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1786 Taunton to London rate query
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Author:  leamphil [ Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:29 pm ]
Post subject:  1786 Taunton to London rate query

The part entire below has a "TAUNTON / 143" handstamp (SO 760, in use 1785-87) and a manuscript "6" for postage.

The postal rates from 31st August 1784 had been increased by 1d for distances under 150 miles and by 2d for distances over 150 miles. The previous rate for over 80 miles was 4d so I believe the rate then became 5d for 80-150 miles and 6d for over 150 miles.

Why was this entire charged 6d when the handstamp indicates the mileage to London was 143 (and thus less than 150 and due the 5d rate) ?

Could it be because the 6d was 5d for the General Post plus 1d for local London delivery ? I didn't think the local delivery charges at the receiving end were normally included in the marked up postal charge ?

Or was the "TAUNTON / 143" handstamp wrong from the start ? In 1802 Taunton had a different mileage mark - "TAUNTON / 161" - which would deserve a 6d rate (though by then the postal charges had gone up again to 8d for 120-170 miles).

Author:  leamphil [ Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1786 Taunton to London rate query

Further work using Google Maps (& "Avoiding Highways" to ensure no motorways) comes to the following results:

  • The only way to get close to a distance of 143 miles is to take the straight line distance from Taunton to London; this comes out at 144 miles (one has to specify that one is walking and it takes 47 hours !).
  • A route from Taunton to Crewkerne and then up the Western Post Road comes in at 157 miles.
  • Taunton to Bath and then along the Bristol Post Road comes in at 163 miles.

Perhaps when the "TAUNTON / 143" handstamp was introduced it was already known to be incorrect, so the postal charge of 6d was the General Post rate for over 150 miles, based on a mileage to London much closer to the later (1802) value of 161 miles ?

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