The Post Office and Postal Families of Langham
by Ann Grimmer The fi rst mention of a Langham ‘post o ffi ce’ was in 1844 when the Stamford Mercury of 9 th February noted that ‘In consequence of the application of the Rev   Gustavus Burnaby, the Postmaster General has authorised an o ffi cial post to be established from Oakham to Barleythorpe, Langham, Cold Overton and Somerby, with o ffi ces for the reception of le tt ers at Langham, Cold Overton and Somerby. The measure will be carried into e ff ect as soon as the necessary preparations are completed.’ The Rev Gustavus Andrew Burnaby of Somerby Hall was a member of a local, wealthy, landed Leicestershire family and patron of the livings of Somerby and Burrough on the Hill. At the time of this article, he was Chaplain to the Duke of Cambridge, later becoming the vicar of Somerby until his death in 1872. Before the advent of post boys or mail coaches, few people in Rutland had the need, education or means to correspond with other folk far away, though some could a ff ord to send a servant or employ a messenger. Le tt ers could also be sent with local carriers who had transported goods by cart, wagon or packhorse since the 1400s along routes which included most market towns. The delivery of le tt ers, or small packets, was a pro fi table side-line and they would be collected from, or delivered to, a named local hostelry; hence le tt ers were addressed not to a house but to an inn, usually in a market town, with ‘To John Brown Esq at the sign of the Swan Inn’ a typical address. Merchants trading with the continent already had a reliable transfer of le tt ers called the ‘Strangers’ Post’ in London and the ‘Merchant Adventurers’ Post’ on the continent, whereby trusted bearers travelled the same sixty mile route from London to the Channel ports using the same inns as staging posts. The prosperous merchants of the wool towns in Norfolk had even funded their own connecting link to London by taxing local innkeepers, who were also required to provide horses for the collection of mail to and from the City of London. Even before these postal links, kings and their courts had used the ‘King’s Posts’ to receive and deliver orders from far away as quickly as possible. The dispatches were carried in relays by ‘post riders’ galloping from one set of stables or ‘post stations’ to another roughly twelve miles away and changing to a fresh horse for the next twelve miles at each ‘post station’. Around 1512, Henry VIII set up a more permanent system by appointing Sir Brian Tuke as ‘Master of the Post’ whose job it was to maintain the relays of horses and riders on the routes from London to Edinburgh, Holyhead, Falmouth, Dover and Dublin.

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