Friday, 13 September 2013

A family of postmasters

This weekend The British Postal Museum and Archive will celebrate 'Mail Rail', the former Post Office's underground railway. One hundred years ago the 'Post Office (London) Railway Act' was passed enabling the building of this unique railway to ensure efficient delivery of mail to main post offices and railway stations, avoiding the congested streets of the capital. It remained in use until 2003.

I am indebted to Paul Townsend for this photograph of GPO inspectors in Bristol, taken around 1916.

There is more to learn about the history of our postal service on The British Postal Museum's website, including how to search the archives for information on any of your ancestors who worked for the Post Office.

My own postal ancestors were the ELLISDONS of Hadleigh in Suffolk. John Patmore ELLISDON became postmaster in 1839, just prior to the introduction of the postage stamp in 1840. In the 1841 census, aged 40, he is recorded as the 'post officer', living with his wife, Sarah and their eight children.

The Guildhall in Hadleigh.
John Patmore Ellisdon's grave stands in the far corner of the churchyard.

 When John dies in 1849, Sarah takes over as postmistress. By 1869, Miss Sarah Ann Ellisdon is postmistress and there is now a Post Office Savings Bank. Ten years later Thomas Alfred Ellisdon picks up the mantle until his death in 1894. From then until 1916 (the latest information I have) Kelly's trade directory records the postmistress as Miss Mary-Jane Ellisdon.

I look forward to visiting The British Postal Museum myself to find out the rest of the Ellisdon Post Office story.

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