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Scotland -- Internal Rates 1711-1801

Introduction


1785: letter via Post Office from Bank of Scotland joint agents in Aberdeen to agent in Huntly,
acknowledging receipt of £900+ in mixed banknotes sent in two parcels by carrier Adam Wilson
-- 3d charge for between one post stage and 50 miles

From 1711 the rates were set by the Parliament of Great Britain in terms of British currency and English miles (with multiple sheet and higher rates following the usual pattern), but differed in detail from the rates in England and Wales. The rates were not unified into a single set of charges for the whole island of Great Britain until 1801. The change from Scottish to English miles in actual fact made little difference, as in practice the Post Office worked in terms of "computed" miles until 1784, and these remained the same after 1711. This method meant that charges on letters sometimes seem to bear little relation to what the Acts or other authorisations actually said!

Letters passing through Edinburgh from one town to another were subject to two separate charges until 1801 -- i.e. the current rates from the town or origin to Edinburgh, and from Edinburgh to the destination, typically shown separately but paid together on delivery. This caused no problems until 1784, but unfortunately the wording of the Act of that year was ambiguous. It added 1d or 2d to rates for distances below or above 150 miles, but for letters via Edinburgh it did not specify whether this was to be applied once (to the total charge for the whole journey), or twice (separately to the charges to and from Edinburgh).

This appears to have caused some confusion at the time, as well as for later postal historians! Most commonly the rates seen on such letters have the charge added twice, and thus the total rate is the sum of the current rates for the towns to and from Edinburgh; occasionally letters are seen rated the other way. The original charge marks were now crossed out in Edinburgh and a new charge mark for the total written on the letter.

The 1797 Act was expressed in a similarly ambiguous way, in terms of increasing the current rates by a penny, but this time the single-charge method was used. The town-to-town rate via Edinburgh is one penny less than the sum of the current rates for the towns to and from Edinburgh.


Date Auth. Mileage Single Double Treble Ounce +ea.
ľoz
Notes
1711
(1 Jun)
9 Anne c.10 Up to 50 miles 2d 4d 6d 8d +2d Packets 8d per oz
50-80 miles 3d 6d 9d 1s +3d Packets 1s per oz
Above 80 miles 4d 8d 1s 1s 4d +4d Packets 1s 4d per oz
1765
(10 Oct)
5 Geo 3 c.25 One post stage 1d 2d 3d 4d +1d
Up to 50 miles 2d 4d 6d 8d +2d Packets 8d per oz
50-80 miles 3d 6d 9d 1s +3d Packets 1s per oz
Above 80 miles 4d 8d 1s 1s 4d +4d Packets 1s 4d per oz
1784
(31 Aug)
24 Geo 3 s.2 c.37 One post stage 2d 4d 6d 8d +2d
Up to 50 miles 3d 6d 9d 1s +3d
50-80 miles 4d 8d 1s 1s 4d +4d
80-150 miles 5d 10d 1s 3d 1s 8d +5d
Above 150 miles 6d 1s 1s 6d 2s +6d
1797
(5 Jan)
37 Geo 3 c.18 One post stage 3d 6d 9d 1s +3d
Up to 50 miles 4d 8d 1s 1s 4d +4d
50-80 miles 5d 10d 1s 3d 1s 8d +5d
80-150 miles 6d 1s 1s 6d 2s +6d
Above 150 miles 7d 1s 2d 1s 9d 2s 4d +7d