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1500 - The Reformation

Brian Tuke

Brian Tuke (Henry VIII's 'Master of the Posts')

Charles I opened his posts to the public in 1635 and founded the 'Letter Office of England and Scotland'. To develop the network he appointed Thomas Witherings, who had earlier distinguished himself as the King's 'Postmaster General for Foreign Parts'.

Progress was interrupted by the English civil war, but with the restoration in 1660 there were further improvements. Henry Bishop, Charles II's Postmaster General, timed the progress of mail by using postmarks – his invention. Thereby the Post office could detect inefficient posting stages and slow or wayward carriers.

Henry Bishop

Henry Bishop, Charles II's Postmaster General, and inventor of the postmark.

First Postmark

An example of the first postmark.

In 1680, an enterprising businessman named William Dockwra set up an efficient and compressive local post within London. It was privately run at first, then taken over by the Post Office on the prompting of the Duke of York, later King James II, who was greedy for the large profits it made.

Act of Settlement

Act for settlement of postage - giving parliament responsibility for the organisation of the post.