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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


354 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [North Bridge. the postage to England was lowered to 4d. ; and to zd. for a single letter within eighty miles. On the 16th of December, 1661, Charles 11. reappointed Robert Muir ?sole keeper of the letter-ofice in Edinburgh,? from which he had been dismissed by Cromwell, and Azoo was given him to build a packet-boat for the Irish mail. In 1662 Sir Williani Seaton was succeeded as Postmaster-General of Scotland by Patrick Grahame of Inchbraikie, surnamed the BZac.4, who bore the Garter at the funeral of Montrose, and who, according to the Privy Seal Register, was to hold that office for life, with a salary of A500 Scots yearly. In 1669 the Privy Council established a post between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, twice weekly, ?? wind and weather serving.?? A letter was conveyed forty miles (about sixty English) for 2s. Scots ; and for one an ounce weight the charge was 7s. 6d. Scots ; for every single letter carried above eighty miles within Scotland the rate was 4s. Scots; while for one an ounce weight fos. Scots (it. rod. English) was charged. In 1678 the coach with letters between Edinburgh and Glasgow was drawn by six horses, and performed the journey there and back in six days ! In 1680 Robert Muir, the postmaster, was imprisoned by the Council for publishing the Nms Leiter, before it was revised by their clerk. ? What offended them was, that it bore that the Duke of Lauderdale?s goods were shipping for France, whither his Grace was shortly to follow, which was a mistake.?? In r685 the intelligence of the death of Charles XI., who died on the 7th of February, was received at Edinburgh about one in the morning of the Ioth, by express from London. In 1688 it occupied three months to convey the tidings of the abdication of James VII. to the Orkneys. In 1689 the Post-office was put upon a new footing, being sold by roup ?to John Blau, apothecary in Edinburgh, he undertaking to carry on the entire business on various rates of charge for letters, and to pay the Government 5,100 nierks (about A255 sterling) yearly for seven years.? And in October that year William Mean of the Letter Office was committed to the Tolbooth, for retaining certain Irish letters until the payment therefor was given him. In 1690 the Edinburgh post-bag was robbed in the lonely road near Cockburnspath, and that the mails frequently came in with the seals broken was a source of indignation to the Privy Council. In 1691, John Seton (brother of Sir George Seton of Garlton) was committed to the Castle for robbing the post-bag at Hedderwick Muir of the mail with Government papers. To improve the system of correspondence throughout the kingdom, the Scottish Parliament, in 1695, passed a new ?Act for establishing a General Post-office in Edinburgh, under a Postmaster- General, who was to have the exclusive privilege of receiving and despatching letters, it being only allowed that carriers should undertake that business on lines where there was no regular post until such should be established. The rates were fixed at 2s. Scots for a single letter within fifty Scottish miles, and for greater distances in proportion. It was also ordained that there should be a weekly post to Ireland, by means of a packet at Port Patrick, the expense of which was to be charged on the Scottish office. By the same law the Postmaster and his deputies were to have posts, and furnish post-horses along all the chief roads to all persons ?at three shillings Scots for ilk horse-hire for postage, for every Scottish mile,? including the use of furniture and a guide. It would appear that on this footing the Post-office in Scotland was not a gainful concern, for in 1698 Sir Robert Sinclair of Stevenston had a grant of the entire revenue with a pension of A300 sterling per annum, under the obligation to keep up the posts, and after a little while gave up the charge as finding it disadvantageous. . . . Letters coming from London for Glasgow arrived at Edinburgh in the first place, and were thence dispatched westward at such times as might be convenient.? * The inviolability of letters at the Post-office was not held in respect as a principle. In July, 1701, two letters from Brussels, marked each with a cross, were taken by the Postmaster to the Lord Advocate, who deliberately opened them, and finding them ?of no value, being only on private business,? desired them to be delivered to those to whom they were addressed ; and so lately as 1738, the Earl of Islay, in writing to Sir Robert Walpole from Edinburgh, said, ?? I am forced to send this letter by a servant, twenty miles out of town, where the Duke of Argyle?s attorney cannot handZe it;? and in 1748 General Bland, commanding the forces in Scotland, complained to the Secretary of State ?that his letters at the Edinburgh Post-office were opened 6y order of a nobZe dufie,? From 1704 till the year of the Union, George Main, jeweller, in Edinburgh, accounted ?? for the duties of the Post-ofice within Scotland, leased him by the Lords of the Treasury and Exchequer in Scotland? during the three years ending at Whit Sunday, for the yearly rent of 11,500 merks Scots, or A;r,~gq 8s. Iod. sterling, subject to de- * ?Domestic Annals of Scotland,? VoL IIL
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North Bridge.] THE HORSE POSTS. 355 duction for expenses, among which are A60 for the Irish packet boat. In 1708 the whole business of the General Postoffice was managed by seven persons-viz., George Main, manager for Scotland, who held his commission from the Postmaster General of Great Britain, with a salary of A200 per annum; his accountant, A50 per annum ; one clerk, d s o ; his assistant, Lzs ; three letter-runners at 5s. each per week. The place in which it was conducted was a common shop. In 1710 an Act of the newly-constituted British Parliament united the Scottish Post-office with that of the English and Irish under one Posttnaster- General, but ordained that a chief letter office be kept at Edinburgh, and the packet boats between Donaghadee and Port Patrick be still maintained.? The postage of a letter to London was then raised to 6d. sterling. In 17 15, James Anderson, W.S., the well-known editor of D$Zowata Scotie, obtained the office of Deputy Postmaster-General, succession to Main, the jeweller. When he took office, on the 12th of July, there was not a single horse post in Scotland, foot-runners being the conveyers of the mails, even so far north as Thurso, and so far westward as Inverary. (( After his appointment,? to quote Lang?s privately-printed history of the Post-office in Scotland, (? Mr. Anderson directed his attention to the establishment of the horse posts on the Western road from Edinburgh. The first regular horse post in Scotland appears to have been from Edinburgh to Stirling; it started for the first time on the 29th November, 1715. It left Stirling at z o?clock afternoon, each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, reaching Edinburgh in time for the night mail for England. In March, 1717, the first horse post between Edinburgh and Glasgow was established, and we have details of the arrangement in a . memorial addressed to Lord Cornwallis and James Craggs, who jointly filled the office of Postmaster- General of Great Britain. The memorial states, that ?the horse post will set out for Edinburgh each Tuesday and Thursday at 8 o?clock at night, and on Sunday about 8 or g in the morning, and be in Glasgow-a distance of 36 miles (Scots) by the post road at that time-by 6 in the morning, on Wednesday and Friday in summer, and by 8 in winter, and both winter and summer, will be in on Sunday night.? ? At this period it took double the time for a mail to perform the journey between the two capitals that it did in the middle of the 17th century. When established by Charles I., three days was the time allowed for special couriers between Edinburgh and London. In 1715 it required six days for the post to perform the journey. This can easily be seen, says Mr. Lang, by examining the post-marks on the letters of that time. In that year Edinburgh had direct communication with sixty post-towns in Scotland, and in August the total sum received for letters passing to and from these offices and the capital was only A44 3s. Id. The postage on London letters in the same morith amounted to A157 3s. zd. In 1717 Mr. Anderson was superseded d Edinburgh by Sir John Inglis as Deputy-Postmaster- General in. Scotland, from whom all appointments in that country were held direct. The letter-bags, apart from foot-pads and robbers, were liable to strange contingencies. Thus, in November, I 725, the bag which left Edinburgh was never heard of after it passed Berwick-boy, horse, and bag, alike vanished, and were supposed to have been swallowed up in the sands between Coquet-mouth and Holy Island. A mail due at Edinburgh one evening, at the close of January, 1734, was found in the Tyne at Haddington, in which the post-boy had perished; and another due on the 11th October of the follow?ing year was long of reaching its destination. ? It seems the post-boy,? according to the CaZedonian Mercury, ? who made the stage between Dunbar and Haddington, being in liquor, fell off. The horse was afterwards found at Linplum, but without mail, saddle, or bridle.? The immediate practical business of the Postoffice of Edinburgh (according to the ?( Domestic Annals ?), down to the reign of George I., appears to have been conducted in a shop in the High Street, by a succession of persons named Main or Mein, ?(the descendants of the lady who threw her stool at the bishop?s head in St. Giles?s in 1637.? Thence it was promoted to a flat on the east side of the Parliament Close ; then again, in the reign of George III., behind the north side of the Cowgate. The little staff we have described as existing in 171 j remained unchanged in number till 1748, when there were added an ? apprehender of letter-carriers,? and a (? clerk to the Irish correspondents.? There is a faithful tradition in the office, which I see no reason to doubt,? says Dr. Chambers, ?that one day, not long after the Rebellion of 1745, the bag came to Edinburgh with but one letter in it, being one addressed to the British Linen Company.? In 1730 the yearly revenue of the Edinburgh Office was A I , I ~ ~ , according to (?The State ofscotland;? but Arnot puts the sum at Aj,399. In 1741 Hamilton of Innerwick was Deputy
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