Palmer, John

Palmer, John
b. 1743 Bath, Avon, England
d. 1818 Bath, Avon, England
English pioneer in mail transport.
He was the son of a brewer and maltster and part-owner of a theatre in Bath. In his early 20s his father sent him to London to organize the petition for a licence for the Orchard Street theatre, which was granted in 1768. He then organized a series of post-chaises to transport ac-tors between this and another theatre in Bristol in which his father also had an interest. By 1782 he had ready a plan for a countrywide service of mail coaches to replace the existing arrangements of conveying the mail by post-boys and -girls mounted on horseback who were by law compelled to carry the mail "at a Rate of Six Miles in the Hour at least" on penalty of one month's hard labour if found loitering. Lord Camden, Member of Parliament for Bath, put Palmer's plan before Prime Minister Pitt, who approved of it. An experimental run was tried on 2 August 1782, a coach leaving Bristol at 4 pm and arriving in London at 8 am the next morning, to return the following night from London at 8 pm and reaching Bristol at 10 am. In March 1785 the Norwich Mail Coach was started and during that year services were started to Portsmouth, Dover, Exeter, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Shrewsbury, Chester, Holyhead, Worcester, South Wales and Milford Haven. A feature of importance was that each mail coach was accompanied by an armed guard. In August 1786 Palmer was appointed Surveyor and Comptroller-General of the Post Office at a salary of £1,500 per annum and a bonus depending on all revenue over £300,000 each year. The popularity of the new service is shown by the feet that by 1813 his 2 1/2 per cent bonus came to £50,000. Due to the intrigues of his deputy, he was removed from office, but he was given a pension of £3,000 a year. He received the freedom of some eighteen towns, was made Mayor of Bath and represented that constituency in Parliament four times.
Further Reading
E.Vale, 1960, The Mail-Coach Men, London: Cassell.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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