Wednesday 4 September 1985

The Early Posts


Thirty members of Warminster History Society met at Warminster Library and Museum on the evening of 2nd September 1985, for a presentation "The Early Posts" by Mr. Bryan Wood, F.R.I.C.S., F.R.I.V.A.

Mr. Wood pointed out that the first recorded post was established in the year 2,000 B.C., in the Sumer region of Egypt, and was followed by a similar service during the Inca period. It was not until 1300 that the first service was set up in Europe, and developed under Edward IV, but only for the use of noblemen and King's messengers.

In 1532 all recorded mail was carried by messengers and by 1586 the system flourished as a courier service with the writer being debited with the cost on final delivery. Sweden established a monastic service with mail being franked by crowns to identify the King's post.

By 1613 the first uniformed postmen appeared in London during the reign of Charles II, with Nell Gwynne selling the franchise to Henry Bishop in 1660. The new owner introduced the first franking system, which was followed by the Penny Post in 1682, and this saw the incarceration of William Docker in the Tower Of London and the first case of nationalisation in the country.

After the colonisation of America, the party post system was commenced, and during the Napoleonic Wars the first post was conveyed by warship in 1805.

Warminster recorded its first postal service in 1773, when mail was conveyed to London under various postmarks, via Westbury and Devizes, a distance of 114 miles, using the Mail Coach system. In those far off days the post was guaranteed to arrive at all destinations in the country within 24 hours.

Mr. Wood had on display treasured collections, some of which were originals, depicting the growth of the postal service since its inception. He was thanked on behalf of the members present, and after coffee had been served he answered questions.