Act anent the post-office
(7 & 8 Will 2, s.5 c.31 Scottish Parliament, 5th July 1695)
William III of England was William II of Scotland. Acts of the Parliament of Scotland ix 417, c.31
Act anent the post-office
Our soveraign lord, considering that for the mantainance of mutual correspondence and preventing of many inconveniences that happen by privat posts, several publick post offices have been heretofore erected for carying and receaving of letters by posts to and from most parts and places of this kingdom, and that the wel ordering therof is a matter of general concern and of great advantage, as wel for the conveniences of trade and commerce as otherwayes; and to the end that speedy and safe dispatches may be had, and that the best means for that end will be the setling and establishing a general post office, therefore, his majesty, with advice and consent of the estates of parliament, statutes, ordains and appoynts an general post office to be keeped within the city of Edinburgh from whence all letters and packquets whatsoever may be, with speed and expedition, sent into any part of the kingdom, or any other of his majesties' dominions, or into any kingdom or countrey beyond seas by the pacquet that goes sealed for London, at which said office, all returns and answears may be likewise receaved. As also, that a master of the said general letter office shall be from time to time appoynted by his majesty, his heirs and successors, by letters patents under the privy seal of this kingdom, by the name and title of his majesties' post master general, or otherwayes that the said office may be set in tack by the lords of his majesties' thesaury and exchequer as his majesty and his saids successors shall think most expedient. And that the said master of the said office, or tacksman for the time respectively, and his deput or deputs authorized by him for that effect and his and their servants, and no other person or persons whatsoever, shall from time to time have the receaving, taking up or ordering, dispatching, sending posts with speed, and delivering of all letters and pacquets whatsoever which shall, from time to time, be sent to and from all and evry the parts and places of this kingdom, to and from his majesties' dominions or places beyond seas, where he shall setle or cause to be setled posts, or running messingers for that purpose; excepting such letters as are sent by any person or persons to and from any place within this kingdom by their own servants, or by express sent on purpose about their own affairs, and letters directed along with and relating to goods sent, or to be returned by common cariers allennarly. And where post offices are not erected and posts setled, his majesty, with consent forsaid, allowes the custom of sending by cariers or others as formerly, ay and whil such offices be established and no longer. And farder, his majesty, with advice and consent forsaid, statutes and enacts that the said post master general, or tacksman and their respective deputs and substituts, and no other person or persons whatsoever, shall provide and have in readiness sufficient horses and furnitur for ryding post to all persons, ryding to and from all the parts and places of Scotland, where any post roads are, or shall be setled and established, but prejudice to the use of hyring of horses, which are not to ryd post as formerly. And siclike, his majesty, with advice and consent forsaid, statutes, enacts and declares that it shall be lawfull for the said post master general, or tacksman and their saids deputs, to ask, exact and receave for the portage and convoyance of all such letters, which he or they shall so convoy, carry or send post as aforsaid, and for providing and furnishing horses for ryding post as aforsaid, according to the several rates and summs aftermentioned, which they are not to exceed, viz all single letters to Berwick, or any part within fifty miles of Edinburgh, two shilling, double four shilling, and so proportionally; all single letters to any place above fifty miles, and not exceeding a hundred miles, to pay three shilling, double six shilling and so proportionally; all single letters to any place in Scotland above a hundred miles to pay four shilling, double eight shilling and so proportionaly; declaring, nevertheless, that all single letters with bills of loadning or exchange, envoyes or other merchant accompts inclosed and sent to any place within the kingdom, shall be only considered as single letters; [and] all pacquets of papers to pay each one as triple letters. And it shall be lawfull for the said post master general, tacksman and their deputs, to ask, exact, take and receave, from evry person to whom he or they shall furnish horses, furnitur and guide for ryding post in any of the post roads aforsaid, three shilling Scots for ilk horse hyre for postage for evry Scots mile. And, in like manner, his majesty, with advice and consent forsaid, strictly prohibits and discharges all other person or persons whatsoever, as wel single as bodies politick or incorporat, excepting the said post master general or tacksman and their deputs and the servants of noblemen, gentlemen and others, in the cases particularly above excepted allennarly, to cary, receave or deliver any letters for hire, or to sett up or imploy any foot post, horse post or to setle post masters within their jurisdictions under the penalty of twenty pounds Scots for evry transgression, and an hundred pounds Scots for each moneth's continuance therof, after intimation beis made to them in the contrar, and the saids penalties to be persued for before any judge competent, the one halfe therof to be imployed for the use of the informer, and the other halfe therof for the use of the said post master general, or tacksman respective. And [also] that no common carrier presume to carry any letters to or from any places within this kingdom where post offices are setled, excepting the case aforsaid, certifying all such as do in the contrary, that upon seisure of any such carrier with the letters about, or being convicted therof before any judge competent, he shall be imprisoned six dayes for ilk fault, and fyned in the soume of six pounds Scots toties quoties. And because it is not only expedient for his majesties' government, bot likewayes for the advancement of the trade of this kingdom, that a setled correspondence by weekly posts be established with his majesties' subjects in the kingdom of Ireland, and that the said kingdom of Ireland will not be at the expenses for mantaining the packquet boats for passing to and from this kingdom, therefore, his majesty, with advice and consent forsaid, ordains and appoynts the said general post master, or tacksman, to keep and mantain pacquet boats to go weekly (wind and weather serving) from Portpatrick in this kingdom to Donachadee in lreland, to cary and receave all letters to be sent betuixt this kingdom and the kingdom of Ireland, and that the expenses bestowed on these pacquet boats be allowed to the said general postmaster or tacksman in part of his intromissions with the profits of the said general letter office, or out of the tack duty when the same is set in tack or farmed, not exceeding the soume of sixty pounds starlin money yearly. And his majesty, with consent forsaid, ordains and declares all the shirriffs, stewarts, baillies of regalities or royalties, magistrats of royal burghs, justices of peace and all other judges and magistrats whatsoever, alse wel in burgh as landward, to concurr with and assist the post master general, tacksman and their deputs in the discharging of his trust, for rendering this act effectual for the ends abovewritten, and putting the same to all due and lawfull execution within their respective bounds. And his majesty, with consent forsaid, statutes and ordains that no person or persons of whatsoever degree or quality, presume to stop, molest, hinder or imped the several posts, alsewel foot posts, as horse posts authorized by, or bearing warrand from the said post master general, tacksman or their successors in office, by night or by day, under the pain and penalty of one thousand pound Scots, attour the reparation of the damnages to any party laesed thereby, farr less to detain, rob or take away any pacquet under the pains contained in the act of parliament. And his majesty, with consent forsaid, ordains and appoynts the said post master general, tacksman and his said deputs and their successors in their several offices, to take the oath of alleagiance and subscribe the same with the assurance appoynted to be taken by all persons in publick trust, by the third act of the third session of this current parliament. And his majesty, with consent forsaid, ordains general letters to be directed at the instance of the said general postmaster, or tacksman and their successors in office, against their several deputs, for the tack dutyes of their respective offices, as is allowed for inbringing any part of his majesties' revenue. And lastly, the lords of his majesties' privy council are hereby authorized and impowered to take care that particular post offices be established over all the kingdom at places most convenient, and the times of parting of posts with letters, and of their running, be duly setled and published; and generaly that this act be punctualy observed and execut, and do all other things to make the same effectual for the true end and intent therof; and ordains this present act to be published and printed, that non may pretend ignorance.