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Postage of England, Scotland, and Ireland setled
(1657 c.30, 9th June 1657)

Postage of England, Scotland, and Ireland setled.

Whereas it hath been found by experience that the erecting and setling of one general Post-office for the speedy conveying, carrying, and re-carrying of letters by post, to and from all places within England, Scotland, and Ireland, and into several parts beyond the seas, hath been and is the best means, not onely to maintain a certain and constant intercourse of trade and commerce betwixt all the said places, to the great benefit of the people of these nations, but also to convey the publique dispatches, and to discover and prevent many dangerous and wicked designs which have been and are daily contrived against the peace and welfare of this Commonwealth, the intelligence whereof cannot well be communicated but by letter of escript; Be it enacted by his Higness the Lord Protector and the Parliament, and it is enacted and ordained by authority thereof, That from henceforth there be one general office, to be called and known by the name of the Post-office of England; and one officer from time to time to be nominated and appointed by his Highness the Lord Protector and his successours, and to be constituted by Letters Patents, under the Great Seal of England, under the name and stile of Postmaster-general of England, and Comptroller of the Post-office, which said officer and his deputies, by him thereunto sufficiently authorized, and no other, shall have the receiving, taking up, ordering, sending forward, and delivering of all letters and pacquets which shall from time to time come and go to and from all parts and places of England, Scotland, and Ireland, where be shall settle posts, and from all the said parts and places of England, Scotland, and Ireland unto any the parts and places beyond the seas; excepting such letters as shall be sent by common known carriers, and by them conveyed, along with their carts, waggons, and packhorses, and letters of advice of merchants which shall be sent by masters of any ship, barque, or other vessel of merchandize, or any of their company or passengers therein, immediately from any port town of England, Scotland, and Ireland, by them to be conveyed along with such ship, barque, or other vessel, to any other port town within any of the same, or into the parts beyond the seas, or from the parts beyond the seas, to any port town of England, Scotland, and Ireland, or members thereof, and no further; and excepting a letter or more sent by a messenger on purpose for his or their own affairs, who is or are the senders thereof, or by any friend, to any place or places within the said nations of England, Scotland, or Ireland. And also that the said Postmaster-general of England and Comptroller of the Post-office, and his said deputies onely, and no other, shall have the horsing of all thoroughposts, and persons riding in post, by commission or without, to and from all places upon any of the post roads within England, Scotland and Ireland.

And be it further ordained by authority aforesaid, that the said officer, by himself or his deputy or deputies, by him thereunto sufficiently authorized, shall or may demand, have, receive, and take for the postage and conveyance of all or any letters which he shall so convey, carry, and recarry as aforesaid, or for the horsing of any thorow-post or person riding in post as aforesaid, the several rates of postage hereafter mentioned, and no other; viz.

IF SINGLE IF DOUBLE
For every Letter— s.d. s.d.
To or from any place within four-score miles from London -2 -4
And so proportionably for every pacquet of letters, and for every pacquet of a greater bulk, 8d. per oz.
At a further distance than four-score miles -3 -6
And so proportionably; and for every pacquet of a greater bulk, 1s. per oz.
To or from Scotland -4 -8
And so proportionably; and if a pacquet of a greater bulk, 1s. 6d. per oz.
To or from Ireland -6 1-
And so proportionably; and for every pacquet of a greater bulk, 2s. per oz.
And for such Letters or Pacquets as shall be conveyed or carried within Ireland, for every Letter—
To or from any place within 40 miles from Dublin -2 -4
And so proportionably; and if a pacquet of greater bulk, 8d. per oz.
At a further distance than 40 miles -4 -8
And so proportionably; and if a pacquet of greater bulk, 1s. per oz.
To Leghorn, Genoa, Florence, Lyons, Marseilles, Smyrna, Aleppo, and Constantinople 1- 3-
And 3s. 9d. per oz.
To Bourdeaux, Rochel, Nantes, Byonne, Cadize, and Madrid -9 16
And 2s. per oz.
To St. Malo, Morlaix and Newhaven -6 1-
And 1s. 6d. per oz.
Hambrough, Frankfort, and Collogne -8 14
And 2s. per oz.
To Danzicke, Lipswich, Lubecke, Stockholme, Copenhaven, Elsnore, and Queenesbrough 1- 2-
And 4s. per oz.

And for every thorough-post, or persons riding in post as aforesaid, 2˝d. per mile for each horse, besides the guide groat for every stage.

And whereas, upon the arrival of ships from parts beyond the seas to the outports here, letters directed to several merchants in London have been heretofore frequently delivered by the bringers thereof to loose and uncertain hands, to be conveyed forwards, whereby great prejudice hath accrued to their affairs, as well by the miscarrying of many of the said letters as oftentimes by the opening of the same to the discovery of the correspondence and secrets of the said merchants; be it further ordained and enacted by authority aforesaid, that all letters and pacquets that by any master of any ship or vessel, or any of his company, or any passengers therein, shall be brought to any port town of England or members thereof, and there delivered to be sent forward to the city of London, or any other place in any of the post roads from thence towards the said city (other than such letters as are before excepted, and may be sent by common known carriers as aforesaid, or by a friend as aforesaid), shall by such master, passenger, or other person, be delivered to the deputy or deputies onely of the said officer above ordained, by him appointed for the said port towns, and to none other, by him to be sent forward, according to the direction hereof.

And that no person or persons whatsoever, other than such officer as shall be so nominated and appointed by his Higness the Lord Protector, or his successors, and constituted by Letters Patents under the Great Seal of England as aforesaid, and his deputies, shall presume to set up or imploy any foot posts, horse posts, or pacquet boats, for the common conveying, carrying, and recarrying of any letters or pacquets by land, within England, Scotland, and Ireland, or from or to any of the ports of the same by sea, or for the horsing of any thorow-post or persons riding in post as aforesaid, upon pain of forfeiting the sum of one thousand pounds for every moneth that he or they shall so imploy and continue the same or any of them; the said forfeiture to be sued for and recovered by action of debt, plaint, or information, in any of his Highnesses Courts of Record, wherein no essoign, privilege, protection, or wager of law to be admitted; and the said forfeiture so recovered to be the one moity thereof to his Highness the Lord Protector and his successors, and the other moity to such person or persons who shall or will inform and sue for the same.

And for the better management of the said office, and that the people of these nations may have their intercourse of commerce and trade the better maintained, and their letters and advices conveyed, carried, and received with the greatest speed, security, and convenience that may be; be it further enacted and ordained by authority aforesaid, that the said Postmaster-general of England, and Comptroller of the Post-office so nominated, appointed, and constituted as aforesaid, and his deputies, shall from time to time observe and follow such further order, rules, directions and instructions for and concerning the settlement of convenient posts and stages upon the several roads in England, Scotland and Ireland, and the providing and keeping of a sufficient number of horses and pacquet boats, as well for the carrying and conveying of the said letters and pacquets, as for the horsing of all thorow-posts, and persons riding in post by Warrant or otherwise as aforesaid, as his said Highness the Lord Protector and his successors shall from time to time in that behalf make and ordain.

And that his said Highness the Lord Protector and his successors, may grant the said office, together with the several rates of postage above mentioned, and all profits, privileges, fees, perquisites and emoluments thereunto belonging, or to belong, either for life or for any term of years not exceeding eleven years, to such person or persons, and under such covenants, conditions, and yearly rent, to his said Highness and his successors reserved, as his said Highness and his successors, with advice of the Council, shall from time to time think fit, for the best advantage and benefit of the Commonwealth.

Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no person shall have power to take, use, or seize any horses for the service mentioned in this Act, without the consent of the owners, any usage or pretence, or anything in this Act contained to the contrary hereof notwithstanding.