Martin’s _Bench and Bar of Philadelphia_, pp. 126-130.

“Considering that maintenance of speedy correspondence is good for trade
and is best carried on by public post, Be it enacted, that there be a
General Letter Office erected and established in Philadelphia to send
letters to colonies planted in America or in any of the King’s Kingdoms
in foreign lands.” Rates were regulated by bulk, as well as by distance,
a sheet of paper being accounted as a single letter and a packet equal
to three letters, at the least; the post of a single letter from
Philadelphia to Boston or Rhode Island was 18d., to Piscataqua and other
parts east of Boston 2s., to New York 8d., to Maryland and Virginia 18d.
if by post, if by private person to the office 4d., all letters for the
proprietary or for the governor to be free. The fine for a neglectful
ferryman was £5, for any one who should presume to carry letters for
hire or set up or employ any post, £40.

“Whereas, letters to merchants were often delayed and given to
untrustworthy persons who may open them and get trade secrets,”
shipmasters were ordered to give letters only to the postmaster or to
his assistants.

In 1701 (June 23d), in response to a petition from Patrick Robinson in
behalf of Col. Andrew Hamilton, “Postmaster General in America and
Gov{r} of the Jerseys,” praying for the payment from the “publick stock”
of the £20 per year for three years, which had been allowed him by the
act of 1697, the treasurer was ordered to pay the sum as soon as there
was sufficient money in his hands.

April 11th, 1706,[70] a grant was given a certain Hugh Huddy to
establish stages from Burlington to Perth Amboy, and April 4th, 1709, an
act for the encouragement of the post office was passed by the New
Jersey assembly. The masters of the offices were to be appointed from
time to time by the postmaster-general. No other persons were to
receive, dispatch or deliver letters or packets except such as were sent
by masters or merchants in ships of which, or of the cargo of which,
they were entirely or in part owners, or “except letters to be sent by
any private Friend or Friends in their ways of journey or Travel, or by
any Messenger or Messengers sent of purpose for or concerning the
private affairs of any person or persons.”[71] The rates were fixed
according to bulk as well as distance, the post of every single letter
from Europe, the West Indies and other parts beyond the seas, was four
pence half-penny, all letters to be accounted single if they did not
exceed one sheet of paper. The postage on each “pacquet” of letters from
these places was 9d. a “pacquet” being accounted three sheets, at the
least. The post of every letter from Boston not exceeding one sheet of
paper, was 1s. 3d., the post of every letter not exceeding two sheets,
2s. 6d., and the post of every “pacquet of letters or other things
whatsoever, 2s. 6d. for every ounce, Troy weight, and for the post of
every letter not exceeding one sheet of paper, for any place not
exceeding one hundred and fifty miles, 9d., and so in proportion to the
bulk.” Carrying letters for hire, or setting up or employing any foot,
post, horse or paquet boat for carrying letters or paquets or providing
and maintaining horses or furniture for the horsing of any through post,
was punishable by a fine of £100 current money for every several
offence, one-third to go to the governor, one-third to the use of the
colony and the remaining third to the informer. Any ferryman neglecting,
delaying or refusing to convey posts forfeited £5.

[70] _Pennsylvania Magazine_, Vol. IX., p. 444.

[71] Copied from the original.

As late as 1791 there were only six post offices in the colony, and none
south of Trenton.[72]

[72] _Pennsylvania Magazine_, Vol. IX., p. 444.

The Maryland archives contain no reference to a post before 1710.

In March, 1661/2, the following act[73] was passed by the Virginia
assembly: “Whereas the remotenesse of diverse places in the country from
James Citty and the necessity of communicating diverse businesses to
the utmost lymitts of itt, would (if messengers were purposely prest)
put the country to an annuall greate expense for prevention whereof, Be
it enacted that all letters superscribed for the service of his Majesty
or publique shall be imediately conveyed from plantation to plantation
to the place and person they are directed to under the penalty of 350
pounds of tobacco to each defaulter.”

[73] Hening’s _Statutes at Large_, Vol. II., p. 109.

March 2d, 1692/3,[74] an act was passed for encouraging the erection of
a post office in each county of the colony, Thomas Neale and his
deputies to settle and establish the post at their own cost. Rates were
to vary according to bulk and distance, state letters and public orders
of the governor and council were to be sent free, and merchants were not
to be prohibited from sending letters by the masters of vessels or
others. The act was to be in force during the term granted by their
majesties’ letters patent to Thomas Neale.

[74] Hening’s _Statutes at Large_, Vol. III., pp. 112, 115.

Cooper’s _Statutes at Large of South Carolina_[75] records an enactment
regarding the post, of September 10th, 1702, by John Grenville, Esq.,
Pallatine, and the other lords and proprietors of the province of
Carolina with the consent of the other members of the General Assembly.
A certain Ed. Bourne was appointed postmaster and ordered to fix an
exact list of letters received and dispatched in some public place in
his house for thirty days, for each packet or letter receiving one-half
royal, and for any neglect of duty forfeiting 40s. July 12th, 1707, an
act[76] to erect a general post office was ratified and continued for
two years.

[75] Cooper’s _Statutes at Large_, Vol. II., pp. 188-89.

[76] Cooper’s _Statutes at Large_, Vol. II, p. 308.

The first act regarding a post office in North Carolina was in 1787.[77]

[77] Iredell, _Laws of North Carolina_.

The correspondence of the period shows when the post became an
established fact. About 1700, letters begin not with the names of the
bearers, but with expressions such as the following: “The post is just
blowing his horn and cannot help it that I write no more
particularly.”[78] “I had not time to say more by the last post than I
did.” “Sent by post last week.” “Having no letter from you by the post.”
Individual bearers were still made use of, often probably for the reason
which Logan gives in a letter to Penn, written February, 1708.[79] “I
send this chiefly to accompany the enclosed to Wm. Aubrey, I therefore
request thee to peruse it ... and to let it be sealed up, directed in
some hand like mine, as J. Jeffreys, and delivered. I send it thus
without cover to save postage, which is now very high to Boston.” It is
to be hoped that Lovelace’s description of the first post as “active,
stout and indefatigable,” would apply equally to his successors, for
they too went laden with “letters, portable goods and divers bags.” Wait
Winthrop writes from Boston to Fitz-John Winthrop, “Gov{r} of his
Maj{ts} Collonye of Conecticott in New London,” “I have had yours by the
post with little bundle;” “If Sudance can bundle up John’s freise Jacket
& Mingoe’s cloth Jacket in an old towell pray let the post bring them.”
“Post will bring you a pair of Simpsons ... could not goe to direct the
man about the glass, or els it had gone by this Post” and “If Anthony
has lamed the horses he may dispatch them quite that they may be no
further trouble; but if their legs are fit to bring them, I desire they
may be sent by the post, unless some safer opportunity present in two or
three days.”[80]

[78] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 6th Series, Vol. V., pp. 64, 65,
66, 70.

[79] _Penn and Logan Correspondence_, Vol. II., p. 257.

[80] _Mass. Historical Collections_, 6th Series, Vol. V., pp. 52, 101,
116, 140.

The early history of the colonial post office ends in 1710. With Queen
Anne’s Act of that year a new era began, introducing a system of greater
uniformity, of greater detail and of closer connection with the home

                                            MARY E. WOOLLEY.


[The preceding pages were reprinted from the Publications of the Rhode
Island Historical Society, January, 1894. Subsequently there was
received from the Public Record Office in London, by the kindness of
Hubert Hall, Esq., F.S.A., a copy of the patent to Thomas Neale,
mentioned on page 8, preceding. The document is of fundamental
importance to the history of the colonial post office. It instituted,
for the first time, a royal intercolonial post, an American post office;
and the American post office was the first of American executive
departments, the first continental institution, and contributed, in its
way, toward the unification of America. The patent is therefore given in
full below. It is believed that it has never before been printed. It is
designated, “Patent Roll (Chancery) 4 William and Mary, Part I, No. 3.”
Its date proves to be February 17, 1691/2, not February 7.

The patent to Thomas Neale was a piece of court favor. A few facts
respecting the man himself may be of interest. Thomas Neale was an
amusing person. All that the editor has been able to discover respecting
him shows, with the utmost consistency, the confirmed office-holder, the
determined and adventurous speculator, quick to seize any opportunity
for personal profit. In the first place, as to his marriage. Pepys,
January 1, 1663/4, mentions that there was much talk at the coffee-house
about a very rich widow, said to be worth £80,000, and young and
handsome. Her husband, Sir Nicholas Gold, a merchant, had not been dead
a week yet, and already great courtiers were looking after her. She was
the daughter of Sir John Garrard (Burke, Extinct and Dormant Baronetage,
214). June 20, 1664, Pepys tells a remarkable story of the bold manner
in which Neale had won this prize, Lady Gold and he having been married
in spite of her brother’s opposition. By 1684 Neale had become installed
in the palace, in the doubtless lucrative office of groom porter
(_London Gazette_, July 28, 1684; Malcolm, “Anecdotes of London down to
1700,” i. 378, iii. 50). The duties of this office are described by
Pepys under date of January 1, 1667/8. “They were,” says Macaulay (iv.
391), “to call the odds when the Court played at hazard, to provide
cards and dice, and to decide any dispute which might arise on the
bowling-green or at the gaming table.” Neale organized lotteries after
the Venetian manner, and in 1694 built extensively, for speculative
purposes, about the Seven Dials (Evelyn’s Diary, Nov. 14, 1693; Oct. 5,
Nov. 22, 1694). In that same year he was employed by the government to
conduct the lottery loan for the State, though some, says Macaulay,
thought the treasury lowered itself thereby. But, after all, he was more
of a personage than would, perhaps, be gathered from Macaulay’s
description. If he was not identical with the Thomas Neale who
represented Petersfield in the Parliament of 1661-78 (Parl. Hist., iv.
198), he was certainly member for Ludgershall in all the subsequent
parliaments of Charles II., in that of James II., and in the second and
third parliaments of King William (5 W. & M., c. 7, sec. 69; letter of
F. Bonnet to the Elector of Brandenburg, in Ranke, vi. 238; Parl. Hist.,
iv. 1082, 1157, 1301, 1346, v. 544, 961; Grey’s Debates, viii. 380).
Moreover, a list in Harl. Misc. viii. 512, prepared in July, 1698,
identifies him with Thomas Neale, the master of the mint, Sir Isaac
Newton’s predecessor in that office. No doubt he was the author of a
pamphlet on “Mending the Coin,” London: 1695, which Allibone mentions.
In fact, Neale was master of the mint from 1679 to 1699 (Ruding, Annals
of the Coinage, i. 29, 35, ii. 30, 33, 46, 466). As the office was for
life, and Newton succeeded upon a vacancy (Brewster’s Sir Isaac Newton,
ii. 193), it is probable that Neale died in 1699. He should have died
rich, for a report in the Commons’ Journals in 1697 (xi. 447, 453) gives
us the characteristic touch that by his percentages on coinage he made
apparently above £14,000 a year, while a deputy, paid £400, did almost
all the work in his absence. Yet it seems that he died insolvent, and
failed to carry out a large building contract into which he had entered
with Sir Walter Clarges (Malcolm, Londin. Rediv., iv. 328). Malcolm also
says (Anecdotes of London in the Eighteenth Century, i. 36) that he left
money for a charity school. The “Gentleman’s Magazine” (ii. 631),
mentions, under date of Feb. 17, 1732, the death of the widow of Thomas
Neale, Esq., act. 96, in Old Palace Yard.

By way of corrigendum to Miss Woolley’s paper, it should be mentioned,
out of Mr. F. H. Norton’s notes to his edition of the Journal of Hugh
Finlay, that the Virginian act of 1661/2, cited on p. 22, above, was
preceded by an act of similar tenor in 1657.--EDITOR.]

   D coñ   }
  Neale Ar̄ }
   Grant   }
     3     }

WILLIAM AND MARY by the Grace of God &c To all to whome these presents
shall come GREETING whereas our Trusty and welbeloved servant Thomas
Neale Esquire hath lately humbly represented unto us that there never
yet hath bin any post established for the conveying of Letters within or
between Virginia Maryland Delaware New Yorke New England East and West
Jersey Pensilvania and Northward as far as our Dominions reach in
America And that the want thereof hath bin a great hindrance to the
Trade of those parts And he the said Thomas Neale haveing humbly desired
us to grant to him Letters Patents for the settling of such a post at
his owne charge and Wee being fully satisfied that the same may be of
service to Trade and correspondence and alsoe willing to encourage such
an undertakeing know yee therefore that wee of our especiall grace
certaine knowledge and meer moc̄on and with and under the condic̄ons and
agreements herein after mentioned on the part and behalfe of the said
Thomas Neale his executors and assignes to be performed have given and
granted and by these presents for us our heires and successors doe give
and grant unto the said Thomas Neale his executors administrators and
assignes full power and authority to erect settle and establish and from
time to time dureing the Terme herein after mentioned shall and may
continue and enjoy within every or any the chiefe Ports of the severall
Iselands Plantac̄ons or Colonies belonging or to belong unto us our
heires or successors in America an Office or Offices for the receiving
and dispatching away of letters and packquetts with full power and
authority and free liberty leave and lycence to and for him the said
Thomas Neale his executors administrators and assignes and to and for
such person or persons as he or they shall from time to time in this
behalfe nominate to receive at the respective Offices aforesaid of and
from any Masters of Ships Passengers or others any letters or Pacquetts
whatsoever which shall be brought into the said Colonyes and Iselands or
any of them from England or from any other parts whatsoever or which
shall be sent from any parts or places of such respective Colony or
Iseland to any other parts or places of the same and to dispatch send
away carry and deliver the same to the respective persons and places to
whome or which they shall be directed or sent within the said Colonys
and Iselands or any of them and to take or receive to the onely use and
behoofe of him the said Thomas Neale his executors administrators and
assignes for the postage or conveyance of all such letters and
Packquetts as shall be soe dispatcht sent away carried and delivered
such rates and sumes of money as shall be proportionable to the rates
for the post or carriage of letters sett downe and ascertained in and by
an Act of Parliament made in the Twelfth yeare of the reigne of our late
Royall Uncle King Charles the Second of Blessed memory entituled (an act
for erecting and establishing a Post Office) or such other rates or
sum̄es of money as the Planters and others will freely agree to give for
their letters or Pacquetts upon the first settlement of such Office or
Offices And further Wee have given and granted and by these presents for
us our heires and successors doe give and grant unto the said Thomas
Neale his executors administrators and assignes and to such person and
persons as he or they shall from time to time nominate as aforesaid full
power and authority and free liberty leave and lycence at the said
Office or offices so to be settled as aforesaid to collect and receive
such letters or pacquetts as the Planters or any others will send or
bring to the same and to dispatch such of them away for England as shall
be directed thither by the first ship that from time to time shall be
bound for any Port Towne of England to be there delivered to the Deputy
or Deputies of our Postmaster or Postmasters Generall for the time being
by him or them appointed or to be appointed for the said Port Towne To
the end such Deputy or Deputys may from time to time send the same away
to the Generall Post Office in England to be delivered according to the
severall and respective direc̄c̄ons of the same as by the said Act of
Parliament is prescribed and to dispatch away such of the said letters
or Pacquetts as shall be directed or are to be carried from any of the
said Islands Colonys or Plantac̄ons from time to time To have hold use
exercise and enjoy the said Office and Offices with the powers
authorities priviledges leave and lycence herein before mentioned and
intended to be hereby granted and to take perceive and receive the rates
and sumes aforesaid unto him the said Thomas Neale his executors
administrators and assignes To the onely use and behoofe of him the said
Thomas Neale his executors administrators and assignes from the date of
these our Letters Patents for and dureing the Terme of twenty one yeares
from thence next ensueing and fully to be compleate and ended without
any account or other matter or thing to be therefore rendered or paid to
us our heires or successors other then the rent covenants and agreements
herein after mentioned rendring to us our heires and successors dureing
the said Terme the yearly rent of six shillings and eight pence to be
paid into our Exchequer in England at the Feast of St. Michaell the
Archangell yearly And Wee doe hereby for us our heirs and successors
authorize and com̄and the Postmaster and Postmasters Generall now and
for the time being of us our heires and successors from time to time to
issue such Deputac̄ons as may better enable the said Thom Thomas Neale
his executors administrators and assignes and such person or persons as
he or they shall from time to time nominate to exercise and execute the
powers and authorities to him or them hereby given and granted or
menc̄oned or intended to be given and granted in and about the premisses
dureing the said Terme of Twenty one yeares and Wee doe hereby also for
us our heires and successors strictly prohibit and forbid all and every
person and persons whatsoever (other then the said Thomas Neale his
executors administrators and assignes and such person or persons as he
or they shall nominate as aforesaid) to sett up exercise or execute the
like Office or Offices within the Iselands Colonys and Plantations
aforesaid or any of them at any time or times within or during the
continuance of the said Terme of one and Twenty yeares hereby granted
provided alwaies that nothing in these p’sents contained shall extend or
be construed to extend to restreyne any merchants masters or others
from sending any letters or pacquetts to or from the said Plantations or
Colonys or any of them by any masters of Ships or other vessells or by
any other person or persons which such merchants masters or others will
specially imploy or intrust for the carriage of the same according to
their respective direc̄c̄ons And the said Thomas Neale Doth for himselfe
his executors administrators and assignes covenant promise and grant to
and with us our heires and successors by these presents that he the said
Thomas Neale his executors administrators or assignes or such person or
persons as he or they shall nominate as aforesaid shall and will from
time to time upon his or their receipt or receipts of any letters or
Pacquetts which shall be directed into the said Iselands Colonyes and
Plantations or any of them from England or any other parts or from any
parts or places within the said Iselands Colonyes or Plantations to any
other parts or places within the same cause the said letters or
Pacquetts to be forthwith dispersed carried and delivered in the
severall parts of the said Iselands Colonies and Plantations as they
shall be directed and from time to time as he they or any of them shall
collect or receive any letters or Pacquetts to be sent from the said
Plantations Islands or Colonyes or any of them for England shall
dispatch and send away the same by the first Ship that shall be bound
for any Port of England to be there delivered to the next Deputy
Postmaster as aforesaid and where any letters or Pacquetts shall be
directed from any of the said Colonies Islands or Plantations to some
other of them that he or they shall dispatch and send away the same
according to the respective direc̄c̄ons by the first conveniency of
carriage or conveyance thereof and that these services shall be
performed with care and without any neglect or delay at the rates before
mentioned And the said Thomas Neale doth further for himselfe his
executors administrators and assignes covenant promise and grant to and
with us our heires and successors by these presents That he the said
Thomas Neale his executors administrators or assignes shall and will at
his and their own costs and charges keep accounts in bookes fairely
written of all the sum̄es of money and profitts whatsoever ariseing in
every yeare by the Office imployment or businesse aforesaid and of all
charges thereupon and shall suffer the said Bookes to be inspected from
time to time and coppies thereof or notes out of the same to be taken by
such person or persons as the Com̄issioners of the Treasury or High
Treasurer of England for the time being shall appoint and shall and will
within the Twentieth yeare of the said Terme of twenty one yeares hereby
granted produce the said Bookes themselves or soe many of them as shall
be then made to the Com̄issioners of the Treasury or High Treasurer of
England then being To the end he or they may have certaine knowledge of
the yearly value of the said Office or Offices for the future benefitt
of us our heires and successors And further that such publique orders as
the Governors of the said respective Plantacons Islands or Colonies from
time to time shall issue out for the Im̄ediate service of us our heires
and successors shall be dispatcht and distributed by the said respective
Offices without any charge Provided that noe person or persons
whatsoever shall be capable of exerciseing the said Office or Offices or
any of them or any Deputac̄on relateing thereunto untill he or they doe
first take the oathes appointed by the Act of Parliament made in the
first yeare of our reigne Entituled (An Act for the abrogateing the
Oathes of Supremacy and allegiance and appointing other oathes) Provided
alsoe that if it shall at any time hereafter be made appeare to us our
heires or successors that this our grant is inconvenient to our subjects
in generall or that the powers hereby granted or mentioned to be granted
or mentioned to be granted or any of them is or are abused That then it
shall and may be lawfull to and for us our heires and successors by any
order of or made in our or their Privy Councill to revoake determine and
make void these our Letters Patents and every clause power and thing
therein contained any thing to the contrary thereof in any wise
notwithstanding Provided further that if the said Thomas Neale his
executors administrators or assignes shall not within the space of two
yeares next after the date of these our Letters Patents establish the
Post or Office thereby intended within the Colonys Islands and
Plantations aforesaid according to the true intent and meaning of these
Presents Then this our grant and every power matter and thing therein
contained shall cease and be void any thing to the contrary thereof in
any wise notwithstanding And the said Thomas Neale doth for himselfe his
executors administrators and assignes covenant promise and grant to and
with us our heires and successors that all letters or Pacquetts
collected or received in any of the Plantations Iselands or Colonys
aforesaid to be sent for England shall from time to time be carefully
put up and dispatched away by the first Ship bound for any Port of
England to be delivered by the next Deputy Postmaster in England without
any charge to the Post Office here excepting and reserveing unto us our
heires and successors the English Inland Postage of all such letters and
Pacquetts last mentioned to be sent for England It being hereby intended
and declared that the same shall not be accounted for to the said Thomas
Neale his executors administrators or assignes but that he and they
shall and is and are hereby obliged to satisfie and pay the masters of
such vessells for such conveyance and delivery of such letters and
pacquetts as shall be sent for England as aforesaid and alsoe that he
the said Thomas Neale his executors administrator or assignes shall and
will at his and their owne proper costs and charges nominate and appoint
a sufficient Officer in our City of London to receive and collect from
time to time all letters and Pacquetts for any of our Colonys or
Plantations aforesaid and to take care to send them duely away from time
to time by the first vessell bound for any of those Parts And further
that all letters com̄only called State letters which are usually carried
Postage free here in England shall pass free thorow all our Plantations
and Iselands aforesaid And further alsoe that he the said Thomas Neale
his executors administrators or assignes shall and will at the end of
the first three yeares next ensueing after the date of these Presents
transmitt or cause to be transmitted to the Com̄issioners of the
Treasury or High Treasurer of England for the time being a true and
faithfull account in writeing upon oath of the whole profitts and
advantage ariseing or accrewing by and the charge of settling and
mannageing the said Office or Offices herein before granted or mentioned
to be granted and established and shall and will alsoe keep true and
faithful accounts in writeing of all the receipts and charges aforesaid
relating to the said Office or Imployment and that from and after the
expirac̄on of the said Three yeares next ensueing after the date of this
our Grant the like account shall be yearly transmitted as aforesaid if
thereunto required And for the better excution of the powers and
direc̄c̄ons herein contained Wee have given and granted and by these
Presents for us our heires and successors doe give and grant unto the
said Thomas Neale his executors administrators and assignes full power
and authority from time to time dureing the said Terme of twenty one
yeares to sett up make use and have Ferrys over any River or Lake in our
said Colonies Iselands or Plantations where noe Ferrys are yet made nor
any grant thereof made or given to any other person or persons by us or
any of our Predecessors for the better conveyance of Postage and
Passengers as need shall require and to receive and take the Profitts
and advantage comeing or ariseing by such Ferrys to the use and benefitt
of him the said Thomas Neale his executors administrators and assignes
provided always and our will and pleasure is and Wee do here for us our
heires and successors Declare that in all cases where such Ferry or
Ferrys are to be sett up and made over other Persons land or water the
Proprietor or Proprietors thereof shall be first agreed with and his and
their consent gained therein according to Law and Justice In Witnesse &c
Witnesse ourselves at Westm̄ the seaventeenth day of February

                                    By Writt of Privy Seale.

I certify that the foregoing is a true and authentic copy:--

                                R. DOUGLAS TRIMMER
                      Assistant Keeper of the Public Records
                                           1 February 1894


Transcriber’s Note, continued:

Minor punctuation errors (e.g. missing periods) have been corrected
without note. Archaic and variant spellings, capitalization, and
punctuation in quoted passages have been retained. A repeated phrase on
p. 31 (hereby granted or mentioned to be granted or mentioned to be
granted) has also been retained.

In plain-text versions of this book, the abbreviations s. and d., and
the heading “Papers from the Historical Seminary of Brown University” on
the title page, do not have _italics markup_ although they were
italicized in the original.

The following changes were made to the text:

p. 5, Footnote 7: _Brodhead, History of the State of New York_ to
Brodhead, _History of the State of New York_

p. 6: Nothwithstanding to Notwithstanding (Notwithstanding this
auspicious beginning)

p. 6, Footnote 9: _Brodhead, History of N. Y._ to Brodhead, _History of
N. Y._

p. 7, Footnote 14: _Brodhead_, Vol. I. to Brodhead, Vol. I.

p. 8, Footnote 24: _Palfrey’s History of New England_ to Palfrey’s
_History of New England_

p. 11: Secreretary to Secretary (Secretary Popple in London)

p. 11, Footnote 39: Legislaitve to Legislative (Journal of the
Legislative Council)

p. 17: 21£ to £21 (£21 4s. was voted.)

p. 19: missing close quote added (to Maryland 6d.”)

p. 21, Footnote 69: _Martin’s Bench and Bar of Philadelphia_ to Martin’s
_Bench and Bar of Philadelphia_

p. 24: sucessors to successors (would apply equally to his successors,)


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