England and Wales -- Inland Rates 1635-1660

The start of the Post Office as generally understood is dated to a Royal Proclamation of 31st July 1635, which made the Royal Mail available for private letters from the first week of October. The service was soon disrupted by the events of the Civil War, but the Commonwealth service of the 1650s was continued upon the Restoration in 1660.

The precise rate implications of the earlier documents are not always clear, especially since the Posts appear to have been in some disarray in the early 1640s even apart from the Civil War, with competing claims to the right to run them! Published philatelic rate books do not all quote the same set of sources. Seventeenth-century letters in general are scarce, and letters with clear charges from before 1660 that can help to deduce what the practices were are rare.

Under the circumstances, it seemed best to separate out the early rates into their own section, and include all sources referenced in the secondary sources -- quoting the details as stated in the original texts, with links to those texts where available. These did not always include a clear statement of multiple charges.

Date Auth. Mileage Single Other Rates and Notes
(5 Oct)
Royal Proclam'n 31 Jul 1635 Up to 80 miles 2d "if there be two, three, four, or five letters in one packet, or more, then to pay according to the bigness of the said packet after the rate as before"
80-140 miles 4d
Above 140 miles 6d
"Upon the Borders of Scotland and in Scotland" 8d
(6 Jun)
Unsigned warrant, also Irish Proclam'n, also Royal Proclam'n 11 Feb 1638 Up to 80 miles 2d "2d. a single letter, and 4d. a double, and for bigger 6d. the ounce"
80-140 miles 4d "4d. the single and 8d. the double letter, and for bigger 9d. the ounce"
Above 140 miles 6d "6d. the single letter, 12d. the double letter, and if bigger 12d. the ounce"
To Scotland 8d As before? (not specified)
To Ireland 9d "and for letters of Ireland, he or they shall take, according to a Proclamation published by the Lord Deputy and Council there, 9d. the single letter, and if bigger, after two ounces, 6d. the ounce, according as the same are limited in his Majesty's letters patents aforesaid"
(Sanford & Salt quote a 2s 6d ounce rate)
(18 Jan)
Broadsheet Up to 80 miles 2d "and so proportion­ably for double Letters and Packets, and Packets of printed Books, or [for?] two shillings the pound". Rates appear based on those of a semi-official merchant service from 1652
Above 80 miles 3d
(2 Sep)
Ordinance 2 Sep 1654 Up to 80 miles 2d Double rates (twice single) given, then "for treble or greater Packets of Letters proportion­ably"
Above 80 miles 3d
To or from Scotland 4d
To or from Ireland 6d
Act 1657 c.30 Up to 80 miles 2d 4d double, "And so proportionably for every pacquet of letters, and for every pacquet of a greater bulk, 8d. per oz."
Above 80 miles 3d 6d double, "And so proportionably; and for every pacquet of a greater bulk, 1s. per oz."
To or from Scotland 4d 8d double, "And so proportionably; and if a pacquet of a greater bulk, 1s. 6d. per oz."
To or from Ireland 6d 1s double, "And so proportionably; and for every pacquet of a greater bulk, 2s. per oz."