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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


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
Volume 2 Page 355
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