Inland office

The General Post — Inland Office

The postal system had developed in a patchwork fashion during the previous centuries and had been subjected to abuse, and criticism. However, when Colonel Henry Bishop was Postmaster General (1660-1663), the complaint was mostly against the delays imposed on the mail, so he introduced the system of dating the mail when it was received, in order that a check could be kept on it. This stamp, known as a Bishop Mark showed the day and the month. The year could be discerned only from the contents of the letter itself

   This is a very early, and very fragile example of the first type of Bishop Mark (1661-1713). It was a bisected circle of ½" (about 14mm) in diameter, and it had the month in two letters above the day.
address panel
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For Mr Thomas Peacock at ye
signe of ye Peacock in ye
Strand near ye
May-poll London
The image shows the small Bishop mark and the '3' charge mark.
letter contents
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Sprotborough November 29 1686
Mr. Rogers
I desire you will Pay unto Charles Godfrey perriwigg maker ) £. s. d
ye sum of two pound seven shillings & sixpence in full of ) 2. 07. 06
all accounts wch I shall allow upon Account Witness my )
hand & seale. Copley Dd ye ja. 1686
Then in a different handwriting :-
Recd in full of this bill and all other accounts the sum of two pound seven shillings six pence. I say £2.7.6
Per me Charles godfrey.
   There are three other interesting things to note on this letter — the first is the address. London, in 1680, was a busy and new city, having been rebuilt quickly after the Great Fire of 1660, but there were no street or house numbers, so that the address had to give explicit instructions to ensure correct delivery.

   The second point is the manuscript '3', which indicated the charge applied for posting a letter a distance of more than 80 miles — this being in force from 1660-1711. Unfortunately, the address is incomplete, but it appears to be 'sprotborough' — which is about 160 miles north of London in Yorkshire.

   The third thing is that although the letter is clearly addressed to Mr Thomas Peacock, the letter inside is addressed to Mr Rogers.

(Note: 'perriwig maker' — the Oxford English Dictionary definition is :- periwig — a highly styled wig worn formerly as a fashionable headdress by both women and men and retained by judges and barristers as part of their professional dress. )

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This letter sent from Cardiff to London is dated 16th December 1782, almost 100 years later than the previous example.
The Bishop Mark which was applied on arrival in London, shows 19 DE a 3-day journey, and the cost was 4d. The Bishop mark is of the same type, but larger — 3/4" or 20mm.
In the letter which concerns the curacy of Llantrissant, it says ..." it will be sent to you immediately by the Swansea Stage-coach who Inns in London at the Angel Inn behind St. Clements in the Strand. When you receive the Deed please to acquaint Mr. Matthias, Treasurer to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty thereof, for I will send a receipt to my correspondent in London to receive the interest by the next post...."

Queen Anne's Bounty was a fund to augment the income of poor Church livings. There are many early references to this fund.

Copyright 2002 E. J. Shanahan

By EARS Leisurewrite
General Post Receiving house stamps

For more details of the Bishop marks return to our postal history page and follow the link on that page. OR, if you are interested in the history of the British Post Office, check out our information on this site Before the Penny Black


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