Postage Act 1799
(39 Geo 3 c.76, 12th July 1799)
An Act for the more secure Conveyance of Ship Letters, and for granting to His Majesty certain Rates of Postage thereon.
[ 12th July 1799 ]
WHEREAS it may be expedient for the Benefit of Commerce and Correspondence, that Permission be given to his Majesty's Postmaster General to receive Letters and Packets, in order to be conveyed to and from Places within his Majesty's Dominions, also to and from every or any the Kingdoms and Countries beyond the Seas, by Ships and Vessels (other than Packet Boats); and also that the Postmaster General be authorized to demand and receive certain Rates of Postage for such Conveyance of the said Letters and Packets: We, therefore, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled, have freely and voluntarily resolved to give and grant unto your Majesty the Rates and Duties herein-after mentioned; and do most humbly beseech your Majesty that it may be enacted; and be it enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That, from and after the pasting of this Act, it shall and may be lawful to and for his Majesty's Postmaster General, and his Deputy and Deputies by him thereunto authorized, in his and their Discretion, to collect and receive Letters, and Packets of Letters, directed to Places within his Majesty's Dominions, also to any the Kingdoms and Countries beyond the Seas, and to forward the same by any Ships or Vessels that he, in his Discretion shall think fit (although not Packet Boats); and also, that it shall and may be lawful to and for his said Majesty s Postmaster General, and his Deputy and Deputies by him thereunto authorized, to and for the Use of his Majesty, his Heirs and Successors, to demand, have, receive, and take, for every Letter and Packet which shall be delivered to him or his Deputies for Conveyance in the Manner herein-before specified, a Sum not less than one Half Part of the Rates and Duties payable by Law for such respective Letters and Packets, if the fame were conveyed by Packet Boats; and in Cafes where no Rate of Postage is already established, then to demand, have, receive, and take, for such Letters and Packets, Rates, as near as the same can be ascertained, equal to one Half of what is now paid for Letters sent beyond the Seas; any Law, Statute, Custom, or Usage, to the contrary thereof notwithstanding.
II. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the said Postmaster General to demand, have, receive, and take for every Letter and Packet which shall be brought by Ships and Vessels (other than Packet Boats) in the Manner herein-before mentioned, from Places within his Majesty's Dominions, and from any the Kingdoms and Countries beyond the Seas into Great Britain, to be conveyed by inland Carriage or Postage, the Sum of Four-pence for every single Letter, and so in Proportion for Packets, in addition to any inland or internal Postage which may arise upon the inland Conveyance of such Letters and Packets; and for the Encouragement of the Masters of such Ships or Vessels, it shall be lawful for the Postmaster General to allow all such Masters the Sum of Two-pence a Letter or Packet upon all such Letters and Packets as they shall respectively have or take on board such Vessel or Vessels, provided such Letters and Packets shall have been delivered to them from the Post Office; and in like Manner, on their Arrival from Parts beyond the Seas, on their delivering unto the Deputy or Deputies of the Postmaster General for such Place or Post Town at which they shall touch or arrive, it shall be lawful to pay to such Masters of Ships and Vessels the Sum of Two-pence a Letter or Packet for all such Letters and Packets as they shall respectively have on board; provided that such Letters and Packets shall have been regularly delivered unto the said Masters by the Deputy or Deputies of the Postmaster General, or any other Persons to be authorized by him, at the Place or Post Town from whence such Ships or Vessels have failed or departed.
III. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the said Postmaster General to cause the Rates of Postage hereby chargeable and payable to be paid either prior to such Letters and Packets being forwarded, or on Delivery thereof, as to him in his Discretion may seem meet.
IV. And be it further enacted, That the Monies to arise by the Rates and Duties aforesaid (except the Monies which shall be necessary to defray such Expences as shall be incurred in the Collection and Management of the same) shall be paid into the Receipt of the Exchequer, and carried to and made a Part of the Consolidated Fund, and applied to such and the same Uses as the present Rates and Duties of Postage are now, or shall be directed to be paid and applied.
V. And be it further enacted, That if any Person or Persons shall, at any Time or Times, be sued, molested, or prosecuted, for any Thing by him or them done or executed in pursuance of this Act, or of any Clause, Matter, or Thing herein contained, such Person and Persons shall and may plead the General Issue, and give the special Matter in Evidence for his or their Defence; and if upon the Trial a Verdict shall pass for the Defendant or Defendants, or the Plaintiff or Plaintiffs shall become nonsuited, then such Defendant or Defendants shall have Treble Costs awarded to him or them against such Plaintiff or Plaintiffs.