PALMER, John. 19233



The original Autograph Letter Signed ‘John Palmer’, to the Postmaster General, the Earl of Tankerville, thanking him (after hearing the news from Mr. Bonnor) “for your very open & candid declaration & your handsome conduct respecting my Apointment [as Controller General of the Post Office]”, hoping to pay his respects & thanks personally. 1 page 8 x 7 inches, with the integral blank leaf, fine clean condition, folds. 87 Lombard Street, 15 July 1786. A rare autograph on a significant letter in the history of the Post Office. John Palmer of Bath (1742-1818), instigator of the British system of mail coaches that was the beginning of the great British post office reforms with the introduction of an efficient mail coach delivery service in Great Britain during the late 18th century. His correspondent, Charles, 4th Earl of Tankerville, Postmaster General, became a victim of convoluted Post Office politics and was forced to resign in August 1786. In the same month Palmer’s appointment and salary were confirmed by Pitt at the Treasury. On 11 October 1786 the Board appointed Palmer Surveyor and Comptroller General of the Mails. Difficulties later arose because Palmer was technically under the Postmaster General while remaining free to carry out his reforms. Tankerville, Palmer’s correspondent in this letter, did not oppose the mail coach, but a later Postmaster General, Lord Walsingham, insisted on Palmer’s dismissal in 1792. However, the institution of mail coaches permanently revolutionised the British postal service, and Palmer was widely honoured for it. For the background to his official appoinment, see Kenneth Ellis, The Post Office in the Eighteenth Century (1958), pp. 106-110. Charles Bonnor, mentioned in this letter, later became Palmer’s Deputy.