POST OFFICE. Three Postmasters General, 1786. 19234



Archive of about 35 letters and copy letters retained by Charles Bennet, 4th Earl of Tankerville, Postmaster General, in the fierce dispute which surrounded his forced dismissal by Pitt in August 1786, including original letters from two other Postmasters General that year, Lord Carteret and Lord Clarendon, trading accusations, denying complicity, demanding apologies, etc. 35 letters, about 100 pp., all legible and in good condition, folded as filed. June to December 1786. A lively series of letters full of the stately but lethal phrases common to the nobility of the time, expressing what Tankerville calls the “Hostile Intentions” of all involved, including William Pitt the Younger. See Kenneth Ellis, The Post Office in the Eighteenth Century [1958], for the background to the 4th Earl of Tankerville’s accusations of Lord Carteret’s complicity in “a notorious system of corrupt management and influence which are grown inveterate in the Post Office” [Tankerville’s letter to Pitt, undated], resulting in Tankerville’s forced resignation and his efforts at reinstatement which this correspondence records. The archive comprises 5 Autograph Letters Signed by Lord Carteret, Postmaster General, to Tankerville; 5 Letters Signed by the 1st Earl of Clarendon, Postmaster General, to Tankerville; 5 retained copies or drafts of letters from Tankerville to William Pitt, drawing him into the dispute; the remainder are Tankerville’s own copies of his letters to Carteret and Clarendon. The ferocity of this dispute at the top of the Post Office administration led in due course to attempts to tackle the endemic corruption in the Post Office. Tankerville was a famous patron of Surrey cricket in the 1770s.