British Royal Messengers Service 1568-1750. An Institutional Study

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This monograph on the Royal Messengers of the Great Chamber in early modern Britain explores the rules and regulations, privileges and duties and, ultimately, the enduring structure of the Messengers' establishment.


"This monograph fills a void in the current research on messengers. It is well organized and well written. . . . Historians will learn a great deal from this study about the ways monarchs in the Early Modern period could communicate with others. This study will appeal to diplomatic as well as administrative historians for it fills an important gap in our knowledge of royal administration. The author has done an excellent job in explaining the often labyrinthine procedures of the service as well as analyzing the personnel of the service and its change over time." – Marsha L. Frey

Table of Contents

Table of contents:

Foreword, Preface

Introduction: services of Messengers; sources; related literature; purpose and limitations of study

1.Procedures and Personnel: Messenger defined, early years to c. 1600; assignments; livery including escutcheon; establishment formed; oath of office; regulations; duties; appointment qualifications; hazards; Test Act of 1673; adequacy of service; motivations to serve; salary and other income; Widow's Fund; Queen Anne's Bounty; delayed payment of salary and bills; hazards; tenure; Messengers Extraordinary

2.Courier Service: Courier defined; assignments to offices; instructions; informant activities; temporary couriers; local mail; postal service and Messengers; roads – conditions and signs; safety and postal security; overseas duty; post warrants and passes; packet boats; overseas mail; Continental roads – conditions and safety; Continental pestilence; English customs vs. Messengers

3.Serving Law and Order – 1685-1714: police work a necessity; warrants; Seven Bishops summons; abduction; apprehending informants; Press Master; licensing fee; postal system; crimes – forgery, counterfeiting, illegal publications; Messenger of the Press – duty; political and religious sedition, Jacobites; censored materials and speech – local and imported; foreign policy critics – Daniel Defoe; demonstrations; Rye House Plot; Duke of Monmouth; War of Spanish Succession; Henry Sacheverell

4.Riots and Rebellions, 1715-1750: George I and civil unrest; Riot Act and consequences; rebellion in Scotland; Atterbury Plot; munitions caches; The Blacks; economic grievances; Walsal Riot; keeping prisoners and evidences; interrogations; escort duty; prisoners and informants; reduction of prisoner costs

5.Financing the Messengers' Service: treasury operations; deficits; costs reduction, inflation; turnpike trusts; Thomas Over's bill; assignments overseas; Thomas Chandler's bill; keeping prisoners costs; payment – procedures and delays; investigation of fraud; new rules for procedures and supervision; Clerks of the Cheque procedures and income revised; number of Messengers; cost of keeping prisoners; financing; flat rate advances individual lenders; Messengers' debts and attorneys

6.Summation – 1685-1750: Including exemplary messengers – Thomas Atterbury and Nathan Carrington


Indices: Monarchs and Secretaries of State (chronological)

Messengers' Establishment – Lord Chamberlains, Clerks of the Cheque, and Messengers (alphabetical)

General Index of people, events, place (alphabetical)

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