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5th CLAUSE POSTS (1806-1808)

Created:  17 June 2012 

In April 1801 the Postage Act 1801 increased the postal charges.  The 5th Clause of the Act allowed the Postmaster-General to set up delivery and collection arrangements with towns and villages in the neighbourhood of any post town.  Both Plymouth and Plymouth Dock started several of these 5th Clause Posts as a result.  [1]

1806 Plymouth to East Stonehouse

Following the establishment of the Post Office at Plymouth Dock in 1793 the inhabitants of East Stonehouse petitioned for their own Post Office.  The request was refused because it was felt that there was already as they already had a good private service.  [1]

They kept sending petitions and eventually in June 1806 the Post Office Surveyor recommended that they should be served by a 5th Clause Post.  A Receiver was appointed but the locals were not pleased with this idea of not having a Post Office and a free delivery.  The Surveyor had to explain the Post Office’s position to a packed and noisy meeting but he did manage to make them understand they were unlikely to get a Post Office at that time so they accepted the plan.  [2]

A Mrs E Lake, or Lane, was appointed Receiver for East Stonehouse, at a salary of £10 per annum and a messenger was paid 14 shillings a week to carry the mail between Plymouth and East Stonehouse and vice versa.  The service started on or about September 5th 1806.  In October 1807 the Surveyor reported that a profit of £42 had been made on the service so it was made permanent.  [2]

1806/1807 Plymouth to Turnchapel

The second of the new 5th Clause Posts, introduced at either the end of 1806 or early in 1807, was from Plymouth to Turnchapel, where a Receiving House was established.  The service is reported to have earned £17 5s 3d and spent £14 13s on the conveyance of the Mail and the salary of the receiver so it made a small profit, enough in those days, to keep the service going.  [2]

The main users of the Post were Messrs Blackburn & Company, who ran the Dockyard at Turnchapel.  The Yard flourished during the Napoleonic Wars but when the peace came in 1815 it quickly collapsed.  The Surveyor hoped that the workmen at the Oreston quarries would keep it open but in its last year the income was just £1 6s 10d against the expenditure of £14 13s.  The service ceased and the Receiving House closed in 1816.  [2]

1807 Plymouth to Saltash

From at least 1793 the Town of Saltash, across the River Tamar in Cornwall, had financed its own private messenger to collect post from and deliver letters to both Plymouth and Plymouth Dock.  The Surveyor order that the Plymouth Post Office should keep separate accounts of the mail to and from Saltash and when he inspected the accounts only two months later in May 1807 (showing an income of £62 10s per annum) he found that the quantity justified the appointment of a Receiver in that Cornish Town.  The cost of the receiver and a Messenger was £44 8s.  After a year’s trial it was still found to make a profit so in October 1808 the arrangement was made permanent.  [2]

1807 Plymouth Dock to Torpoint

The Plymouth Dock Post Office was not to be left out and in 1807 they started a service to Torpoint, no doubt making good use of the recently opened Torpoint Ferry.  [1]


A decision was taken in 1808 to limit the creation of further 5th Clause Posts and many were converted into Penny Posts  [1].  It us not known what happened to those referred to above until after the reorganisation of 1812 into Penny and Twopenny Posts.


[1]  Oxley, G F, “English Provincial Local Posts 1765-1840”, Postal History Society, 1973.

[2]  Cornelius, D B, "Plymouth and the Local Posts", Stamp Collecting, September 11th 1969.

©  Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK

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