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Week 10: My ancestor was a postal worker

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  • Week 10: My ancestor was a postal worker

    Week 10: Postal worker

    This is an opportunity to showcase q postal worker ancestor from your tree, you might want to offer a short biography and speak about their work eg
    Birth location/date
    Family background
    Where you've found them on the census
    Their workplace/employer
    Any tips on researching this occupation?

    Collections - The Postal Museum

    [Nest week: Railway worker]

  • #2
    How does a blind pauper agricultural worker in rural Sussex become a sub-postmaster? I've never been able to find out, but it happened to my 3x great grandfather William Steel.

    He was born in Iping in about 1803 and is on the 1841 census at Stedham with his wife Mary (nee Collins whom he married at Terwick in 1829) and six children. By the 1851 census he was at Talbots House in Stedham recorded as a Pauper Ag Lab with his wife and five of their children and in the final column, the word Blind.

    At the 1861 census he was the sub-postmaster at Stedham, with his wife, four of his children and a niece there with him, but is also noted as blind. He also gets a mention in a directory of 1867 "Post office - William Steel, receiver. Letters through Midhurst, delivered at 7.30 a.m.; despatched at 7.10 p.m."

    I can only guess that he wasn't completely blind but severely sight impaired, and probably had some help from his family. His eldest son at his marriage in 1857 gives William's occupation as "Postman" whihc is the earliest date I have for this, another son in 1866 said he was a postmaster, but another child gave William's occupation as labourer and another as miller (there was a paper mill in the village).

    William died on 9 Nov 1870, his daughter Sarah registered his death and gave his occupation as miller, so I guess he was doing a bit of both jobs. His widow Mary took over as postmistress and is at the Post Office in 1871 though had given it up by 1881.


    • #3
      I think the definition of blind was probably a bit looser then. It may have been that he only had one eye but had enough vision in the other one to do the job.
      Main research interests.. CAESAR (Surrey and London), GOODALL (London), SKITTERALL, WOODWARD (Middlesex and London), BARBER (Canterbury, Kent), DRAYSON (Canterbury, Kent), CRISP (Kent) and CHEESEMAN (Kent).


      • #4
        The move from pauper to sub-postmaster also puzzles me, I think there may have been some intervention from some local worthy or other, I know that the vicar at the time, Caleb Collins was a great benefactor to the village.


        • #5
          I do wonder if he was "legally blind"... My grand aunt was legally blind in her late 80's, she could still see shapes and colours though.


          • #6
            Could it be that his wife and niece ran the post office for him but only a man could own or rent the post office. Not sure how it works but women were not allowed to do lots of things officially back then!!

            Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham


            • #7
              I wrote before about the grocer who was part of the King & Godfree grocery in Melbourne.

              Three of the sons went into the business but one of the daughters was a telephone operator and the youngest son became an engineer and came up with an invention which was to make his sister's life easier!

              In 1908, Ernest Godfree married Annie Florence Gertrude Whitelaw. He was an engineer with the Victorian Railways Department. They had two children: Graham Whitelaw Godfree (1909-1974) and Keith (1919-2010). In 1919, they were living in in Henty, Sandringham, Victoria.

              Ernest invented an improvement to the telephone exchange.

              The original article was in The Argus, and picked up by The Evening Post, Wellington New Zealand on 29 August 1910:
              An inspection was made a week or two ago by Dr. Graham Bell of an invention by Mr. Ernest Godfree, of the electrical engineer’s staff in the Victorian Railways Department, states the Melbourne Age.

              A year ago Mr. Godfree brought under the notice of the commissioners an instrument that he called an “electro-mechanical selector,” and the commissioners were so pleased with it that they decided to have some of them installed.

              Three are now in operation at Spencer-street. By the use of the invention a large number of telephones may be connected to one line wire, and intercommunication carried on effectively, easily, and with privacy.

              When two persons are conversing it is impossible for any- one else to hear the conversation, or interrupt the line. Any place on the circuit can be called up independently of the rest by one continuous ring, as long as desired.

              A great amount of line wire is saved by the invention, and taking the case of, say twelve telephones, not less than twenty-two or twenty-three line wires are dispensed with.

              The electro-mechanical selector will be specially valuable for telephone extensions in country districts, for group or party lines, and in railway signal-boxes.

              In making complimentary reference to the invention, Dr. Graham Bell said that it was ingenious and operative, and he was glad to see such a good result of the inventive Australian intellect. The idea was a good one, and if a patent were taken out in the United States it would be valuable.

              He did apply in Canada for a patent for a Toll Recorder for Telephone Systems in 1912, which was issued in 1914: CA 158093. This is listed in the Victoria Patent Applications as The Godfree Automatic Telephone Recorder.
              In 1928, he was granted a patent in Great Britain for” Improvements in electrical apparatus for signalling information relating to trains or the like”: GB Patent 327944. This seems to be listed in Melbourne as “Magazine train describer”.

              The Victoria Gazette of December 19th 1923, listed the Godfree Automatic Telephone Recorder Company Propriety Limited, registered on 26th September 1912, as being dissolved.

              Ernest died on 11th August 1941 in Brighton Beach, Melbourne, Australia. He was cremated on 12 August 1941 at Springvale Botanical Cemetery, Melbourne. Annie died in 1957. She was cremated on 21 October 1957, also at Springvale Botanical Cemetery.
              Caroline's Family History Pages
              Meddle not in the affairs of Dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.


              • #8
                I don't have postal workers in my direct line, although my cousin worked for the GPO in management and his brother was a GPO engineer who started his career climbing the black telegraph poles.

                On my regular searches I do come across family surnames who were postal workers though in UK, Postal Service Appointment Books, 1737-1969.

                I also see their names in the London Gazette - usually when they have passed the examinations in the postal service, been successful in promotion or been awarded the Imperial Medal.

                Caroline's Family History Pages
                Meddle not in the affairs of Dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.


                • #9
                  On census returns, my 2x great grandfather John Philbrick's occupation was always ag lab, but it appears that he had a short stint as a "driver of the mail". In 1860, he was accused of "a murderous attack on a mail driver" at Rawreth, Essex late one night on 26 April. According to newspaper reports at the time, John had previously been a mail driver but had been fired by the man he tried to shoot, a Mr. Chapman. It was also reported that shot was found in the side of the cart and the horse Mr. Chapman was driving was a very fast one, travelling at 12 miles an hour. John's shoes fit the prints found at the scene and a gun was found hidden at a neighbour's house. Fortunately for him, at his trial evidence was considered insufficient.

                  John Philbrick/Philbrook was baptised 23 January 1803 in Woodham Walter, Essex, oldest son of Spurgin (John) and Martha. He had 11 siblings. His name appears regularly in court records, mainly for theft, but also for threatening to cut the throat of his wife in 1834. He’d married my 2x great grandmother Ann Glasscock in 1823 and they had eleven children, nine of whom survived to adulthood. Ann eventually moved with her youngest children to live in Sydenham, Kent with her oldest son sometime after the 1851 census. John then lived with a lady named Ann Dale and remained with her till her death in 1881. John died in Rochford Union Workhouse in 1885.
                  Last edited by jenoco; 04-03-22, 03:57.


                  • #10
                    Jasper Capper Badcock was a very distant relation (his 2x great grandparents Joseph Badcock and Elizabeth Greenaway were my 6x great grandparents).

                    At Osborne House on the Isle of Wight in 1899 he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath by Queen Victoria for his services to the Post Office.

                    Born in 1841 to John and Mary Badcock (John was a grocer then a land valuer) in St George, Hanover Square, Jasper grew up in Chelsea becoming a Civil Service clerk in the GPO, rising through the ranks and became Controller of the London Post Office in 1892, a post he held until retirement in 1905.

                    He had married Mary Rebecca Burton in 1864 and they had three daughters. He died in Tooting, Surrey in 1924 leaving nearly £28,000.


                    • #11
                      My paternal Gran had to give up nursing after her 2nd child arrived in 1922, the 1st one born in 1920 was looked after a lot of the time by her mother in law. The 3rd was born in 1923 then there was a set of stillborn twins (date not certain) and then in 1925 she had twin boys, one of whom was Daddy. His twin brother died after a few months. Then the following year, another birth. Daddy remembered Gran taking a job as a postwoman and instead of carrying her letter bag over her shoulder, she sat it on the pram and took the baby on her rounds. Daddy toddled along holding her hand and watching out for the pram while Gran put the letters through the doors. This baby died aged just over a year old. The last two children were born in 1929 and 1931. Despite having a large family, Gran always managed to bring in money somehow although the only other job I remember being told she had was working in a stationer / newsagent shop. She was also notorious for being constantly at the pawn shop!

                      Mum had an Uncle Samuel who initially trained as a cobbler, a skill he kept up all his life. He later had a second job though and was known throughout the town as “Sam the Post”. All my Mum’s family took their shoes and boots to Sam to be mended. After Sam married, he and his wife adopted two girls of different ages who had been born on the wrong side of the blankets to family members. He was a great supporter of the town’s civic celebrations and there are photos of him in the town’s museum.


                      • #12
                        Just found one.

                        Arthur Hurt born 1875 Nottingham to Henry Hurt and Mary Ellen Price, Cousin once removed to Dad.

                        Married Agnes Hallam 1898 at St Marys Nottingham, they had no children. He dies 1952 in Sherwood and leaves a will.

                        Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham


                        • #13
                          My Mum was the village post lady. She had to be at the village shop and post office when it opened, ready to accept the mail delivery which came by van from the depot ten miles away. She sorted the mail and then delivered around the village. It was then back to the shop to collect the rest of her delivery for the outlying farms. It was a "foot" round of ten and a half miles. although she used to go on her bike unless the roads were frosty. It took three and a half to four hours and she had to go in all weathers, unless the snow came "over the shoe tops," in which case she didn't deliver to the farms. The delivery included parcels, which could be a nightmare, as they all had to go in the over the shoulder Postie bag - if there were parcels for two farms, she could only carry for one farm at a time (weight problems) and had to make extra journeys back to the office. It is a small village and everyone knew everyone else and all their families, which was just as well as she had to interpret envelopes addressed to "Cyril's little grandma" and "Arty, next to the paraffin shed." Eventually Mum was replaced by a van delivery and now, with online shopping, there's a heavy reliance on white van persons.
                          Janet in Yorkshire

                          Genealogists never die - they just swap places in the family tree