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Full text of "Stage-coach and mail in days of yore : a picturesque history of the coaching age"

STAGECOACH 
AND MAIL IN 

DAYS OFYORE 




CHARLES C. HARPER 




Jnhn Gf nffrrn Mm\ \(m\m 



Tufts Ufs^/C'sitv 

School of Vmerinary Medicine 

200 Westboro Rd. 

North Grafton. MA 01S36 



STAGE-COACH 
AND MAIL IN 
DAYS OF YORE 



WORKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR 



The Brighton Road : Okl Times and New on 
a (_'lassic Highway. 

The Portsmouth Road, and its Tributaries : 
To-day and in Days of Old. 

The Dover Road : Annals of an Ancient 
Turnpike. 

The Bath Road : History, Fashion, and 
PVivolity on an Old Highway. 

The Exeter Road : The Story of the West 
of England Highway. 

The Great North Road : The Old :\[ail Road 

to tScotlaud. Two Vols. 
The Norwich Road : An East Anglian 

Highway. 

The Holyhead Road: The Mail-Coaeh Koad 

to Dal)lin. Two Vols. 

The Cambridge, Ely, and King's Lynn 

Road : The Great Fenlaml Highway. 

Cycle Rides Round London. 

The Oxford, Gloucester, and Milford Haven 

Road: Two Vols. [/u the Press. 



STAGECOACH 
AND MAIL IN 

DAYS OFYORE 

A PICTURESQUE HISTORY 
OF THE COACHING AGE 

VOL. II 
By CHARLES G. HARPER 




Ilhistyated from Old- Time Prints 
and Pictures 



London : 

CHAPMAN c^ HALL, Limited 

1903 

All rishts reserved 



PRINTED BY 

HAZELL, WATSON AND VINEY, LD., 

LONDON AND AYLESBURY. 



CONTENTS 



I. The Later Mails 

II. Down the Road in Days of Yore. I. — A 
Journey from Newcastle-on-Tyne to London 
in 1772 ........ 

III. Down the Road in Days of Yore. II. — From 

London to Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1830 . 

IV. Accidents ........ 

V. A Great Carrying Firm : The Story of Pickford 
AND Co. .... 

VI. Robbery and Adventure 

VII. Snow and Floods 

VIII. The Golden Age, 1824—1848 

IX. Coach-proprietors 

X. Coach-proprietors [continued) 

XL The Amateurs .... 

XII. End of the Coaching Age . 

XIII. What Became of the Coachmen 

XIV. The Old England of Coaching Days 



PAGE 
I 



48 

66 
96 

123 
144 
159 
173 
194 
226 

239 
260 
292 
322 



OIF 




SEPARATE PLATES 

PAGE 

1. Mail-coach passing St. George's Circus, Southwark, 

1797. (After Dalgety) . . . Frontisjnece 

2. The Worcester Mail, 1805. {After J. A. Atkinson) 7 

3. The Mail. (After J. L. Agasse, 1842) ... 13 

4. The Bristol Mail at Hyde Park Corner, 1838. 

(After J. Doyle) . . . . . . • 19 

5. The Yarmouth Mail at the "Coach and Horses," 

Ilford. (After J. Pollard) 25 

6. The " Quicksilver " Devonport Mail, passing Kew 

Bridge. {After J. Follard) . . . . .29 

7. The "Quicksilver" Devonport Mail, arriving at 

Temple Bar. (After C. B. Xeichouse) . . -37 

8. The " Quicksilver" Devonport Mail, passing Wind- 

sor Castle. (After Charles Hunt, 1840) . -41 

9. Mail-coach built by Waude, 1830. {2^^ow in ]josses- 

sion of Messrs. Holland <£■ Holland) ... 45 

10. The "Queen's Hotel" and Geni^ral Post Office. 

(After T. Alloin) 69 

11. The Turnpike Gate. {From a contcmjwrary Litho- 

graph) 77 

12. A Midnight Disaster on a Cross E-oad: Five Miles 

to the Nearest Village. (After C. B. Xewhouse) 99 



X LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

13. The "Beaufort" Brighton Coach. {Afttr IF. J. 

Shaijer) 103 

14. A Queer Piece of Ground in a Fog : " If we get 

OVER THE RAILS, WE SHALL BE IN AN UGLY FIX." 

{After C. B. Newhouse) m 

15. KoAD VERSUS Kail, {After C. Coox>er Henderson, l^io) 117 

16. Joseph Baxendale. {From the Portrait hy E. IT. 

Fickersfjill, R.A.) 131 

17. PiCKFORD AND Co's PvOYAL FlY-VAN, ABOUT 1820. 

{From a contemporary Paintin<j) . . . -139 

1 8. The Lioness attacking the Exeter Mail, October 

20th, 1816. {After A. Sauerweid) . ■ -153 

19. Winter: Going North. {After JI. Aiken). . .163 

20. Mail-coach in a Snow-drift. {After J. Pollard) . 167 

2 1 . Mail-coach in a Flood. {After J. Pollard) . . 171 

22. Late for the Mail. {After G. Cooper Henderson, 

1848) 183 

23. The Short Stage. {After J. Pollard) . . .191 

24. William Chaplin. {From the Paintinij by Frederick 

Xewnham) . . . . . . . .197 

25. The Canterbury and Dover Coach, 1830. {After 

G. S. Treguar) 201 

26. James Nunn, Horse-buyer and Veterinary Surgeon 

TO William Chaplin. {After J. F. Hej'ring) . 205 

27. William Augustus Chaplin . . . . .211 

28. The " Bedford Times," one of the last Coaches to 

run, leaving the " swan hotel," bedford. . 2i9 

29. FouR-iN-HAND. {After G. JI. Laporte) . . . 243 

30. Sir St. Vincent Cotton ...... 249 

31. The Consequence of being Drove by a Gentleman. 

{After U. Aiken) 255 

32. Goldsworthy Gurney's London and Bath Steam- 

carriage, 1833. {After G. Morion) . . .265 
;^;^. The Last Journey down the Road. {After J. L, 

Aijasse) . . . . . . . . .275 



List of iLLiisTKArioi^s 



34. The Chesham Coach, 1796. {From the Fainting hy 

Cordery) .....•••• 

35. The Last of the " Manchester Defiance." {From 

a Lithoyraph) ..... 

36. The Coachman, 1832. {After 11. Aiken) 

37. The Driver, 1852. {After U. Aiken) 

38. The Guard, 1832. {After II. Aiken) 

39. The Guard, 1852. {After II. Aiken) 

40. "All Eight!" — The Bath Mail taking up the 

Mail-bags. {From a contemporary Lithograph) 



283 

287 

293 
297 

303 
309 

341 



ILLUSTRATIONS IN TEXT 

Vignette {Title-page) 

List of Illustrations ....•••• 
Stage-coach and Mail in Days of Yore .... 
Mail-coach Halfpenny issued by Williain Waterhouse 
Benjamin Worthy llorne. ....'. 
" A View of the Telegraph " : Dick Vanghan, of the Cam- 
bridge "Telegraph." {From an Ftching hy Robert 

Dighton, 1809) 

A Stage-coaehruan's Epitaph at Haddiscoe 



PAGE 

ix 

T 
196 
221 



301 
316 




ST^^^ WM^ n^^ 



CHAPTER I 

THE LATER MAILS 

The Bristol Mail opened the mail-coach era hy 
ffoino; at eii^^ht miles an hour, but that was an 
altogether exceptional speed, and the average 
mail-coach journeys were not performed at a 
rate of more than seven miles an hour until long 
after the nineteenth century had dawned. In 
1812, when Colonel Hawker travelled to Glasgow, 
it took the mail 57 hours' continuous unrelaxing 
effort to cover the 404 miles — three nights and 
two days' discomfort. By 1836 the distance 
had been reduced by eight miles, and the time 
to 42 hours. By 1838 it was 41 hours 17 minutes. 
Nowadays it can be done by quickest train in 
exactly eight hours ; the railway mileage 401^ 
miles. In 1812 it cost an inside passenger all 
the way to Glasgow, for fare alone, exclusive of 
tips to coachmen and guards, and the necessary 
expenditure for food and drink all those weary 
VOL. II. 1 1 



2 STAG^-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

hours, no less than £10 8s. ; about Q>\d. a mile. 
To-day, £2 18s. franks you through, first-class ; 
or 33s. third — itself infinitely more luxurious 
than even the consecrated inside of a mail- 
coach. 

The mails starting from London were per- 
fection in coaches, harness and horses ; hut as 
the distance from the Metropolis increased so 
did the mails become more and more shabby. 
Hawker, travelling north, found them slow and 
slovenly, the harness generally second-hand, one 
horse in plated, another in brass harness ; and 
when they did have new (which, he tells us, was 
very seldom) it was put on like a labourer's 
leather breeches, and worn till it rotted, without 
ever being cleaned. 

Of course, very few people ever did, or could 
have had the endurance to, travel all that distance 
strais^ht awav, and so travel was further com- 
plicated, delayed, and rendered more costly by 
the halts necessary to recruit jaded nature. 

Hawker evidently did it in four stages : to 
Ferrybridge, 179 miles, where he rested the 
first night and picked up the next mail the 
following ; thence the 65 miles onward to Greta 
Bridge ; on again, 59 miles, to Carlisle ; and 
thence, finally, to Glasgow in another 101 miles. 
In his diary he gives " a table to show for how 
much a gentleman and his servant (the former 
inside, with 14 lb. of luggage ; the latter out- 
side, Avith 7 lb.) may go from London to 
Glasgow." 



THE LATER MAILS 



Self. 
Inside, to Ferrybridge . 
„ „ Greta Bridge 
„ „ Carlisle 
„ „ Glasgow 

Servant. 
Outside, to Ferrybridge 
„ „ Greta Bridge 
„ „ Carlisle 
„ „ Glasgow . 

Tips. 
Inside, 6 long-stage coachmen @ 2s. 

„ 12 short-stage coachmen @ Is. 

„ 7 guards @ 2s. each . 
Outside, for man, @ half price above 

Total . 



£ s. 


d. 


4 16 





1 12 


6 


1 9 


6 


2 10 





2 10 





1 2 





1 





1 13 





12 





12 





14 





19 






d. 



10 8 



2 17 
£19 10 



Siicli were the costs and cliarges of a gentle- 
man travelling to joay a country visit in 1812, 
exclusive of hotel bills for self and servant on 
the way. 

The great factor in the acceleration of the 
mails was the improvement in the roads, a 
work carried out by the Turnpike Trusts in 
fear of the Post Office, whose surveyors had the 
power, under ancient Acts, of indicting roads in 
had condition. Great bitterness was stirred up 
over this matter. The growing commercial and 
industrial towns — Glasgow prominent among 
them— naturally desired direct mail-services, and 
the Post Office, using their needs as means 
for obtaining, not only roads kept in good con- 
dition, but sometimes entirely new roads and 
short cuts, declined to start such services until 
such routes were provided. It was not within 
the power of the Department to compel new 



4 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DA YS OF YORE 

roads, but only to see that the old ones Avere 
maintained; hut in the case of Glasgow, to 
whose merchants a direct service meant much, 
the Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, and 
individual persons contributed large sums for 
the improvement of the existing road between 
that city and Carlisle, and a Turnpike Trust 
was formed for one especial section, where the 
road was entirely reconstructed. These districts 
were wholly outside GlasgoAv's sphere of respon- 
sibilities, but all this money was expended for 
the purpose of obtaining a direct mail through 
Carlisle, instead of the old indirect one through 
Edinburgh ; and aaIicu obtained, of retaining it 
in face of the continued threats of the Post Office 
to take it off unless the road was still further 
improved. It certainly does not seem to have 
been a remarkably good road, even after these 
improvements, for Colonel Hawker, travelling it 
in 1812, describes it as being mended with large 
soft quarry-stones, at first like brickbats and 
afterwards like sand. 

But the subscril)ers who had expended so 
much were naturally indignant. They pointed 
out that the district was a wild and difficult one 
and the Trust poor, in consequence of the sparse 
traffic. The stage-coaches, they said, had in 
some instances been withdrawn because they could 
not hold their own against the competition of 
the mail, and the Trust losttlu^ tolls in con- 
sequence ; while the mail, going toll-free and 
wearing the road down, contributed nothing to 



THE LATER MAILS 5 

the upkeep. They urged that the mail should 
at least pay toll, and in this they were supported 
hy every other Turnpike Trust. 

The exemption of mail-coaches from payment 
of tolls, a relief provided for by the Act of 25th 
George III., Avas really a continuation of the 
old policy hy Avhich the postboys of an earlier 
age, riding horseback and carrying the mailbags 
athwart the saddle, had always passed toll-free. 
Even the light mail-cart partook of this advantage, 
to which there could then have been no real 
objection. It had been no great matter, one 
way or the other, with the Turnpike Trusts, for 
the posts were then infrequent and the revenue 
to be obtained quite a negligeable quantity ; but 
the appearance of mail-coaches in considerable 
numbers, running constantly and carrying pas- 
sengers, and yet contributing nothing towards 
the upkeep of the roads, soon became a very 
real <?rievance to those Trusts situated on the 
route of the mails, but in outlying parts of the 
kingdom, little travelled, and where towns were 
lacking and villages poor, few, and far betAveen. 
Little Avonder, then, that the various Turnpike 
Trusts in 1810 approached Parliament for a 
redress of these disabilities. They pointed out 
that not only Avas there a greater Avear and tear 
of the roads noAV the mail-coaches Avere running, 
but that travellers, relying on the fancied security 
of the mails, had deserted the stages, Avhich 
in many cases had been AAdiolly run off the 
road. Pennant, Avriting in 1792, tells hoAV tAVO 



6 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DA YS OF YORE 

stages plying through the county of Elint, and 
yickling £4<0 in tolls yearly, had been unable 
to compete Avith the mail, and were thus 
AvithdraAVu, to the consequent loss of the Trust 
concerned. It Avas calculated, so early as 1791, 
by one amateur actuary, that the total annual 
loss through mail exemptions was £90,000; but 
another put it at only £50,000 in 1810. 

The case of the remote country trusts Avas 
certainly a hard one. Like all turnpikes, they 
AA'ere AA^orked under Acts of Parliament, AA^hicli 
prescribed the amounts of tolls to lie IcA^ed, and 
they AA^ere, further, authorised to raise money for 
the improvement of the roads on the security of 
the income arising from these taxes upon locomo- 
tion. The security of money sunk in these quasi- 
Government enterprises had ahvays been considered 
so good that Turnpike Trust bonds and mortgages 
AA^ere a very favourite form of investment; but 
when Parliament turned a deaf ear to the bitter 
cry of the remote Trusts, the position of those 
interested in the securities began to be recon- 
sidered. The AA'Oes of these undertakings Avere 
further added to by the action of the Post Office, 
AA^hich, zealous for its ncAV mail-services, sent out 
emissaries to report upon the condition of the 
roads. The reports of these officials bore severely 
against the very Trusts most hardly hit by the 
mail-exemption, and the roads under their control 
Avcre frequently indicted for l)eing out of repair, 
Avith the rcvsult that heavy fines Avere inflicted. 
It had been suggested that as the Post Office on 



THE LATER MAILS 9 

Olio hand required better roads, and on the other 
deprived the rural Trusts of a great part of their 
income, the Government shoukl at least j^ay off 
the debts of the various turnpikes. But nothing 
was done ; the mails continued to go free, and 
in the end the iniquity was perpetrated of suffer- 
ing the local Turnpike Acts to lapse and the 
roads to be dispiked before the Trusts had paid 
off their loans. The greater number of Trust 
"securities " therefore became worthless, and the 
investors in them ruined. 

Mail-coaches continued to go toll-free to the 
very last in England, although from 1798 they 
had paid toll in Ireland. In Scotland, too, the 
Trusts Avere treated Avith tardy justice, and in 
1813 an Act Avas j^assed repealing the exemption 
in that kingdom. But Avliat the Post Office re- 
linquished Avith one hand it took back Avitli the 
other, clapping on a halfpenny additional postage 
for each Scotch letter. It Avas like the children's 
game of " tit-for-tat." But it did not end here. 
The Trusts raised their tolls against the mail- 
coaches, and smiled superior. It AA^as then the 
Department's call, and it responded by imme- 
diately taking off a number of the mails. That 
ended the game in favour of St. Martin 's-le- 
Grand. 

Although Parliament never repealed the 
exemption for the Avhole of the United Kingdom, 
it caused an estimate to be prepared of the annual 
cost of paying tolls, should it ever be in a mind 
to grant the Trusts that relief. It thus appeared. 



lo STAGE COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

from tho return mado in lcS12, that the cost for 
Scotland would have been £11,229 IGs. M. ; 
for England, £33,536 2s. M,. ; and for Wales, 
£5221 3s. lOr/. : total, £19,990 2s. 9f/. per annum. 

The mails, travelling as they did throughout 
the night, Avere subject to many dangers. They 
were brilliantly lighted, generally with four, and 
often with five, lamps, and cast a very dazzling 
illumination upon the highway. It is true that 
no certainty exists as to the number of lamps 
mail-coaches carried, and that old prints often 
show only two ; so that the practice in this 
important matter probably varied on different 
routes and at various times. But the crack mails 
at the last certainly carried five lamps — one on 
either side of the fore upper quarter, one on 
either side of the fore boot, and another under 
the footboard, casting a light upon the horses' 
backs and harness. These radiant swiftnesses, 
hurtling along th(3 roads at a pace considerably 
over ten miles an hour, wxre highly dangerous 
to other users of the roads, who were half -blinded 
by the glar(>, and, alarmed by the heart-shaking 
thunder of their approach and fearful of being 
run down, generally drove into the ditches as 
the least of two evils. The mails were then, 
as electric tramcars and high-powered motor-cars 
are now, the tyrants of the road. 

But they were not only dangerous to others. 
Circumstances that ought never to have been 
permitted sometimes rendered them perilous to 
all they carried. The possibilities of that time 



THE LATER MAILS ii 

in wroiig-doin2^ are shown in the practice of Sir 
Watkin Williams Wynn (who assuredly Avas not 
the only one) heing allowed to send his refractory 
carriage-horses to the mails, to he steadied. On 
such occasions the passengers from Oswestry 
found themselves in for a Avild start and a rough 
stage, and Sir Watkin had the steam taken out 
of his hif^h-mettled horses at an imminent risk 
to the lives and limbs of the lieges. 

From 1825, when the era of the fast day- 
coaches began, the mails gradually lost the proud 
pre-eminence they had kept for more than forty 
years. Even though they had been accelerated 
from time to time as roads improved, they went 
no quicker than the ncAV-comcrs, and very often 
not so quick, from point to point. They suffered 
the disabilities of travelling by night, when careful 
coachmen dared not let their horses out to their 
best speed, and of being subject to the delays of 
Post Office business ; and so, although they might, 
and did, make wonderful speed between stages, 
the showing on the whole journey could not 
compare with the times of the fast day-coaches, 
which halted only for changing horses and for 
meals, and, enjoying the perfection of quick- 
changing, often got a\A'ay in fifty seconds from 
every halt. Going at more seasonable hours, the 
day-coaches now began to seriously compete with 
the mails, whose old-time supporters, although 
still sensible of the dignity of travelling by mail, 
were equally alive to the comfort and convenience 
of going by daylight. Modern writers, enlarging 



12 SI AGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

\\\)C)w the timos of our ancestors, lay great stress 
iq)on the endurances our hearty i^randfathers 
" cheerfully " disj^layed, and show us great, l)luff, 
burly, red-cheeked men, Avho enjoyed this long 
night-travelling. But that is an absurdity. They 
did not enjoy it ; they Avere not all bluff and 
burly ; and that they Avelcomed the change that 
gave them swift travelling by day instead of night 
is obvious from the instant success of the fast day- 
coaches, and from the later business-history of the 
mails. Mail-contractors, who in the prosperous 
days of no competition were screwed down by the 
Post Office to incredible mileage figures, began 
to grumble ; but for long they grumbled in vain. 
Even in 183J< the Post Office continued to pay 
only 2f/. a mile on 42 mails, \\d. a mile on 34, 
and only one received as much as 4f/. The Liver- 
pool and Manchester carried the mailbags for 
nothing, and tliree actually paid the Post Office 
for the privilege. At this time the old rule 
forbidding more than three outside passengers 
on the mails Avas relaxed. This indulsrence besran 
in Scotland, where the contractors, in considera- 
tion of the sparseness of the j^oj^ulation and the 
scarcity of chance passengers on the way, Avere 
alloAved a fourth outside passenger ; and eventu- 
ally many of the mails, like the stages, carried 
from eight to tAvelve outsides. This, hoAvever, did 
not suffice, for those passengers did not often 
present themselves ; and at last the contractors 
really did not care to obtain the Post Office 
business, finding it pay better to devote their 





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THE LATER MAILS 15 

attention to fast day-coaches on their own 
account. 

Thus the Post Office found itself in a novel 
and unAVonted position. Coach-proprietors and 
contractors, instead of anxiously endeavouring to 
ohtain the mail-contracts, held aloof, and the Post 
Office surveyors, when renewals were necessary, 
found they had to make the advances and do the 
courting. Then the tahles were turned with a 
vengeance ! Por Benjamin Home's " Poreign 
Mail," carrying what were called the " hlack 
hags " {i.e. hlack tarpaulin to j^i'otect the mail 
from sea-water) hetween London and Dover, 
Is. 3f f/. per douhle mile was paid ; W^d. for the 
Carmarthen and Pembroke ; and 8t/., and then 
9fZ., for the Norwich Mail, by Newmarket, 
strongly opposed as it was by the NorAvich " Tele- 
graph," and therefore loading badly on that lonely 
road. Por the Chester, originally contracted for 
at Is. a mile, then doAvn to 3f/., and in 1826 up 
to 4f/., Qd. Avas jiaid, on account of passengers 
going l)y the direct Holyhead Mail, and the 
Holyhead itself Avas raised to the same figure 
Avhen fast day-stages had l)egun to run from 
ShreAVsbury. 

A Committee of the House of Commons had 
sat upon this question before these jirices Avere 
giA^en, and much evidence Avas taken ; but these 
revised tariffs did by no means end the matter. 
Substantial contractors Avould in many instances 
haA^e nothing to do A\dth the Post Office, and the 
Department could not run the risk of employing 



i6 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

irrosponsible men who could not be held to 
tlieir undertakings. In some few instances 
ordinary night-stages were given the business, 
and it was seriously proposed to employ the 
guards of existing stage-coaches to take charge 
of the bags, l)ut this was never carried out. In 
the midst of all these worries, when it seemed as 
though the desjoatch of the mails must needs, in 
the altered conditions of the time, be eventually 
changed from night to day, railways came to 
relieve official anxieties, which existed not only 
on account of the increasing cost, but also on the 
score of the continually growing bulk of mail- 
matter, 2^iled up to mountainous heights on the 
roof, instead of, as originally, l)eing easily stowed 
away in tlie depths of the hind boot. It was 
considered a great advantage of the mail-coaches 
built by Waude in these last days that they Avere 
not only built with a low centre of gravity, but 
that, with a dropped hind axle, they made a 
deeper and more capacious boot possible, in which 
were stowed the more valuable j)ortions of the 
mail. Had railways not at the very cynthia of 
the moment come to supply a "felt Avant," cer- 
tainly the mails must on many roads have been 
carried by mail-vans devoted exclusively to the 
service. J5ut in 1830 the Liverpool and Man- 
chester Railway carried mailbags, and in antici- 
2)ati()n of the opening tliroughoiit of the London 
and Eirmingham, the lirst long route, in Sejitember 
1838, an Act of Parliament was passed on 
August lltli in that year, authorising the 



THE LATER MAILS 17 

conveyance of mails by railways. We must not, 
hoAvev^r, suppose that such instant advantage was 
always taken of new methods. That Avould not 
he according to the traditions of the Post Office. 
Accordingly, we find that, although what is now 
the London and South- Western E^ailway was 
opened between Nine Elms and Portsmouth in 
May 1810, it was not until 1812 that the Ports- 
mouth Mail went by rail. Por two years it 
continued to perform the 73 miles 8 furlongs in 
9 hours 10 minutes, when it might have gone 
by train in 6 hours 10 minutes less. 

With these changes, London lost an annual 
spectacle of considerable interest. Prom 1791 
the procession of the mail-coaches on the King's 
birthday had been the grand show occasion of the 
Post Office year. No efforts and no expense were 
spared by the loyal contractors (loyal in spite of the 
ofttimes arbitrary dealings of the Post Office with 
them) to grace the day ; and Vidler and Parratt, 
Avho for many years had the monopoly of sup- 
plying the coaches, equalled them in the zeal 
displayed. The coaches were drawn up at twelve, 
noon, to the whole number of twenty-seven, at the 
factory on Millbank, beautifnl in new paint and 
new gilding ; the Bristol Mail, as the senior, lead- 
ing, the others in the like order of their establish- 
ment. On this occasion the Post Office provided 
each guard with a new gold- laced hat and scarlet 
coat, and the mail-contractors who horsed the 
coaches, not to be outdone, found scarlet coats 
for their coachmen, in addition to j)roviding new 

VOL. II. 2 



1 8 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DA YS OF YORE 

harness. The coachmen and guards, unwilliui^ 
to })e beaten in this loyal competition, pro Aided 
themselves with huge nosegays, as big as cauli- 
flowers When, as in the reign of William lY., 
the King's birthday fell in a pleasant time 
of the year, the procession of the mails was 
a beautiful and popular sight, attracting not 
only the general public, Ijut the very numerous 
sporting folks, who welcomed the opportunity of 
seeing at their best, and all together, the one 
hundred and two noble horses that drew the 
mails from the Metropolis to all parts of the 
kingdom. Everything, indeed, was very special 
to the occasion. Each coach Avas provided Avith 
a gorgeous hammer-cloth, a species of upholstery 
certainly not in use on ordinary journeys. No one 
Avas alloAved on the roof, but the coachman and 
guard had the privilege of tAvo tickets each for 
friends for the inside. Great, as may be supposed, 
Avas the competition for these. E'or the con- 
tractors themselves there Avas the cold collation 
provided by Vidler and Parratt at Millbank, at 
three o'clock, Avhen the jDrocession Avas over. 

The route varied someAvhat \\'\\\\ the circum- 
stances of the time, ahvays including the residence 
of the Postmaster- General for the time being. 
Punctually at noon it started off, headed by a 
horseman, and Avith another horseman betA^'een 
each coach. Nearing St. James's Palace, it Avas 
generally reduced to a snail's pace, for the croAvd 
ahvays assembled densely there, on the chance 
of seeing the King ; and the authorities of that 



THE LATER MAILS ±i 

period were not clever at clearing a route, 
Imaii^ine noAV the front of Carlton House Palace, 
or St. James's, and the Londoners of that age 
assem])led in their thousands. The procession 
with difficulty approaches, and halts. Two harrels 
of porter — Barclay & Perkins' hest — are in 
position in front of the Royal residence, and to 
each coachman and guard is handed a capacious 
pewter i:)ot — it is a sight to make a Good Templar 
weep. The King and Queen and the Royal 
family noAV aj)pear at an open window, the King 
removing his hat and howing, to a storm of 
applause — as though he had done something 
really clever or wonderful. Now the coachman 
of the Bristol Mail uncovers, and holding high 
the shining pewter, exclaims : " We drink to 
the health of His Gracious Majesty : God l)less 
him ! " and suiting the action to the words, dips 
his nose into the pot, Avhicli in an incredibly 
short time is completely inverted and emptied. 
Fifty-three otlier voices simultaneously repeat 
the same words, and fifty-three pint pots are 
in like manner drained in the twinkling of an 
eve. The King and his familv now retire, and 
the procession jirepares to move on ; but the 
mob, moved by loyalty and the siglit of the 
beer-barrels, grows clamorous : " King, King ! 
Queen, Queen!" cry a thousand voices; Avliile 
a thousand more yell, " Beer, beer ! " When at 
length the King does return, to ])ow once more, 
he gazes upon tAvo thousand peojile struggling 
for two half-empty barrels, wliich in the scuffle 



22 stAgil-coAch And mail in days of yor^ 

have upset, and speedily become empty. Mean- 
while the coaches have moved off, to complete 
their tour to the General Post Office, and thence 
hack to Millbank. 

These processions, from some cause or another 
not now easily to he discovered, were omitted in 
1829 and 1830. May 17th, 1838, when twenty- 
five mails paraded, was the last occasion ; for 
already the railwa,y Avas threatening the road, 
and when Queen Victoria's birthday recurred 
the ranks of the mails were sadly broken. 

This memorable year, 1837, then, was the 
last unbroken year of the mail-coaches starting 
from London. Since September 23rd, 1829, when 
the old General Post Office in Lombard Street was 
deserted for the great building in St. Martin's-le- 
Grand, they had come and gone. The first ever 
to enter its gates, as the result of keen com- 
petition, had been the up Holyhead Mail of that 
date ; the last was the Dover Mail, in 1844. 

The mail-coaches loaded up about half -past 
seven at their respective inns, and then assembled 
at the Post Office Yard to receive the bags. All, 
that is to say, except seven West of England 
mails — the Bath, Bristol, Devonport, Exeter, 
Gloucester, Southampton and Stroud — whose 
coaches started from Piccadilly, the bags being 
conveyed to them at that point by mail-cart. 
There were thus twenty-one coaches starting 
nightly fi-om the General Post Office precisely at 
8 o'clock. Here is a list of the mails setting out 
every night throughout the year : — 



o 
O 



'p 3 



< 



'^ rH i-H 



„■ .- -f o o o u- o "C X c^^ -^i (^l o o cc o o o o o L- r- cc 1-2 t;: 12 o o 

.^^^^C5C>OCD^XXO(MX(MO-f(MCOOfOr^-+;-;XXC5t- 

H ^ CM ;Ih r-l r^ 5i ^ (M i-H r-l ,-. G^ Tt* ^ (N CM .-I r-. ,-- ^ r^ r-- CC 



j:3'T3 .-^ 31 

H^xH ..,.., ,41-,^ ^H o I ,o ^'o |CH o^ g .o^ 

^|-^^s IJ ^Jl J.^ll sf li'l.^ i 



CNCDC5c:5r^cDco^eccC(Ni^CD022 51 
f}q,_,^oxa5OC0r-ii~i-^C5C5xc5050:J 

i-ltMi-li-H,— lrHCM(Mi-lr- It-lrHCO 



CM^T-iOC0t^l>CDI>»C 

tO^(Ni-lr-lr-l>-Hr-lrHCM 





n 




^ 


G 




• o • • ■ 
> 


• • • o 




3 


o 

. s 




24 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DA YS OF YORE 

With the exception of the Brighton, Ports- 
month, Dover and Hastings, they were all 
s2)lendidly-apl^ointecl four-horse coaches ; hut those 
four places being only at short distances, speed 
was unnecessary, and they were only provided 
with pair-horse mails. Had a sj^eed similar 
to that maintained on most other mails heen 
kept u]:), letters and passengers would have 
reached the coast in the middle of tlie night. 

The so-called " Yarmouth Mail " was, we are 
told by those who travelled on it, an ordinary 
stage-coach, carrying the usual four inside and 
twelve outside, chartered by the Post Office to 
carry the mail-bags ; but the old j^rint, engraved 
here, does not bear out that contention. 

The arrkal of the mails in London was an early 
morning affair. Pirst of all came the Leeds, at 
five minutes past four, folloAved at an interval of 
over an hour — 5.15 — by the Glasgow, and then, at 
5.39, by the Edinburgh. All arrived by 7 o'clock. 

There Avas then, as now, no Sunday delivery 
of letters in London, and Saturdav nis^hts were, 
by consequence, saturnalias for the up-mails. 
Although tin; clock might have been set with 
accuracy by their passing at any other time, their 
coming into London on Sundays Avas a hap])y- 
go-lucky, chance affair. The coaclnnen would 
arrange to meet on the Saturday nights at such 
junctions of the different routes as .Viidover, 
lloLinslow, Puckeridge, and Hockliife, and so 
in company have what they very descriptively 
termed a " roaring time." 



"THE LATMr mails 2) 

111 1836 the fastest mail ran on a j)rovincial 
route. This was the short 28-niiles service 
hetween Liverpool and Preston, maintained at 
10 miles 5 furlongs an hour. The slowest was 
the 19-miles Canterhury and Deal, at 6 miles 
an hour, including stops for changing. The 
average speed of all the mails was as low as 
8 miles 7 furlongs an hour. 

In 1838 there were 59 four-horse mails in 
England and Wales, 16 in Scotland, and 29 in 
Ireland, in addition to a total numher of 70 
pair-horse : some 180 mails in all. It was in 
this year that — the novelty of raihvays creating 
a desire for fast travelling — the Post Office 
yielded to the cry for speed, and, abandoning 
the usual conservative attitude, Avent too far 
in the other direction, overstepping the hounds 
of common safety. Por some time the mails 
between Glasgow and Carlisle, and Carlisle 
and Edinburgh were run to clear 11 miles an 
hour, which meant an average pace of 13 
miles an hour. These were popularly called 
the " calico mails," because of their lightness, 
The time allowed between Carlisle and Glasgow, 
96 miles, Avas 8 hours 32 minutes, and it Avas 
a sight to see it come doAvn StaiiAvix EroAV 
on a summer evening. It met, hoAvcAcr, Avitli 
so many accidents that cautious folk ahvays 
avoided it, j)refeiTing the orthodox 10 miles an 
hour — esjiecially by lamplight in the rugged 
Cheviots. Ea^cii at that pace there had been 
more than enough risk, as these incidents from 



28 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

Post Office records of three years earlier 

clearly show : — 

1836. 

February 5. Edinburgh and Aberdeen Mail overturned. 

„ 9. Devonport Mail overturned. 

„ 10. Scarborough and York Mail oveiturned. 

„ 16. Belfast and Enniskillen Mail overturned. 

„ „ Dublin and Derry i\Iail o\erturn(d. 

„ IT. Scarborough and Hull Mail overturned. 

„ „ York and Doncaster Mail overturned. 

„ 20. Thirty-five mail-horses burnt alive at Heading. 

„ 24. Louth Mail overturned. 

„ 25. Gloucester Mail overturned. 

No place was better served by the Post 
Office than Exeter in the last years of the 
road, and few so Avell. Before 1837 it had no 
fewer than three mails, and in that year a fonrth 
was added. All four started simultaneous!}^ 
from the General Post Office, and reached the 
Queen City of the West within a few hours of 
one another every day. On its own merits, 
Exeter did not deserve or need all these travelling 
and postal facilities, and it was only because it 
stood at the converging-point of many routes 
that it obtained them. Only one mail, iiulecd, 
was dedicated especially to Exeter, and that 
was the last-establish(Hl, the '' New Exeter," 
put on the road in 1837. The others continued 
to Devonport or to Ealmouth, then a port, a 
mail-packet and naval station of great ])ro- 
minence, where the West Indian mails landed, 
and whence they where shipped. To tlie mail- 
coaches making for Devonport and Ealmoutli, 
Exeter was, therefore, only an incident. 



THE LATER MAILS 



31 



The " Old Exeter " Mail, coutinued on to 
Ealmoutli, kept consistently to the main Exeter 
Road, throuij^h Salisbury, Dorchester and Brid- 
port. Before 1837 it had jJerformed the journey to 
Exeter in 20 hours and to Ealmouth in 34f hours, 
hut was then accelerated one hour as between 
London and Exeter, and although slightly de- 
celerated onwards, the gain on the whole distance 
Avas 49 minutes. 

Eive minutes in advance of this ran the 
" Quicksilver " Devonport Mail, as far as Salis- 
bury, where, until 1S37, it branched off, going 
by Shaftesbury, Sherl)orne and Yeovil, a route 
5f miles shorter than the other. It was If hours 
quicker than the " Old Exeter " as far as that 
city. Here is the time-table of the " Quick- 
silver " at that period, to Exeter: — 

Leaving General Post Office at 8 p.m. 



Miles. 


Places. 


Due. 


12 

19 

29 

67 

84 

105 

126 

135 

143 

156 

173 


Hounslow . 

Staines 

Bagshot 

Andover 

Salisbury 

Shaftesbury 

Yeovil . 

Crewkerne . 

Chard . 

Honiton 

Exeter . 








9.12 p.m. 

9.56 „ 
11.0 „ 

2.42 a.m. 

4.27 „ 

6.41 „ 

8.56 „ 
10.12 „ 
11.0 „ 
12.31 p.m. 

2.14 „ 



Thus 18 hours 14 minutes were allowed for the 
173 miles. In 1837 the " Quicksilver " was put 
on the " upper road " by Amesbury and Ilminster, 
and her pace again accelerated; this time by 



32 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

1 hour 38 minutes to Exeter and 4 hours 
39 minutes to Falmouth. This then hecame the 
fastest long-distance mail in the kingdom, main- 
taining a speed, including stops, of nearly lOJ 
miles an hour hetween London and Devonport. 
It should he remembered, when considering the 
subject of speed, that the mails had not only to 
change horses and stay for supper and breakfast, 
like the stage-coaches, but also had to call at 
the post offices to deliver and collect the mail- 
bags, and all time so expended had to be made 
up. The " Quicksilver " must needs have gone 
some stages at 12 miles an hour. 

Time also had to be kept in all kinds of 
weather, and the guard — who Avas the servant 
of the Post Office, and not, as the coachman was, 
of the mail-contractors — Avas bound to see that 
time was kept, and had poAver, Avhenever it was 
being lost, to order out post-horses at the expense 
of the contractors. Six, and sometimes eight, 
horses were often thus attached to the mails. 
The route of the " Quicksilver " from 1837 was 
according to the following time-lull : — ■ 

Leaving General Post Office at 8 p.m. 



Miles. 


Places. 


Due. 


Miles. 


Places. 


Due. 


12 
19 
29 
67 
80 
90 


Hounslow . 

Staines. 
Bagshot 
AndovcT 
Anies])ury . 
Deptford Inn 


9.8 p.m. 
9.48 „ 
10.47 „ 
2.20 a.m. 
3.39 „ 
4.34 „ 


97 
125 
137 
154 
170 


Chicklade . 
Ilchester 
Ilminster 
Honiton 
Exeter . 


5.15 a.m. 
7.50 „ 
8.58 „ 
11.0 „ 
12.34 p.m. 


Time : IG hours 34 minutes. 



The complete official time-bill for the Avhole 
distance is appended : — 



THR LATER MAILS 



33 



TiME-BiLL, London, Exeter and Devonport ("Quicksilver") 
Mail, 1837. 



Contractors* 


Number of 




Time 


Names. 


Passengers. 


Stages. 


Allowed. 




In. 


Out. 


M. F. 

ri2 2 
I 9 7 


H. M. 


Chaijlin . 






- 2 47 


Company . 






{ 9 1 

10 1 

1 8 

'^ 3 5 


- 2 54 


Broad . . 






r 6 7 
113 7 


39 

1 19 


Ward . . 






9 5 


55 


Davis . . 






r 5 
I 6 5 


} 41 


Whitmash 






{ 6 6 

7 

ll3 4 

I 4 1 


- 2 59 


Jeffery 






■ 2 6 


- 44 


Soaring . 






8 1 


\ 25 
i 46 


"WTieaton . 






8 7 

rie 4 

10 3 
'^ 9 3 


51 

1 34 


Cockram . 






10 
} 1 57 








ri3 2 


^ 








6 6 




Elliott . . 






4 

I 1 7 


- 2 33 

J 








216 1 


21 14 



Despatched from the General 

Post Office, the of , 

1837, at 8 p.m. 
Coach No. / With timepiece 

sent out I safe. No. to . 
Arrived at the Gloucester Cotf ee- 

House at 
Hounslow. 
iStaines. 

Bagshot. Arrived 10.47 p.m. 
Hartford Bridge. 
Basingstoke. 
Overton. 

Whitchurch. Arrived 1.41 a.m. 
Andover. Arrived 2.20 a.m. 
Amesbury. Arrived 3.39 a.m. 
Deptford Inn. Arrived 4.34 a.m. 
Wiley. 

Chicklade. Arrived 5.15 a.m. 
(Bags dropped for Hindon, 1 
Mere. [mile distant.) 

Wincanton. 
Ilchester. 

Cart Gate. Arrived 8.14 a.m. 
Water Gore, 6 miles from South 

Petherton. 
Bags dropped for that place. 
Ilminster. Arrived 8.58 a.m. 
Breakfast 25 minutes. Dep. 9.23. 
Yarcombe, Heathfield Arms. 

Arrived 10.9 a.m. 
Honiton. Arrived 11 a.m. 
Exeter. Arrived 12.34 p.m. 
Ten minutes allowed. 
Chudleigh. 

Ashburton. Arrived 2.41 p.m. 
Ivybridge. 
Bags dropped at Eidgway for 

Plympton, 3 furlongs distant. 
Plymouth. Arrived at the Post 

Office, Devonport, the of 
, 1837, at 5.14 p.m. by 

timepiece. At by clock. 
Coach No. / Delivered timepiece 

arr. . I safe. No. to . 



The time of ^vorking each stage is to be reckoned from the coach's arrival, 
and as any lost time is to be recovered in the course of the stage, it is the 
coachman's duty to be as expeditious as possible, and to report the horse- 
keepers if they are not always ready when the coach arrives, and active in 
getting it ofl". The guard is to give his best assistance in changing, whenever 
his official duties do not prevent it. 

By command of the Postmaster-General. 

George Louis, Surveyor and Siq^erintendent. 

VOL. II. 3 



34 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS 01 YORE 

The "New Exeter " Mail went at the moderate 
inclusive speed of 9 miles an hour, and reached 
Exeter, where it stopped altogether, 1 hour 
38 minutes later than the " Quicksilver." The 
fourth of this company went a circuitous route 
down the Bath Road to Bath, Bridgewater, and 
Taunton, and did not get into Exeter until 
3.57 p.m. Halting ten minutes, it went on to 
Devonjwrt, and stopped there at 10.5 that night. 
The tahulated form given on oj^posite page 
will clearly show how the West of England 
mails Avent in 1837. 

The starting of the " Quicksilver " and the 
other West-country mails was a recognised London 
sight. That of the " Telegraph " would have 
been also, only it left Piccadilly at 5.30 in the 
morning, when no one was about besides the 
unhappy j^assengers, except the stable-helpers. 
Chaplin, who horsed the "Quicksilver" and 
other Western mails from town, did not start 
them from the General Post Office, but from the 
Gloucester Coffee-House, Piccadilly. The mail- 
bags were brought from St. Martin's-le-Grand 
in a mail-cart, and the City j^^ssengers in an 
omnibus. The mails set out from Piccadilly at 
8.30 p.m. 

It was at Andover that the " Quicksilver," 
from 1837, leaving its contemjiorary mails, 
climbed up past Abbot's Ann to Park House and 
the bleak Wiltshire downs, along a lonely road, 
and finally came, up hill, out of Amesbury to 
the most exposed part of Salisbury Plain, at 



THE LATER MAILS 



35 



The West of England Mails, 1837. 







Old Exeter 


Dev()n))ort 






Miles. 


Place.^. 


Muil, 
continued to 


("Onicksilver") 
Mail, (.'(iiitiiniecl 


New Exeter 
Mail. 


Devon port 
Mail, by Batli 






Falmouth. 


to KiliiimUhi. 




and Taunton. 




General Post Office 












London . . dep 


'. 8.0 p.m. 


8.0 p.m. 


8.0 p.m. 


8.0 p.m. 


12 


Hounslow. . an- 








9.12 „ 


19 


Staines. . . . 






9.56 „ 




23 


Slough . . 












29 


Maidenhead 










10.40 „ 


58 


Newbury . 










1.53 a.m. 


77 


]\Iarlborough 










3.43 „ 


91 


Devize.s . . 










5.6 „ 


109 


Bath . . . 










7.0 „ 


149 


Bridgewater 










11.30 „ 


160 


Taunton . 










12.35 p.m. 


180 


Cullumpton 










2.42 „ 


29 


Bagshot . . 






10.47 p.m. 






67 


Andover . . 






2.20 a.m. 


2.42 a.m. 




84 


Salisbury . 




4.52 a.m. 




4.27 „ 




124i 


Dorchester . 




8.57 „ 




8.53 „ 




126 


Yeovil . . 












137 


Bridport . . 




10.5 „ 




11.0 „ 




143 


Chard . . 












80 


Amesbury 






3.39 „ 






125 


Ilchester . . 
Honiton . 






7.50 „ 
11.0 „ 


12.31 p.m. 






EXETEK .{j;; 


. 2.59 p.m. 
). 3.9 „ 


12.34 p.m. 
12.44 „ 


2.12 „ 


3.57 „ 
4.7 „ 




210 


Newton Abbot ar] 








6.33 „ 


218 
190 


Totnes .... 




2.41 „ 




7.25 „ 


Ashburton . , 


214 


Plymouth . . 




5.5 „ 








DevonportI ^1 




5.14 „ 
5.41 „ 




10.5 „ 




234 


Liskeard . arr 




7.55 „ 






246 


Lostwithiel . 




9.12 „ 






252 


St. Austell . 




10.20 „ 






266 


Truro . . . 




11.55 „ 






271 


Falmouth . 


. 3.55 a.m. 


1.5 a.m. 










31 h. 55 m. 


29 h. 5 m. 


18 h. 12 m. 


26 h. 5 m. 



36 STAGE-COACH AMD MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

Stoneliengc, in the early hours of the morning. 
The " Quicksilver " was a favourite suhject with 
the artists of that day, who were never weary 
of pictorially representing it. They have shown 
it passing Kew Bridge, and the old " Star and 
Garter," on the outward journey, in daylight — 
presumably the longest day in the year, because 
it did not reach that point until 9 p.m. Two of 
them have, separately and individually, shown 
us the famous attack l)y the lioness in 1816 ; and 
two others have pictured it on the up journey, 
passing Windsor Castle, and entering the City at 
Temple Bar ; hut no one has ever represented 
the "Quicksilver" passing beneath that gaunt 
and storm-beaten relic of a prehistoric age, Stone- 
henge. One of them, however, did a somewhat 
remarkable thing. The picture of the "Quick- 
silver " jiassing Avithin sight of Windsor was 
executed and published in 1810, two years after 
the gallant old mail had been taken off that 
portion of the road, to be conveyed by railway. 
Perhaps the print was, so to speak, a post-mortem 
one, intended to keep the memory of the old 
days fresh in the recollection of travellers by 
the mail. 

The London and Southampton Bailway was 
opened to Woking May 23rd, 1838, and to Winch- 
field September 21th folloAving, and by so much 
the travels of the " Quicksilver " and the other 
West-country coaches were shortened. For some 
months they all resorted to that station, and then 
to Basingstoke, when the line was ojiened so far. 



THE LATER MAILS 39 

June 10th, 1839. This shortening of the coach 
route was accompanied by the following adver- 
tisement in the Times during Octol)er 1838, the 
forerunner of many others : — 

" Bagshot, Surrey — 49 Horses and harness. 
To Coach Proprietors, Mail Contractors, Post 
Masters, and Others.— To be Sold by Auction, 
l)y Mr. Robinson, on the premises, ' King's Arms ' 
Inn, Bagshot, on Priday, November 2, 1838, at 
twelve o'clock precisely, by order of Mr. Scar- 
borough, in consequence of the coaches going per 
Railway. 

" About Porty superior, good-sized, strengthy, 
short-legged, quick-actioned, fresh horses, and 
six sets of four-horse harness, which have been 
working the Exeter 'Telegraph,' Southampton 
and Gosport Past Coaches, and one stage of the 
Devonport Mail. The above genuine Stock 
merits the particular Attention of all Persons 
requiring known good Horses, Avhicli are for 
unreserved sale, entirely on Account of the 
Coaches being removed from the Road to the 
Railway." 

In Thomas Sopwith's diary we find this signifi- 
cant passage : " On the 11th May, 1810, the 
coaches discontinued running between York and 
London, although the railways were circuitous." 
Thus the glories of the Great North Road began 
to fade, but it was not until 1842 that the Edin- 
burgh Mail Avas taken oft' the road between 
London, York, and Newcastle. July 5th, 1817, 
witnessed the last journey of the mail on that 



40 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

storied road, in the dc|:)arture of the coach from 
Newcastle-on-Tyne for Edinburgh. The next day 
the North British Railway was opened. 

The local Derhy and Manchester Mail Avas 
one of the last to go. It Aveiit off in October 
1858. But away up in the far north of Scotland, 
where Nature at her wildest, and civilisation and 
jiopulation at their sparsest, placed physical and 
financial obstacles before the railway engineers, 
it Avas not until August 1st, 1871^, that the mail- 
coach era closed, in the last journey of the mail- 
coach between Wick and Thurso. That same day 
the Highland Baihvay was opened, and in the 
whole length and breadth of England and Scot- 
land mail-coaches had ceased to exist. 

The mail-coaches in their prime were noljle 
vehicles. Disdaining an 3^ display of gilt lettering 
or varied colour commonly to be seen on the com- 
petitive stage-coaches, they Avere yet remarkably 
striking. The lower part of the body has been 
variously described as chocolate, maroon, and 
scarlet. Maroon certainly was the colour of the 
later mails, and " chocolate " is obviously an error 
on the part of some Avriter Avhose colour-sense was 
not particularly exact ; but Ave can only reconcile 
the ^' scarlet " and " maroon " by sujiposing tliat 
the earlier colouring Avas in fact the more A'ivid 
of the tAVo. The fore and liiiul Ijoots Avere black, 
together Avith the up})er quarters of the body, 
aiid Avere saved from being too sombre by the 
Koyal cipher in gold on the fore boot, the number 
of the mail on the hind, and, emblazoned on the 



THE LATER MAILS 43 

upper quarters, four devices eloquent of the majesty 
of the united kingdoms and their knightly orders. 
There shone the cross of St. George, with its 
encircling garter and the proud motto, " Koni soit 
qui uial y ijense'' \ the Scotch thistle, with the 
warning " Nemo me impune lacessit " ; the sham- 
rock and an attendant star, with the Quis 
separahit ? query (not yet resolved) ; and three 
Royal croAvns, with the legend of the Bath, 
" Tria juncta in uno.'^ The Royal arms were 
emblazoned on the door-panels, and old prints 
show that occasionally the four under quarters 
had devices somewhat similar to those above. 
The name of each particular mail appeared in 
unobtrusive gold letters. The under-carriage and 
wheels were scarlet, or " Post Office red," and the 
harness, Avith the exception of the Hoyal cypher 
and the coach-bars on the blinkers, was perfectly 
plain. 

One at least of the mail-coaches still sur- 
vives. This is a London and York mail, built 
by "Waude, of the Old Kent Road, in 1830, and 
now a relic of the days of yore treasured by 
Messrs. Holland & Holland, of Oxford Street. 
Since being run off the road as a mail, it has 
had a curiously varied history. In 1875 and the 
following season, when the coaching revival was 
in full vigour, it appeared on the Dorking Eoad, 
and so won the affections of Captain " Billy " 
Cooper, whose hobby that route then was, that 
he had an exact copy built. In the summer of 
1877 it was running betAveen Stratford-on-Avon 



44 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

and Leamington. In 1879 Mr. Charles A. R. 
Hoare, the banker, had it at Tunbridge Wells, 
and also ordered a cojiv. Since then the old 
mail-coach has been in retirement, emerging now 
and again as the " Old Times " coach, to empha-- 
sise the trophies of imj)rovement and progress 
in the Lord Mayor's Shows of 1890, 1899 and 
1901, in the wake of electric and petrol motor- 
cars, driven and occupied by coachmen and 
passengers dressed to resemble our ancestors of 
a hundred years ago. 

The coach is substantially and in general lines 
as built in 1830. The wlieels have been renewed, 
the hind boot has a door inserted at the back, 
and the interior has been relined ; but otherwise 
it is the coacli that ran when William IV. was 
king. It is a characteristic Waude coach, low- 
hung, and built with straight sides, instead of 
the bowed-out type common to the j)roducts 
of Vidler's factory. It wears, in consequence, a 
more elegant appearance than most coaches of 
that time ; but it must be confessed that what 
it gained in the eyes of passers-by it must have 
lost in the estimation of the insides, for the 
interior is not a little cramjied l)y tliose straight 
sides. The guard's seat on the " dickey " — or 
what in earlier times Avas more generally known 
as the " backgammon-board " — remains, but his 
sheepskin or tiger-skin covering, to protect his 
legs from the cold, is gone. The trapdoor into 
the hind boot can be seen. Through this the 
mails were thrust, and the guard sat throughout 



THE LATER MAILS 47 

the journey with his feet on it. Immediately 
in front of him were the spare bars, while above, 
in the still-remaininp: case, reposed the indispens- 
able l)hinderbuss. The original lamps, in their 
reversible cases, remain. There were four of 
them — one on either fore quarter, and one on 
either side of the fore boot, while a smaller one 
huni^ from beneatli the footboard, just above the 
wheelers. The guard had a small hand-lam j) of 
his own to aid him in sorting- his small jiarcels. 
The door-panels liave apparently been repainted 
since the old days, for, although they still 
keep the maroon colour characteristic of the 
mail-coaches, the Royal arms are gone, and in 
their stead appears the script monogram, in 
ffold, "V.E." 



CHAPTER II 

DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 

I.— A Journey from Ne\vcastle-on-Tyne to London in 1772 

In 1773, the Reverend James Murray, Minister of 
the High Bridge Meeting House at Newcastle, 
luihlished a little book Avhich he was pleased to 
call The Travels of the Imagination; or, a True 
Journey from Newcastle to London, purporting to 
he an account of an actual trip taken in 1772. 
I do not know how his congregation received 
this performance, hut the inspiration of it was 
very evidently draAvn from Sterne's Sentimental 
Journey, then in the heyday of its success and 
sinffularlv provocative of imitations^ — all of them 

O ft/ X 

extraordinarily thin and poor. Sentimental 
travellers, without a scintilla of the Avit that 
jewelled Sterne's pages, gushed and reflected in 
a variety of travels, and became a public nuisance. 
Surely no one then read their mawkish products, 
any more than they do noAV. 

Murray's book Avas, then, obviously, to any one 
who noAV dips into it, as trite and jejune as the 
rest of them ; but it has noAV, unlike its felloAVs, 
an interesting aspect, for the reason that he gives 



DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 49 

details of road-travelling life which, once conimo]i- 
place enough, afford to ourselves not a little enter- 
tainment. Equally entertaining, too, and full of 
unconscious humour, are those would-be eloquent 
rhapsodies of his which could only then have 
rendered him an unmitigated bore. It should 
be noted here that although his picture of road- 
life is in general reliable enough, we must by no 
means take him at his word when he says he 
journeyed all the way from Newcastle to London. 
We cannot believe in a traveller makiu"; that 
claim Avho devotes many jiages to the first fifteen 
miles betAveen Newcastle and Durham, and yet 
between Durham ami Grantham, a distance of a 
hundred and fifty miles, not only finds nothing of 
interest, but fails to tell us whether he went by the 
Eoroughbridge or the York route, and mentions 
nothing of the coach halting for the night betAveen 
the beginning of the journey at NeAvcastle, and 
the first specified night's halt at Grantham, a 
hundred and sixty-five miles aAvay. Those Avere 
the times Avhen the coaches inned cA^ery night, 
and not until the " AYonder " London and 
ShreAvsbury Coach Avas started, in 1825, did any 
coach ever succeed in doing much more than a 
hundred miles a day. So much in adverse 
criticism. Dut AA^hile a very casual glance is 
sufficient to expose his pretensions of having made 
the entire journey in this manner, it is equally 
evident that he kncAV portions of the road, and 
that he Avas couAcrsant Avith the manners and 
customs that then obtained along it — as no one 
VOL. II. 4. 



50 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

then could lielp being. The fare between New- 
castle and London, the lengthy halts on the way, 
and the manner in which the passengers often 
passed the long evenings at the towns where they 
rested for the night — witnessing any theatrical 
performance that offered — are extremely inter- 
esting, as also is the curious sidelight thrown 
upon the fact that actors— technically, in the 
eyes of the laAV, " rogues and vagabonds " — Avere 
then actually so regarded. How poorly considered 
the theatrical profession then was, is, of course, 
well known ; but it is curious thus to come upon 
a reference to the fact that London theatres then 
had long summer vacations, in which the actors 
and actresses must starve if they could not 
manage to pick up a meagre livelihood by barn- 
storming in the country ; as here we see them 
doing. 

So much by way of preface. Now let us see 
w^hat our author has to say. 

To begin with, he, like many another before 
and since, found it disagreeable to be wakened in 
the morning. When a person is enjoying sweet 
repose in his bed, to be suddenly awakened by the 
rude, blustering voice of a vociferous ostler was 
distinctly annoying. More annoying still, however, 
to lose the coach ; and so there was no help for 
it, provided the stage was to be caught. The 
morning Avas very fine Avhen the passengers, 
thus untimely roused, entered the coach. Nature 
smiled around them, Avho only yaAvned in her face 
in return. Pity, thought our author, that they Avere 



DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 51 

not to ride on horseback : they could then enjoy 
the pleasures of the morning, snuff the perfumes 
of the fields, hear the music of the grove and 
the concert of the wood. 

These reflections were cut short by the crossing 
of the Tyne by ferry. The bridge had fallen on 
November 17th, 1771, and the temjiorary ferry 
established from the Swirl, Sandgate, to the 
south shore Avas the source of much inconvenience 
and delay. The coach was j^ut across on a raft 
or barge, but in directing operations to that end, 
the ferryman Avas not to be hurried. One had to 
wait the pleasure of that arbitrary little BashaAV, 
Avho would not move beyond the rule of his 
oAvn authority, or mitigate the sentence of those 
who Avere condemned to traA^el in a stage-coach 
Avithin a ferry-boat. 

Our author, as he hated every idea of slavery 
and oppression, Avas not a little offended at the 
expressions of authority used on this occasion by 
the august legislator of the ferry. The passengers 
Avere noAV in the barge, and obliged to sit quiet 
until this tyrant gave orders for departure. The 
vehicle for carrying coach and passengers across 
the rlA^er Avas the most tiresome and heaA'y that 
ever AA^as invented. Eour roAvers in a small boat 
dragged the ponderous ferry across the river, 
very slowly and Avith great exertions, and almost an 
hour Avas consumed in thus breasting the yelloAv 
currcMit of the broad and swiftly-running Tyne. 
Meanwhile, there Avas plenty of time to reflect on 
what might hapx^en on the passage, and abundant 



52 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

oioportuuity for putting up a few ejaculations to 
Heaven to preserve tliem all from the dangers of 
ferryboats and tyrants. 

But the voyage at last came to an end. So 
soon as they were landed on the south side of the 
river Tyne, they were saluted by a blackbird, Avho 
welcomed them to the county of Durham. It 
seemed to take pleasure in seeing them fairly out 
of the domains of Charon, and whistled cheerfully 
on their arrival. " Nature," said Mr. James 
Murray to himself, " is the mistress of real 
pleasure : this same blackbird cannot suffer us to 
pass by without contributing to our happiness. 
Liberty (he continued) seems to be the first prin- 
ciple of music. Slaves can never sing from the 
heart." 

No : they sing, like everyone else, from the 
throat. 

But these observations carried them beyond 
Gateshead and to the ascent of the Pell, along 
whose steep sides the jileasures of the morning 
increased ujion them. The Avliins and briars sent 
forth a fragrance exceedingly delightful, and on 
every side of the coach peerless dro2)s of dew hung 
dangling upon the blossoms of the thorns, adding 
to the perfume. Aurora now began to streak 
the western sky^ — something wrong Avitli the solar 
system that morning, for the sun commonly rises 
in the east — and the spangled heavens announced 
the advent of the King of Day. Sol at last 
appeared, aiul spread his healthful beams over 
the hills and valleys, and the wild beasts now 



DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 53 

retired to their dens, and those timorous animals 
that go abroad in the night to seek their food were 
also Avithdrawn to the thickets. The hares, as 
an exception— and yet this was not the lunatic 
month of March — were skipping across the lawns, 
tasting the dewy glade for their morning's repast. 
The skylark Ay as skylarking — or, rather, Ayas 
ali-eady mounted on high, serenading his dame 
Avith mirthful glee and pleasure. (Here folloAy 
tAyo pages of moral reflections on skylarks and 
fashionable debauchees, Ayith conclusions in fayour 
of the larks, and seyere condemnation of "libidinous 
children of licentiousness," Avho are bidden " go 
to the lark, ye slayes of 2>ollwtion, and l)e Ayise. 
lie does not stroll through the groye or thicket to 
search for some ncAy amour, but keeps strictly to 
the ties of conjugal affection, and cherishes the 
partner of his natural concerns.") 

In the midst of these idyllic contemplations, 
a graA'e and solemn scene opened to the A'icAy. 
Hazlett, Avho had robbed the mail in 1770, hung 
on a gibbet at the left hand. " Unfortunate and 
infatuated Hazlett ! Hadst thou robbed the nation 
of millions, instead of robbing the mail and 
pilfering a fcAy shillings from a testy old maid, 
thou hadst not been hanging, a spectacle to 
passers-by and a prey to croAys. Thy case Ayas 
pitiable — but there Avas no mercy : thou Ayast 
poor, and thy sin unpardonable. Hadst thou 
robbed to support the CroAyn, and murdered for 
the Monarchy, thou might'st have been yet aliye." 

The place Avliere Hazlett hung, the Avriter 



54 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

considered to be the finest j^lace in the Avorld for 
a ghost-Avalk. " At the foot of a wikl romantic 
mountain, near the side of a small lake, are his 
remains; his shadow apj^ears in the water and 
suggests the idea of two malefactors. The 
imagination may easily conjure up his ghost. 
Many sjiirits have been seen in wilds not so fit 
for the purpose. This robber is perhaps the 
genius of the Pell, and walks in the gloomy 
shades of night by the side of this little lake. 
This (he adds — it must have been a truly com- 
forting thought to the other passengers) is all 
sujiposition." The dreary place was one well 
calculated for raising gloomy ideas, tending to 
craze the imagination. 

After this, it was a relief to reach Durham, 
a very picturesquely situated city with a grand 
cathedral and bishop's palace. The pleasant banks 
on the Avest side of the river Wear were adorned 
with stately trees, mingled with shrubs of various 
kinds, which brought to one's mind the romantic 
ideas of ancient story, when sAvains and nymphs 
sang their loves amongst trees by the side of some 
enchanted river. The abbey and the castle 
called to mind those enchanted places Avhere 
knights-errant AA^ere confined for many years, 
until delivered by some fric^id Avho kncAV hoAV 
to dissolve the chains and charm the necromancy. 

Durham, he thought, AAould l)e a very fine 
l^lace, Avere it not for the sAvarms of clergy in 
it, Avho devoured every extensive living AAithout 
being of any real service to the j^ublic. The 



DOWM THE ROAD I^t DAYS OP YORE 55 

common people in Durham were very ignorant 
and great profaners of the Sabbath Day, and, 
indeed, over almost the whole of England the 
greatest ignorance and vice were under the noses 
of the bishops. He would not pretend to give 
a reason for this, but the fact was apparent. 

Durham Avas a very healthful place— the soil 
dry, the air wholesome; but the Cathedral 
dignitaries performed worship rather as a grievous 
task than as a matter of choice, a thing not 
infrequently to be observed in our own days. 
The woman who showed the shrine of St. 
Cuthbert did not uiulerstand Mr. Murray when 
he referred to the Resurrection, a fact that 
gave him a good opportunity to enlarge upon 
the practically heathenish state of Durham's 
ecclesiastical surroundings. 

All this sightseeing, and these reflections and 
observations at Durham (and a good many more 
from which the reader shall be spared) were 
rendered possible by a lengthy halt made by 
the coach in that city. Thus there was ample 
time for seeing the cathedral—" very noble and 
delightful to the eyes of those who had a taste 
for antiquity or Gothic magnificence," he says. 

After they were wearied with sauntering in 
this old Gothic abbey, they went down to the 
river side. There the person who was fond of 
rural pleasures might riot at large. Comparisons 
drawn on the spot betAveen the choristers of the 
grove, Avho sang from the heart, and the minor 
canons and prebendaries of the cathedral, who 



56 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

wearily performed their duties for a living, were, 
naturally, greatly to the disadvantage of the 
dignified clergy. 

Strolling through the suhurh of Old Elvet, 
the company at last returned to the inn — the 
"New Inn" it was called. The landlord of 
this hostelry was a jolly, honest man ; his house 
s2:>acious, and fit even to serve the Bishoj^. All 
tilings were cheap, good, and clean at this inn. 
If a person came in well phrased, he Avould find 
nothing to offend him, provided he did not create 
some offence to himself — Avhich sounds just a 
little confused. 

While our itinerant chronicler was noting 
down all these things, orders were given for 
dej)arture, and so he had hurriedly to conclude. 

And now, turning from wayside reflections, we 
get a description of the jiassengers. The coach, 
when it left Newcastle, was full. Eour ladies, 
a gentleman of the sword and our huml)le 
servant made ujo its j)rincipal contents. They 
sat in silence for some time, until they were jolted 
into good humour by the motion of the vehicle, 
whicli opened their several social faculties. One 
of their female companions, Avho Avas a North 
Briton, a jolly, middle-aged matron with abun- 
dance of good sense and humour, entertained 
the company for a quarter of an hoiu' with the 
history of her travels. She had made the tour of 
Europe, and had visited the most remarkable places 
in Christendom, in the quality of a dutiful Avife, 
attending her valetudinary husband, travelling 



DOWN THE ROAD IIST DAYS OP YORE 57 

for the recovei'v of liis lioalth. Her easy, 
unaffected manner in telling a story made her 
exceedingly good company, and none had the 
least inclination to interrupt her until she was 
pleased to cease. She knew Iioav to time her 
discourse, and never, like the generality of her 
sex, degenerated into tediousness and insipidity. 

At every stage she Avas a conformist to all 
the measures of the company, and Avent into 
every social jiroposal that Avas made. 

Another companion Avas a AvidoAV lady of 
NcAvcastle, quite as agreeable as the former. 
She understood how to make them laugh. Un- 
fortunately, she only Avent one stage, and they 
then lost the pleasure of her company. 

The third passenger Avas a NcAVcastle lady, 
Avell knoAvn in the literary Avorld for her useful 
performances for the benefit of youth. This 
female triumvirate would have been much upon 
a par had they all been travellers, for their gifts 
of conversation Avere much alike ; but the lady 
Avho had taken the tour of Europe possessed in 
that the advantage of circumstances. 

The fourth lady Avas the Scottish lady's 
servant. As she said nothing the Avhole aaw 
(remarks Mr. Murray), I shall say nothing of her. 

The fifth person was an officer in the army, 
Avho appeared very droAVsy in the morning, and 
came forth of his chamber Avith every appear- 
ance of reluctance. His hair Avas dishevelled 
and quite out of queue, and he seemed to be 
as ready for a sleep as if he had not been to 



^8 STAGE-COACH AlVD MAIL IN DAYS OP YORE 

bed. He was, for a time, as dumb as a Quaker 
when not moved by the spirit, and l)y continuing 
in silence, at last fell asleej^ until they had com- 
pleted nearly half the first stage. During this 
time, Mr. Murray sarcastically observes, he said 
no ill. 

They finished their first stage without ex- 
changing many words with this son of Mars, 
except some of those flimsy compliments gentle- 
men of the sword pay frequently to the ladies. 
After a dish of warm tea the tissues of his tongue 
were loosed, and he began to let his companions 
know that he was an officer in the army, and a 
man of some consequence. He seemed to be very 
fond of war, and spoke in high terms upon the 
usefulness of a standing army. When he had 
exhausted his whole fund of military arguments 
in favour of slavery and oppression, Mr. Murray 
observed to him that a standing army had a bad 
appearance in a free country, and put it in the 
power of the Crown to enslave the nation — Avith 
the like arguments, continued for an unconscion- 
able space. 

It is not at all surprising that the soldier 
resented this. The spirit of Mars began to work 
within him, and he threatened that if he were 
near a Justice of the Peace he would have this 
argumentative person fined for hindering him 
from getting recruits, adding that he once had 
a man fined for persuading others not to enlist 
in his Majesty's service. 

To this Mr. Murray rejoined that tlie officer 



DOlVN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORI^ 59 

certainly had a rig-lit to say all the fine tilings 
he could to recommend the service of his master, 
but, having" done that, he had no more to do ; 
and that any man had also a right to tell his 
friends, whom he saw ready to he seduced into 
bondage, that they Avere born free, and ought to 
take care how tli(\v gave up their liberty — 
together with remarks derogatory of the justice 
of courts martial. 

Our author did not, however, find this military 
hero a bloodthirsty man, for, by his own confes- 
sion, he and a brother officer had a few months 
before surrendered their purses to a highwayman 
betAveen London and Highgate for fear of blood- 
shed. This showed that some officers were abun- 
dantly peaceable in time of danger, and discovered 
no inclination for taking people's lives. This 
gentleman of sword and pistol, in particular, had 
a great many solid reasons Avhy men should not 
adventure their lives for a little money. He said 
there was no courage in fighting a highwayman, 
and no honour to be had in the victory over one ; 
that soldiers should preserve their lives for the 
service of the country in case of war, and not run 
the risk of losing them bv foolish adventure. 

These reasons did not altogether satisfy the 
ladies, for one of them observed that robbers were 
at war alike Avith laws and governments, and that 
the King's servants Avere hired to keep the jieace 
and to defend the King's subjects from violence ; 
that officers in the army Avere as much obliged by 
their office and character to fight robbers as they 



6o STAGE-COACB AND MAIL IN DA YS OF YORE 

Avere l)oiiii(l to fiu-lit tlio Frencli, or any other 
enemy ; and that footpads were invaders of the 
people's rights and properties, and ought to be 
resisted hy men Avhose profession it was to fight, 
and who were well paid for so doing. It was for 
money all the officers in the army served the 
Kino^ and fouiirht his hattles, and wliv should tliev 
not as well tio'ht for monev in a stai?e-coach as 
in a castle or a field ? She insisted that only one 
of them could have been killed by the liighAvay- 
nian, or perhaps l)ut wounded, and there were 
several chances that he might have missed them 
both. But, supposing the worst — that one had 
l)een shot — it Avas only the chance of Avar, and 
the other might have secured tlie robber, Avliich 
Avould liaA'C been of more service to the country 
than the life of the officer. In short, she ol)served, 
it had the apj)earance more of coAvardice than 
disregard for money, for tAvo officers to surrender 
their purses to a single higliAvayman, Avho had 
nothing but one pistol. 

The lady's reflections Avere scA'crely felt by 
the young sAvordsman, and produced a solemn 
silence in the coach for a quarter of an hour, 
during Avliich time some fell asleep, and so con- 
tinued until coming to the next inn, Avhere the 
horses Avere changed. There tAvo or three glasses 
of port restored the officer's courage, and he 
determined, in case of an attack, to defend every 
one from the assaults of all liio'liAvaA^men Avhat- 
socA'cr. To show tlie courage that sometimes 
animated him, he told the story of how he had 



DOIVN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 6i 

dealt with a starviiii^ niol) in Dumfries. The 
hungry people of that toAvn, not disj^osed to perish 
Avhilc food was abundant, and corn held hy the 
farmers and corn-factors for higher 2)i'ices, assem- 
bled to protest against such methods ; and the 
magistrates, ^^ ho thought the people had a right 
to starve, sent for the military to oblige them to 
famish discreetly or else be shot. Our hero had 
command of the jiarty, where, according to his 
own testimony, he performed wonders. The poor 
people Avere shot like woodcocks, and those who 
could get away with safety w^ere glad to return 
home to Avrestle Avith hunger until HeaA'en should 
think fit to provide for them. 

The officer Avas A^ery liberal in abusing those 
AAhom he called "the mob," and said they AA^ere 
ignorant, obstinate and Avicked, and added that he 
thought it no crime to destroy hundreds of them. 

The lady Avho had already given him a lecture 
then began to put him in mind of the footpad 
Avhom he and his brother officer had suffered to 
esca2:)e AAitli their j^^n'ses, and asked him liow he 
Avould quell a number of higliAvaymen. Taken oft' 
his guard at the mention of footpads, he stared 
out of the AvindoAv Avith a sort of Avildness, as if 
one had been at the coach door. 

Nothing Avas seen Avorthy of note until the 
coach came to Grantham, AAdiich place they 
reached about seven in the evening. The first 
things, remarks Mr. Murray — Avitli all the 
air of a profound and interesting discoA'ery — 
that travellers saAV in approaching large toAvns 



62 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS 01 YORE 

were, generally speaking, the church steeples. 
Ordinarily higher than the rest of the buildings, 
they were — remarkable to relate — on that account 
the more consj)icuous. The steeple of Grantham 
Avas jiretty high, and saluted one's eyes at a good 
distance before th(^ town Avas approached. It 
seemed to be of the pyramidical kind. 

Grantham Avas a pleasant place, although the 
houses AA^ere indifferently built. On reaching it, 
they Avandered througli the toAvn before returning 
to the inn for supper, AA'lien the captain took care 
to say some ciA'il things to tlie landlady's sister, 
Avho AA^as a \ctj handsome young Avoman. It Avas, 
hoAvcA^er, easy to perceive that she Avas acquainted 
with these ciA'ilities, and could distinguish betAveen 
truth and falsehood. She made the captain keep 
his distance in such a manner as put an entire end 
to his compliments. The fineness of her person 
and the beauty of her comj^lexion AA'-ere joined 
Avith a modest severity that protected her from 
the rudeness and insults Avhicli gentlemen think 
themselves entitled to use toAA^ards a chamber- 
maid, the character she acted in. 

After supper Avas done, the coach-party Avere 
informed that some of Mr. Garrick's servants 
Avere that night to exhibit in an old thatched 
house in a corner of the toAvn. They had come 
abroad into the country during the summer A^aca- 
tion, to see if they could find anything to keep 
their grinders going until the oj^ening of Drury 
Lane Theatre. They Avere that night to play the 
West Indian and the Jiihilee. 



DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 63 

The whole of the passengers went to see the 
performance. The actors played their parts 
A'cry indifferently, hut, after all, not so hadly hut 
that one could, with some trouhle, manage to 
perceive as much meaning in their actions as to 
he ahle to distinguish between an honest man 
and a rogue. Our ingenious and imaginative 
Mr. Murray thought it must he dangerous for an 
actor to play the rogue often, for fear of his 
performance becoming something more than an 
imitation. But after all, he says, with the fine 
intolerant scorn of the old-time dissenting 
minister, the generality of players had little 
morality to lose. 

It was a very poor theatre — ^being, indeed, 
not a theatre at all, and little better than a 
barn. The audience, however, was good, and 
well dressed, and the ladies handsome. The 
performance Avas over by eleven o'clock, and the 
company dismissed. Mr. Murray concludes his 
account of the evening's entertainment by very 
sourly observing that their time and that of the 
rest of the audience might have been better 
employed than in seeing a few stupid rogues 
endeavouring to imitate what some of them 
really were. 

The coach left Grantham at two o'clock the 
next morning ; much too early, considering the 
short rest the night's gaiety had left them. But 
there Avas no choice — they Avere under authority, 
and had to obey. That person Avould be a fool 
who, having paid £3 8s. 6c?. for a seat in a stage- 



64 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

coacli from Newcastle to London, should consent 
to lose it by not rising betimes. The Avorst of 
it was, that here one had to take care of one's 
self, because no one would wait upon him or 
return him his money. Observe the passengers, 
therefore, all, in the coach by 2 a.m. The com- 
pany being seated, the driver went off as fast 
as if he would have driven them to Stamford in 
the twinkling of an eye. So early Avas the hour 
that we are not surprised to be told that the author 
fell asleep by the time they Avere clear of the 
town, and doubtless the others did the same. 
It may be remarked here that a very excellent 
proof of this being a fictitious journey is found 
in there being no mention of the passengers being 
turned out of the coach to Avalk up the steep 
Spitalgate Hill— a thing ahvays necessary at 
that period of coaching history. 

The remainder of this not-inaptly named 
Travels of the Imagination is made up chiefly 
of a long disquisition upon sleep— itself highly 
soporific — Avhich only gives place to remarks 
upon the journey Avhen the coach arrives on 
Hiuhs-ate Hill. Coming over that eminence, 
they had a peep at London. 

"It must be a Avonderful holy place," he 
suggests to the other passengers, " there are so 
many church steeples to be seen." 

The others, Avho must have known better, said 
nothing. 

" Are we there ? " he asked Avhen they had 
reached Islington. 



DOWN- THE RO'AD IN DAYS OF YORE 65 

"No, not there yet." 

"Is it a large place : four times as large, 
for instance, as Newcastle ? '' 

" Ten times as large." 

" Where are the town walls ? " 

" There are no walls." 

At last they reached Holborn, and the end 
of the journey, Avliere the company dispersed 
and our chronicler went to bed. 



VOL. II. 



CHAPTER III 

DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 

II. — FnoM London to Newoastle-on-Tyne in 1830 

We also will make a tour down the road. It 
sliall not be, in the strictly accurate sense of 
the word, a "journey," for we shall travel con- 
tinviously by night as well as day — a thing 
quite unknoAvn when that word was first 
brought into use, and unknown to coaching 
until about 1780, Avhen coaches first began to 
go both day and night, instead of inni)ig at sun- 
doAvn at some convenient hostelry on the road. 

It matters little what road we take, but as 
Mr. Murray came to town from Newcastle, 
we may as Avell pay a return visit along that 
same highway — the Great North Uoad. He 
does not explain hoAv he came through Ilighgate, 
but for our part, tlie first sixty miles or so go 
along the Old North Uoad, and we do not touch 
Highgate at all. 

Now, since we are setting out merel}^ for the 
purpose of seeing something of what life is like 
on a great highway, there is no need to mortify 
the flesh by arising early in the blushing hours 
of dawn, to the tune of the watchman's cry of 



DOWN TH£ ROAD in days OF YORE 67 

" five o'clock and a fine morning ! " and so Ave 
will e'en, like Christians and Britons able to 
call their souls their own, go by the afternoon 
coach. Let the " Lord Nelson " in this year 
1830 go if it will from the " Saracen's Head," 
Snow Hill, at half-past six in the morning. Por 
ourselves, we Avill wait until a quarter to three 
in the afternoon, and take the " Lord Wellington" 
from the " Bull and Mouth." We can do no 
better, for the " Lord Wellington " goes the 274 
miles in 30 hours, which a sim})le calculation 
resolves into 9 miles an hour, including stops. 
The fare to NcAvcastle is £5 15s. inside, or about 
5f/. a mile. Outside, it is £3 10s., or a fraction 
over 3f/. a mile, xls our trij^ is taken in summer- 
time, we will go outside ; and so, although a good 
deal of the journey will have to be through the 
night, Ave, at least, shall not haA'C the disad- 
vantage of being stcAved during the daytime in 
the intolerable atmosphere of the inside of a 
stage-coach on a July day. Why, indeed, coach- 
proprietors do not themselves observe that in 
summer-time the outside is the most desirable 
place, and charge accordingly, is not easily under- 
stood ; nor, indeed, to be understood at all. That 
clever felloAV De Quiucey notices this, and j^oints 
out that, although the roof is generally regarded 
by passengers and CA^eryone else connected 
with coaching as the attic, and the inside 
as the draAving-room, only to be tenanted by 
gentlefolk, the inside is really the coal-cellar in 
disguise. 



68 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

We recollect, being old travellers, that the 
fares to Newcastle used to he niiicli cheaper. 
Time was when they Avere only four guineas 
inside and £2 10s. outside, hut prices went up 
during the late wars Avitli Prance, and they have 
stayed up ever since. The travelling, however, 
is better by some five hours than it was fifteen 
years ago. 

Here we are at the " Bull and Mouth," in 
St. Martin's-le-Grand, now newly rebuilt by 
Sherman, and named the " Queen's." It is a 
handsome building of red brick, with Portland 
stone dressings, but the old stables are still to 
be seen at the side, in Bull-and-Mouth Street. 
A strong and penetrating aroma of horses and 
straw pervades the neighbourhood. 

Wonderful building, the new General Post 
Office, opened last year, nearly opposite. They 
say the Government has got something very like 
a Avliite elejihant in that vast pile. A great deal 
too big for j)i'esent needs, or, indeed, for any 
possible extension of Post Office business. Here's 
the "Lord Wellington." What's that the yard- 
porter says .^* — He says " they don't call it nothin' 
but the ' Vellington ' now."-^Smart turn-out, 
is it not, Avitli its yellow wheels and body to 
match ? You can tell Sherman's coaches any- 
where by that colouring. What a d d 

nuisance those boys are, pestering one to buy 
things one doesn't want ! No ; be off with you, 
we don't want any braces or pocket lookiug- 
srlasses, nor the " Life and Portrait of His Late 



DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 71 

Majesty," nor any " Sure Cure for Pleas " — use 
it on yourselves, you dirty-looking devils ! 

Thank goodness ! we're off, and the sooner 
we're out of this traffic and off the stones at 
Kingsland Turnpike the better. These paved 
streets are so noisy, one can scarcely hear oneself 
talk, and the rattling sends a jar up one's 
spine. How London grows ! we shall soon see 
the houses stretching past Kingsland and swal- 
lowing up the country lanes of Dalston and Stoke 
Newington. 

Hal-lo ! That was a near shave. Confound 
those brewers' drays ; Shoreditch is always full 
of 'em ; might have sent us slap over. Why don't 
you keep your eyes open, fool ? 

The drayman offers to fight us all, one after 
the other, Avitli one hand tied behind his back, for 
sixpence a head, money down ; but though we 
have some of " the Pancy " aboard, the " Well- 
ington " can't stop for a mill in the middle of 
Shoreditch High Street. 

Now at last we're fairly in the country. If 
you look back you'll be able to see St. Paul's. 
This is Stamford Hill, where the rich City indigo 
and East and West India merchants live. Warm 
men, all of them. There, ahead of us, on the right, 
goes the river Lea : as pretty fishing there as you'd 
j&nd even in the famous trout streams of Hamp- 
shire. What a quaint, quiet rural place this is at 
Tottenham ! And Edmonton, with its tea-gardens ; 
why, London might be fifty miles away ! 

Here we are, already at Waltham Cross, and 



72 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

at our first change. This is something like travel- 
ins: ! We chani^e horses at the " Falcon " in little 
more than tAvo minutes, and so are off again, 
on the ten-mile stage to Ware, through the long 
narrow street of Cheshunt, past the New River 
at Eroxhourne, and along the broad thoroughfare 
of Hoddesdon. At Ware we change teams at the 
" Saracen's Head," and four fine strong-limhed 
chestnuts are put in, to take us the rather hilly 
stage on to Buntingford. At this sleepy little 
town they take care to give us as strong a team as 
you will find in any coach on any road, for the 
Avay rises steadily for some miles over Hoyston 
Downs. A good thing for the horses that tlie 
stage on to Royston town is not more than seven 
miles. "I believe you, sir," says the coachman ; 
" vy, I've heerd my father say, vot driv' over this 
'ere road thirty year ago, that he vore out many 
a good 'orse on this stage ; an' 'e vere a careful 
man too, as you miglit say, and turned out every 
blessed one, //inside or /mut, to valk ui^-hill for 
two mile, Avet or fine ; strike me blue if he didn't." 
" They talk of loAvering the road through the 
toj) of Reed Hill, don't they, coachman ? " 

" Oh ! yes ; they torks, and that's about all 
they does do. Lot o' good torking does my 'orses. 
Vot I vants to know is, v'y does Ave pay the 
turnpikes ? " 

We change at the " Red Lion," Royston, and 
then come on to the galloping ground that brings 
us smartly, along a level road, to Arrington Bridge, 
the spelling of Avhose name is a matter of divergent 



DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 73 

oj^inioiis among the compilers of road-books. But 
AAlietlier called Arring'ton or Harrington, it is a 
pretty, retired sjiot, Avitli a handsome inn and an 
equally handsome row of houses opposite. 

"Will you i^lease to alight ? " asks the stately 
landlady of the " Ilardwicke Arms" inn and 
2^osting-house, with jierhaps a little too much air 
of condescension toAvards us, as coacli-2:)assengers. 
We of the stage-coaches — nay, CA'en those of the 
mails — occuj^y only a second place in the con- 
sideration of mine host and hostess of this, one 
of the finest inns on the road. Their j)osting 
business brings them some very free-handed cus- 
tomers, and their position, hard by my lord of 
Hardwicke's grand seat of Wimpole, spoils them 
for mere ordinary CA'eryday folks. 

HoAvever, it is noAV more than half-past scA'cn 
o'clock, and Ave liaAC had no bite nor sup since 
two. Tlierefore Ave alight at the landlady's bidding 
and hasten into the inn, to make as good a supper 
as possible in the twenty minutes alloAved. 

Half a crown each, in all conscience, for tAA^o 
cups of tea, and some bread and butter, cold 
ham and eggs ! We climb up to our places, 
dissatisfied. Soon the quiet spot falls aAvay behind, 
as our horses get into their stride ; and as Ave 
leave, so does a yelloAV po'shay dash up, and 
convert the apparently sleepy knot of smocked 
post-boys and shirt-slecA^ed ostlers, Avho have 
been lounging al)out the stable entrance, into 
a very alert and Avide-aAvake throng. 

Caxton, a busy thoroughfare village, where the 



74 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

great " George " inn does a very large business, is 
passed, and soon, along this flattest of flat roads, 
that grim relic, Caxton Gibbet, rises dark and 
forbiddini? ati^ainst the translucent evenino^ sky- 
Does the troubled ghost of young Gat ward, 
gibbeted here eighty years ago for robl)ing the 
mail on this lonely spot, ever revisit the scene, 
we wonder P 

The Avise, inscrutable stars hang trembling in 
the sky, and the sickle moon is shining softly, 
as, having passed Papworth St. Everard, we droji 
gently down through Godmanchester and draw 
up in front of the " George " at Huntingdon, 
585 miles from Loudon, at ten o'clock. 

We take the opportunity afforded by the 
change of filling our pocket-flasks with some rich 
brown brandy of the right sort, and invest in some 
of those very special veal-and-ham sandwiches for 
which good Mrs. Ekin has been famous these 
years past. Our coachman " leaves us here," and 
we tip him eighteenpence apiece .when he comes 
round to inform us of the fact. 

The new coachman, after some little conver- 
sation Avitli the outgoing incumbent of the bench, 
in Avhich Ave catch the remark made to the ncAv- 
comcr that some articles or some persons are 
"a pretty fair lot, taking 'em all round" — a 
criticism that evidently sizes us up for the 
benefit of liis confrere — climbs into his seat, and 
giving us all a comprehensiA^e and impartial glance, 
settles himself doAvn c()mfortabl3^ "All right, 
Tom ? " he asks the guard OA'cr his shoulder. 



DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 75 

" Yes," answers that functionary. " Then give 
'em their heads, Bill," he says to the ostler ; and 
away Ave £^0 into the moonlit night at a steady 
pace. 

The hox-seat passenger, who very successfully 
kept the original coachman in conversation nearly 
all the way from London to Huntingdon, does not 
seem to quite hit it ofi' with our new whip, who 
is inclined to he huffish, or, at the least of it, given 
to silence and keeping his oAvn counsel. " Have 
a weed, coachman ? " he asks, after some in- 
effectual attempts to get more than a grunt out 
of him. " Don't mind if I do," is the ungracious 
reply, and he takes the proffered cigar and — puts 
it into some pocket somewhere beneath the 
voluminous capes of his greatcoat. After this, 
silence reigns supreme. Por ourselves, Ave have 
chatted throughout the day, and now begin to feel 
— not sleepy, but meditatiA^e. 

The moon noAV rides in unsullied glory through 
the azure sky. We top Alconbury Hill at a fcAv 
minutes to tAvelve, and come to the junction of 
the Old North and the Great North Roads. 
EA^erything stands out as clearly as if it Avere 
daylight, but Avith a certain ghost-like and un- 
canny effect. " The obelisk," as the coachmen 
have learned to call the great milestone at the 
junction of the roads (it is really a square 
jiedestal) looks particularly spectral, but is not 
the airy nothing it seems — as the coachman on 
the Edinburgh Mail discovered, a little Avliile 
ago. The guard tells us all about it. The usual 



76 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DA YS OF YORE 

thing. Too much to drink at the hospitable bar 
of the " George," at Huntingdon, and a doubt as 
to Avhich of the two milestones he saw, on coming 
up the road, was the real one. The guard and 
all the outsides were in similar case — it Avas 
Christmas, and men made nnn'ry — and so there 
was nothing for it but to try their quality. Un- 
fortunately, he drove into the real stone, and not 
its spectral duplicate, conjured up by the effects 
of strong liquors. We see the broken railings 
and the dismounted stone ball that once capped 
the thing as we pass. The local surgeon mended 
the resultant broken liml)s at the " Wheatsheaf," 
whose lighted windows fall into our wake as we 
commence the descent of Stonegate Hill. 

Stilton. By this time we are too drowsy to 
note whether we changed at the " Bell " or at 
its rival, directly opposite, the " Angel." At 
any rate, nobody asks us if Ave Avould not like 
a nice real Stilton cheese to take Avith us, as 
they usually do : it is midnight. 

We noAV pass Norman Cross, and come in 
another eight miles to Wansford turnpike, Avhere 
the gate is closed and the pikeman gone to l)ed. 
" BloAv up for the gate," said the coachman. Allien 
Ave Avere draAving near, to the guard, Avho blcAV 
his horn accordingly ; but it does not seem to 
have disturl)ed the dreams of the janitor. " Gate, 
gate ! " cry the guard and coachman in stentorian 
chorus. The giuird himself descends, and ])1()Avs 
a furious series of blasts in the doorway, Avhilc 
the coachman lashes the casement AvindoAvs. 



nOlVN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 79 

At last a shuffling and fumbling are heard 
within, and the door is opened. The pikeman 
has not heen to bed after all; he was, and is, 
only drunk, and had fallen into a sottish sleep. 
He now opens the gate, in the midst of much 
disinterested advice from both our officials — the 
guard advising him to stick to Old Tom and leave 
brandy alone, and the coachman pointing out 
that the Mail Avill be down presently and that 
he had better leave the gate ojien if he does 
not wish to present the Postmaster-General with 
forty shillings, that being the penalty to which 
a 2)ike-keeper is liable who does not leave a clear 
passage for His Majesty's Mails. 

We now cross Wansford Bridge, a very long 
and narrow stone structure over the river Nene. 
Having done so, slowly and with caution, 
we know no more : sleep descends insensibly 
upon us. 

. . . Immeasurable a?ons of time pass by. 
We are floating with rhythmic wings in the 
pure ether of some unterrestrial paradise. Our 
gross earthly integument (tAvelve stone and a 
few extra pounds avoirdujiois of flesh and blood 
and bone) has fallen away. We want nothing to 
eat, for ever and ever, and have left everything 
gross and unspiritual far, far below us, and .... 
a fearful crash ! Convulsively, instinctively, our 
arms are thrown out, and Ave awake, tenaciously 
grasping one another. What is this that has 
brought us down to earth again and made us 
uuAvillingly assume once more that corporeal 



8o STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

hunclredweiglit, or thereabouts, Ave had left so 
o'kidlv behind ? Are we overturned ? 

No ; it was nothing : nothing, that is to say, 
but the hunchbacked Ijridge over the river 
Welhmd, that leads from Stanifoi-d Baron into 
Stamford Town. It is only the customary l)ump 
and lurch, the guard informs us. May all archi- 
tects of hunchback bridges be converted from 
straight -backed human beings into bowed and 
crooked likenesses of their own abominable 
creations ! We will keep awake, lest another 
such rude awaking await us. 

With this intent we gaze, wide-eyed, upon 
Stamford ToAvn, its noble buildings wrapjied 
round in midnight quiet, the moon sliining 
here full upon the mullioned stone Avindows of 
some ancient mansion, there casting imj^enetrable 
black shadoAVs, making dark mysteries of grand 
architectural doorways decorated with curions 
scutcheons and overhung Avith heavy pediments, 
like beetling eyebroAvs. Grand churches Avhose 
spires soar away, aAvay far into the sky, astonish 
our ncAvly-awakened vision as the coachman care- 
fully guides the coach through the narroAV and 
crooked streets, in Avhich the shadoAVs from 
cornices and roof-tops lie so black and sharp 
tliat none but he Avho has driven here before could 
surely l)ring this coach safely through. Once or 
tAvice Ave liaAC quailed as he has driven straight 
at some solid Avail, and liaA'e l)reathed again 
Avhen it ha,s proved to be only some oblique 
monstrous silhouetted imai:^e cast athwart the 



DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 8i 

way. Fear only leaves us when Ave are clear 
of the town and once more on the unobstructed 
road ; then only is there leisure for the mind to 
dwell upon the beauties of that glorious old 
stone-built town. We are thus ruminating when, 
between Great Casterton and Stretton, where 
we enter Rutlandshire, the glaring lamps of a 
swiftly aj^i^roaching coach lurch forward out of 
the long persj^ective of road, and, with a clatter 
of harness and a sharp crunching of wheels, fall 
away, as in a vision. The guard, answering some 
one's question, says it is the Leeds " Rocking- 
ham," due in London at something after ten in 
the morning. 

Tlie determination to keeji aAvake was heroic, 
but without avail. Even the screaming and 
grumbling of the skid and the straining of the 
Avheels down Spitalgate Hill into Grantham did 
not suffice to quite waken us. But what that 
noise and the jarring of the wheels failed to do, the 
stoppage at the " George " at Grantham and the 
sudden quiet do succeed in. Our friend the moon 
has by now sunk to rest, and a pallid dawn has 
come ; someone remarks that it is past three 
o'clock in the morning, and someone else is 
wakened and hauled forth from amid the snoring 
insides, whose snores become gasps and gul^is, and 
then resolve themselves into the yaAvns and peevish 
exclamations of tired men. The person thus 
awakened proves to be a passenger who had booked 
to ColsterAvorth, Avhich is a little village we have 
now left eight miles behind us. He had been 
VOL. II. . 6 



82 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

asleep, and as CoLsterAvortli is not one of our stop- 
ping or changing places, the guard forgot all al)out 
him until the change at Grantliam. The passenger 
and the guard are now Avaging a furious war of 
words on the resounding pavements of the sleeping 
town. It seems that the unfortunate inside, 
besides being himself carried so far beyond his 
destination, has a heavy portmanteau in the like 
predicament. If he had been a little bijj^ger and 
the guard a little smaller, his fury Avould perhaps 
make him fall upon that official and personally 
chastise him. As it is, he resorts to abuse. 
Windows of surrounding houses now begin to be 
thrown up, and nightcapped heads to inquire 

" what the d 1 's the matter, and if it can't be 

settled somewhere else or at some more convenient 
season ? " The guard says " This 'ere gent wot's 
abusing of me like a blooming pickpocket goes to 
sleep and gets kerried past where he wants to get 
out, and when I pulls him out, 'stead of taking 'im 

him on to Newark or York, 'e " " Shut up," 

exclaims a fierce voice from above: " can't a man 
get a wink of sleep for you fellows ? " 

So, the change being put to, the altercation is 
concluded in undertones, and we roll off ; the irate 
passenger to bed at the " George," voAving he will 
o-et a legal remedy against the proprietors of the 
"Wellington " for the unheard-of outrage. 

At NeAvark, a hundred and tAventy-five miles 
of our journey performed, it is broad dayliglit as 
the coach rolls, making th(^ eclioes resound, into 
the great market-square. Clock-faces — a little 



DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 83 

blanched and debauclied-looking to onr fancy — 
proclaim the hour to be 5.30 a.m. The change 
is waiting for us in front of the " Saracen's Head," 
and so is our new coachman. The old one leaves 
us, but before doing so " kicks us " — as the ex- 
pressive phraseology of the road has it — for the 
usual fees. He has been, so far as Ave remember 
him, a dour, silent, unsociable man, but we think 
that, perhaps, as we have been asleep during 
the best part of his reign on the box-seat, any 
qualities he may possess have not had their due 
opportunity, and so he gets two shillings from 
ourselves. A passenger behind us gives him a 
sliilling, which he promptly spits on and turns, 
" for luck " as he says, and " in 'opes it'll grow." 
The passenger who gave it him says, thereupon — 
in a broad Scots accent— that he is " an impudent 
fellow, and desairves to get nothing at all ; " to 
which the jarvey rejoins that he has in his time 
brought many a Scotchman from Scotland, but, 
" this is the fust time, blow me, that ^ever I see 
one agoin' back ! "— Avhich is a very dark and 
mysterious saying. What did he mean ? 

Our new coachman is a complete change from 
our late Jehu. He is a spruce, cheerful fellow, 
neat and Avell brushed, youthful and prepossessing. 
"Good morning, gentlemen," he says cheerily: 
" another fine day." We had not noticed it. All 
we had observed Avas of each other, and that as 
every other looked pale, Avearied and heavy-eyed, 
so Ave rightly judged must be our oAvn condition. 

" Chk ! " says our youthful charioteer to his 



84 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

horses, and awa}^ they bound. NeAvark market- 
square glides by, and we are crossing the Trent, 
over a long hridge. " Newark Castle, gentlemen," 
says our coachman, jerking his whip to the left 
hand; and there Ave see, rising from the l^anks of 
the hroad river, the cruml)ling, time-stained towers 
of a ruined mediaeval fortress. Much he has to 
say of it, for he is intelligent beyond the ordinary 
run. A good and graceful Avhip, too — one of the 
ncAV school : much persuasion and little punish- 
ment for the horses, Avho certainly seem to put 
forward their best paces at his merest suggestion. 
It is a good, flat, and fairly straight road, this 
ten-mile stage to Scarthing Moor. We cross the 
Trent again, then a loAV-lying tract of Avater- 
meadoAvs, AA'here the night mists still cling in 
ghost-like Avisps to the grass, and then several 
small villa2:es. " This " — savs our coachman, 
pointing to a church beside the road, and doAv^n 
the street of one of these little villages — "this is 
where Oliver CroniAvell came from." 

"What is the name of it?" Ave ask, knoAving 
that, Avhatever its name, the Protector came from 
quite a different place. 

" CroniAvell," he says. 

So this Avas ju'ohably the original seat of that 
family many centuries before Oliver came into 
the Avorld, which has since then l)een so greatly 
exercised about him. 

" BloAV up for the change," says the coach- 
man to the guard, as, having passed through 
Carlton-on-Trcnt, Sutton-on-Trent, and round the 



DOWN THE ROAD JJV DAYS OF YOrD 85 

awkAvarcI l)en{l of the road at Weston, we approach 
Scarthing Moor and the " Bhick Bull." " They're 
a sleejiy lot at the ' Bull,' " he says, in exi^lanation. 
The guard produces the "yard of tin" from the 
horn-basket, and sounds a melodious tantara : quite 
unnecessarily, after all, it seems, for, quite a 
distance off, the ostler, dressed after his kind 
in trousers and shirt only, with braces dangling 
about him, is seen standing in the road, with 
the change ready and waiting. 

" Got up before you found yourself, this 
morning ? " asks the coachman. 

The ostler says he don't take no sauce from 
no boys what ain't been breeched above a twelve- 
month. 

"All right, Sam," rejilies the coachman; " your 
'art's all right, if you have got a 'ed full of 
Avool. Shouldn't wonder if you don't make up for 
this mistake of yourn by sleejiin' it out for a 
month of Sundays after this. If so be you do, 
jest hang the keys of the stable outside, and Avhen 
we come down agen, Jim and me '11 put 'em in 
ourselves, Avon't we, Jim ? " 

Jim says they will, and a\ ill petition Guv'ment 
to pension him off, and retire him to the " R'yal 
'Orsepital for Towheads." 

Evidently some ancient feud between the 
ostler and the coach is in progress, and still far 
from being settled. The ostler sulkily Avatches 
us out of sight, as we make our next stage to 
Betford. The clocks in the market-j^lace of that 
busy little town mark half-past seven, and the 



86 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

"White Hart," where we drop a jmssenger for 
the Gainsborough coach and another for Chester- 
fiekl, and take up another for York, is a busy 
scene. Ap2)etising aromas of early breakfasts being 
prepared put a keener edge upon our already 
sharjiened appetites, and we all devoutly wish we 
were at Doncaster, where our breakfast awaits the 
coming of the coach. Across Barnby Moor, past 
the great " Bell " inn, we take our way, and come 
to one more change, at the "Crown," Bawtry; 
then hie away for Doncaster, which we reach, 
past Rossington Bridge and the famous St. Leger 
course, at half -past nine o'clock. 

" Twenty minutes for breakfast, gentlemen," 
announces the coachman as we pull up in front of 
the " New Angel " inn ; while the guard, who has 
come with us all the way from London, now 
announces that he goes no farther. We give him 
half a crown, and hasten, as well as stiffened limbs 
allow, down the ladder placed for us outsides to 
alight by, to the breakfast-room. 

We catch a glimpse of ourselves in a mirror 
as we enter. Heavens ! is it possible an all-night 
journey can make so great a difference in a man's 
personal appearance ? Wliile here is a lady who 
has been an inside passenger all the way from 
town, and yet looks as fresh and blooming as 
though she had but just dressed for a walk. How 
do they manage it, those delicate creatures ? 

Our friend, who says he is starving, refuses 
to discuss this question. He remarks, with eye 
wildly roving o'er the well-laden table-cloth, 



DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 87 

that sonietliing to eat and drink is more to the 
point. We cannot gainsay the contention, and do 
not attempt it, hut sink into a chair. 

" Coffee, sir ; tea, sir ; 'ot roll ; 'am and heggs. 
Yorkshire hrawn, tongue," suggests the waiter, 
swiftly. 

A¥e select something and fall-to. After all, 
it is Avorth while to take a long coach journey, 
even if it he only for the appetite it gives one. 
Here we are, all of us, eating and drinking as 
though we had taken no meals for a Aveek past. 
Yes, another cuj) of coffee, please, and I'll thank 
you to pass the • 

"Time's up, gents ; coach just agoin' to start!" 

" Oh ! here, I say, you know. We've only just 
sat doAvn." 

" Ain't got more'n 'nother couj)le o' minutes," 
says the ncAv guard ; and so, appetite not fully 
satisfied, Ave all troop out and resume our places. 

Our coach goes the hilly route, hy Perryhridge 
and Tadcaster, to York. We change on the short 
stage out of Doncaster, at Rohin Hood's Well, 
AA'here the rival inns, the " Ncav " and the 
" Rohin Hood," occupy opposite sides of the road ; 
and again at Ferryhridge, at the " SAvan," Avhere 
our smart coachman resigns his seat to an enor- 
mously fat man, Aveighing nearly, if not quite, 
twenty stone. He is so uuAvieldy that quite a 
number of the " SAvan " postboys gather round 
him, and by dint of much sustained effort, do at 
last succeed in pulling and pushing him into his 
place, resembling in so doing the Lili2)utians 



88 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

manipulating Gulliver; the coachman himself, 
breathing like a grampus, encouraging them hy 
calling out, "That's it, lads; another heave like 
t'last does it. All together again, and I'll mak' 
it a gallon ! " 

Across the river Aire to Brotherton, and thence 
through Sherlnirn to Tadcaster, where, having 
changed at the " AVhite Horse," Ave come along 
a level stage into York; the ne.v guard, who 
rejoices in the possession of a key-bugle and a 
good ear for music, signalising our entrance by 
playing, in excellent style, " The Days when we 
went Gipsying, a Long Time Ago." 

The coach dines at York. The " Black Swan," 
to which we come, is a house historic in the annals 
of coaching, for it was from its door that the 
original York and London stage set forth ; but 
it is a very plain and heavy building. Half an 
hour is allowed for dining, and, luilike the 
majority of houses down the road, the table-cloth 
and the knives and forks and glasses are not the 
only things in readiness. 

" What have you got, Avaiter ? " 

" Hot roast beef, sir, just coming in ; very 
prime." 

" Haven't you any cold chicken for a lady 
here ? " 

" Yessir ; cold chicken on the table, sir ; in 
front of you, sir." 

" You call that chicken, waiter ! Avhy, it's only 
a skeleton. Take it aAvay and give it to the dog 
in the yard." 



t>dJj'.v The road in days of yore §9 

"Very sorry, sir; ' Eoyal Sovereigns' very 
hungry to-day ; very good appetites they had, 
sir; wonder they left even the hones." 

" You're hiughing at me, you rascal ; hring 
another chicken ! " 

" No more chickens, sir ; roast lamh, would 
the lady like ? hot or cold ; green peas, new 
potatoes ? " . . . 

" Your apple tart, sir. Ale, sir. Claret, 
ma'am." . . . 

Dinner disposed of, the coach is ready, hut 
one of our passengers is missing. Has any one 
seen him ? He went oif , it seems, to see the 
cathedral, instead of having dinner. Portunately 
for himself he comes hurrying up just as Ave are 
starting, and the guard hauls him up to his out- 
side j^lace hy main force. 

" Tip us a tune," says the coachman to the 
guard, who, rendered sentimental hy the steak and 
tJie hottle of stout he had for dinner in the har, 
in company ^\\\\\ the huxom harmaid, responds 
with " Believe me, if all those Endearing Young 
Charms," as we pass the frowning portal of 
Bootham Bar and hump along the very rough 
street of Clifton, York's modern suhurh. 

This is a thirteen-and-a-half mile stage from 
Y^ork to Easing wold; hut although long, it is an 
easy one for the horses, if the coachman does not 
demand pace of them, on account of the dead level 
of the road. He very wisely lets them take their 
oAvn speed, only now and then shaking the reins 
when they seem inclined to slacken from their 



go STAGE-COACB AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

steady trot. It is a lonely stretch of country, 
treeless, flat, melancholy; and the api^earance 
of EasinsTAVold is welcomed. At the " Rose and 
Crown " the new team is put in, and off we go 
again, the ten miles to Thirsk. At Northallerton 
the horses are changed for a fresh team at tlie 
" Golden Lion," and the fat coachman, assisted 
down with almost as much troul)lc as he was 
hoisted up, resigns the rihhons into the hands of 
another. 

The usual knot of sightseers of the little town 
are gathered about the inn to witness the one 
event of the day, the arrival of the London coach. 
Among them one perceives the coachman out of 
a place ; a beggar out at elbows ; three recruits 
with ribbons in their hats, not quite recovered 
from last night's drink, and stupidly wondering 
how the ribbons got there ; the " coachman wot 
is to take the next stage"; several errand boys 
wasting their masters' time ; and a horsey youth 
with small fortune but large expectations, who 
is the idler of the place — the local man about 
town. There is al)solute]y nothing else for the 
inhabitants of Northallerton to do for amusement 
but to Avatch the coaches, the post-chaises and 
the chariots as they pass along the one long and 
empty street. 

Our box-seat passenger leaves us here. Al- 
thousrh he has, all the wav down, shown himself 
anxious to be intimate; with the successive coach- 
men, and has paid pretty heavily for the privilege 
of occupying that seat of honour, it has been of 



DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 91 

no sporting advantage to him, for he is only a 
Cockney tradesman, who has never even driven 
a trap, let alone four-in-hand. So when each 
whip in turn asked him the questions, con- 
ventional among' whips, " whether he had his 
driving-gloves on, and Avould like to take the 
rihhons for the next few miles," he evaded the 
offer hy "not being in form," or not knowing 
the road, or something else equally annoying to 
the coachman, who, in not having an amateur of 
drivins: on the hox, therehv missed the canonical 
tip of anything from seven shillings to half a 
sovereign which the handling of the reins for 
twenty miles or so was Avorth to the ordinary 
sportsman. 

Our new coachman, on our starting from 
Northallerton, keeps the seat beside him vacant. 
He says he has a joassenger for it doAvn the road. 
Tom Layfield, for that is the name of our present 
charioteer, Avorks the "Wellington" up and down 
between this and Newcastle on alternate days, 
Ralph Soulsby being the coachman on the other. 
Tom Layfield is a very prim-looking, tall and 
spare man, tutor in coachmanship to many gentle- 
men on these last fifty-five miles ; and it does not 
surprise some of us when, jiassing Great Smeaton, 
we are hailed by a very " down the road " looking 
young man, whose hat is cocked at a knowing 
angle, and whose entire get-uji, from the gigantic 
mother-o' -pearl buttons on his light overcoat to 
the big scarf-pin in the semblance of a galloping 
coach and horses, proclaims "amateur coachman." 



92 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

It is the yoiini^' squire of Hornby Grange, on 
tlie rii^'lit hand, avc arc tohl, Avho is anxious 
to graduate in coaching honours, and to be 
mentioned in the pages of the Spurting Magazine 
by Ninirod, in comjoany Avith Sir St. Vincent 
Cotton, the Brackenburys, and other distinguished 
ornaments of the bench. 

" 'Afternoon, squire," says Layfiehl, as that 
young sportsman swings into the seat beside him ; 
and they talk guardedly al)out anything and 
evervthins: but coaches, until Lavlield asks— as 
though it had just occurred to him — if he would 
not like to " put 'em along " for a few miles. 
He accepts, and is just about to take the reins 
over when the voice of a hitherto silent gentleman 
is heard from behind. 

" I earnestly protest, coachman," he says, 
" against your giving the reins into the hands of 
that young gentleman, and endangering our lives. 
I appeal to the other passengers to support me," 
he continues, glancing round. " We read in the 
papers every day of the many serious, and some 
fatal, accidents caused by control of the horses 
being given to unqualified persons. If you are 
well advised, young gentleman, yon will relinquish 
the reins into their proper kee2)ing ; and you, 
coachman, ought to know, and do know, that you 
Avould l)e liable to a fine of any amount from £5 
to £10, at the discretion of a magistrate, for 
alloAving an unauthorised person to driAe." 

The coachman takes back the reins, aiul sulkily 
says he didn't know he had an informer uj) ; to 



DOWN THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 93 

Avhich tlie gentleman rejoins by saying that, so 
long as the coachman drives and performs tlie 
duty for which he is paid by his proprietors, lie 
himself is not concerned to teach him proper 
respect ; l)iit he cannot refrain from pointing out, 
to the coachman in especial, and to the passengers 
generally, that it would have been the policy of 
an informer to allow the illegal act to be com- 
mitted and then to lay an information. He was 
really protecting the coachman as well as the 
passengers, because it was Avell known that the 
road swarmed with informers, and continued 
infractions of the law could not always hope to 
go unj)unished. 

Every one murmurs approval, except the 
coachman and his friend, and the guard. The 
guard, as an official, is silent ; the amateur coach- 
man has a hot flush uj^on his face. The coachman, 
however, clearly sees himself to be in the Avrons;, 
and awkwardly apologises. Still, Ave all feel 
somcAvhat constrained, and, passing Croft Spa 
and coming to Darlington, exj^erience an ungrate- 
ful relief Avlien the champion of our necks and 
limbs leaves us there. 

He is no sooner ffone than tonsrues are Avasrorini? 
about him. " Who is he ? What is he ? Do you 
know him ? " 

" Talks like a Hact o' Parlymint," says the 
coachman to his friend. 

" And a very good reason, too," says a man 
Avith knowledge : "he is a Justice of the Peace 
and Chairman of the Bench of Magistrates at 



94 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

Stockton, wliicli holds a higher jurisdiction than 
your bench, coachman. I think you've liad a 
yery narrow escape of parting with £10 and 
costs." 

The guard has a few parcels to take out of 
the boot at the " King's Head," and a fcAV new 
ones to put in, and then we're off for Hushyford 
Bridge, where the coach takes tea, and Avhere we 
leaye the amateur coachee at the " Wheatsheaf." 

Durham and the coal country open out on 
leaving secluded Rushyford. Durham Cathedral, 
although itself standing on a height, has the 
appearance of being in a profound hollow as the 
coach, with the skid on, slowly creaks and groans 
down the long hill into the city. Changing at 
the "Three Tuns," the new team toils painfully 
up the atrociously steep streets to Framwellgate 
Bridf?e, where the river Wear and the stern 
grandeur of the Norman Cathedral, Avitli the bold 
rocks and soft woods around it, blend luider the 
Avestering sun-rays of a July evening into a lovely 
mellowed picture. 

Chester-le-Street and Gateshead are ill ex- 
changes for the picturesqueness of Durham, but 
they serve to bring us nearer our journey's end, 
and, truth to tell, we are very weary ; so that, 
comins" down the breakneck streets of Gateshead 
in the gathering darkness to the coaly Tyne 
and dear dirty Newcastle, with the hum of its 
great population and the hooting of its steairers 
in our ears, we are tilled with a great content. 
" Give 'em a tune," says the coachman; and, the 



BOJIW THE ROAD IN DAYS OF YORE 95 



ii^uard sounding a fanfare, we are quickly over 
the old town hridge, alonii; tlie Side, and at the 
Turf Hotel, Collingwood Street. It is nearly ten 
o'clock. The journey is done. 

Let us tot up the expenses per head : — 



One outside place . 
Supper at Arriiigton Bridge . 
Brandy and sandwiches at Huntin 
Coachman, Huntingdon 

,, Newark 

Breakfast, Doncaster 
Guard, Doncaster . 
Coachman, Ferrybridge 
Dinner, York 
Coachman, Nortliallerton 
Tea, Rushyford Bridge . 
Coachman, Newcastle . 
Guard, Newcastle . 

Total . 





£ 


s. 


d. 


. 3 


10 










2 


6 


gdon 





3 










1 


G 







2 










2 


3 







2 


6 







2 










3 


6 







1 


6 







2 





















2 


6 




£A 


17 


~3 



CHAPTEE IV 

ACCIDENTS 

One of the greatest ohjections urged 1)y the coach- 
ing interest against railways was their danger, 
and the certain loss of life on them in case of 
accident. It was unfortunate that the opening of 
tlie Liverjwol and Manchester Eailwav Avas the 
occasion of a fatal mischance that lent emphasis 
to the dolorous prophecies of coach-proprietors and 
the road interests in general ; for on that day 
(September 15th, 1830) Mr. Huskisson, a promi- 
nent man in the politics of that time, met his 
death by being run over by the first train. It 
seems to ourselves incredible, but it was the fact, 
that there Avere those Avho ascribed this fatality 
to the wrath of God against mechanical methods 
of travelling. Then first arose that favourite 
saying among coachmen, "In a coach accident, 
there you are; in a raihvay accident, Avliere are 
your" The impression thus intended to be con- 
veyed was that a coaching disaster Avas a very 
trifling affair compared Avith a railway accident. 
But Avas it? Let us see. 

The llev. William Milton, anIio in ISIO pub- 
lished a Avork on coach-building, lamented the 
great number of accidents in his time, and said 



ACCIDENTS 97 

that not a tenth part of them was ever recorded 
in the newspapers. He darkly added that the 
coach - proprietors conkl probably explain the 
reason. However that may be, the following 
pages contain a selection of the most tragical 
happenings in this sort, cnlled from the news- 
papers of the past. It does by no means pretend 
to completeness ; for to essay a task of that kind 
wonld be to embark upon a very extensive work, 
as well as a very severe indictment of the coaching 
age. Moreover, it may shrewdly be suspected 
that many droAvsy folk fell off the box-seats in 
the darkness, and quietly and unostentatiously 
broke their necks, without the least notice being 
publicly taken. Mere upsets and injuries to 
passengers and coachmen are not instanced here. 
Only a selection from the fatal accidents has been 
made. 

1807. — Erighton and Portsmouth coach upset; 
coachman killed. 

1810. — Eival Brighton and Worthing coaches 
racing ; one upset ; coachman killed. 

1819. — " Coburg " (Brighton coach) upset at 
Cuck field, on the up journey. The horses were 
fresh, and, dashing away, came into collision with 
a waggon. All the eleven outsides Avere injured. 
A Mr. Blake died next day at the " King's Head," 
Cuckfield, where the injured had been taken. 

1820. April. — The Leeds and Wakefield 
"True Blue," going down Belle Hill with horses 
galloj^ing, on the wrong side of the road, came 
into collision Avith a coal-cart. The coachman's 

VOL. II. 7 



98 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

skull was fractured, and he died instantly. One 
outside passenger's leg had to he amputated, and 
he died the next day. The recovery of another 
passenger was regarded as douhtful. 

One of the more serious among coach accidents 
was that which hefell the London and Dorking 
stage, in April 1826. It was one of those coaches 
that did not carry a guard. It left the " Elephant 
and Castle" at nine o'clock in the morning, full 
inside and out, and arrived safely at EavcII, where 
Joseph Walker, who was both coachman and 
proprietor, alighted for the purpose of getting a 
parcel from the hind hoot. He gave the reins 
to a hoy who sat on the box, and all Avould have 
been well had it not been for the thoughtless act 
of the boy himself, who cracked the whip, and set 
the horses off at full speed. They dashed down 
the awkwardly curving road by the church and 
into a line of wooden pailings, which were torn 
down for a length of twelve yards. Coming then 
to some immovable obstacle, the coach was vio- 
lently upset, and the whole of the passengers 
hurled from the roof. All were seriously injured, 
and one was killed. This unfortunate person Avas 
a woman, who fell upon some spiked iron rail- 
ings, " Avhich," says the contemporary account, 
" entered her breast and neck. She Avas dreadfully 
mutilated, none of her features being distinguish- 
able. She lingered until the following day, Avhen 
she expired in the greatest agony." The grave- 
stone of this unfortunate person is still to be 
seen in the leafy churchyard of EavcII, inscribed 



ACCIDENTS loi 

to the memory of " Catherine, wife of James 
Bailey, who, in consequence of the overturnin<»' 
of the Dorking Coach, April 1826, met with her 
death in the 22nd year of her age." 

1827. Deconher. — The uj) Salisbury coach was 
driven, in the fog prevailing at the time, into a 
pond called the " King's Water," at East Bedfont, 
on HounsloAV Heath. An outside passenger, a 
Mr. Lockhart Wainwright, of the Light Dragoons, 
was killed on the spot, by falling in the water. 
The pond was only two feet deep, hut it had 
a further depth of two feet of mud, and it 
was thought that the unfortunate passenger was 
smothered in it. The four women inside the 
coach had a narrow escape of being drowned, but 
were rescued, and the coach righted, by a crowd 
of about a hundred persons, chiefly soldiers from 
the neisihbourins; barracks, who had asseml)led. 

1832. Fehrnary 19th. — Mr. Fleet, coachman 
and part-j^roprietor of the Brighton and Tunbridge 
Wells coach, killed by the overturn of his con- 
veyance. 

1832. October 30M.— Brighton Mail upset at 
Beigatc. Coachman killed on the spot. The 
three outsides suffered fractured ribs and minor 
injuries. 

In 1833 the Marquis of Worcester, a shining 
light of the road in those days, began that 
connection with the Brighton Boad Avhich after- 
wards produced the " Duke of Beaufort " coach, 
made famous by the coloured j)rints after Lambert 
and Shayer. lie was passionately fond of driving, 



I02 SJ'AGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

and Avas so very often alloAved l)y tlie complaisant 
professional coachmen to " take the ribbons " that 
he at last fell into the habit of taking them almost 
as a matter of right. Of conrse, the jarveys Avho 
had relinquished the reins to him were always 
well remembered for their so doing ; but there 
were those to Avhom money was not everything, 
and in whose minds the sporting instinct was less 
develojied than a wholesome and ever-jiresent 
fear of the j)cnalties to which coachmen were 
liable if they permitted other persons to drive. 
There could have been no objection on the score 
of coachmanshi]:), for the Marquis was an able 
Avhip ; but the fact remained that he could not 
get the reins when he wanted them, and so in 
revenge set uj) two coaches on the Brighton lload, 
in alliance Avith a Jew named Israel Alexander. 
A paltry fellow, this Marquis, afterwards seventh 
Duke of Eeaufort, to enter into comjietition Avitli 
professional coachmen in order to satisfy a 
childish spite ; not, at any rate, tlie high-souled 
sportsman that toadies Avould liaA^e one believe. 

The coaches put on the road by this alliance 
AA^ere the "Wonder" and the " Quicksilver," both 
Avith intent to run Goodman, the proprietor of the 
" Times " coaches, off the route. The coachmen 
Avho tooled these ucav conveyances Avere, of course, 
alAvays to give up the reins Avhen my lord thought 
proper to drive, and so the revenge Avas com- 
plete. ]5ut the "Quicksilver," a fast coach 
timed to do the 52 miles in ij hours, had 
not been lonu' on the road before it met Avith 



ACCIDENTS 105 

a very serious accident, being overturned when 
leavin": Bris^liton on the eveniui? of July 15th. 
A booking-clerk, one John Snow, the son of a 
coachman, and himself a sucking Jehu, was 
driving, and upset the coach by the New Steyne, 
with the result that the passengers were throAvn 
into the gardens of the Steyne, or hung upon the 
spikes of the railings in very painful and ridiculous 
postures. Goodman had the satisfaction of pre- 
sently learning that the bad-blooded sportsman 
and his jiartner lost some very heavy sums in 
compensation awards. 

The " Quicksilver " was thereupon repainted 
and renamed, and, under the alias of the 
" Criterion," resumed its journeys. But ill- 
fortune clung to that coach, for on June 7th, 
I80I, as it was leaving London, it came into 
collision with a brewer's dray opposite St. Saviour's 
Church, Southwark. A little way on, down the 
Borough High Street, the coachman Avas obliged 
to suddenly pull up the horses to avoid running 
over a gentleman on horseback, whose horse had 
bolted into the middle of the road. The sudden 
strain on tlie pole, already, it seems, splintered in 
the affair with the dray, broke it off. It fell, and 
liecame entangled with the legs of the Avheelers, 
who became so restive and infuriated that attempts 
were made to put on the skid ; but before that 
could be done the coach overturned. Sir William 
Cos way, who was one of the outsides, and 
was at that moment attempting to climb doAvn, 
was pitched off' so violently that his skuU was 



io6 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

fractured, so tliat he died in less than two 
hours afterwards. A Mr. Todhunter " sustained " 
(as the reporters have it) a hroken tliigh. 

18oi. — The London and Halifax Mail came 
into collision with a bridi^^e, five miles from 
Sheffield. The coachman, Thomas Roberts, was 
killed. 

The Wolverhampton and Worcester coach, in 
avoiding a cart coming down a hill near Stour- 
bridge, Avas ujiset, and a j^^^'^senger killed. 

October. — A wheel came off one of Wheatley's 
Greenwich coaches at London Bridge, and one 
gentleman Avas killed. 

1835. August.— 'niG Liverpool " Albion " fell 
over on entering Whitchurch, through a worn-out 
linchpin. A lady inside passenger was disfigured 
for life. 

June. — The Nottingliam " Rapid " upset, three 
miles from Northampton, tlirough the breaking 
of an axle. A girl's leg crushed, and afterwards 
amputated. 

Novemtjer. — The Newcastle and Carlisle Mail 
upset, two miles from Hexham. Aiken, the 
coachman, killed. 

Deceuiljer 2oth. — The doAvn Exeter Mail upset 
on Christmas night, on nearing Andover, through 
running against a bank in the prevailing fog. 
Austin, the coachman, killed. 

183G. Jitue. — The up Louth Mail nearly upset 
by stones maliciously placed in the road by some 
unknown person, near Linger House l)ar. Uhodes, 
the guard, Avas throAvn ott' and seriously injured. 



ACCIDENTS 107 

In September, 183G, a shockiiii^ accident befel 
the down Manchester " Peveril of the Peak," five 
miles from Bedford. The coach turned over, and 
a gentleman named O'Brien was killed on the 
spot. The coachman lay two hours under the 
coach, and died from his injuries. 

The next disaster on our list Avas caused hv a 
drunken coachman's dazed state of mind. Early 
on a Sunday morning in June, 1837, the Lincoln 
and London Mails met and came into collision at 
Lower Codicote, near Biggleswade. The driver 
of the up mail, Thomas Crouch, was in a state 
of partial intoxication at the time, and owing to 
a curve in the road, and the wandering state of 
his faculties, he did not observe the approach of 
the other mail. The result Avas that, although 
the coachman of the other made room for him to 
pass, the tAvo coaches came into violent collision. 
The coach driven by Crouch Avas turned com- 
pletely round, ran tAventy or thirty yards in a 
direction oj^x^osite to that it Avas originally taking, 
and finally settled in a leaning j)Osture in the 
ditch. Crouch Avas so injured that he died a fcAV 
hours afterAvards. The passengers Avere not much 
hurt, but tAA'o horses Avere killed. 

On September 8th, a coachman named Burnett 
Avas killed at Speenhamland, on the Bath Boad. 
He Avas driving one of the Ncav Company's London 
and Bristol staq-es, and alisirhted at the " Hare 
and Hounds," A^erA' foolishh^ leaAdng the horses 
unattended, Avith the reins on their backs. He 
had been a coachman for twenty years, but 



io8 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL I.Y BAYS OF YORE 

experience had not been snfficient to prevent 
him thus breaking one of the first rules of the 
profession. He had no sooner entered the inn 
than tlie rival Old Company's coach came doAvn 
the road. Whether the other coachman i!:ave the 
horses a touch with his Avhip as he passed, or if 
they started on their own accord, is not known, 
hut they did start, and Burnett, rushing out to 
stop them, was thrown down and trampled on 
so that he died. 

Of another kind was the fatal accident that 
closed the year on the Glasgow Road. On the 
night of December 18th, the up Glasgow Mail ran 
over a man, supposed to have been a drunken 
carter, who was lying in the middle of the 
highway. 

1837. August. — The up Glasgow Mail, the up 
Edinburgh Mail, the Edinburgh and Dumfries, 
and the Edinburgh and Portpatrick Mails all upset 
the same night, at different j^laces. 

1838. August. — The London to Lincoln Express 
met a waggon at night, at Mere Hall, six miles from 
Lincoln. The coachman called to the waggoner 
to make room, and a young man who, it is supposed, 
was asleep on the top, started up, and rolled off. 
The waggon-wheels went over and killed him. 

September.— The Edinburgh and Perth 
"Coburg " was the sul)ject of a singular accident. 
Passengers and luggage Avere being received at 
Newhall's Pier, South Queensferry, when the 
leader suddenly turned round, and before the 
coachman and guard, Avho Avere stowing luggage, 



ACCIDENTS 109 

could render assistance, coacli and horses dis- 
api^earcd over the quay-wall. Some of the 
outsides saved their lives by throwing themselves 
on the pier, but tlic four insides were less fortunate. 
Ta\o of them thrust their heads through the 
windows, and so kept above the sea-water; the 
other two— a Miss Luff and her servant— were 
drowned. One cutside, who had been flung far 
out into the sea, could fortunately swim, and so 
came ashore safe, but exhausted. Nine years 
later, Eebruary 16th, 18i7, a similar accident 
happened to the Torrington and Bideford omnibus, 
when the horses took fright and plunged with 
the vehicle into the river from Bideford Quay. 
Of the twelve passengers, ten were drowned. 

October.— "^XQ " Light Salisbury," having met 
the train at Winchfield Station, proceeded to Hurst- 
bourne Hill, between Basingstoke and Andover, 
where the bit of one of the horses caught in the 
pole and the coach was immediately overturned. 
One passenger died the same afternoon, and 
another was taken to his house at Andover without 
the slightest hope of recovery. A young woman's 
leg was broken, and two other passengers' limbs 
were smashed. 

The railway journals, which had even thus 
early sprung into flourishing existence, did not 
fail to notice the increasing number of coaching 
accidents, the Bailioaij Times with great gusto 
reporting twenty in a few weeks. The prevalence 
of these disasters was a cynical commentary upon 
the " Patent Safety " coaches running on every 



no STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

road, warranted never to overturn and doing so with 
wonderful regularity, and on tliose coaching prints 
noticed by Charles Dickens — " coloured prints of 
coaches starting, arriving, changing horses ; coaches 
in the sunshine, coaches in the wind, coaches in 
the mist and rain, coaches in all circumstances 
compatible with their triumph and victory ; but 
never in the act of l)reaking down, or overturning." 
The last years of coaching Avere, in fact, even 
more fruitful in accidents than the old days. 
Especially pathetic were the circumstances attend- 
ant uj)on the disaster that overtook the " Lark " 
Leicester and Nottingham Stage on May 23rd, ISJ^O. 
The coach Avas on its last journey when it occurred, 
for the morroAV was to witness the opening of the 
railway between those places. Like most of these 
last trips, the occasion Avas marked by much 
circumstance. Crowds assembled to Avitness the 
old order of things visibly j^ass aAvay, and Frisby, 
the coachman, had dolefully tied black ribbons 
round his Avhii^stock, to mark the solemnity of 
the event. Unfortunately, that badge of mourning 
proved in a little Avhile to be only too aj)propriate, 
for the Avell-loaded coach had only gone about a 
mile and a lialf beyond Loughborough Avhen Prisby, 
\A^ho had been driving recklessly all the Avay, 
and had several times been remonstrated Avitli, 
overturned it at Coates' Mill. A Mr. Pearson 
and anotlnn" Avere killed. Pearson, avIio had 
especially come to take part in this last drive, 
AA'as connected Avitli the " Times " London and 
Nottingham coach. He had been seated beside 




z; S 



ACCIDENTS 113 

Erisby, and had several times warned him, without 
aA'ail. His thighs were broken, and he received 
a severe concussion of the brain, from which he 
died at midnight. Frisby himself Avas crippled 
for life. 

The pitcher goes oft to the well, l)ut at last 
it is broken ; and so likewise the coachmen 
who, Avinter and summer, storm or shine, had 
driven for almost a generation over the same 
Avell-knoAvn routes, at length met their death on 
them in some unforeseen manner. A striking 
instance of this Avas the sad end of William 
TJpfold—" unlucky Upfold "— Avho Avas coachman 
of the "Times" Brighton and Southampton Stage, 
a coach Avliich ran by Avay of Worthing and 
Chichester. He Avas a steady and reliable man, 
fifty- four years of age, and had been a coachman 
for thirty-five years, Avlien fatal mischance slew 
him on a February night, 1840. A singularly 
long series of more or less serious accidents had 
constantly attended him from 1831. In that year 
his leg AA'^as broken in an upset, and he had only 
just recovered and resumed his place Avhen the 
coach Avas overturned again, this time through 
the breaking of an axle. The injuries he received 
kept him a long time idle. Again, in January 
1832, at ]3osham, the furies Avere eager for 
his destruction. He got off at the Avayside inn, 
and left the reins in the hands of a passenger, 
Avho very foolishly alighted also, a minute or so 
later. When Upfold saAV him enter the inn he 
hastily left it ; but the horses had already started. 
VOL. II, 8 



114 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

111 trying to stop them he was kicked on the 
leg, and fell under the Avheels, which passed over 
him and broke the other leg. 

Poor Upfold recovered at last, and might 
have looked forward to immunity from any more 
accidents; hut Eate had not yet done Avith him. 
When nearing Salvington Corner, one night in 
Eehruary 1810, he Avas observed by Pascoe, a 
coachman Avho Avas Avith him, to pull the Avrong 
rein in turning one of the aAvkAvard angles that 
mark this stretch of road. 

" Upfold, Avhat are you at Avitli the horses ? " 
he asked. 

" I have pulled the Avrong rein," said Upfold. 

" Then mind and pull the right one this time," 
rejoined Pascoe ; but scarcely had he said it Avhen 
the coach toppled over. Nearly every one Avas 
hurt, but Upfold Avas killed. His pulling the 
Avrong rein Avas inexplicable. The unfortunate 
man kncAV the road intimately, and the Avitnesses 
declared he Avas absolutely sober; and so the 
country-folk, AA^ho kncAV his history and hoAV often 
accidents had come his Avay, Avere reduced to 
the fatalistic remark that " it had to be." 

184^1. Novemher 8th. — ^Rival coaches leaving 
Skipton started racing on the Colne and Burnley 
road. The horses of one grcAV unmanageable and 
ran aAvay. The passengers, alarmed, began to 
jump off, and a Manchester man, name unknoAvn, 
who had been sitting beside tlie coachman, laid 
hold of the reins to help the coachman pull the 
horses in. In doing so, he pulled their heads to 



ACCIDENTS 115 

one side, and they dashed Avith appalling force 
into a hlank wall. He was killed on the spot. 
All the passengers who had jumped off were more 
or less seriously injured ; but a woman and a boy, 
who had remained quietly in their seats on the 
roof, Avere unhurt. 

184<2. January 17^/?.— The " Nettle," Welsh- 
pool and Liverpool coach, overturned by a stone 
near NewtoAvn. Mr. Jones, of Grorward, Denbigh- 
shire, a Dissenting minister, going to live at 
Kerry, Montgomeryshire, was thrown oft' the 
roof. He died tAvo days later of his injuries, in 
o-reat aajonA^ 

December 2Sth. — The Mail, coming south from 
Caithness-shire, broke an axle at LatherouAvheel 
Bridge, and Donald Ross, the coachman, AA^as 
dashed from his box over the bridge into the rocky 
burn, thirty feet beloAV, and killed. The guard 
had a narroAV escape. Fortunately, there Avere 
no passengers. 

1813. February ISi^A.— The Cheltenham and 
AberystAvith Mail left the " Green Dragon," at 
Hereford, on its Avay, and proceeded as usual to St. 
OAven's turnpike-gate. The gate was open, as a 
matter of course, for the Mail, but the boisterous 
AAind bloAving at the time sent it SAvinging back 
across the road as the Mail passed. It hit the near 
AA'heeler a violent bloAV and broke the trace and the 
reins. Then rebounding, it struck the body of 
the coach with such force that Eyles, the coach- 
man, Avas throAvn oft' the box and killed. The 
horses, thoroughly terrified, then ran aAvay, and, 



ii6 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

meeting some donkey-cai'ts on the road, ran into 
them, injuring some okl Avomen driving from 
market. One of them subsequently died from her 
hurts. 

March 2'lnd. — The NorAvich Day Coach upset 
at Erentwood. The coachman, James Draing, 
who Avas also proprietor, Avas killed. 

Ajxril 21st. — The Southampton and Exeter 
Mail ujisct in the NeAV Eorest, tAvo miles from 
Stony Cross, hy the horses, frightened at an over- 
turned Avaggon, running the coach up a hank. 
Cheny, the coachman, met a dreadful death, 
his head being literally split in tAVo. A sub- 
scription of £350 Avas raised for his AvidoAV and 
six children. 

Mai/ 1st. — The " Red R-over," Ironbridge and 
Wolverhampton coach, upset half a mile from 
Madeley. One passenger, name unknoAvn, killed. 
He Avas described as "a very stout gentleman, 
apparently about sixty years of age, dressed in 
an iuA'isible green coat and great-coat of the same 
colour." 

Jime 2Gt/i. — AVilliam Cooke, guard of the 
Worcester coach, fell off his seat and Avas killed. 

September IQth. — The LudloAv and BcAvdley 
" E-ed Rover " overturned by the Ijreaking of the 
front axle. The coach Avas f^oinc; sIoavIv doAvn-hill 
at the time, and the Avheel had the slipjier on. It 
Avas a heavily-loaded coach, and all the outsides 
were violently throAvn. A Mr. Thomas, a native 
of Ludlow, fifty-seven years of age, retired from 
business, Avas so sci'iously injured that he died 



ACCIDENTS itg 

next day. At the inquest a deodand of £30 was 
placed on the coach. 

Prom this time forward the records of coaching 
accidents grow fewer, and occur at longer intervals; 
hut only hecause coaches themselves were heing 
swiftly replaced hy the railways, which had hy 
noAV come largely into their kingdom. Railway 
accidents took their place, and the coaching artists 
hegan to paint, and the printsellers to puhlish, 
pictures like that of " Eoad versus Eail " engraved 
here, showing a very smart and well-appointed 
coach howling safely along the road, Avhile a 
railway accident in progress in the middle distance 
attracts the elegant and rather smug attention 
of coachman and passengers. 

Every one now forgot the numerous casual- 
ties of the old order of things — save, indeed, 
the hereaved and the maimed, suffering from 
the happenings of pure mischance, or from the 
drunken or sporting folly of the coachmen. 

But to the very last, in those ontlying districts 
to which the rail came late, and where the coaches 
continued to ply regularly until the 'fifties, the 
tragical possilnlities of the road were insistent, 
confounding the thorough- going sentimentalists 
to whom the old times were everything that was 
good, and the neAV, hy consequence, altogether had. 
Listen to the moving tale of the Cheltenham 
and Aherystwith down mail on a Avild night 
"ahout" 1852, according to the vague recollection 
for dates of Moses James Nohhs. 

Although torrents of rain had hcen falling 



I20 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

and the night was pitch dark, all went well Avith 
the mail until nearing the Lugg Bridge, near 
Hereford, where the little river Lugg, rushing 
furiously in spate to join the Wje, had under- 
mined the masonry. No sooner did the horses 
place their weight upon it than the arch gave 
way, and the coachman, Couldery the guard, and 
the one passenger, were precipitated into the 
torrent and swept away for more than a mile 
down stream. It was midnight when the accident 
happened, and until dayhreak the three, at 
separate points, clung to rocks and branches, from 
which they Avere then rescued by search-parties. 
The coachman and guard recovered from the 
exposure, but the j^assenger died. 

Charles Ward, that fine old coachman, Avho 
kept on the road in Cornwall for many years 
after coachini? had ceased over the rest of Eng- 
land, tells amusingly of the happening that befell 
the cross-country Bath and Devonport Mail, in 
some year unspecified. It might have been a 
most serious accident, but fortunately ended 
happily. The coach Avas due to arrive at Devon- 
port at eleven o'clock at night. On this par- 
ticular occasion all the outside passengers, except 
a Mrs. Cox, an "immense woman," who kept 
a fish-stall in Devonport Market, had been set 
down at Yealmpton, Avliere the coachman and 
guard usually had their last drain. They Avent, 
as usual, into the inn, and very considerately 
sent out to Mrs. Cox a glass of " something 
Avarm," it being a very cold night. The servant- 



ACCIDENTS 121 

girl ^vlio took out that clieering glass was not 
able to reach up to the roof, and so the ostler, 
who Avas holding the horses' heads, very impru- 
dently left them, to do the polite, when the 
animals, hearing some one getting on the coach, 
and thinking (for coach-horses did actually do 
something like it) that it was the coachman, 
started off, and trotted at their ordinary speed 
the Avliole seven miles to the door of the " King's 
Arms " at Plymouth, Avhere they Avere in the 
habit of stopping to discharge some of the coach- 
freight. On their AAay they had to cross the 
Laira Bridge and through the toll-bar, and did so, 
keeping clear of eA'erything on the road in as 
Avorkmanlike a manner as though the skilfullest 
of AA'hips AAas directing their course. Mrs. Cox, 
hoAA^ever, AAas terrified. Afraid to scream lest 
she should startle the horses, she had to content 
herself Avitli gesticulating and trying to attract 
the attention of the people met or passed on the 
road. When the horses drcAV up in an orderly 
fashion at the " King's Arms," and the ostlers 
came bustling? out to attend to their duties, they 
AA^ere astonished to see no one but the aft'righted 
Mrs. Cox on the outside, and two inside 
passengers, Avho had been in total ignorance of 
AA^hat Avas happening. The coachman and guard, 
in a A'ery alarmed state, soon came up in a post- 
chaise. It took many quarterns of gin to steady 
the nerves of the proprietress of the fish-stall, 
and the incident became the chief landmark of 
her career. 



122 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

We Avill conclude tins cliaptcr of accidents on 
this lio'liter and less sombre note, and tell how 
humour sometimes remained in the foreg^round 
even if the x^ossibilities of tragedy lurked threaten- 
ing in the rear. The tale used often to l)e told 
on the Exeter E,oad how, on one occasion, when 
Davis Avas driving the up " Quicksilver " Mail 
between Baajshot and Staines on a dark night, 
he ran into some obstruction, and the coach was 
upset into the adjoining field, fortunately a wet 
meadow. The " insides " were asleep at the time, 
and they naturally awoke in the wildest alarm. 
One, who did not grasp the situation, called out, 
" Coachman, coachman, where are we ? " " By 
God, sir," replied Davis, " I don't know, for I 
was never here before in all my life ! " Happily, 
nobody and nothing was hurt, and in twenty 
minutes the coach was away, making up for 
lost time. 



CHAPTEU V 

A GREAT CARUYING FIRM : THE STORY OF 
PICKFORD AND CO. 

To the incurious public, who are as familiar with 
the name of " Pickford's " as with that of their 
favourite morning newspaper, and to whom the 
siffht of one of Pickford's vans is a mere common- 
place of daily life, this great carrying firm is just 
a part of our modern commercial system. To 
suff£?est to that favourite abstraction— the " average 
man"^ — so commonly cited, that Pickford's is a 
firm whose origin is to be traced back two hundred 
and fifty or three hundred years would be a rash 
thing. He would tell you that this is a firm of 
railway carriers, and that, as railways are not yet 
a hundred years old, Pickford's certainly cannot 
be two centuries older. 

Thus do later changes overlie and conceal 
earlier methods of business. 

Our average citizen would be wrong in two 
things : in his premisses, that the firm is wholly 
one of railway carriers; and in his conclusions, 
that it came into existence Avith railways them- 
selves. The origin of Pickford's is, indeed, lost in 
the mists that gather round the social and com- 
mercial life of the early seventeenth century ; for 



124 STAGE-COACH AAW AT AIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

the beginning's of the business go back to that 
time when the original firm of packhorse carriers 
■was established, to whose trade the Pickfords 
succeeded, by purchase or otherAvise, about 1730. 
Traditions only survive of those long-absorbed 
carriers, Avhose packliorse trains originally plied 
on the hilly tracks between Derby and Manchester 
" about two hundred and fifty or throe hundred 
years ago," as we vaguely learn. No documentary 
or other evidence exists on which to found an 
account of them. What would Ave not give to 
be able to recoAcr from the romantic past the 
story of those old-time carriers, contemjiorary Avith 
the famous Hobson himself, beyond comparison 
the most celebrated of all these old men of the 
road ! 

But all records have been destroyed. When 
the several changes Avere made that from time to 
time altered the constitution of the business, the 
papers and documents relating to past transactions 
Avere cast aside as waste-paper, and there Avas none 
among the people of those times AAdio thought it 
worth Avhile, for the interest and instruction 
of j^osterity, to set doAvn Avhat he kncAV of the 
current history of the concern. That this should 
have been the case is no matter for surprise. The 
past or the future interests many to Avhoni the 
present is only something from Avhicli to escape, 
as commonplace and dull. That man a\ ho is not 
glad, Avlien the business day is done, to leave for 
home and straightAvay dismiss all thoughts of his 
business from his mind is rare indcnnl ; and still 



THE STORY OF PICKFORD AND CO. 125 

more rare ho a\1io fiads interest, beyond mere 
money-getting, in the daily commerce by which 
he lives and prospers. 

Abont 1770 Matthew Pickford, the representa- 
tive, in the second or third generation, of that 
family in this olden firm, is found established in 
Manchester, a town then making rapid industrial 
progress, and affording great scope for the carrying 
trade, already, for some years past, conducted by 
Avaa:ii:ons ; but we do not obtain any details of his 
business until November IGth, 1770, when he 
issued the folloAving advertisement, afterwards 
inserted in Prescotfs Manchester Journal for 
Saturday, January 1th, 1777 : — 

" 'T'HIS is to acquaint all Grentlemen, 
Tradesmen, and Others, that Mat. 
Pickford's Plying Waggons to 
London in Pour Days and a Half 
Set out from the SAvan and Saracen's Head, in 
Market Street Lane, Manchester, every Wednes- 
day, at Six o'clock in the Evening, and arrive 
at the Swan Inn, Lad Lane, London, the Tuesday 
noon following ;- also set out every Saturday 
at the same Hour, and arrive there on Priday 
noon following. Set out from London every 
Wednesday and Saturday, and arrive at Man- 
chester every Tuesday and Priday ; which carry 
goods and passengers to and from Manchester, 
Stockport, Macclesfield, Leek, Blackburn, Bolton, 
Bury, Oldham, llocMale, Ashtou-uuder-Line, and 
places adjacent. 



126 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

" N.B. — M. Pickford will not be accountable 
for any Money, Plate, Watches, Jewels, Writings, 
Glass, China, etc., unless entered as such, and paid 
for accordingly. 

" Constant attention at the above Inns in 
London and Manchester, to take in Goods, etc." 

It will be noticed that these " four days and 
a half" ti'ijis, although performed by "Plying 
Waggons," and presumably much swifter than 
some earlier ones of which we have no record, 
were only four and a half days in a very special 
sense, and by the exercise of some peculiar method 
of reckoning whose secret has not descended to 
us. It might seem, to the person of ordinary 
intelligence, that these were really itineraries 
of rather more than five days and a half; 
but the Sunday was doubtless a day of rest 
for the waggoners, as for most others in those 
times. 

In 1780, according to the evidence afforded 
by an old billhead, still preserved, Matthew Pick- 
ford was carrying on business in conjunction Avith 
Thomas, his brother, and in this partnership they 
continued to trade for many years. 

Meanwhile, the manufacturing industries of 
Lancashire and the north-Avest had grown enor- 
mously, and canals were already being dug to 
aid the transport of goods. We have no means 
of knoAving in how far the Pickfords took 
advantage of the early canals in the Midlands, 
but that they availed themselves very greatly of 



THE STORY OF PICKFORD AND CO. 127 

the opportunities afforded by them of exteiidini^ 
their business seems unlikely, in vieAv of the j)osi- 
tion in 1817, when they admitted Joseph Eaxendale 
as a j^artner into the concern. 

Josejoh Baxendale was thirty-two years of age 
when he became partner in the firm of Pickford 
& Co. He was born in 1785, the son of Josiali 
Baxendale, of Lancaster, and had alread}^ seen 
somethin<^* of business as partner in the concern 
of Swainson & Co., calico-j^rinters at Preston, 
whose firm he left to seek those Avider activities 
for which his active mind longed. Por there was 
something adventurous in. his blood, which Avould 
by no means permit him merely to take the 
sedentary part of a capitalist in any enterprise 
in whose fortunes he might acquire a share. An 
opportunity thoroughly suited to his temperament 
was this which ofi:'ered, of becoming a partner in 
the already old-established firm of Pickford's. 
We have now no means of knowing precisely on 
what terms he joined the two brothers, l)ut what- 
ever the pecuniary consideration may have been, 
enough survives to tell us that his youthful 
activities and his keen business intelligence were 
prominent in Avhat he brought into the firm. Por 
many years Matthew and Thomas had borne the 
Avhole conduct of the business, and it Avas now 
desirable, both by reason of their advancing years 
and the natural growth of the commercial activities 
of the country, that they should have, allied with 
them, one who, alike by inclination and urged 
by business interests, Avould scour the country, 



128 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

supervising and organising, as they no longer found 
it possible to do. 

Baxendale found plenty of work of this nature 
awaiting him. The staff of horses which the 
Pickfords had found sufficient for their needs in 
bygone years had been little, if at all, increased, 
although a period of great trade-expansion had 
set in ; and a total lack of efficient supervision 
over agents and carmen had resulted in the carry- 
ing business being dilatory and untrustworthy. 
Under these circumstances, it is not surprising 
that rival firms had begun to threaten the very 
existence of Pickford's, declining under the 
nerveless rule, liy which the needs of the time 
were not understood. 

It was soon impressed upon the new partner's 
active and penetrating intelligence that the re- 
quirements of the time, and still more the require- 
ments of the succeeding years, imperatively 
demanded a thorough reorganisation — more 
thorough, perhaps, than the old partners were 
altogether ready to concede. He soon acquired 
entire control, and the Pickfords, unable or 
unwilling to meet new times Avith new methods, 
left their already historic business and its destinies 
in his hands. 

He speedily altered the aspect of affairs. Soon 
he had close upon a thousand horses, all his own, 
on the great roads between London and the north- 
west ; while advertisements were issued, announc- 
ing " Caravans on Springs and Guarded, carrying 
Goods only, every afternoon at 6 o'clock," from 



THE STORY OF PICK FORD AND CO. 129 

London and Manchester, taking only 3G hours 
to perform the 186 miles. 

To this, then, the " caravan " had come at last. 
Travellers from the Ear East had originally 
hrought the word to England. They had seen 
the Persian kdriodns toiling under those torrid 
skies — covered waggons in whose shady interiors 
the poor folks travelled ; and Avhen the first stage- 
waggons were estahlished in England, they were 
often known by an English version of that name. 
Some of the caravans of the late seventeenth 
century were, however, by no means the rough- 
and-ready affairs generally sujiposed, if we may 
judge from the description of one offered for sale 
in the London Gazette of May Gth, 1689. This, 
according to the vendors, was : — 

" A Eair easie going Caravan, with a very 
handsom Hoof Brass Work, good Seats. Glasses 
on the sides to draw up ; that will carry 18 Per- 
sons, with great Conveniency for Carriage of 
Goods, so well built that it is fit for Carriage 
of all manner of Goods — to be sold." 

But there Avas one more change before the 
caravan in 1817. Already the j)opular voice, 
unAvilling to enunciate three syllables Avhen one 
could be made to serve, had clipped the name 
to "van," and as vans all covered vehicles of the 
kind have been known ever since. 

At the time when Baxendale appeared upon 
the scene the headquarters of the business were 
still at ]\Ianchester, and the London establish- 
ments had been for many years past at the 

VOL. II. 9 



I30 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

"Castle," Wood Street, and the "White Bear," 
Basinghall Street. To the first house, then a 
a galleried inn of the ancient type, at the corner 
of Wood Street and what is now Gresham Street, 
hut was then Lad Lane, the London and Man- 
chester waggons and caravans resorted ; and to 
and from the " White Bear " went the Leicester 
and Nottingham traffic. 

Coming with a fresh mind to tlie carrying 
jirohlems that confronted the firm, the new jiartner 
decided that London, and not Manchester, ought 
to he its central point, and so soon as he ohtained 
control he accordingly removed the head offices 
to the Metropolis. Canal-traffic, too, engaged 
his earnest attention, and the scope of the firm's 
activities were extended enormously in that direc- 
tion. The Begent's Canal was opened in 1820, 
and when that oj)ening took place the newlj^ huilt 
wharves of Pickford & Co. were ready, heside the 
City Basin. To and from that point came and 
went the water-horne trade, in the fly-hoats of 
the firm, simultaneously with the fly-vans on the 
roads. 

These developments hrought other changes, 
and in 182G the existing headquarter offices of 
Pickford & Co. were huilt in Gresham Street, 
adjoining the " Castle " Inn. 

It will he interesting to see Avliat was the 
cost of carriage of goods at this j)eriod. It was 
the carriers' Golden Age, when, for distances of 
a little over a hundred miles from London — as, 
for example, Leicester and Birmingham — the 




JOSEPH BAXEXDALE. 

From the poTtrait by E. II. rkUmjiU, R.A. 



THE STORY OF PICKFORD AND CO. 133 

carriage of goods by AA^aggon or caravan could 
l^e charged at hs. per cwt., or £5 per ton ; when 
by coach the rates for small parcels were \d. a 
pound ; and even by canal — that last effort in 
cheap transport before railways — the charges were 
2s. OfZ. per cwt., or £2 15s. per ton. 

He who reorganised the old business of Pick- 
ford's demands extended notice in these pages. A. 
portrait of him, a three-quarter length, painted 
by Pickersgill, R.A., about 1847, has the illusion 
common to all three-quarter-length portraits of 
giving an appearance of great stature. Mr. Baxen- 
dale was a man of broad shoulder, and not above 
the middle height. While in many respects a 
good portrait of him, it is said by those who knew 
him best to fail in not giving expression to the 
native kindliness and humour that underlaid his 
keen business instincts. " Cheerful and witty in 
conversation," says one who knew him well, " he 
ever had a word of encouragement for the young- 
sters, and was universally beloved by those whom 
he employed." 

To those who served him to the best of their 
ability he was a never-failing friend, and, at a 
time when business firms did not usually trouble 
themselves about the comfort of their servants, 
took pains to secure their well-being. In the 
c^alleries of the old " Castle " Inn he constructed 
a coffee- and club-room for his carmen, and pro- 
vided similar conveniences at his other establish- 
ments. The old inn has long been demolished, 
but the headquarters of the firm still remains next 



134 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

door, and adjoins the modern Hallway Goods 
Receiving Office of the " Swan with Two Necks," 
built on the site of the old coaching establishment 
of Chaj^lin's. 

Never was such a man for improving maxims 
as Joseph Baxendale. He was a great admirer 
of Poor Richard^ s Almanack and its racy maxims, 
written by Daniel Webster, and carefully caused 
a broadsheet containing a selection of them to be 
printed . He also tried his OAvn hand at composing 
pithy sentences on the virtues of j^^mctuality and 
method, and caused leaflets of these, together 
with Foor Richard's homely literature, to be 
circulated and posted in all conspicuous places 
in the establishments of Pickford & Co. in London 
and the provinces, and on the roads and canals 
where his vans travelled or his fly-l)oats voyaged. 
Here is one of his compositions in this way : — 



TIME LOST 

CANNOT 

BE 

REGAINED 


THE 

IMPORTANCE 

OF 

PUNCTUALITY 


NEVER 
DESPAIR 

NOTHING 

WITHOUT 

LABOUR 







METHOD is the very Hinge of Business; and 
there is no Method without Punctuality. 
Punctuality is important, because it subserves the 
Peace and good Temper of a Eamily : The want 
of it not only infringes on necessary Duty, but 
sometimes excludes tliis Duty. The Calmness of 
Mind Avhicli it produces, is another Advantage 



THE STORY OF PICK FORD AND CO. 135 

of Punctuality : A disorderly man is always in 
a hurry ; lie lias no time to speak to you, because 
he is i^oing- elscnvliere ; and when he gets there, 
he is too late for his business ; or he luust hurry 
away to another before he can finish it. Punc- 
tuality gives weight to Character. " Such a man 
has made an Api^ointment : — then I know he 
will keep it." And this generates punctuality in 
you ; for, like other Virtues, it propagates itself. 
Servants and Children must be j^^mctual, ^\'liere 
their Leader is so. Appointments, indeed, become 
Debts. I oAve you Pnnctuality, if I have made 
an Ajipointment with you : and have no right to 
throw away your time, if I do my own. 

Of course, this good advice and insistence upon 
its being followed would have been of little avail 
had the author of it not been continually alert 
to see that his instructions took root. Ile^ at any 
rate, practised what he preached, and rose early, 
was diligent all day, and went late to bed. As a 
business man whose business was conducted over 
a large stretch of country — extending chiefly in a 
diagonal line two hundred miles long, between 
London and Liverpool — he knew that only by 
personal supervision and by great and unwearied 
exertions in travelling could his subordinates be 
kept in a state of efficiency ; and he accordingly 
was always travelling. By post-chaise or by 
private carriage he flew, day and night, along 
the great roads between London and Holyhead, 
and London, Derby, Manchester and Liverpool ; 



136 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

appearing, sudclenly and nuexpectedly, at some 
great town-warehouse of tlie firm, or some Avayside 
ofiice or place of call, and often springing, as it 
were, out of the void, to encourage some diligent 
servant, or (it is to he feared) more often to 
reprimand a lazy and inefficient one. None could 
predicate his movements or where he might he at 
any given time ; save indeed those witli whom 
he had made appointments, and they knew, after 
only a short acquaintance, tliat the sun was scarce 
more likely to rise and set according to the 
calendar than Joseph Baxendale was to redeem 
his j)i'oniise of any such assignation. 

Porsakino; for awhile the roads and his estah- 
lishments along them, he would next appear on 
the canals on A^hose sullen Avaters his fly-hoats 
flew, and pay flying visits of inspection to the 
many Avharves along their course. These Avater 
expeditions Avere made in a vessel especially 
constructed — a " canal-yacht " called the Lark, 
Avhether significantly named in allusion to the 
early-rising hahits of its OAvner Ave do not knoAV. 
It Avas this hoat, according to the still surviving 
tradition, he lent to the Earl of Derhy on an 
occasion Avhen Lady Derhy Avas in London, too 
ill to travel hy road to KnoAvsley, Avhere, 
according to the doctor's advice, she should l)e 
removed. In it she travelled all the Avay doAAU 
to Lancashire, along the canals. 

Another surviving tradition, and one that 
speaks Avell for the quality of the horses that drcAV 
the fly-hoats— and perhaps even hettcr for the 



THE STORY OF PICKFORD AND CO. 137 

keenness of the sporting instincts of the official 
concerned— tells ho ay Mr. Baxendale, on coming 
to Eraunston, a Northamptonshire village on the 
Grand Jnnction Canal, discovered that the man 
A\-ho should have been in charge of his wharf there 
had gone hunting, mounted on one of the firm's 
towing-path steeds. Records of that time do 
not tell us of that sportsman's return, or of the 
reception that met him. 

It Avas perhaps a consequence of the strenuous 
rule then obtaining that, at a time when the great 
roads to the north Avere blocked by the historic 
snoAVstorm of Christmas 183(3, Avhen the stage- 
coaches and the mails Avere buried in the drifts, 
Pickford's Manchester Hying Van AA^as first 
through. AVe may suppose tliat the horses Avere 
better specimens than those pictured here, from an 
old painting, Avhich represents the fly-van team 
as a very sorry one indeed, comparing badly Avith 
tlie sturdy animals Avho are seen drawing the van 
in the first picture. 

It would 1)0 a mistake to think that Baxendale's 
Avays Avith his staff Avere merely those of the 
strict disciplinarian, only anxious to obtain the 
utmost from them. His kindliness Avas perhaps 
his strongest point, and Pickford's under his rule 
began the practice of recognising the loyalty and 
hard Avork of their servants by pensioning them on 
their retirement — a policy that still does honour 
to the firm. 

Under this vigorous sAvay Pickford's grcAV and 
prospered, and by the tiuie Avhen raihvays first 



138 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

loomed threatening upon the horizon of the 
carriers' and coachmen's outlook, commanded the 
hulk of the goods traffic between London and the 
Midlands, alike. by road and canal. That was a 
period ahove all others Avhen a clear head was 
requisite. It appeared to many to he a choice 
between giving up business or fighting the en- 
croachments of steam. To the few, of whom 
Baxendale Avas one, the issues were more varied 
and hopeful. He foresaw that railways must 
succeed, and that, since to fight them Avould be 
hopeless, the best thing to do would be to work 
with them as far as possible. The business 
need not be injured ; indeed, he saw that it must 
needs share in whatever prosperity attended the 
railways. Only methods must be changed. Eut 
to reorganise a vast Ijusiness only just, after 
thirteen years of unwearied effort, re-established 
on new and improved lines, must have seemed a 
hard necessity. However, wlien the Liverpool 
and Manchester Railway, the second line in the 
country, was about to be opened, in 1830, he 
perceived that although the road traffic must cease 
between the two terminal points of a railway, 
yet there must be some agency prepared to collect 
goods, and deliver them to or convey them from 
the railway stations. He saw, too, an inevitable 
increase in the volume of traffic, and very pru- 
dently resolved to ol^tain a share of it by throwing 
in liis lot Avith \\\^^. railway people, wlio were 
themselves not so assured of instant success as 
to repel so unexpected an offer, and welcomed the 



THE STORY OF PICKFORD AND CO. 141 

proposed alliance. The same attitude Avas adopted 
towards the Grand Junction Railway and the 
London and Birmingham. In this far-seeing policy 
Baxendale Avas at one Avith William Chaplin, aaIio 
at an early period in the history of railway enter- 
prise had called upon him and asked him Avhat 
his vicAA^s AA^ere on this A'ital question. Chaplin 
AvithdrcAA- his coaches Avlien the London and 
Birmingham RaihA^ay AA^as opened, and Pickford's 
fly-A-ans and fly-hoats ceased to run. In return 
for these really A'aluahle serAaces, Pickford's, and 
Chaplin and his coaching ally, Home, ayIio had 
heen equally complaisant, acquired shares in the 
toAAm and country carrying agencies for Avhat in 
1845 hecame an amalgamation of raihvay interests 
under the style and title of the "London and 
North-Western Hail aa ay." Unused as these ncAV 
railAA^ay people Avere to the business of handling 
goods, they Avere glad enough that Mr. Baxendale 
should organise that class of traffic for them, and, 
as Are liaA^e already said, really AAclcomed the aid 
thus somcAvhat unexpectedly forthcoming, although 
outAvardly adopting a self-sufficient and omnipotent 
attitude. He hecame organising goods-manager, 
and contributed the serAdces of his staff to the 
work, but resigned Avlien CA^erything had been 
duly set going to devote himself to his OAvn 
business. He it Avas AAiio drcAA^ up the documents 
still used in the goods departments of raihvays to 
this day, in all essentials unaltered. 

MeauAA^hile his anticipations AAcre justified by 
the course of events. BailAvays did but alter the 



142 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

methods of tlie carrying trade. They not only 
did not destroy it, hut, in the altered shape it took, 
increased it fifty -fold. No fewer than twenty-one 
district managers hecame necessary to the conduct 
of the husiness, Avhich at length gave employment 
to hetween three and four thousand people. 

The central figure of this successful reorgani- 
sation hecame, like William Chaplin, a power 
in the railway world. He was for some years 
Chairman of the South-Eastern Railway, and in 
that capacity strongly urged the purchase of 
Folkestone Harhour, an undertaking then in the 
market. His co-directors did not at the time 
agree with the proposal, hut eventually came 
round to his way of thinking, and hrouglit up the 
suhject again. Meanwhile he had privately pur- 
chased the harl)our. The high sense of duty that 
characterised him led to his considering that, as 
Chairman of the Uailway Company, and as there- 
fore trustee of the interests of the proprietors, he 
could not retain the property, and he accordingly 
transferred it at the price he had given. He 
was at the same time a director of the Great 
Northern Uailway of Prance, hut was in 1818, 
in consequence of a severe illness, ohliged to 
resign some of these activities, together with the 
detailed management of Pickford's, which he then 
left ill the hands of his three sons, hut never gave 
up control of the husiness. He had in the mean- 
time purchased an estate at A^^oodside Park, 
Whetstone, where he resided. He died there, 
March 21th, 1872, in his eighty-seventh year. 



TFIE STORY OF PICKFORD AND CO. 143 

TliG jiortrait of him, as he was in the full vigour 
of his manhood, hangs amid the old-time relics 
still cherished in the Gresham Street offices — - 
among the muskets and the Ijlunderljusses carried 
hy the guards of his fly-vans in the old days 
of the road. 



CHAPTEK VI 

ROBBERY AND ADVENTURE 

The whole art and mystery of coach-robbing 
began to be studied at a very early date. In 
the Loudon Gazette during 1G84 we find the 
following extremely explicit advertisement : — 

"^ GENTLEMAN (paffing with others in the 
Northampton Stage Coach on Wednefday the 
14th inftant, by Harding Common about two miles 
from Market-street) was fet upon by four Theeves, 
plain in habit but well-horfed, and there (amongft 
other things) robbed of a Watch ; the defcription of 
it thus, The Maker's Name was engraven on the 
Back plate in French, Gulimus Petit a Londres ; it 
was of a large round Figure, flat, Gold Enamelled 
without, with variety of Flowers of different colours, 
and within a Landskip, and by a fldl the Enamel was 
a little cracked ; It had alfo a black Seale-Skin plain 
Cafe lined with Green Velvet. If any will produce 
it, and give notice to Mr. Samuel Gibs, Sadler near 
the George Inn Northampton, or to Mr. Crofs in 
Wood Street, London, he fhall have a Guinea reward." 

It is to be feared that the gentleman who 
thus mourned his watch never regained it. 

Trom this time forward, until well into 
the nineteenth century, highwaymen and the 



ROBBERY AND ADVENTURE 145 

highway-robbery of postboys, stage-coaches, post- 
chaises, and all sorts and conditions of wayfarers 
became commonplaces of travel. Dick Turpin's 
name has acqnired an nndue prominence, on 
account of Harrison Ainsworth elevating him 
upon a pedestal, as the hero of a romance, but 
his was really neither a prominent nor an heroic 
figure. Innumerable other j^ractitioners surpassed 
him. Claude Du Vail, who robbed and danced 
on Hounslow Heath ; Abershaw, the terror of 
the Surrey Commons ; Captain Hind, soldier 
and gentleman, warring with authority ; Boulter, 
whose depredations Avere conducted all over the 
kingdom; the "Golden Earmer " on the Exeter 
Road, outside Bagshot : all these and very 
many more were infinitely superior to Turpin, 
and, as they phrased it, " spoke to " the coaches 
with great success during their brief but crowded 
career. Nowadays, we hear much of overcrowded 
professions ; but those of the Army, the Church, 
and the Law are by no means so crowded as 
were the ranks of the liberal profession of high- 
way rol)bery in the brave nights of crape mask 
and horse-pistols at the cross-roads on the blasted 
heaths which then eucomjiassed the Metropolis ; 
lonesome places of dreadful possil)ilities, which 
could not have been more conveniently placed 
for the purpose of these night-haAvks had they 
been expressly designed for them. 

Travellers, Avho looked upon being robbed once 
upon a journey as the inevitable thing, very 
soon discovered this overcrowded state of affairs, 
VOIv. n, 10 



146 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

and resented it. Once upon a time, after the 
gentry who plied their occupation on Hounslow 
Heath and Einchley or Putney Commons had 
taken toll of purse and jDOcket, travellers had gone 
their Avay chuckling at tlie store of notes and gold 
still safe in their boots and the lining of their 
coats ; hut Avhen every reckless blade and every 
discharged footman or disbanded soldier took 
to the road, the polite highwayman of the 
recognised robbing-places had no sooner been 
left behind with a " good-night to you " — mutual 
good wishes and a hearty au revoir I from Du Vail 
or one of his brethren — than the territory of an 
unsuspected set of ruffians was entered; rough- 
and-ready customers, who were not content until 
they had got the passengers' boots off, or had 
ripped up the linings of coats and Avaistcoats, 
and then, having taken the last stiver, bade those 
unhajDpy passengers, with a clirsc, begone. There 
was an even deeper depth of misery — when, thus 
shorn and stripped, they encountered a yet more 
rascally, more provincial and hungrier crew, who 
in their exasperation at getting nothing, Avould 
sometimes resort to personal violence, to vent 
their disappointment and ill-humour. 

At this overcrowded period, a\ hen the ordinary 
course of business failed, the highwaymen were 
even known to practise upon one another, like 
the Stock Exchange brokers of to-day, who, 
when tlic pul)lic liold aloof, sharpen their wits 
and fill their pock(;ts by professional dealings. 
In 1758 the monotony of liighAvay robbery 



ROBBERY AND ADVENTURE 147 

Avas broken by a burglary at tbe " Bull and 
Mouth" coach-office, at 3 o'clock one morning, 
when 47 parcels, chiefly containing plate and 
watches, Avere stolen. The l)ooty was valued at 
£500. The thieves carried the parcels away 
in a cart, and left behind them a lighted candle, 
which would have burned the place down had 
it not been discovered in time l)y a coachman. 

This was followed in May 1766 by an incident 
standins^ out in highlv humorous relief. The 
Public Adijertiser in that month announced: — 
"A few nights ago, among the passengers that 
were going in the stage from Bath to London, 
Avere two supposed females that had taken outside 
places. As they Avere climbing to their seats it 
Avas observed that one of them had men's shoes 
and stockings on, and upon further search. 
Breeches Avere discovered also : this consequently 
alarming the company, the person thus disguised 
AA^as taken into custody and locked up for the 
night. The next day he Avas brought before a 
magistrate, and upon a strict examination into 
matters, it appeared that he Avas a respectable 
tradesman Avho, having cash and bills to a large 
amount on him, thus disguised himself to escape 
the too urgent notice of the 'Travelling Col- 
lectors.' " 

Turnpike Trusts at this time encouraged 
Sabbatarian feeling by charging double on 
Sundays; but "knowing" travellers sometimes 
travelled on that day, and submitted to that 
imposition as the cheaper of tAA^o evils. The one 



148 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

they thus escaped was the imminent risk of being 
molested by highwaymen and stripped of all their 
valuables; for those gay "Collectors," as they 
deli":lited to style themselves, did not attend to 
business on the Sabljath. AYe arc not, from this, 
to suj)pose that the higliAvaymen were at church, 
or at home, reading improving literature. Not at 
all : they did not expect wayfarers, and so took 
the day off. The Sunday Trading Act for many 
years forbidding Lord's Day employment, prevented 
coaches running then, and so helped to give the 
hard-worked nocturnal gentlemen of the road their 
needed weekly rest, and ensured them from missing 
very much. Yet anxious travellers did sometimes 
go on Sundays, and risk an information. When 
at last the mail-coaches Avere started, to go seven 
times a Aveek, and the Post Office itself set the 
example of Sunday travel, aAvay Avent the high- 
Avayman's Aveek-ends and the travellers' respite 
from AA^ayside "Stand and deliver!" The stages 
then jilied on Sundays also. 

As for the mails, they were immune from 
attack. The Post Office early issued a Avarning 
against sending gold by them ; but it did so, not 
from fear of the higliAvaymen, but " from the 
prejudice it does the coin by the friction." Higli- 
Avaymen Avere, in fact, little feared either by the 
Department or by the mail-j)assengers, for not 
only did the guard's embattled condition secure 
them from attack, l)ut the Post Office introduced 
enactments dealing very severely AAitli higliAvay 
rol)bery applied to the mail-coaches, The standing 



ROBBERY AND ADVENTURE 149 

reward offered the liege-subjects of the king for 
arresting an ordinary liighAvayman was raised 
to £200 in the case of an attack on the mail, 
further augmented hy another £100 if within five 
miles of London. Mail-coaches, by consequence, 
were left severely alone hy the Turpins, Aber- 
shaws, and others of their kind ; and it has been 
said that a mail-coach, unlike the old postboys 
carrying the mail-bags, was never attacked. 

Although this is very likely true, it must not 
be supposed that the mails were never robbed. 
The distinction drawn is clear. Violence was not 
shown, but robberies were frequent, often on a 
sensational scale. One February night in 1810, 
some unknown persons wrenched oft' the lock of 
the hind-boot on one of the mails and made away 
with no fewer than sixteen North-Country bags. 
"Where was the guard ? Probably kissing the 
pretty barmaid. Again, on November 9th, in that 
same year, nine bags Avere stolen from a mail at 
Bedford ; and so frequent grew robberies of all 
sorts that in January 1S13 the Superintendent 
of Mails was constrained to issue a warning notice 
to his officials : — " The innards are desired bv 
Mr. Hasker to be particularly attentive to their 
mail-box. Depredations are committed every 
night on some stage-coaches by stealing parcels. 
I shall relate a few, which I trust will make 
you circum.spect. The Bristol mail-coach has 
been robbed within a week of the bankers' parcel, 
value £1000 or upwards. The Bristol mail-coach 
Avas robbed of money the 3rd instant to a large 



156 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

amount. The ' Expedition ' coach has been twice 
robbed in the hist week — the last time of all the 
parcels out of the seats. The ' Telegraph ' Avas 
robbed last Monday night between the Saracen's 
Head, Aldgate, and Whitechapel Church, of all 
the parcels out of the dicky. It was broken open 
while the guard Avas on it, standing up blowing 
his horn. The York mail was rol)bed of j^^i'cels 
out of the seats to a large amount." 

Many of these robberies cited by Hasker were, 
it will be noticed, from stage-coaches. Despite 
this warning note, small thefts continued. Then, 
in 1822, came the classic instance — the robbery 
from the Ipswich Mail, when notes worth 
£31,198 mysteriously disappeared. A month later 
the bulk of them, to tlie value of £28,000, Avas 
returned, only a fcAV, Avorth £3000, liaAang been 
successfully negotiated. On the night of June Cth, 
1820, scA^en bags Avere taken from the DoAcr Mail 
betAA'een Chatham and Rainham; and in the fol- 
loAAdng year a new sensation Avas proA ided by the 
Warwick Mail being robbed of £20,000. 

But the closing great robbery of the coaching 
age AA^as that of £5000 in notes from the " Potter" 
(Manchester and Stafford) coach, October 1839. 
The notes, in a parcel addressed to a bank at 
Ilanley, Avere extracted from the hind-boot Avhen 
the coach Avas near Congleton. 

Adventures, says the proverb, are to the 
adventurous ; but in coaching times they befell 
those Avho desired a quiet life, equally Avith 
the seekers after sensation and experience. 



ROBBERY And Adventure 151 

Fortunately for the peace of mind of our grand- 
fathers, the startling adventure that l^efell the up 
Exeter Mail at Winterslow Hut, on the night of 
Octol)er 20th, 1810, was unique. The coach had 
left Salishury in the usual Avav, and had proceeded 
several miles, when what Avas thought to be a 
large calf was seen trotting beside the horses in 
the darkness. When the lonely inn of Winter slow 
Hut was reached, the team had become extremely 
nervous, and could scarcely l)e kept under control. 
At the moment when the coachman pulled up, 
one of the horses was seized by the supposed calf, 
and the others of the terrified team l)egan to kick 
and plunge violently. The guard very promptly 
drew his blunderbuss, and was about to shoot 
this mysterious assailant, when several men, 
accompanied by a large mastiff, came on the 
scene; and it appeared that this ferocious " calf " 
Avas really a lioness, escaped from a travelling 
menagerie, and these men come in pursuit. The 
dos: was holloaed on to the attack, and the lioness 
thereupon left the horse, and, seizing him, tore the 
Avretched animal to pieces. 

At length she was secured by a rope, and taken 
off in captivity. The leading horse was fearfully 
mangled, but survived, and was exhibited for a 
time, with great financial success, by the show- 
man Avliose lioness had wrought the mischief. 
When the interest had svibsided, " Pomegranate " 
— for that Avas the name of the horse — Avas sold. 
He had been foaled in 1809, and Avas a thorough- 
bred, Avith rather too much spirit for his OAvner, 



152 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OP VORE 

"who had sokl him out of his stable for his bad 
temper. The severe AA^ork in coaches of that 
period soon took the unruly nature out of such 
animals, and no complaint was made of him in 
his long after-career on the Brighton and Pet worth 
stage-coach. 

This exciting episode was, of course, the 
wonder of that age, and two coaching artists 
made capital out of it, in the shai^e of very 
effective jilates. James Pollard was the author 
of one ; the other Avas Ijy one Sauerweid, whose 
name is not familiar in Avork of this kind. 

Dark nights in Avild countrA" Avere fruitful in 
strange experiences, aided, doubtless, by the 
j)otency of the parting glass as well as by the 
blackness of the night and the ruggedness of 
the Avay. The adventures of Jack Creery and 
Joe Lord, coachman and guard of the pah"-horse 
Lancaster and Kirkl)y Stephen Mail, one snowy 
night, form a case in point. They had the coach 
to themselves, for it Avas not good travelling 
Aveather. Creery, aa^c are told, "felt sleepy" — a 
pretty Avay of saying he AA^as intoxicated — and 
so the guard took the reins. In driving, this 
AA^orthy, AA'hose condition seems to have been 
only a shade better than that of his companion, 
Avaiulered in the snow into a by-lane l)etAveen 
Kirkby Stephen and Kirkby Lonsdale, and so lost 
his Avay. After floundering about for some time, 
he aroused Creery, and their united efforts, after 
alighting many tim(\s to read the signposts, 
I)rou"'ht them in the middle of the night to a 



ROBBERY AND ADVENTURE 155 

village, Avliere they were found hy the aroused 
villagers loudly knocking at the church door, 
under the impression that it was a public-house. 
That snowstorm must have been a particularly 
blinding on(% or the brandy at their last house 
of call unusually strong. 

Not often Avas coaching history marked by 
such a gruesome incident as that Avliich befell a 
coach on the Norwich E^oad. At Ingatestone a 
lady, who was the only inside passenger, was 
discovered to have died. Her son, travelling 
outside, was informed, but after some hesitation 
it was decided that the coach should proceed to 
its destination at Colchester. At Chelmsford, 
however, two ladies presented themselves as 
would-be passengers. Inside seats only were 
available, all the outsides being occupied. They 
were informed of the circumstances, and that 
they could therefore not be booked ; but were 
so anxious to go l)y the coach that they over- 
came their natural scruples, and rode Avith the 
dead woman to the journey's end. 

Of Avinter travelling we have already heard 
something, and shall hear more. Hoav it struck 
one contemporary Avith those times Ave may learn 
from a reminiscent old traveller, Avho, having had 
much experience of old coaching methods, pre- 
ferred the raihvay age — at least in Avinter. Thus 
he recalls some of his exj)eriences : — 

" Por a day and niglit journey tlie agony Avas, 
on two occasions, so intense that, altliough then 
in my youth, and hardy enough, I Avas obliged to 



1 5 6 ST A GE- CO A CH AND MA IL IN DA J '.9 OF ] ^ORE 

get oft' the coach and sleep a niglit on the road ; 
by which I don't mean under the hedj^e, but in 
one of those fine okl (and highly expensive) inns 
that then were to be found at more or less regular 
intervals along the great highways. Posting, 
generally with four horses — a highly extravagant 
way of travelling, but one in great favour with 
those who could afford it — maintained corres2)ond- 
ingly high charges at all these houses of enter- 
tainment. It Avas all very well to rhapsodise 
over the climbing roses, the fragrant honeysuckle 
and the odorous jessamine that wreathed the 
portals of the wayside inn in summer, or to become 
eloquent over the roaring fire, at Avliose ruddy 
blaze you toasted your feet in Avinter, l)ut you 
had to pay — and to pay pretty heavily — for these 
luxuries. I will suppose that the traveller stopped 
for dinner, Avhicli, if left to the landlady, generally 
consisted of eels, or other fresh-Avater fish, dressed 
in a A'ariet}^ of Avays, roast fowl, laml) or mutton 
cutlets, bread, cheese, and celery, for Avhich a 
charge of six or seven shillings Avas made. If 
the meal took place after dark, there was an 
additional item of tAvo shillings or half a croAvn 
for Avax lights. Then, 'for the good of the house ' 
and your OAvn certain discomfort, there Avas a 
bottle of fine crusted port (probably tAvo days in 
bottle) seA''en shillings ; or a bottle of fiery sherry, 
just drawn from tlie wood, six shillings. To all 
these charges must be added the A\aiter's fee of 
one shilling or eighteenpence a head. 'Sleeping on 
the road ' absolved you from some of these costs. 



ROBBERY AND ADVENTURE 157 

Ijut it was expensive in its OAvn way. It involved 
tea or supper, cliambermaid and l)oots, as well as 
l)ed and breakfast. Breakfast, with ham and eggs, 
three shillings ; tea, with a few slices of thin 
bread-and-butter, eighteenpence or tAvo shillings ; 
a soda and brandy, eighteenpence. ■ 

" Once, in the depth of winter, I left Braniham 
Park, the seat of George Lane-Eox, on the Great 
North Road, to proceed to London, with a journey 
before me of 190 miles. I was well wrapped up, 
Avitli enouarh straw round my feet to conceal a 
covey of partridges; still, after going about 37 
miles, I felt myself so benumbed that I began 
to think whether it would Ije wise to go on, or 
get off and sacrifice my fare to London. Upon 
reachini? Bawtry I felt more comfortable, the 
guard at Doncaster having lent me a tarpaulin 
lined with sheepskin ; so I resolutely determined 
to brave the pitiless storm of snow, now whitening 
the ground. 

" ' Half an hour for supper,' exclaimed the 
waiter, as we pulled up at the ' CroAvn.' Down 
I got, entered the room, where there was a l)right 
fire blazing, devoured some cold l)eef, drank a 
glass of hot brandy-and-water, and bravely Avent 
forth to face the elements. By this time the snow 
had increased, the Avind had got up, and my heart 
failed. Back I rushed to the bar, ordered a bed, 
and remained there for the night, finishing my 
journey the folloAving day. 

"Again, in coming from Bath by a night- 
coach, I Avas so saturated Avith Avet and shivering 



158 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

with cold that I got out at Heading, rushed to 
the 'Bear,' and slejot there the night." 

Such was the Lest travelling that money could 
buy in the days before England was — according 
to the coachmen — made a gridiron by the 
railways. 



CHAPTEU VII 

SNOW AND FLOODS 

Severe weather, in the shape of frosts, thunder- 
storms, or hurricanes, was jiowerless to stop the 
coach-service, but exceptionally heavy snowfalls 
occasionally did succeed in doing so for very brief 
intervals ; and floods, although they never were or 
could be so general as to wholly suspend coaching, 
often brought individual coaches to grief. 

In the severe Avinter of 1798-9, when snow 
fell heavily and continuously at the end of 
January and during the first week of Pcbruary, 
several mails, missing on Pel)ruary 1st, were still 
to seek on April 27tli, and St. Martin's-le-Grand 
mourned them as AvlioUy lost. By May Day, 
however, they did succeed in running again ! 

Very few details survive of that exceptional 
season, or of that other, in 1806, when Nevill, a 
guard on the Bristol ]\Iail, Avas frozen to death ; 
but the records of the great snoAvstorm that began 
on the Christmas night of 1836 are A'erv full. 

Christmas Day, 1836, fell on a Sunday, and it 
is Avortli notice, as a singular coincidence in this 
country of only occasional heavy snoAvfalls, that 
the Christmas night of 1886, also a Sunday night, 
exactly half a century later, Avas marked by that 



i6o STAGE-COACH AND AT AIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

well-remembered snowstorm Avliicli disorganised 
the railway service quite as effectually as that 
of 1836 did the coaches, and broke down and 
destroyed nearly every telegraph-post and Avire 
in the land. 

The famous snowstorm of 183G affected all 
parts of the country, and only on two mail routes 
w(n'e communications kept open. Tourteen mail- 
coaches Avere abandoned on the various roads, 
and for periods ranging from two to ten days 
the travels of others ceased. The snowstorm itself 
continued for nearly a week. The two routes 
remaining unconquered during this extraordinary 
time were those to Portsmouth and Poole, but 
precisely why or how they were thus distinguished 
is not made clear. There is no doubt that the 
coachmen and guards on the Portsmouth and 
Poole Mails were strenuous men, but that quality 
was common to many of those engaged upon the 
mails. Nor can Ave find any favouring circum- 
stance of physical geography to account for this 
unusual good fortune. On the contrary, those 
roads are in places exceptionally bleak and ex- 
posed to high Avinds ; and the strong Avind that 
on this occasion l)ared the heights and buried 
the liolloAVs tAventy and thirty feet deep in snoAV- 
Avreaths Avas an especial feature of the visitation. 
Portunately for all upon the roads — for those A\^ho 
laboured along tliem, and for those Avho Avere 
brought to a standstill in the drifts — the cold 
Avas not remarkal)ly severe. 

Put never before, Avithin living recollection, 



SNOW AND FLOODS i6i 

had the London mails been stopped for a whole 
night within a few miles from London, and never 
before had the intercourse between the South 
Coast and the Metropolis been interrupted for 
two whole days. On Chatham Lines the snow 
lay from thirty to forty feet deep, and everywhere, 
except on the hilltops, it Avas higher than the 
roofs of the coaches. Nay, according to a con- 
temporary newspaper account, " The snow has 
drifted to such an extent between Leicester and 
Northampton as to occasion considerable difficulty 
and danger. In some parts of the road passages 
have been cut where the snow had drifted to 
the depth of thirty, forty, and in some places 
fifty feet." 

The great difficulty with which the coaches 
had on this occasion to contend was not merely 
the getting along the roads, but, as with these 
extraordinary depths of snow the natural features 
of the country were mostly obscured, of keeping 
on or anywhere near the road. HedgeroAvs Avere 
blotted out of existence: many trees had fallen 
luider their snoAvy Inirdens, and it Avas not 
unusual, Avhen at last the snowed-up mails Avere 
recovered, to find them strayed far from their 
course, and in the middle of pastures and 
jiloughlands. 

SnoAvstorms produced curious travelling ex- 
periences. It Avas this great occasion that 
effectually Ijlocked all the up night coaches for 
tAvo days at Dunchurch, on the Holyhead Road, 
and so succeeded in bringing together a party 
VOL. II. 11 



i62 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

not unlike those AveatlierLound travellers avIio in 
Dickens' Christmas stories gather round the 
hearth, and, comforting themselves with many 
jorums of launch, tell dramatic stories. One party 
crowded the " Dun Cow," another the " Green 
Man." Among the coaches were the Manchester 
"Beehive" and the "Red Eover." The first 
morning of their enforced leisure they — coachmen, 
guards and passengers— made up a poaching 
party, Avith two guns among sixteen of them. 
Jack Goodwin, guard of the " Eeehive," Avas the 
only fortunate sportsman, and shot a hare. In 
the evening a dancing party was held at the 
"Dun Cow " at the suggestion of the landlord, 
who invited some friends, and the next morning 
Goodwin turned wandering minstrel, taking with 
him a chosen few to liel]^ in chorus. AYandering 
along the llugljy Road, they were entertained at 
the farmhouses Avitli elderherry Avine aiid pork 
pies. Another pleasant evening, and they Avere 
off the next morning for London. 

Ploods Avere infinitely more dangerous than 
snowstorms, and the Great North Road, between 
NcAvark-on-Trent and Scarthing Moor, Avas par- 
ticularly subject to them, the Trent often, and 
on the very slightest provocation of rain. Hooding 
many miles of surrounding country. It Avas here, 
and on these occasions, that the outsides liad the 
better bargain of the tw^o classes of travelling, for 
they kept their seats without fear of being droAvned, 
while the insides Avent in constant terror of a 
Avatery death, and often only escaped it by the 



SiVOlV AND FLOODS 165 

pitiful expedient of standing on their seats and so 
— keeping the douhled-up attitude this necessity 
and the lowness of the roof imjieratively demanded 
— remaining until the levels were passed and the 
dry uplands reached again. 

In August 1829, when extraordinary floods 
devastated a great part of Scotland, a stirring 
episode occurred in connection with them and the 
mail-coach running through Banff. The tradition 
that his Majesty's mails were to he stopped for 
nobody and hindered by nothing on the road was 
a very fine and fearless one, but it was occasionally 
pushed to absurd lengths, and hideous dangers 
provoked without reasonable cause. This episode 
of the Banff and Inverness Mail is a case in point. 
The mail of the jireceding day had found it im- 
practicable to go by its usual route, and so took 
another course, by the Bridge of Alva. It was 
therefore supposed that the mail following would 
adojit the same plan ; but what was the astonish- 
ment of the good folk of Banff Avhen they perceived 
the coach arrive, within a few minutes of its usual 
time, at the farther end of the bridge that crosses 
the Biver Dovern. The people, watching the 
eddying floods from the safe vantage-point of their 
Avindows, strongly dissuaded the guard and coach- 
man from attempting to j^ass, the danger being 
so great; but, scouting the idea of perils to be 
encountered in the very streets of the town, those 
foolhardy persons drove straight along the bridge 
and into a street that had been converted by the 
bursting of the river-bank into the semblance of 



1 66 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

a mountain torrent. When the furious current 
caught the coach, it was instantly dashed against 
the corner of GiHan's Inn, and the four animals 
swept off their legs. They rose again, plunging 
and struggling for their lives, and a boat Avas 
pushed off, Avitli men eager to free the poor animals 
from their harness, to enable them to swim away ; 
but it was not j^ossible to save more than one. 
The other three were drowned. 

By this time the coach, with coachman and 
guard, had been flung upon the pavement, where 
the depth of water was less ; and there the guard 
was seen, clinging to the top, and the coachman 
hanging by his hands from a lamp-j)ost, regretting 
too late the official ardour and slavery to tradition 
that had wrought such havoc. When, for 
humanity's sake, as Avell as to secure the mail- 
bags, a boat came and rescued them, they were 
not suffered to dejiart without much Al)erdonian 
jjlain-speaking on the folly that had nearly cost 
them their lives and endangered the corre- 
spondence of the good folks of the ancient burgh 
of Banff. 

There were no passengers on this occasion, but 
we are not to suppose that, had there been any, 
they would have received much consideration. 
The mail would prol)ably have been driven on, 
just tlie same. The official attitude of mind 
towards them may be judged from the wintry 
horrors encountered bv the Edinbur"-!! to Glaso-ow 
Mail in March 1827. It became embedded in the 
snow near Kirkliston, and the guard, riding one 



SNOJV AND FLOODS 169 

horse and leading another loaded with the hags, 
set off for GlasgoAV ; while the coachman, with the 
other horses, set off' in the opposite direction to 
secure a fresh team, pursued hy the entreaties of 
the four terrified jiassengers, heseeching him to 
use all dilii2:ence and return soon. There, on a 
lonely road, immovahly stuck in huge snowdrifts, 
they remained throughout a Intter night, made 
additionally miserahle hy one of the windows heing 
hroken. It Avas not until nine o'clock the next 
morning that the coachman returned, with another 
man, hut only two horses. Having loaded them 
with some luggage and parcels, he was, with a 
joke upon his lips, leaving the passengers to shift 
for themselves, l)ut was compelled to take one 
who had fallen ill. The remaining three extricated 
themselves as hest they could. 

On Septemher 11th, 1829, a month later than 
the Avatery adventures at Banff, the Birmingham 
and Liverpool Mail had an unfortunate experience 
at Smalhvood Bridge, near Church Lawton, a point 
Avhere the road is crossed l)y an affluent of the 
Biver Weaver. Unknown to those on the mail, 
the flooded stream had hurst the arch of the 
bridge, and Avhen the coach came to the spot, 
along a road almost axle-deep in water, it fell into 
the hole and was violently overturned. Of the 
three inside passengers, only one escaped. He 
Avas an agile young man, who hroke the windoAV 
and so extricated himself. The horses Avere 
droAvned, but the coachman Avas fortunate enough 
to he Avashed against a tree-stump as the river 



I70 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

hurried him along at six miles an hour. The 
force of tliis happy meeting nearly stunned him, 
hut lie held on, and eventually found his way 
ashore. The guard Avas saved in a- similar manner. 
Accidents almost forming parallels with this were 
of frequent occurrence, and a seasoned traveller 
exclaimed : " Give me a collision, a hroken axle 
and an overturn, a runaway team, a drunken 
coachman, snowstorms, hoAvling tempests ; hut 
Heaven preserve us from floods ! " 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE GOLDEN AGE, 1821 — 184S 

It Avas " golden " chiefly from the sportsman's 
point of view, and in the ojiinions of those who 
found a keen delight in the perfection of coach- 
huilding and harness-making, in the smartness of 
tlie beautiful horses, and in the speed attained. 
From the sordid view-point of the profit-and-loss 
account, although this was the age in which 
Chaplin and a few others made their great for- 
tunes, it was a time when the high speed and 
other refinements of travelling made the j^ath 
of the coach- proprietor a thorny and uneasy one, 
often barren of aught but honour. " You are 
' in it,' I see," said a proprietor who himself 
had been severely bitten in this way, and had 
left the business, to a coachman who, like many 
of his fellows, had long cherished an ambition 
to become a coach-master, and had just acquired 
a share : " you are ' in it.' Take care how you 
get out of it." One of the prominent men in 
it — Cooper, who ran a good line of coaclies on 
the Bath Hoad — found himself at last in the 
Bankruptcy Court, and many smaller men ap- 
peared in the same place. The greatest increase 
of cost was in the item of horses. In earlier 

173 



174 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

times the stock had Listed for years, desj^ite the 
long stages and harder 2)nlling ; hnt in this jieriod 
of good roads and short stages, when, all things 
heing equal, a team slioukl liave last(Ml longer, 
the great coach-proprietors found it necessary to 
renew their stock every three years. Chaplin's 
method of doing this was to re2)lace one-third 
of his horses every year. 

It is not to he sujiposed that the horses thus 
disposed of Avere ahvays hroken down or Avorn 
out hy tlieir three years of strenuous exertion 
in the fast coaches. They had only lost those 
agile qualities necessary for that use, and, finding 
purchasers among farmers and country tradesmen 
Avho had no occasion to galloj) at eleven miles 
an hour, lived very comfortahly, grew sleek and 
fat, and must often, from roadside paddocks, have 
l)eheld their successors slaving aAvay in the fast 
coaches ; finding much satisfaction in their OAvn 
altered circumstances. Coachmen at this time 
usually drove hetween thirty and forty miles out, 
and then took the up coach hack, perhaps more 
than half a dav later. With such an arrano^ement 
the horses had the same driver, and it Avas 
generally found that they Avorked much hetter 
in siicli cases. The coachman's responsijjility for 
tlieir condition Avas also undivided, and the 2)ro- 
prietor Avas easily ahle to weed out from his 
coachmen those Avho lingered at the changes and 
made up the lost time on the road, to the distress 
of their teams. It Avas Chaj^lin A\ho made it 
knoAvn, hy all the vigorous language at his 



THE GOLDEN AGE, 1824— 1S48 175 

command, that any one of his coachmen found 
in the possession of one of those instruments of 
torture, resembling a cat-o'-nine-tails, for punish- 
ing horses, and knoAvn as a " short Tommy " 
woukl be instantly dismissed. Chaplin's direct 
iniliience and interests may be said to have 
described a radius of from forty to fifty miles 
from London, and within that circle the " short 
T(nnmy " was therefore Imt seldom seen. One 
historic occasion there Avas, lioAveA^er, Avhen such 
an object did most dramatically present itself 
before Chaplin, Avho chanced to be at a Avayside 
inn Avlien one of his coaches pulled up to change. 
On the roof Avas a Avarder Avith tAvo conA'icts. 
As the coachman, Avith much delil)eration, loAA^ered 
himself from his box to the ground, the " short 
Tommy " he had been sitting on fell in front 
of the AvindoAvs, and as it lay there attracted 
the eagle eye of that great coach-proprietor, avIio, 
sternly bent upon executing justice ujion the 
offender, strode forth. The coachman, dismayed, 
saAA" his employer and the forbidden instrument 
at once, in one comprehcnsiA^e, understanding 
gaze ; but he Avas a resourceful man, and handed 
it to the Avarder, telling him, Avith a portentous 
AAdnk and a Avarning jerk of tlie head, that he 
had dropped something. That Avorthy, entering 
into the spirit of the deception, accepted the 
pretended cat-o'-nine-tails, and the coachman 
breathed freely again. 

The days of ten- or eleven mile- stages, just 
at this time faded aAvay, gaAe a horse one stretch 



176 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

of so many miles a clay ; but in the fast coaches 
of the newer age they ran, as we have seen, out 
and home, six or seven miles each way. It was 
to the very last a disputed point Avhether it 
Avas better for a horse to do his ten or eleven 
miles and have done with it for the day, or to 
do his two shifts of six or seven. Many coach- 
men Avho could not depend upon their horse- 
keepers objected to two sweats a day ; but this 
division of work was a decided advantage to the 
horses, if well tended, and in such cases they 
had the advantage of sleeping at home every 
night. The number of horses kej^t for one of 
the fast coaches of this Augustan age would 
have astonished the pioneers of coaching ; one 
horse for every mile travelled was the establish- 
ment kept up. Slow coaches could do with fewer. 

The average jorice paid for a coach-horse at 
this period was £30, but some Avere acquired for 
a mere trifle, oAving to their being Adcious or 
unmanageable in private hands. The private 
OAA^ner's dilemma Avas the coach-proprietor's opjior- 
tunity. It mattered little to him Avhat defects 
of temper a horse jiossessed so long as he Avas 
sound in Avind and liml). For the rest, a little 
discipline, harnessed Avitli three others, all subject 
to tlie rule of those A^cry al)le disci j)linarians, the 
coachmen, quickly sufficed to bring such an 
animal to reason. There Avere thus some A'ery 
queer animals draAving the coaches in these last 
years. 

Some Avere purchased Avith a doubtful title. 



THE GOLDEN AGE, 1824— 1848 177 

In such a case, to prevent his heing recognised 
and claimed, the horse woukl he worked on the 
night mail. 

The coachman's ideal was a team matching 
in colour, hut fcAV proprietors ever aimed at such 
perfection. The cost was great, and nothing, save 
the gratification of the eye, was gained. 

With these husiness details the travelling 
puhlic had no concern, and it Avas only the hox- 
seat passengers who learnt the history of some of 
these cheaj) acquisitions from private stahles. The 
hox-seat passenger was generally a sporting 
character, aspiring to that companionship with 
the coachman from his love of horses and driving, 
hut it naturally often happened that some stolid 
person, whose only desire was to he carried safely 
and who took no interest in driving, found himself 
jierched on that j^lace of honour. When such an 
one l)ecame the unwilling confidant of the coach- 
man he Avas apt to hear some nerve-shaking 
things. " See that 'ere near Avheeler ? " said one 
Jehu. " llun avay vith a old gennelman last 
veek, he did ; hroke his neck ; friends just goin' 
to shoot 'im ; guv'nor gave coujile o' suvrings 
for 'im, and 'ere 'e is. 'Ope aa^c shan't he upset ! " 
The nervous passenger effected an exchange for 
an inside place AA^tli a sjiorting passenger at the 
next stage — Avliich Avas precisely the result antici- 
pated hy the coachman. 

At this time, Avhen the fast day-coaches Avere 
in every respect as Avell ap^^ointed as a gentle- 
man's private drag, it Avas the keenest amhition 

Y0I>. II, 12 



178 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

of every dasliing young traveller to occupy this 
box-seat — an ambition generally satisfied by put- 
ting in an early apj)earance at the starting-point 
and tipping the head yard-porter, Avho thereupon 
placed a rug or some stable- cloths on it. These 
tijis Avere not, as generally supposed, the coach- 
man's perquisite. His turn came later on, down 
the road. 

The yard-porter was a much more im2)ortant 
official than the present generation might suppose, 
and in busy yards, such as those of the " EuU 
and Mouth " or the " S^van with Two Necks," 
his weekly income from tips j)robably amounted 
to £5, or more. Nor was lie merely the man 
Avitli a pail of water, a broom and a pitchfork 
conjured up mentally by the sound of his title; 
his was an important department, and himself 
the ruler of many subordinates, Avliose duties 
ranged from grooming and bedding-down the 
horses and cleaning the stables to washing the 
coaches and cleaning and polishing the harness 
and metal- work. 

.Vt this ])eriod the puljlic found themselves 
swiftly flying where they had formerly sloAvly 
and lal)oriously crawled, and generally compared 
ancient travelling with modern, greatly to the 
advantau'e of modern times. But if the coach- 
proprietors who were at such pains to com2)ete 
with one another in establishing these swift and 
well-ajipointed coaches were of opinion that in 
so doing they Avere earning the admiration of 
the entire travelling public, they were very soon 



THE GOLDEN AGE, 1824— 184S 179 

undeceived, and those AAcaker brethren who coukl 
not command the influence and the capital by 
which only could a fast coach be appointed 
and established, found that, after all, there Avas 
no immediate prospect of their being run off the 
road, and that a considerable section of the public 
actually preferred to travel in sIoav coaches, and 
would by no means consent to be Avhirled through 
the country at eleven miles an hour, Avitli only 
hurried intervals for meals . ' ' The art of travelling, ' ' 
said an anon^mious Avriter in 1827, " has undergone 
great alterations in the course of the last thirty 
years; these are not altogether improA'ements." 
One of these changes for the Avorse, in the opinion 
of this unknoAvii scribe, Avas that in the thunder 
of ten miles an hour there Avas no opj^ortunity 
for conversation. That must be a poA^'erf liI tongue, 
he thought, Avliich could make itself heard amid 
the rcA^erberations of such incessant and intem- 
25erate Avhirlings. He could not help looking back 
Avitli some regret to the good old times AA^hen 
five or six miles an hour Avas the utmost speed. 
Then there Avas something sober and sedate in 
the fit-out and the set-out. All the faces in the 
inner-yard were so grave and full of importance, 
aud there Avas some seriousness in taking leaA^e. 
(Good reason, too, for such graAdty and seriousness, 
think AA^e of later ages.) Hoav scrupulous and 
polite Avere the inside passengers, in making 
mutual accommodation of legs and arms, band- 
boxes, sandAvich-baskets and umbrellas ! Then, 
too, says this delightful snob, there Avas some 



i8o STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN BAYS OF YORE 

difference between the inside and the outside 
passengers : the gentlefolks within were not 
confounded with the people on the outside. 
Distinctions Avere then better observed, and 
preserved. Older stage-coach conversation, he 
continued, Avas apt to be conducted with caution, 
for a false opening might make an ill comj)anion 
on a long journey. So approaches were made 
skilfully, and with deliberation. A man Avas 
thought excessively forward and talkative if 
he had got into politics before he had Avell 
cleared the outskirts of London, and the first 
half-hour Avas generally occuj)ied Avith the light 
skirmishings of talk, Avith reconnoitrings of one's 
opposite neighbour's countenance, and a variety 
of all-round questions and ansAvers jiut and 
returned merely to ascertain how far the j)assengers 
Avere to be companions. These had to be framed 
Avitli the utmost discretion. With Avhat Advacity 
and air of pleasant expectation Avould one then 
ask an agreeable-looking j^erson, "Are you going 
all the Avay to Toppington ? " or, on the other 
hand, if the inside had its full complement of 
six, hoAV carefully, and AAith Avliat a discreetly 
modulated voice, in order to avoid all susj)icion 
of Avishing a speedy riddance, one Avould ask 
the same question of an unduly stout j^erson, aa^io 
occupied much more than his or her share of room. 
The best conversational opening was considered 
to be, " Well, Ave are noAv off the stones. What a 
beautiful mornin£r ! Hoav charminn^ the outskirts 
of toAvn ! Pray, does not that house belong to ? " 



THE GOLDEN AGE, 1824— 1848 i8t 

Going up-liill one walked, to ease the horses, 
insides and outsides then equal ; the insides, 
greatly condescending, holding converse with the 
occupants of the roof, always, however, with the 
strict understanding — no less strict if not mentioned 
■ — that this gracious act must not be taken advan- 
tage of l)y those outsiders claiming acquaintance 
when the coach stopped at the inns, Avhere this 
all-important difference in caste Avas recognised 
by distinct eating apartments being provided. 

Those were the good old days, according to 
this critic, when these customs were strictly 
observed, and when there was not only time to 
eat, but almost to digest at coach-dinners and 
breakfasts ; when, too, there were generally a 
few minutes to spare while the horses were being 
got ready, so that the passengers could wander 
round the town and copy any curious epitaphs 
for the Gentleman s Magazine, or do a little 
shopping. 

Coachmen Avere of somewhat similar opinions. 
"Lord! sir," said Hine, coach-proprietor and 
coachman on the Brighton Koad, in 1831, who 
was, much against his Avill, obliged to accelerate 
his coaches in order to keep pace with newcomers, 
but did not relish the necessity, " we don't travel 
half so comfortably now as Ave used to do. It 
is all hurry and bustle noAvadays, sir — no time 
even for a pipe and glass of grog." Not comfort- 
able for the coachmen, Avho sadly missed their 
Avayside, and often Avholly unauthorised, halts. 
Cobbett, surly though his nature was, could 



i82 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

uot withhold admiration Avheii noticing these 
latter-day coaches. " Next to a fox-hunt," he 
says, " the finest sifflit in Ens^land is a sta2:e-coach 
just ready to start. A great sheep- or cattle-fair 
is a heautif ul sisrlit : hut in a stas^e-coach yon 
see more of Ayliat man is capahle of 2:)erforniing. 
Tlio yehicle itself ; the harness, all so complete 
and so neatly arranged, so strong, and clean, 
and good ; the heautiful horses, impatient to he 
ofP ; the inside full, and the outside coyered, in 
eyery part, with men, Avomen, and children, 
boxes, hags, bundles ; the coachman, taking his 
reins in one hand and his whip in the other, 
giyes a signal with his foot, and away they go, 
at the rate of seyen miles an hour — the population 
and the property of a hamlet. One of these 
coaches coming in, after a long journey, is a 
sight not less interesting. The horses are now 
all sweat and foam, the reek from their bodies 
ascending like a cloud. The whole equipage is 
coyered, perhaps, with dust and dirt. I3ut still, 
on it comes, as steady as the hand of the clock. 
As a proof of the perfection to Avhicli this mode 
of trayelling has been brought, there is one coach 
Avhicli goes between Exeter and London, Avhose 
proprietors agree to forfeit eightpence for eyery 
minute the coach is 1)eliind its time at any of 
its stages ; and this coach, I belieye, travels eight 
miles an hour, and that, too, upon a yery hilly, 
and at some seasons a yery deep, road." 

Yes, but had Cobbett Avritten in still later 
years, lie Avould Inwe found the " (^uicksilyer " 



THE GOLDEN AGE, 1824— 1848 185 

attaining, between the stages, a si^eecl of nearly 
12 miles an hour, and an average speed, 
including stops, of 11 miles, while a quite 
ordinary performance with the Shrewsbury 
"Wonder " was 158 miles in 11 hours 15 minutes, 
including stops on the way totalling 80 minutes. 
This gives a net average speed of a little over 
\\\ miles an hour. The Manchester "Tele- 
graph " and other flyers made equally good 
performances. The " Tantivy," one of the most 
famous of coaches, did not equal these feats. 

The " Tantivy," London and Birmingham 
coach, was started in 1832. It left the " Blossoms " 
inn, Lawrence Lane, at 7 a.m., and Avas in' 
Birmingham by 7 p.m. The distance, by the 
route followed, through Maidenhead, Henley, 
Oxford, Woodstock, Shipston-on-Stour, and Strat- 
ford-on-Avon, Avas 125 miles, and, deducting one 
hour for changing and refreshing, the speed Avas 
only sliglitly over 11 miles an hour. This coach 
derived its name from the old Avord " Tantivy " — 
an imitative sound as old as the seventeenth 
century, and often used in the literature of that 
time, supposed to reproduce the note of the 
huntsman's horn, and conjuring up ideas of 
speed. For Cracknell, the most famous of the 
coachmen of the " Tantivy," Avho once drove the 
125 miles at one sitting, and generally drove 
it between London and Oxford, the "Tantivy 
Trot," quoted elscAvhere in these pages, Avas 
Avritten. Harry Salisbury drove between Oxford 
and Birmingham. Among its other coachmen Avas 



1 86 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

Jerry llowsc. Costar and Waddoll, of Oxford, 
horsed the " Tautivy " between Woodstock and 
London, and Gardner, of Stratford-on-Avon, part- 
horsed it onA\'ards, not wholly to the satisfaction 
of Salishnry, who used to declare that the team 
out of his yard was worth ahout £25 the lot, 
and that they had once helonged to Shakespeare. 
Competition in speed led naturally to rivalry 
in the building-, upholstering, and general appoint- 
ments of the coaches. Sherman's Manchester 
" Estafette " was a splendid turn-out, holding 
its own a^'ainst many rivals in the last years 
of the coaching age. Inside was a time-table 
elegantly engraved on ivory, showing all towns, 
distances and intermediate times, illuminated 
at night l)y a reflector lamp. It Avas at this 
time seriously proposed to ligJit the coaches witli 
gas, with the double object of securing better 
li""htin2: and efPectini];' a saving on the very heavy 
bills for oil consumed on the night coaches. Tlie 
idea was generally abandoned Avhen it was found 
that the gas tanks would be very heavy and that 
they would take u]:) all the room in one of the 
boots, generally reserved for luggage. Coachmen 
and guards, too, professed anxiety lest they, 
sitting directly over the fore and hind boots, 
should be blowji iq). But, before the project 
was finally abandoned, it was fully j)royed that 
it was practicable, and in January 1827 the 
Glasgo\\' and Paisley coaches Avere lit witli gas, 
much to the amazement of tlie country folk. 
" Guid Lord, Sandy," said an old woman to her 



THE GOLDEN AGE, 1824— 1848 187 

husband, "they've hiid gas-pipes all the way 
frae Glasgae Cross to Paisley ! " But they had 
done nothing of the sort ; the gas was carried, as 
already indicated, in a reservoir stowed away in 
the front hoot. 

Competition having already raged around the 
question of speed, and having introduced un- 
wonted luxuries in travelling, turned next to 
the more deadly form of rate-cutting. In 1834^ 
the coach-proprietors on three great routes were 
engaged in this game of Beggar-my-neighhour. 
In that year the fares to Birmingham, Liverpool, 
and Manchester fell to less than half their former 
price, and it was possil)le to travel to Birmingham 
for 206'. inside and lO.s-. out, or to Liverpool or 
Manchester for iOs. inside or 20.s\ out. They had 
little chance of heing raised again, for, by the 
time the Aveaker men had been crushed out of 
existence, the railways were threatening the 
whole industry of coaching. 

But reducing the fares by one-half Avas not 
always the last word in these bitter contests. 
There was a period on the Brighton lload Avhen 
one might have been carried those 52 miles in 
G hours for hs., Avith a free lunch and Avine at 
the end of the journey and your money returned 
if the coach did not keep its time. The " Golden 
Age," indeed ! 

At this period, Avhen the long-distance coaching 
business was so severely cut up, those proprietors 
Avho served the districts surrounding London did ex- 
ceedinglv Avell. Coaching annals are almost silent 



1 88 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

on the subject of these suburban coaches, for, 
being drawn by only two horses, they were 
regarded by the four-in-hand artists with contempt. 
It has thus, in the absence of available information, 
often jnizzlcd inquiring minds in the present 
generation to understand how the heaA^y passenger 
traffic Avas conducted betAveen London and the out- 
lying towns and villages within a radius of twenty 
miles. Those districts were served by these " short 
stao-es," as thev were called — coaches drawn bv two 
horses, and making two or more journeys each 
way daily. There was an incredibly large number 
of these useful vehicles, which were in relation to 
the mails and fast long-distance coaches Avhat the 
suburban trains are to the exj^resses in our oaaii 
day. The ordinary coach-proprietors had rarely 
anything to do Avith these conversances, Avliieh came 
to and set out from a number of obscure inns and 
coach-offices in all parts of the City and the AVest 
End. 

One of these short stages is nn^ntioned in 
David Copperfield, Avhcre David's page-boy, 
stealing Dora's Avatch and selling it, purchases a 
second-hand flute and exj)ends the balance of his 
ill-gotten gains in incessantly traA^elling \\\) and 
down the road between London and Uxbridge. 
Evidently a lover of the road, this larcenous page- 
boy. Most boys in buttons (and certainly the 
typical page-boy of the tyj)ical farce) Avould have 
expended tlie i)lunder in pastiy or tobacco. This 
particular sjx'cimen, the diligent Dickens-reader 
Avill remember, Avas taken to Doav Street on the 



THE GOLDEN AGE, 1824— 1848 189 

completion of his fifteenth journey, when four 
shillings and sixpence and the second-hand flute — 
which he couldn't plav — were found upon him. 
If we were contemplating? an examination-paper 
on Da I' Id Copperfield, with special reference to 
prices and social life early in the nineteenth 
century, Ave mii,^ht put the following poser : — 
" State the average price ohtaiiiahle on the 
average lady's gold watch, and, deducting the 
purchase price of a second-hand flute, deduce 
from the resulting sum, and from the facts of the 
boy having made the journey fifteen times and 
still being in possession of four-and-sixpence, the 
cost of a single outside journey between London 
and Uxbridge." 

The fare was, as a matter of fact, half a crown. 
There were no fcAver than seven short stages 
betAveen London and Uxbridge daily, each making 
tAvo journeys. AVliat of those London inns Avhence 
they started ? Where are they uoav ? Echo does 
not ansAver " AAliere ? " as she is commonly said to 
do, because it is not in the nature of echoes to 
repeat the first Avord of a sentence. No ; echo 
merely rcA'crberates " noAV ? " Avith a questioning 
inflection. 

The " Goose and Gridiron," Avhose proper name 
Avas originally the " Swan and Harp," in St. Paul's 
Churchyard, Avas one of these starting-points. 
From the same inn Avent the Richmond and many 
other suburban stages. That old inn AA'^as de- 
molished about 1888. The " Boar and Castle and 
Oxford Hotel," No. 6, Oxford Street, Avas another 



I90 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

house of call for the Uxbridge stages. It vanished 
Ions a^o, and those who seek it will only find on 
its site the Oxford Music Hall and Eestaurant — 
bearing a different number, for the street was re- 
numbered in 1881. The " Boar and Castle " was a 
large, plain, stucco-fronted house, with its name 
Avrit large across the front in raised letters. 

As for the " Old Bell," another of these start- 
ing-points of the TJxl)ridge coaches, it was" pulled 
down in 1897. It stood on the site of Gamage's, 
in Holborn, opposite Petter Lane. Of another 
Uxbridge house, the " Bull," a few doors away, 
the sign, the figure of a ferocious black bull, very 
properly chained and fastened by a secure girth, 
still exists on the frontage, l)ut " Black Bull 
Chambers," a set of grimy modern " model " 
dwellings, noAV occupy the coach-yard. The " Bell 
and Crown," afterwards "Bidler's," next Furnival's 
Inn, has been swept away to help make room for 
an extension of the Prudential Assurance Offices, 
and the "New Inn," 52, Old Bailey, has given 
place to warehouses and the premises of a firm 
of wholesale ncAVsagents. Away westward, tlie 
Uxbridge and other short stages called at the 
" Green Man and Still," at the corner of Argyll 
Street, Oxford Circus, and at the " Gloucester 
Wareliouse," near Park Lane. The last-named 
was rel)uilt forty years ago, l)ut the " Green Man 
and Still " was only demolished in Pebruary 1901. 

The time taken over tlie eighteen miles 
between the City and Uxbridge was three hours. 
To Hichmond in 1821, when short stages ran 



THE GOLDEN AGE, 1824—1848 193 

freqiKMitly from five dilferent inns, the time Avas 
an hour and a lialf . As many as fourteen coaches 
ran to tliat town in 1838, most of them makini^ 
six journeys a day. Shillil)eer and his omnihuses, 
introduced in 1821), had hy that time rendered tlie 
exclusive short-stages old-fashioned, and they 
Avere gradually replaced hy the more commodious 
and popular vehicles, Avhose occupants Avere in turn 
looked doAvn upon hy the short-stage passengers, 
just as tlieu had heen despised hy the four-horse 
coaches. 



VOL. n. 13 



CHAPTER IX 

COACH -PROP HIE TORS 

None among the servants of the jnihlic earned 
their livini,^ more hardly, or took greater risks in 
the ordinary way of business, than the coach pro- 
prietors. It was a business in Avhich the few — 
the very few — became rich, and the majority lived 
a strenuous life, with empty pockets at the end 
of it. It was very truly said of them, as a class, 
that they lived hard, worked hard, swore hard, 
and died hard. To this was sometimes added 
that they held hard, by which you are to under- 
stand that what money they did succeed in getting 
they grasped tightly. This last Avas, however, by 
no means a characteristic of the majority, Avho 
very often dissipated what they had made by 
successful ventures on one road by disastrous 
competition on another. There was never a more 
S2)eculative business than that of a coach pro- 
prietor, and never one so cursed with insane 
competition. Why embittered rivalries of this 
kind should have been more common on the road 
than in any other line is only to be explained by 
the hypothesis that a certain element of sporting 
emulation entered into it ; and a kind of foolish 
pride that impelled a man to put and keep a line 



COACH-PROPRIETORS 195 

of coaches on a road to " nurse " a rival, not 
always A\'ith the hope of earniui; a profit for 
himself, hut Avith the idea of cuttini,^ up another 
man's ground. 

The most outstanding figure among coach- 
proprietors Avas that of AVilliam Cliai)lin. lie 
towered ahove all his contemporaries in the 
masjnitude of his husiness, and was, Avlien rail- 
Avays came to destroy it, first among those fcAv 
Avho saw the folly of opposing steam, and Avere 
both acute enough and sufficiently fortunate to 
reap an additional adA antage from the ucaa' order 
of things, instead of heing ruined hy it, as many 
less fortunate and less far-seeing men Avere. 

William James Chaplin — to give him his full 
haptismal name— Avas horn at Eochestcr in 1787, 
the son of AVilliam Chaplin, at that time a coach- 
man and proprietor in a small AAay of husiness 
on the Dover lload. Shortly after that date it 
Avould appear that the elder Chaplin extended 
his operations, and hecame a coach-master on a 
considerahle scale on some of the main roads 
leading out of London. However that may have 
heen, certain it is that his son Avas a practical 
coachman, and thoroughly versed in every detail 
of driving and stahling, as Avell as huying horses. 
To this intimate acquaintance Avitli the conduct 
of a coach and of a coaching husiness, as greatly 
as to his OAvn native shrewdness, he OAved the 
extraordinary success that attended him. His 
centre of operations Avas at the " Swan with Tavo 
Necks," in Lad Lane, Avliere he succeeded AA'illiam 



196 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

"Waterlioiiso, avIio had l)een established there as 
a mail-contractor since 1792. He it Avas who, 
perhaps in imitation oi the Mail-coach Halfpenny 
dedicated to Palmer, issued the curious copper 
token pictured here. It is quite in accord with 
the general fragmentary character of the records 
of these not so remote times that nothing survives 
l)y Avhich we may state the year when Chaplin 
succeeded AVaterhouse at the " Swan a\ ith Two 
Necks," hut it was prohahly about 1S25. In 
addition to this yard, he acquired in the course 




MAIL-COACH HALFPENNY ISSUED BY WILLIAM 
WATEUHOUSE. 

of time those of the " White Horse," Eetter Lane, 
and the " Spread Eagle " and " Cross Keys," 
Gracecliurch Street, together Avitli the " Spread 
Eagle " West End office, in Ilegent's Circus, with 
the proprietorship of several hotels. Unlike most 
coach-proprietors, who restricted their operations 
to one or two roads, Chaplin's coaches went in 
all directions, and he owned large stables at 
Tnrley on the Brighton Road, at Hounslow on 
the Western roads, and at AVhetstone on the 
great road to the north. The "Swan_Avith Two 




WILLIAM CHAPLIN 

From the paiiitiiKj by Frederick ^ewnham. 



COACH-PROPRIETORS 199 

Necks," was, when he acquired it, a yard 
extremely awkward of approach, being situated 
in a narrow lane, and inside a loAV-hrowed entrance 
that taxed the ingenuity of the coachmen to pass 
without accident. Once inside, you were in one 
of those old courtyards witliout which no old 
coaching inn Avas complete. Three tiers of 
E^alleries ran round three sides of the enclosed 
square, whicli, from the creepers that were 
trailed rcnind the old carved Avooden posts or 
depended from the balusters, and from the flower- 
boxes that decorated the windows, was a very 
rustic-looking place. Chaplin had not long settled 
himself here before he constructed underground 
stables beneath this yard, where some two hundred 
horses were stalled ; but the jil^^^ce remained, 
otherwise unaltered, until about 1S5G, Avlien all 
the buildings were demolished, and he set him- 
self to raise on their site the huge pile of 
buildings that now fronts partly on to Gresliam 
Street and partly to Aldermanbury. It Avas one 
of his last Avorks, and Avas, of course, undertaken 
long after the coaching age liad become a thing 
of the past, being, indeed, intended for the head- 
quarters of the carrying business that liad in tlie 
meantime come into existence. It is of somcAvhat 
curious interest to note that, although the great 
gloomy pile of unadorned brick bears not the 
slightest resemblance to the ancient coaching 
inn, yet a courtyard survives, ami raihvay vans 
manoeuvre Avhere of old the mails arrived or set 
forth. 



200 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

In 1838, when his coaching business had 
reached its full height, Chaplin owned or part- 
owned no fewer than G8 coaches, Avith 1,800 
liorses. Twenty-seven mails left London every 
night, and of these he liorsed fourteen on the first 
stages out of and into town. The annual returns 
from his business were tlien put at half a million 
sterling. 

At this critical period he resided at an hotel 
he owned and managed in the .Vdel2)hi, Avhere 
he worked literally day and night, sujiervising 
the general affairs of his vast business, and yet 
finding time for correcting details. Those coach- 
men who thought themselves secure from observa- 
tion in tlie midst of all these extensive operations 
Avofnlly deceived themselves, Tlu>y had to reckon 
with one to Avhom every detail was familiar — 
Avho had driven coaches himself, and Avas tho- 
roughly informed in the opportunities tliat existed 
in the stables and on tlie road for cheating an 
employer. He knew the measure of every corn- 
box, and Avas cognisant of the "shouldering" of 
fares and " s\\ allowing " of passengers that con- 
tinually Avent on. Eor the guards thus to pocket 
the short fares, not entering them on the way-bill, 
afterwards sharing tliem Avith the coachman, a\ as 
a practice that Avent back to the Aery early days of 
coacliing, and not only lasted as long as coaching 
itself, but survived in a somewhat altered form 
on omnibuses until th(; introduction, in recent 
years, ot* tickets and tin; bell-])uiich. It Avould 
have been impossil)le for coacli-])roprietors to end 



COACH-PROPRIETORS 203 

this practice without raising the Avages of their 
servants, and thus they were ohliged, so long as 
the coachmen and the guards performed their 
" shouhlerinsr " and " swalloAving " discreetly, to 
allow it to continue. The practice Avas, indeed, 
a very Incrative one to those chartered peculators, 
Avho made a great deal more out of it than they 
would in the suhstitution of higher wages and a 
hetter code of morals. Like the omnihus-pro- 
prietors until recently, coach-masters were content 
so long as their takings reached a certain average 
sum, and it was only when they fell heloAV that 
figure, or Avhen a fare was " shouldered " or a 
passenger "swallowed" hefore their very eyes, 
that trouhle l)egan. Chaplin could thus afPord 
to give the toast, as often he did give it, at festive 
gatherings of coachmen and guards, " Success to 
' shouldering,' hut " (with a peculiar emphasis) 
" do it well ! " — or, in plainer speech, " don't get 
found out ! " 

Stories with Chaplin for a central figure were, 
of course, plentiful down the road. Stahle-folk 
told how one of their kind, who had heen re- 
quisitioning the contents of the corn-hin to an 
extravagant extent, going to it Avitli sack and 
lantern one night when all was still, lifting 
the lid, found Cliaplin himself snugly Avaiting 
within, Avho promptly arose in his Avrath, and, 
to the accompaniment of a picturesquely lurid 
eloquence of Avhich he Avas an undouhted master, 
dismissed him instanter. The fame of that ex- 
ploit must have saved Chaplin much in forage. 



204 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

Although in his after-career as Meml^er of 
Parliament he was a silent representative, he 
could he eloquent in various ways. He had, as 
already hinted, the direct and forcihle method in 
perfection, and yet could suit his style to all 
requirements. Coachmen, indeed, found him 
much more dangerous in his suave and polite 
moments, and much preferred to he sworn at 
and violently attacked, for his polite speeches 
generally had a sting in their tail, and earned 
him, among the hrethren of the road, the de- 
scriptive, if also disrespectful, nickname of " Billy 
Eite-'em-Sly." 

The 2^^>i'ti"i'it of him shows a physiognomy 
altogether unexpected, after hearing these tales. 
One perceives rather a delicate and refined face 
tlian that mentally pictured, and it is only in the 
jiiercing eyes that his energy and determination 
are clearly seen. 

Chaplin's coaches were easily to he distin- 
guished along the roads, not only hy the device 
of the " Swan with Two Necks " painted on them, 
or later, in addition, l)y those of a " Spread Eagle," 
" Cross Keys," or a "White Horse," as those inns 
came under his control, hut hy their colours, 
which were red and hlack — hlack upper-quarters 
and fore and hind hoots, and red under-parts and 
wheels. 

His coacliing husiness gave employment to two 
thousand people, and included a horse-huying and 
veterinary dej^artment, under the control of James 
Nunn, who was accustomed to procure the greater 



COACH-PROPRIETORS 207 

number of the coach-horses from llorncastle Pair. 
J. 1\ Herring has left an excellent equestrian 
portrait of this indispensable personage. 

Chaplin horsed the quickest mails out of 
London : the Dcvonport, the New Holyhead, the 
Bristol, and five other West-country mails starting 
from Piccadilly. Passengers who had booked 
from his City offices were carried to this point 
by omnibuses he established, and the mails were 
conveyed, with the guards, in two-wheeled mail- 
carts from the General Post Office. In the great 
number of coaches he ran there Avere, of course, 
included some of the very best. His were those 
famous coaches, the Manchester " Defiance," a 
rival of Sherman's even more famed Manchester 
"Telegraph," the Birmingham "Greyhound," the 
Cambridge " Telegraph," Liverxwol " Red Rover," 
Bristol "Emerald," Cheltenham "Magnet," and 
many others doing their ten miles and more an 
hour. He also had half-shares in the brilliant 
" Tantivy," London and Birmingham, the " Stam- 
ford Regent," the Southampton " Comet," and 
others. 

The signs of the times, so patent to outsiders 
from 1830 and onwards, but generally hid from 
the vision of those most interested, were not 
unheeded by this remarkably shrewd business 
man, Avho, like his contemporary, Joseph Baxen- 
dale, had the power of seeing things and the 
possible future trend of affairs from an imjiersonal 
and unprejudiced point of view. He, above all 
other coach-proprietors, was deeply interested in 



2o8 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

the continuance of tlie old order of thini^s, and it 
would not have been remarkahle had he brought 
himself to the illogical conclusion that, because he 
was so interested, the old order must, could, should 
and would be maintained. Many other coach- 
proprietors did arrive at such a conclusion, not, 
of course, by process of reasoning, but by force of 
being habitually engaged in a business that pre- 
judiced their minds against steam and machinery. 
Their first instincts of scorn for anything that 
should j)resunie to replace the horse effectually 
blinded them to the reality of tlie coming change. 
Chaplin early decided that coaches must go, 
and that the proper policy was to make allies of 
the railways in early days, while they Avere not 
so sure of their own success, and would be sub- 
stantially grateful for any helping hand, lie and 
Benjamin Worthy Ilornc agreed with the London 
and Eirmingham to be their very good friends in 
this matter, and not only withdrew all competitive 
coaches as the line advanced towards completion, 
but aided the railway in those jnonths when a gap 
in the line between Denbigh Hall and Hugl)y cut 
tin; train journey in two. Eetwcen those two 
points their coaches filled the uuAVontedly huml)le 
position of feeders and go-betAveens to the railway. 
Tlie })rice of this amiable attitude was a share Avith 
Pickford & Co. in the goods and parcel cartage 
agency for the line, to the exclusion of all others. 
This monopoly, as Chaplin had fores(Mm, Avas an 
initially Aaluable one, and certain to constantly 
increase, side by side AvitJi the groAving trade and 



COACH-PROPRIETORS 209 

mileag'c of the railway itself. He sold most of 
his coaches — who were those rash persons, greatly 
daring, who houglit coaches in those last days ? — 
and realised everything except what Avas considered 
necessary to start the new lirm of Chaplin & 
Home, carriers, and to carry on the hranch 
coacli-s(M-A ices on routes not yet affected hy the 
rail. Having thus converted his fortune into 
hard cash and deposited it for the time heing 
in the hank, the next consideration was Avhat to 
do Avith it. All the preconceived ideas of invest- 
ment were heing uprooted, and railways, which 
offered many chances to the capitalist, were not 
in those times hracketed with Government securi- 
ties as safe. Even supposing railways in general 
offered inducements, those were the days when 
they were not merely unproved, hut when few 
had advanced heyond the point of ohtaining their 
Parliamentary powers. They were, in fact, little 
hut projects on paper. AVith these prohlems to 
consider, Chaplin did a singular thing. Leaving 
his fortune on deposit, he went awa}^ and utterly 
secluded himself in Switzerland for six weeks, to 
to dehate Avithin himself this turning-point in a 
career. He Avas noAv fifty-one years of age, and 
might Avell have heen content with Avhat he had 
accumulated, and Avitli the prospects of the ucav 
firm. With the advantages he had already secured 
he could have enjoyed a leisured life ; hut he took 
the decision to emhark a large portion of his cash 
in the London and Southampton HailAvay, then 
under construction and Aery much under a cloud 

VOL. 11. 11 



2IO STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

of depreciation. lie aimed at becoming a director 
on that line, and had tliat desire speedily gratified, 
being further appointed Deputy Chairman in 1839. 
By 18J.3 he had succeeded to the chair, and, with 
one interval, remained Chairman of what became 
the London and South-Western Ptaihvay until 
1858, when ill-health compelled his resignation. 
He had the satisfaction of seeing his belief in the 
future of that railway assured. He was" also a 
director of the Paris and Rouen, the Rouen and 
Havre, and the Rhenish Railways ; Sheriff of 
London, 1815-6; a Member of Parliament for 
Salisl)ury, 1817-57 ; in politics an advanced 
Liberal. He died at his residence, 2, Hyde Park 
Gardens, on April 21th, 1859, in his seventy-second 
year, leaving property to the value of over half a 
million sterling, including a quarter share in the 
firm of Chaplin & Home. William Augustus 
Chaplin, the eldest among his eight sons and six 
daughters, succeeded him in the conduct of that 
business, and died, also in his seventy-second year, 
at Melton Mowbray, October 9th, 189G. 

Benjamin AYorthy Home, whose chief i)lace 
of business Avas the " Golden Cross," Charing 
Cross, succeeded his father, AVilliam Home, in 
1828. AYilliam Home, who was born in 1783, 
was originally a painter, ])ut followed that trade 
only a few years after his apprenticeship had 
expired. He had at an early age married Mary 
AVorthy, daughter of Benjamin AVorthy, a Avealthy 
wheelwright in Old Street, and in ISOt his eldest 
son, Benjamin Wortliy Home, Avas bom. This 




WILLIAM AUGUSTUS CHAPLIX. 



CO A CH-PR OPRIE TORS 2 1 3 

marriage bringing him the command of some 
capital, he entered into partnershij^ with one 
Roberts, a coach-proprietor established at the 
"AVhite Horse," Fetter Lane. But the partner- 
ship Avas dissolved at the expiration of twelve 
months, Avhen Home, making a bold stroke, 
purchased the "Golden Cross" of John Cross, 
Avho, having acquired a large fortune after many 
years in business there, was now retiring from it 
and entering upon a series of rash speculations 
Avliich eventually ruined him and brought Thomas 
Cross, his son, down to poverty from the assured 
position of heir to that fortune, and thence to the 
dramatic reverse of soliciting employment as a 
coachman in the very yard his father once had 
owned. 

Established thus at the "Golden Cross," 
AVilliam Home further developed the very fine 
coaching business he had acquired, and added to 
it the yards at the " Cross Keys," Wood Street, 
and the " George and Blue Boar," Holborn, 
together Avith an office at 11, Regent Circus. 
He soon had seven hundred horses in Avork, and 
Avas in the full tide of life and energy Avhen he 
died in 1828, at the early age of forty-five. 
"His last journey," says the obituary notice of 
him, " Avas l)ut a short distance — St. Margaret's 
churchyard, Westminster; and, as a man of 
talent, his remains Avere placed within a fcAv 
feet of some of the greatest men of their age." 

Benjamin AVorthy Home Avas thus only 
tAventy-four years of age A^■hen the management 



2 14 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

of this business fell to him. He soon had need 
of all those fierce energies that Avere his, for, in 
addition to a watchful eye ui)on the doings of 
his rivals, he had the stress and turmoil of the 
rel)uilding of the " Golden Cross " to contend with. 
To him, indeed, fell the singular experience of 
having that central place of business rebuilt 
twice in three years, and the second occasion on 
another site. AVhen it Avas first reljuilt, in 1830, 
Trafalgar Square Avas not in existence, and the 
inn Avas re-erected on the old spot at the rear 
of Charles I.'s statue, exactly Avhere the south- 
eastern one of Landseer's lour lions, guarding 
the Nelson Column, noAV looks across toAvards 
the Grand Hotel. 

But no sooner Avas tlie j^l'^ce rebuilt than 
the Metropolitan improvements in tlie meauAvhile 
decided upon brought about the clearance of the 
site, and the present " Golden Cross " arose some 
distance aAvay. At this time fifty-six coaches 
left that place daily, many of them l)itterly com- 
petitive Avith those of other proprietors. Equally 
Avith his father, Benjamin Home Avas an extremely 
keen business man, ami eager to cut into any 
paying route. He had sta1)les at Barnet aiul 
Pinchley, to enable him to compete advantageously 
on the northern and north- Avestern roads Avith 
Sherman, of the " Bull and Mouth," and Avith 
others on thos(; routes. As early as 1823, Avhen 
the " Tally-Ho ! " fast coach betAveen London and 
Birmingham Avas first put on the road l)y Mrs. 
Ann Mountain, of the "Saracen's Head," Snow 



CO A CH- PR OPRIE TORS 2 1 5 

Hill, to do the 109 miles in 11 hours, the 
success of her enterjorise had roused the jealousy 
of William Horue, who speedily started the 
" Indejiendent Tally-IIo ! " — ^setting out an hour 
and a quarter earlier, in order to intercept the 
bookings of the original conveyance. Numerous 
other " Tally-Ho's ! " were then estahlished, and 
the racing betAveen them on the London and 
Birmingham road grew fast and furious, much 
to the advantage of the sloAver coaches, Avhose 
bookings Avere AvonderfuUy increased by timid 
passengers refusing to go any longer by these 
breakneck rivals. 

Benjamin Worthy Home had at one time 
seven mails : the old Chester and Holyhead ; 
the Cambridge Auxiliary ; the Gloucester and 
Cheltenham ; the Dover Poreign Mail ; the Nor- 
Avicli, through NcAvmarket ; the Milford Haven ; 
and the Worcester and Oxford ; in addition to the 
Hastings, a tAVo-horsed affair, af terAvards transferred 
to the "Bolt-in-Tun" office in Meet Street. 

Urged on, perhaps, by the partial success of 
the competitive " Tally-Ho ! " he started in 1831, 
in alliance a\ ith Robert Nelson of the " Belle 
Sauvage " and Jobson of the " Talbot " at ShrcAvs- 
bury, the " Nimrod " London and SlircAvsbury 
coach, to compete Avith that pioneer of long- 
distance day coaches the "Wonder," a highly 
successful A^enture established so early as 1825, 
by Sherman of the " Bull and Mouth,'' and Taylor 
of the "Lion" at ShrcAVsbury. The bitterness 
and bad blood thus stirred up Averc almost 



2i6 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

incretlil)le. It is not to bo supposed that men 
so spirited as Sherman and Isaac Taylor were 
content to idly see this late-comer enter the field 
their OAvn enterprise had opened, and be allowed 
to cut up their profits ; and so the following 
season Avitnessed the appearance of the " Stag," 
own sister to the "Wonder," and by the same 
proprietors, timed to run a little in advance of 
the " Nimrod," while the " Wonder " Avent slightly 
in the rear. Tlius the hated rival was pretty well 
" nursed " all the way, and did not often succeed 
in securing a well-filled way-bill. The pace Avhile 
this insane competition lasted Avas terrific, and 
the coachman of the " Nimrod " on the Wolver- 
hampton and Shrewsbury stage Avas thrown ott' 
and killed. The coaches Avere originally fast, 
being timed at 11^ miles an hour ; but in the 
furious racing that took i)lacc, day after day, 
the Avliole three often arrived together at the 
journey's end, two hours before time. One 
shrinks from computing the pace an analysis of 
these figures Avould disclose. Tlie fares by the 
"Wonder" and "Stag" Avere in the meainvhile 
reduced by one-third ; and, partly in conseciuence 
of this " alarming sacrifice," and a great deal 
more, avc may suppose, in coi^ sequence of travel- 
lers being afraid to travel by these reckless 
competitors, £1500 Avere lost by Sherman and 
liis allies in twelve months. I3ut at the end of 
tliat time they had tlie satisfaction of seeing 
the "Nimrod" Avithdrawn, Avhen the fares Avere 
raised to their old level. 



CO A CH-PROPRIE TORS 2 1 7 

We are not told how iiiueli liorne and his 
friends lost in this onslaught upon Sherman's 
preserves, hut it must have heen a very consider- 
ahle sum. Home ran in opposition to many 
jH'oprietors, and was powerful enough to Avear 
down any competitors except the three or four 
men whose husinesses ranked \\\i\\ his own for 
size. Those proprietors who agreed to Avork 
Avitli rather than against him, Avcre therefore 
the hotter advised. When putting a new coach 
on a route, his practice was to oifer a share in 
the husiness to others accustomed to work along 
it. If they refused^ and elected to oppose him, 
he hccame dangerous. He never alloAvcd compe- 
tition ; and as he had the longer jmrse, generally 
heat his rivals. A strictly husinesslike proprietor 
would accordingly always Avclcomc Home as a 
partner ; hut it generally hapj)ened that men who 
had for years past run coaches on certain roads 
fell unconsciously into the hahit of thinking and 
acting as though they held a j)rescriptive right 
to the Avhole of the traffic along them, and not 
only refused to ally themselves Avith any one 
providing additional coaches, hut endeaA^oured to 
shut him out altogether. Thus Home, although 
ready to Avork Avith any proprietor, Avas in hitter 
oj)position on many roads. 

His Avas the Liverpool " Umpire," a day 
coach; and his, too, the "Bedford Times," so 
far as horsing it out of London Avas concerned. 
It Avas started ahout 183G, hy Whithread, the 
hrcAver, as a hohhy, and ran from the " George 



2i8 STAGE-COACH AX D MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

and Blue Boar." It is singular that it made 
the third Bedford coach running daily from 
that inn : Home seems to have considered that 
Bedford could not have too many coaches. The 
others were the "Telegraph," twice a day — 8 a.m. 
and 2.15 p.m. — and the " lloyal Telegraph" at 
9 a.m. The " Times " started at 3 p.m., and 
went at Vd\ miles an hour, including stops. This 
was a very smart and exclusive coach, l)uilt on 
the lines of the private drag, and ran to that 
monumental Bedford hotel, the " Swan." The 
" Bedford Times " was further remarkahle as one 
of the last-surviving of the coaches. It Avas not 
run off the road until 1818. 

Home prided himself on his drastic ways, and 
was fond of recounting his master-strokes in 
crushing out rivals. The particular coup on 
Avhicli he loved to dwell was that of driving up 
to an inn belonging to a middle-ground j^^i'tner 
of one of his enemies, and buying up all the 
horses overnight, so that in the morning, when 
his own coach bowled by, the rival concern was 
l)rouglit to an ignominious standstill. This story, 
if true, reflected no credit on either himself or 
the other party to the transaction, Avho certainly 
Avas liable to an action for breach of contract. 
There is, hoAvever, no doubt at all that Home 
Avas the man to have gone to the extravagant 
length of indemnifying the vendor — perhaps better 
described as his accomplice — against any action- 
at-laAv. He simply Avould not brook l)usiness 
rivalry. 



CO A CH- PR OPRIE TORS 2 2 1 

He was a tall, lathy, irritable man, of eager 
face, quick, nervous speech, and rajiid Avalk, with 
something of a military air in his alert, upright 
figure. The very antithesis of Chaplin, who was 
of short stature and possessed of a nature that 
nothing could ruffle. Home must always expend 




BENJAMIN WORTHY HORNE. 



his energies on the minor details of his extensive 
Inisiness, and himself do work that would have 
been better dele^-ated to subordinates. In the 
end this wore him out, and brought him to a 
comparatively early death. Uj) early, no day 
was long enough for him, and he economised time 
bv takiuii: no reticular meal until evenini]^. He 



222 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YOKE 

was generally to be seen eating his lunch out 
of a paper hag as he swung furiously along the 
streets. " There's Home," said one of those many 
who did not love him, " with the devil at his 
elbow, as nsual ! " 

It Avas, perhaj)s, well for him that Chaplin, 
calm and level-headed, came and entered into 
discussion on the railway question at that critical 
time vv'hen the fortunes of coach-proprietors Avere 
to be saA^ed or lost by a simple declaration of 
policy. The time Avas 1837, the occasion the 
approaching opening of the first section of the 
London and Birmingham Raihvay. Should they 
hold out against the ncAV order of things, as 
Sherman Avas bent upon doing, or should they 
enter into that alliance Avith the railway for 
Avliich the railway people themselves Averc diplo- 
matically angling ? Chaplin thought they should, 
and proposed an amalgamation of their tAVO inter- 
ests. Ilorne Avas not so sure of raihvay success, 
and might liaA e continued on his OAvn Avay, but 
Chaplin, Avho Avas an old friend, urged his own 
views. " We shall lose £10,000 apiece if Ave 
don't Avork Avitli them," he said, " and you Avon't 
like that, Benny, my boy." Eventually Ilorne 
agreed, and the firm of Cha2)lin & Ilorne Avas 
founded. 

Dark rumours Avere current at the time that 
to this ncAvly constituted firm a sum of scA'eral 
thousands of pounds was paid by the London and 
Birmingham directors as the price of tlieir friend- 
ship ; but,, liowever that may l)e, tlie allied coach- 



CO A CH-PROPRIE TORS 2 2 3 

proprietors ai^reccl to withdraw their coaches from 
the Eirming'haiii Road, and to throw the weight 
of their interest and influence on the side of the 
railway. In return, they Avere given the contract 
for the parcel agency of the line. Chaplin had 
perceived, as Eaxendalc had already done in the 
case of the goods traflic, that this agency would 
he very valuahle, and to his far-seeing counsel 
Home OAved much. 

Henry Home, one of I3enjamin Worthy 
Home's nine hrothers, hecame a partner with 
him in 1836, and Avas a memher of this firm of 
Chaplin & Home for many years. He survived 
his hrother, and Avas at the head of afl^airs Avlien 
the London and North-AVestern Hallway took 
over the parcel husiness and the London receiving 
offices in 1S7L Henry Avas the kindest-hearted 
of men, and old coaching-men doAvn on their luck 
ahvays found him a sure draw for a loan or a 
gift. AVise by dint of long experience, he laid 
down a golden rule that it Avas cheaper in the 
end to give £50 than to lend £100. 

When the fierce old fighting days of the road 
were ended and the husiness of Chaplin & Home 
AA^as set afoot, the restless energies of Benjamin 
Worthy Home found an outlet in the manage- 
ment of the goods business in connection Avitli 
the raihvay, and he Avas constantly in and out 
at Euston and Camden. In those early days the 
London and North-Western llaihvay headquarters 
staff Avas managed on somewhat lax and primitive 
lines, and if a departmental manager thought he 



224 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

Avanted a little holiday, he took it, without a word 
to any one. To a strict and keen business man 
like Home these jiroceedings seemed particularly 
strange, and were often, doubtless, the source of 
much annoyance and Araste of time. He had 
the unchallenged run of the offices, and Avas so 
used to finding the Aarious managers aAAay, on 
some pretext or another, that he Avould humorously 
assume their absence on all occasions. With his 
abrupt manner, he Avould burst boisterously into 
a room, and exclaim — 

Ah ! Manager Number One out — 
Gone fishing, no doubt ! 

At the next office, AAdiether the manager happened 
to be in or not, he AA^ould enter AA^tli the same 
assumption of his absence, and say — 

Manager Number Two 

Nothing to do — 

Of course, gone fishing also ! 

To his especial aAcrsion DaAnd StcA'enson, the 
goods manager, Avliom he considered to liaA'C 
usurped many of his firm's rights and privileges, 
he AAOuld enter tragically aa itli — 

Aha ! Manager Stevenson — 

Gone about his private theatricals ! 

and fix the enraged StcA^enson Avith the haughty 
stare common to the transpontine drama of the 
time. The sting of it lay in the fact that 
Stevenscm belonged to an amateur dramatic 
society. 

Tlic goods de2)artment at Camden Avas taken 



COACH-PROPRIETORS 225 

over by the London and North-Western Railway 
in Benjamin Worthy Home's time, long before 
the general parcels and receiving-office l)rancli was 
absorbed. Tlie decision to terminate the contract 
Avas a source of much annoyance to him, on 
account of the reason given, which was that the 
business was not efficiently conducted. Although 
he was a man who in general had a horror of 
going to laAv, this stigma upon his business methods 
so stung him that he brought an action against 
the raihvay company for breach of contract, in 
order to vindicate his position. This was going 
to law for an idea, and as the company had a 
perfect right to terminate the contract, the action 
of course failed; but it was made abundantly 
evident that the business was efficiently carried 
on, and that the railway was only proposing to 
take it over because the time was ripe for such 
a development. His heavy costs, amounting to 
£1200, were afterwards very handsomely refunded 
to Mr. Home by the railway. 

It remains to say that although there Avas no 
keener or more ruthless man of business than 
Benjamin Worthy Home, he Avas privately a 
considerate and kindly man, helpful and charitable 
to those less successful than himself. 

He had a pretty estate at Highlands, MereAVorth, 
and a toAvn residence at 33, Russell Square. He 
died at the latter place, April 14th, 1870, aged 
sixty-six, leaving property valued at £250,000. 



VOL. II. 15 



CHAPTER X 

coACH-PROPRiETOiis {continued) 

Edward Sherman, who ranked next to Chaplin 
as the hirgest coach-proprietor in London, was in 
many respects unlike his hrethren in the trade. 
He established himself at the " Bull and Mouth," 
St. Martin's-le-Grand, in 1823, in succession to 
AVillans, and came direct from the Stock Exchange, 
where he had been a broker in alliance \\ith Lewis 
Levy, a noted figure in those days of Turnj^ike 
Trusts. It is perhajis scarcely necessary to add 
that Levy was a Jew. He Avas referred to by 
Lord E-avens worth in the course of a discussion 
in the House of Lords on Metropolitan Toll-gates 
in 1857 as " a gentleman of the Hel)rew per- 
suasion." Persuasion, indeed ! As well might 
you descrilje a l^orn Englishman or Erenchman 
as born into those nationalities by personal choice 
and election. Levy was, of course, a Jew by 
birth, and had no choice in the matter. He was 
a farmer of turnpike-tolls to the extent of half a 
million sterling per annum, and a very Avealthy 
man. Levy ^\\i Sherman into the coaching 
business, and lie immediately began to make 
things extremely uncomfortable for the older 
proprietors, who had up to that time been content 
with going at eight or nine miles an hour. 



COACH-PROPRIETORS 227 

When Colonel Hawker took coach from the 
"Bull and Mouth" in 1812, he found "the 
ruffians " there " a dissatisfied, grumbling set of 
fellows, and their turns-out of horses and harness 
beggarly." Such was the place under Willans' 
rule, but Sherman altered all that. He was 
anything but a horsy man, and it is therefore 
remarkable that he should have built up the very 
extensive business that the " Bull and Mouth " 
Yard did almost immediately become. He was 
the pioneer of fast long-distance day coaches, and 
\Aas the proprietor, at the London end, of the 
" Shrewsbury Wonder," which, like all his coaches 
at that time, was a light yellow and black affair. 
How long he continued subservient to Levy may 
be a matter for conjecture, but when he rebuilt 
the " Bull and Mouth " Hotel, in 1830, he did 
so from the money of one of the three old and 
wealthy ladies Avhom he married in succession. 
The "Wonder" ran 158 miles in the day, as 
against the 122 miles to Bristol ; but was shortly 
afterwards eclipsed by the Exeter " Telegraph," 
put on the road in 182G in rivalry with Chaplin's 
"Quicksilver" Hevonport Mail, by Mrs. Ann 
Nelson, of the "Bull," Wliitechapel. In this 
Sherman had only a small share. Entirely his 
own venture was that supreme achievement, the 
"Manchester Telegrai^h " day coach, started in 
1833 and running 186 miles in 18 hours, technically 
in the day by dint of starting at 5 o'clock in 
the morning and reaching Manchester at 11 p.m. 
The journey was at last shortened by one hour, 



2 28 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

when the pace, allowing twenty minutes for 
dinner at Derby, and stops for changing, worked 
out at just under twelve miles an hour. The 
Manchester " Telegraph " day coach must by no 
meansbe confounded with the old night coacliof that 
name, which in 1821 started from the "Castle and 
Falcon" at 2.30 p.m., and arrived at the " Moseley 
Arms," Manchester, at 8 o'clock the next evening 
— 29|^ hours, not much more than six miles an hour. 

The " Telegraph " day coach was built by 
Waude, and was able to safely jocrform its 
astonishingly quick journeys over what is in some 
places an extremely hilly road by the introduction 
of the flat springs that, from first being used on 
this coach, were known as "telegraph springs," 
a name they retain to this day. They set the 
fashion of loAV-hung coaches, which, in the 
lowering of the centre of gravit}^, retained their 
equilibrium at high rates of speed and when going 
round abrupt curves. Accidents, very numerous 
in those years, would have been even more 
frequent had it not been for this change. 

The heated rivalry between Sherman's " Man- 
chester Telegraph" and Chaplin's "Manchester 
Defiance" — continued for some years— was but 
one phase of a keen competition that raged all 
round the coaching world for the possession of 
the Manchester traffic. The " Swan with Two 
Necks " " Defiance " may be traced back to 1821, 
and even before that date, if necessary. In that 
year there was not a coach that went the distance 
in less than 27 hours, and in this first flight the 



COACH-PROPRIETORS 229 

" Defiance " was included. It set out at 2.30 p.m., 
and was at tlie " Bridge water Arms," Mancliester, 
at 5.30 the next afternoon. By 1823 it was 
accelerated by two and a half hours ; in 1826 
it had become the " Uoyal Defiance," in 2J^ hours. 
In succeeding years it continued to go at 6.30 
and 6.15 p.m., and Avhen the " Telegraph " was 
started the pace was screwed up to the same 
as that of the new-comer. An evening rival 
was the fast " Peveril of the Peak," running 
from the " Blossoms " inn, Lawrence Lane, 
Cheapside; while Bobert Nelson, of the "Belle 
Sauvage," also had a fast night coach, the Man- 
chester " Bed Bover," at 7 p.m., a very lurid 
affair on which the guards wore red hats as 
well as red coats, and the horses red harness and 
collars as far as he horsed the coach out of 
London. This did not long remain in his hands. 
Sherman afterwards obtained it ; but Nelson, 
burning with professional zeal and no little 
personal pique, immediately put an entirely new 
coach on the same route to Cottonopolis. The 
announcement of the " Beehive," as it was called, 
is distinctly worth quoting, for it shows at once 
the keen rivalry between proprietors at this 
period and the excellent appointments of the 
later coaches : — 

" New Coach from the ' Beehive ' Coach 
Office 

" Merchants, buyers, and the public in general, 
visiting London and Manchester, are respectfully 



230 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

informed that a new coach, called the ' Beehive,' 
built exj^ressly, and fitted up Avith sujierior accom- 
modation for comfort and safety to any coach 
in Euro2)e, Avill leave 'La Belle Sauvage,' 
Ludgate Hill, London, at eight every morning, 
and arrive in Manchester the following morning, 
in time for the coaches leaving for Carlisle, Edin- 
burgh, and Glasgow. Passengers travelling to 
the north will reach Carlisle the following 
morning, being only one night on the road. 
The above coach will leave the ' Beehive ' Coach 
Office, Market Street, near the Exchange, Man- 
chester, every evening at seven, and arrive in 
London the folloAvinf? afternoon at three. All 
small parcels sent by this conveyance will be 
delivered to the farthest part of London within 
two hours after the arrival of the coach. In 
order to insure safety and j)unctuality, Avith re- 
sjiectability, no large jiackages Avill be taken, or 
fish of any description carried by this conveyance. 
The inside of the coach is fitted up with spring 
cushions and a reading-lamp, lighted with Avax, 
for the accommodation of those Avho Avish to 
amuse themselves on the road. The inside backs 
and seats are also fitted up Avitli hair cushions, 
rendering them more comfortable to passengers 
than anything hitherto brought out in the annals 
of coaching, and, to prevent frequent disputes 
respecting seats, every seat is numbered. Persons 
booking themselves at either of the above places 
Avill receive a card, Avith a number upon it, thereby 
doing aAvay Avith the disagreeables that occur 



COACH-PROPRIETORS 231 

daily in the old style. The route is through 
Stockport, Macclesfield, Congleton, NcAvcastle, 
Wolverhamptou, Birmingham, Coventry, Dun- 
church, Towcester, Stony Stratford, Erickhill, 
Dunstahle, and St. Alhans, heing the most level 
line of country, avoiding the danger of the steep 
hills through Derhyshire. 

" Performed by the j^nhlic's obedient servants, 

" Robert Nelson, London ; 

" F. Clare, Stony Stratford ; 

" Robert Hadley & Co., Manchester." 

Sherman's rebuilt " Bull and Mouth " inn, 
or " Queen's Hotel," to give it its later name, 
long remained a feature of St. Martin's-le-Grand, 
many years after the last coach had been with- 
drawn ; and the old stables in Bull and Mouth 
Street, Avhich had not been included in the re- 
building of 1830, remained, a grim and grimy 
landmark, put to use, as usually the case Avitli 
the old coach offices, as a receiving office for the 
Goods Department of one of the great railways. 
In later years the " Queen's Hotel " became the 
property of that very thick-and-thin supporter 
of and believer in the Tichborne Claimant, Mr. 
Quartermaine East ; but the groAvth of Post Office 
business made the site an exceedingly desirable 
one for an extension, and in 1887 the house was 
closed and demolished, and in the fulness of 
time the gigantic block of buildings officially 
known as " G.P.O. North " arose. Not only 
>vere the sites of hotel and stables thus occupied. 



2 32 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

but even Bull and Moutli Street was stopped up 
and built over. The still-existing Angel Street, 
close by, between " G.P.O. North" and " G.P.O. 
West," marks where another coaching inn, the 
" Angel," once stood. 

Robert Nelson, Avho entered so keenly into 
rivalry Avith Sherman over the Manchester 
business, was one of the three sons of Mrs. Ann 
Nelson, of the " Eull Inn," Whitechapel. Not 
the Bull " Hotel," for Mrs. Nelson most resolutely 
set her face against that ncAV-fangled word ; and 
as an " inn " the house was known to the very 
last. An excellent inn it was — one of the very 
best. It did not seem strange then, as un- 
doubtedly it would noAV be, for so high-class a 
house to be situated in this quarter of London. 
Whitechapel of that time was vastly different 
from the disrej)utable place it is to-day ; but the 
prime reason of so fine an inn as the " Bull " 
being situated here was that this Avas the starting- 
point of many routes into the eastern counties, 
and, just as railway hotels form a usual adjunct 
of raihvay termini, so did Mrs. Nelson j^ossess 
an excellent hotel business in addition to the 
important and highly successful coaches that set 
out from her yard and stables. 

The " Bull," Whitechajiel, Avas sometimes — 
and Avith equal, if not better, exactness — knoAvn as 
the " Bull," Aldgate, for it Avas numbered 25 in 
Aldgate High Street. The relentless hand of 
" im2)rovement " SAvept it aAvay in 18G8, but until 
that year it presented the picture of a typical old 



COACH-PROPRIETORS 233 

English hostelry, and its coffee-room, resplendent 
with old polished mahogany fittings, its tahles laid 
with silver, and the walls adorned with numerous 
sjieeimens of those old coaching prints that are 
now so rare and j^i'ized so greatly by collectors, it 
wore no uncertain air of that solid and restful 
comfort the newer and bustling hotels of to-day, 
furnished and appointed with a distracting showi- 
ness, are incapable of giving. Everything at the 
" Bull " was solid and substantial, from the great 
heavy mahogan}^ chairs that required the strength 
of a strong man to move, to the rich old English 
fare, and the full-bodied port its guests Avere sure 
of obtaining. 

A i)eculiar feature of this fine establishment 
of Mrs. Nelson's was the room especially reserved 
for her coachmen and guards, where those worthies 
sup2)ed and dined oft* the best the house could 
jorovide, at something less than cost price. Mention 
has often been made of the exclusiveness of the 
commercial-rooms of old, but none of those strictly 
reserved haunts were so unapproachable as this 
coachmen's room at the " Bull." There they 
and the guards dined with as much circumstance 
as the coffee-room guests, drank wine with the 
appreciation of connoisseurs, and tipped the waiter 
as freely as any travellers down the road. A 
round dozen daily gathered round the table of 
this sanctum, joined sometimes by well-known 
amateurs of the road like Sir Henry Peyton and 
the Honourable Thomas Kenyon, but only as 
distinguished and quite exceptional guests. Once, 



234 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

indeed, Charles Dickens sat at this tal)le. Perhaps 
he was contemplating a sequence of stories with 
some such title as "The Coachmen's Hoom " ; 
but if so, he never fulfilled the intention. 
The chairman on this occasion, after sundry 
flattering remarks, as a tribute to the novelist's 
power of describing a coach journey, said, " Mr. 
Dickens, sir, we knows you knows wot's Avot, but 
can you, sir, 'andle a vip ? " There was no mock 
modesty about Dickens. He acknowledged that he 
could describe a journey down the road (doubtless, 
if we have a correct mental image of the man, he 
acknowledged that little matter Avith a truculent 
suggestion in his manner that he would like to see 
the man who could do it as well), but he regretted 
that in the management of the " vip " he was not 
an exjiert. 

Unlike commercial dinners, " shop " was not 
taboo round this hospitable mahogany, but formed 
the staple of the conversation. Indeed, these 
Avorthies could talk little else, and Avitli tlie 
exception of sometimes shrcAvd and humorous 
sidelights on the towns and villages they passed 
on their daily drives, and criticisms of the local 
magnates whose parks and mansions they pointed 
out to the passengers on the Avay, Avere silent on 
all subjects save Avheels, horses, and harness. 

The etiquette of this room Avas strict. The 
oldest coachman presided — never a guard, for 
they ahvays ranked as juniors — and at the proper 
moment gave the loyal toast of the King or Queen. 
An exception to this rule of seniority Avas Avhen 



COACH-PROPRIETORS 235 

Mrs. Nelson's second son, Robert, who drove her 
Exeter "Defiance," Avas present, as occasionally 
he was, following- the practice of the House of 
Commons, Avliose members are never, Avithin the 
House, referred to by their own names, but 
ahvays as the representatiA'es of their several 
constituencies, Mrs. Nelson's coachmen and guards 
here assembled Avere addressed as "Manchester," 
" Oxford," " IpsAvich," " Devonport," and so forth. 

When Mrs. Nelson retired from the active 
management of the business, her eldest son, Jolm, 
became the moAdng sj)irit. It was in his time that 
railAA^ays came in and coaching Avent out, but he Avas 
equal to the occasion, and started a very successful 
line of omnibuses, the "Wellington," plying 
betAveen Stratford, Whitechapel, the Bank, Oxford 
Street, lloyal Oak, and Westbourne Grove. He 
died, a very Avealthy man, in June, 18G8, aged 
seventy-four. 

Thomas Fagg, of the " Bell and CroAvn," 
Holborn —an inn better known to later gene- 
rations of Londoners as " Bidler's Hotel " — Avas 
a small proprietor, but he had in addition a 
very lucrative business as a coach-maker at 
Hartley Boav, near Basingstoke. The " Louth " 
and " Lynn " mails, hoAvever, Avere partly his, and 
Carys It'uieranj for 1821 gives a list of tAventy- 
six stage-coaches going from his dcor to all parts 
of the country. As " lUdler's " the house Avas a 
very select "family liotel," but in this it only 
carried on the traditions of Eagg's time, Avhen he 
had some most distinguished guests. Standing 



236 STAGE-COACH A^W MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

midway between the West End and the City, the 
" Bell and Crown " thus possessed certain advan- 
tages, and received much patronage both from 
commercial magnates and Society people. Among 
his patrons he numl)ered the " Iron Duke," for 
AA'hom he had an almost religious reverence, and 
indeed proposed to change the name of his house 
to the "Wellington," in honour of him ; only re- 
considering the project when the Duke told him — 
as he commonly did the many extravagant hero- 
worshippers Avhose attentions were a daily nuisance 

• — not to be "a d d fool." Fagg, however, 

was no fool, but a very shreAvd person indeed. 
A coachman, applying to him for a place on one 
of his coaches, was j^nt through a strict examina- 
tion as to his qualifications, when it appeared 
that he was (according to his own account) not 
only a first-rate and steady " artist," but had 
never capsized a coach in the whole course of his 
career — "he didn't know what a liupset meant." 

" Oh ! go away," retorted the justly incensed 
Fagg ; " you are no man for me. My coaches 
are always upsetting, and with nour want of 
experience, how the devil should you know how to 
get one on her legs again ? " 

IMrs. Mountain also had her own coach-factory. 
She Avas no less energetic than that very lively 
and masterful person, Mrs. Ann Nelson, but in a 
smaller Avay of business. Sarah Ann Mountain's 
house was that " Saracen's Head," Snow Hill, 
immortalised ])y Dickens in Nichol((s Nicklehij. 
She had succeeded to the business in 1818, on the 



COA CH- PR OPRIE TORS 2 3 7 

death of her husband, and instead of ghing up, 
decided to carry on, aided by Peter, her son. 
Thirty coaches left her inn daily, among them the 
first of the Birmingham " Tally-IIo's," a fast day 
coach, established in 1823, and historically inter- 
esting as the prime cause of the furious racing 
that characterised the St. Albans and Coventry 
route to Birmingham from this date until 1838. 
Mrs. Mountain's coach-factory Avas at the rear of 
her premises on Snow Hill. There she built the con- 
veyances used by herself and partners, charging them 
at the rather high rate of 3^f/. a mile for their use. 

A number of smaller pi'oprietors accounted, 
between them, for many other coaches. Robert 
Gray, once established at the " Belle Sauvage," 
left that place in 1807 and settled at the " Bolt- 
in-Tun," a house still standing in Pleet Street, 
and now knoAvn as the " Bolt-in-Tun " London 
and North-Western Railway Receiving Office. 
He sent out twenty-five coaches daily, almost 
exclusively down the southern and western roads, 
among them the Portsmouth and the Hastings 
mails, the latter a pair-horse concern. 

William Gilljert, of the " Blossoms " inn, 
Laurence Lane, Cheapside, had also a pair-horse 
mail — the "Brighton " — the "Tantivy," Birming- 
ham coach, and a fast night coacli to IManchester, 
the " Peveril of the Peak." Seventeen other 
coaches left his yard. 

Joseph Hearn, proprietor of the " King's 
Arms," Snow Hill, was monarch among the slow- 
coaclies, of which he had twenty-two. Among 



238 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

tlieni were the Bicester " llegulator," the Boston 
" Perseverance," and the Leicester and Market 
Harborough " Convenience " — names that do not 
spell speed. Even his Aylesbury " Despatch " 
Avas a slow affair, reaching- that town in six hours, 
at the rate of six and a half miles an hour. 

Many great coach-proprietors were established 
in the chief provincial towns. Bretherton, of 
Liverpool, described by Chaplin as " an exceed- 
ingly opulent man," A^^etherald, at Manchester, 
Teather, of Carlisle, AVaddell, at Birmingham, 
are names that stand forth prominently. The 
cross-country rivalry between these men was quite 
as bitter as that Avliich raged among the Londoners, 
and, although with the lapse of time the exact 
explanation of the following extraordinary epitaph 
on a coach-proprietor of Bolton, Lancashire, cannot 
be given, it is doubtless to 1)e found in one of 
these business feuds : — 

" Sacred to the Memory of Frederic Webb, Coach Proprietor, 
of the firm of Webb, Houlden, & Co., of Bolton, who departed 
this Hfe the 9th December, 18"25, aged 23 years. Not being 
able to combat the malevolence of his enemies, who sought his 
de.^truction, he was taken prematurely from an affectionate loving 
wife and infant child, to deplore the loss of a good husband, 
whose worth was unknown, and who died an honest man.'" 

The inference intended to be drawn was 
obviously that the others Avere not honest inen ; 
l)ut, honest or not, they are all gone to their 
account, and the Avorld has forgotten them and 
their contentions. Only the stray historian of these 
things comes upon tlieir infrequent footmarks, 
and wonders greatly at their elemental ferocity. 



CHAPTER XI 

THE AMATEURS 

Those men ascend to lofty state, 
And Phcebus' self do emulate, 
Who drive the dusty roads along 
Amid the plaudits of the throng. 
When round the whirling wheels do go, 
They all the joys of gods do know. 
See the 01ymi>ian dust arise 
That gives them kindred with the skies ! 

Horace, Book I., Ode i. 

Thus Horace sings, in his Ode to Maecenas ; and 
the driving amhition ohserved by that old heathen, 
still to he noticed in these days, was a very marked 
feature of the road at any time between 1800 and 
1848, Avhen the railways had succeeded in disestab- 
lishing almost every coach, and the opportunities 
of the gentleman coachman were gone. 

The amateur coachman was a creation of the 
nineteenth century. He was, for two very good 
reasons, unknown before that time. The first was 
that coachmanship had not yet l)ecome an art, 
and, still in the hands of mere drivers whose only 
recommendations were an ability to endure long 
hours on the box and a brutal efficiency in i^unish- 
ing the horses, had no chance of developing those 
refinements that characterised the Augustan age 
of coaching ; the second reason was that the 



240 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DA YS OF YORE 

box-seat, although perhaps already beginning to be 
regarded as a place of distinction, was much more 
certainly a very painful eminence. It rested 
directly upon the front axle, and, being wholly 
innocent of springs, received and transmitted to 
the frame of any one who occupied it every shock 
the wheels encountered on the rough roads of 
that time. 

Springs under the driving-box were unknown 
until about 1805, when they were introduced by 
John Warde, of Squerryes, the old Kentish squire 
who is generally known as the " Eatlier of Fox- 
hunting." He was the first amateur coachman, 
and in pursuing that hobby found the driving- 
seats of the old coaches anything but comfortal^le. 
In resistino* his aro-uments in favour of the intro- 
duction of springs, the coach-proprietors declared 
to a man that tlie coachmen would always be 
falling asleep if they were j^i'ovided with com- 
fortable seats. 

John Warde's driving exploits were chiefly 
carried out on the Oxford, Gloucester, and Bir- 
mingham roads. Por years l^efore coachmanship 
became a fashional)le accomplishment, he had been 
accustomed to take the professional coachman's 
place on the "old Gloucester" stage, "six inside 
and sixteen out, Avith two tons of luggage " ; or, 
relieving* Jack Eailev and other incumbents of the 
bench on tlie old Birmingham and Shrewsbury 
"Prince of Wales," would drive the whole distance 
between London and Birmingham. He once drove 
this coach from London to Oxford against the 



THE AMATEURS 241 

"Worcester Old Ply" for a wager, and won it, 
although his coach Avent the Benson road, four 
miles longer than the route his opponent had to 
travel. 

Warde's driving was by no means in the later 
style, and he probably would have been very much 
out of his element with the smart galloping teams 
of the Golden Age. He was, however, of those 
who Avere fit to be trusted with a heavy load 
behind Aveak horses and on bad roads. There Avas 
a peculiarity about him as regarded the driving of 
his OAvn horses Avhich the history of the road, it 
was said, could not jiarallel. Let the journey be 
in length Avhat it might, he ncA^er took the horses 
out of his 2^1'ivate coach, giving them only now 
and then a little hay and a mouthful of Avater 
at a roadside public-house. When he resided in 
Northamptonshire, sixty-three miles from London, 
the journey Avas ahvays accomj^lished 1)y his team 
" at a pull," as he called it. The pace, as may be 
supposed, Avas not quick. John Warde was one 
of the founders of the B.D.C., or Benson Driving 
Club, in 1807. 

Amateur coaching, as a fashionable amuse- 
ment, took its rise on the Brighton Boad. Looked 
upon Avith contempt ])y stalwart and bluff Warde 
and his kind, it nevertheless grcAV and flourished 
in the hands of the Barrymores and their con- 
temporaries. Sir John Lade and Colonel Mellish ; 
and in the early years of the nineteenth century 
the education of no gay young blood AA'as com- 
plete until he had acquired the art of driving 
VOL. II. 16 



242 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

four-iu-hand, in addition to the already fashion- 
able and highly dashing sport of driving the light 
whiskies, the high -perched curricles, and the 
toppling tilburies that then gave a fearful joy to 
the newly-fledged whip. There was not too much 
physical exertion, endurance, or skill required on 
the road to Brighton, which was only fifty-two 
miles in length, and already possessed a better 
surface than most roads out of London ; and, 
moreover, it was a road peopled from beginning 
to end with fashionables, before whom the gentle- 
man-coachman could dis^ilay his prowess. It was 
then pretty generally recognised that coach- 
driving Avas a 2^oor sport if the ease and grace 
of the performer could not be displayed before a 
large and fashionable audience. That, it will l)e 
conceded, Avas not altogether a worthy attitude. 

Many of these brilliant amateurs of the road 
ran an essentially identical career of vicioiisness 
and mad extravagance ; and not a fcAV of them 
wasted themselves and their substance in the 
very shady pursuits that then characterised the 
"man about town." Those Avho are curious about 
such things may find them fully set forth in 
Pierce Egan's Life in London and its grim 
sequel, the Finish. The endings of the Toms 
and Jerrys of that Corinthian age Avere generally 
sordid and pitiful. 

The truth is that the sporting Avorld Avas then, 
as it always has been and ahvays Avill be, thronged 
Avith the toadies Avho Avere ever ready to fool a 
moneyed youngster to the top of his bent. He 



THE AMATEURS 245 

must vie with the richer and the more experienced, 
though he ruin himself in the doing of it, and 
hrino; his ancestral acres to the hammer, in the 
manner of a Mytton or a Mellish. The only 
satisfaction these reckless sportsmen obtained, 
beyond the immediate gratification of their tastes, 
Avas the eulogy of the sporting scribes, wlio 
discussed their style upon the box-seat Avitli as 
much gravity as would befit some question of 
empire. Excepting " Nimrod " and " Viator 
Junior," whose essays on sport in general, and 
coaching in particular, were sound and honest 
criticism, these writers were venal and beneatli 
contempt. 

A "real gentleman," according to the ideas 
of these parasites, was one who flung away his 
money broadcast in tips. Many foolish fellows, 
foolish in thinking the good opinions of these 
gentry worth having, spent their substance in 
this way. Of this kind was the amateur whip 
described by a writer in the Sporting Ifagazme 
in 1831. This aspirant for the goodwill of the 
stable-helpers and their sort sat beside the pro- 
fessional coachman on the Poole Mail starting 
from Piccadilly, and when the reins Avere handed 
to him proclaimed his gentility by the distribution 
of shillings among the horsekeepers. Pirst "Nasty 
Bob," the ostler, got a shilling for talking about 
the leaders' "haction"; then "Greedy Dick," 
the boots, had one also for handing him the 
" vip " ; and then came " Sneaking Will," the 
cad and coach-caller, to say something civil to 



246 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

the " gemman " ; and even the neighbouring 
waterman was seduced from his hackney-coaches 
to try the persuasive poAvers of his eloquence. 
Pour shillings and sixpence this " real gentle- 
man " distril)uted at Hatchett's door, and left 
the capital with the best wishes of the donees 
for his safe return. His generosity was not 
allowed a long respite, for at " that vile hole 
13rentford," a slowly manoeuvring Avaggoner 
blocked the way ; and finding that he could by 
no other means be induced to alloAv the mail to 
2)ass, our amateur descended from the box, and, 
slyly placing a shilling in the waggoner's hands, 
said in a loud voice, " I don't stand any nonsense, 
you know, so now take your Avaggou out of the 
way. This forcible and intelligible appeal, so 
2:)roperly accomj^anied, AAas perfectly irresistible : 
the Avaggon Avas draAvn to the roadside, and the 
mail proceeded. 

Very fcAv of these amateurs have been con- 
sidered Avorthy of biographical treatment, but 
among them Sir St. Vincent Cotton is one. Let 
us just see Avhat the outline of his life AA^as : — 
" Cotton, Sir St. Vincent, Gtli Baronet, son of 
Admiral Sir Charles Cotton. Born at Madingley 
Hall, Cambs., October Gtli, 1801; succeeded, 
February 24th, 1812 ; educated at Westminster 
and Christ Church, Oxford. Cornet lOtli Light 
Dragoons, May 13th, 1827 ; Lieutenant, December 
13th, 1827, to November 19th, 1830, Avhen placed 
on half -pay. Distinguished himself in the hunting, 
skating, racing, and pugilistic Avorld. Played in 



THE AMATEURS 247 

Maiylebone Cricket Matches, 1830-35. A great 
player at hazard. Dissipated all his property. 
Drove the ' Age ' coach from Brighton to London 
and hack for some years from 3830. Died at 5, 
Hyde Park Terrace,* January 25th, 1863." 

It is possible to largely supplement this 
skeleton biography from the Sporting Magazine 
and other sources. " The Cottons of Madingley 
and Land wade," said that classic authority, " are 
no ' soft goods ' of recent manufacture, but have 
held high rank among the gentry of Cambridge- 
shire since the reign of Edward I. Sir John 
Cotton, the first baronet of the family, was ad- 
vanced to that honour in IGll, by Charles I., 
to Avhose cause he was firmly attached. Sir 
St. Vincent used to ride in the first flight with 
the crack men of Leicestershire, mounted on his 
favourite mare, ' Lark.' The honourable baronet 
has, however, left both the Army and the Chase 
to devote himself exclusively to the public service 
on the ' Road,' where he performs the duties of a 
coachman very much to his own j^leasure, and the 
great satisfaction of all His Majesty's lieges who 
travel by the Brighton ' Age ' ; and we are of 
opinion that an English baronet is much better 
emj)loyed in driving a coach than in endeavouring 
— like a certain mole-eyed wiseacre of the West, 
who also displays the lied Hand on his scutcheon 
— to saw off the branch that he is sitting on. 

" We believe that the late Mr. H. Stevenson, 
who drove the ' Age ' a few years ago, was one 
of the first gentleman-whij^s who took a hoh and 



24S STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DA YS OF YORE 

returned a hoio — i.e., if you j^opjiecl a shilling into 
his hand at the end of a stage, he ducked his head 
and said, 'Thank you.' The example thus set 
has been followed l)y the Baronet, who receives 
a ' hog ' as courteously as his predecessor. When 
a nohle Marquis, now in the enjoyment of an 
hereditary dukedom, droAC the ' Criterion,' and 
afterwards the 'Wonder,' also on the Brighton 
E,oad, he did not take ' civility money,' we 
believe, but did the thing for pure love. 

" By different means men strive for fame, 
And seek to gain a sporting name. 
Some like to ride a steeple-chase ; 
Others at Melton go the pace, 
Where honour chief on him awaits 
Who best takes brooks, and rails, and gates. 
Or tops the lofty ' bullfinch ' best. 
Where man and hors3 may build a nest ; 
Who crams at everything his steed — 
And cleai's it too — and keeps the lead. 
Some on the ' Turf ' their pleasure fake, 
Where knowing ' Legs ' oft bite ' the Oake ' ; 
Others the ' Road ' prefer ; and drest 
Like ' reg'lar ' coachmen in their best. 
Handle the ribbons and the whip, 
And answer ' All light ! ' with ' yah hip ! ' 
At steady pace off go the tits, 
Elate the Sporting Dragsman sits ; 
No peer nor plebeian in the land 
W^ith greater skill drives four-in-hand." 

Cotton, known to the plel)eian professionals of 
the Brigliton Road as " the Baronet," and to his 
familiars as " Vinny," Avas so hard liit by his 
disastrous gambling tliat he owned and drove the 
Brisfhton " iWe " for a living. Let us do him the 




SIR ST. VINCENT COTTON 



THE AMATEUR^ 251 

justice to add that he did not attempt to disguise 
the fact, and that he took his misfortunes bravely, 
like a sportsman. Reduced, as a consequence of 
his own folly, from an income of £5000 a year to 
nothing-, " I drive for a livelihood," he said to a 
friend : " Jones, Worcester, and Stevenson have 
their liveried servants behind, who pack the 
baggage and take all short fares and pocket all 
the fees. That's all very well for them. I do 
all myself, and the more civil I am (particularly 
to the old ladies) the larger fees I get." He, 
indeed, made £300 a year out of this coach, and 
got his sport for nothing. 

The "Jones" of whom he spoke was Charles 
Tyrwhitt Jones, of whom, being just an amateur 
with no eccentricities, we knoAv little. Of Harry 
Stevenson, one of the most distinguished and 
accomplished among amateurs of the road, w^e 
know a good deal, although even of his short life 
full particulars have never been secured. He 
made his first appearance on the Brighton 
Road in August 1827, as part-proprietor of the 
" Coronet," and even then his name seems to have 
been one to conjure with, for it was for painting 
it on a coach of Avhicli he was not one of the 
licensees that Cripps was fined in November of 
that year. Stevenson was then but little more 
than twenty- three years of age. He had gone 
from Eton to Cambridge, and during his excep- 
tionally short career was always knoAvn by the 
fraternity of the road as " the Cambridge graduate." 
Althouiih so little is known of him, sufiicient has 



252 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

come down to us to j^lace him on a higher pedestal 
than that of the majority of the gentlemen 
amateurs. He was not only a su23reme artist with 
the ril3hons, " whose passion for the bench,'' as 
" Nimrod " says, " exceeded all other Avorldly am- 
hitions," but he was also a supremely good fellow, 
in a l)roader and better significance of that mis- 
used term than generally imj^jlicd. That he was 
one of the spendthrifts who had run through their 
money before taking to the road as a professional 
would appear to be a baseless statement, invented 
perhaps to account for that higher form of 
sportsmanship which entirely transcended that 
of the general ruck of " sportsmen," by inducing 
him to drive his coach, as an ordinary professional 
would, day by day, instead of when fine weather 
and the inclination of the moment served. A 
good professional he made, for he did by no means 
forget his birth and education when on the box, 
and was singularly refined and courteous. His 
second, and famous, coach was the " Age," put on 
the Brighton Road in 1828. This celel)rated coach 
eclipsed all the others of that time, from the mere 
point of view of elegance and comfort. On a road 
like that to Brighton there was not, of course, 
the chance to rival such flyers as the Devonport 
" Quicksilver " and other long-distance cracks ; 
but in cver}^ circumstance of its equipment it 
was pre-eminent. It was not for nothing that 
Stevenson loved tlie road. His ambition was to 
be first on it, and he succeeded. The " Age " was 
Ijuilt and finished, horsed and found in every way 



THE AMATEURS 253 

without regard to cost. In a time Avlicn brass- 
mounted harness was your only wear, his was 
silver-phited. The horse-cloths, too, exhibited this 
unusual elegance, for they were edged with deep 
silver lace and gold thread, and embroidered in 
each corner Avith a royal croAvn and a sprig of 
laurel in coloured silks and silver. These cloths 
Avere, many years afterwards, presented to the 
Brighton Museum by IMr. Thomas Ward Ca])ps, a 
later pro2)rietor of the "Age," and they are still 
to be seen there. 

This Avas not by any means the sum of Steven- 
son's improvements. The usual guard he rej^laced 
by a liveried servant, Avliom he caused to attend 
upon the passengers, Avhen the coach changed 
horses, Avith silver sandAvich-box and offers of 
sherry of a kind that appealed even to the jaded 
jialates of connoisseurs. Stevenson Avas as excellent 
a Avhip as he Avas a good-hearted gentleman. " I 
am not aAA^are," AA^rote "Viator Junior," "if, to 
quote a a ulgar saying, he Avas ' born Avith a silver 
spoon in his mouth,' but I certainly think he 
must liaA'e been brought into the Avorld Avith a 
Avliip and reins in his hand, for in point of ease 
and elegance of execution as a light coachman 
he beats nineteen out of tAventy of the regular 
Avorking dragsmen into fits, and as an amateur 
is only to be approached l)y tAvo or three of the 
chosen fcAV." 

Of course, coaching on these luxurious terms 
resulted in a staggering loss, and could not long 
have continued, but eyeji those short possibilities 



254 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

were ended by the early death of Stevenson. The 
cause of the attack of brain-fever that ended his 
career early in 1830 is imperfectly known, and 
is merely said to have been "an accident." The 
last scene Avas pathetic l)eyond the ordinary. 
Exhausted at the end of delirium, the bandages 
that had held his arms were removed, Avhen, 
feebly raising himself up in bed and assuming 
as Avell as he Avas aljle his old habitual attitude 
u2:)on the liox, he exclaimed, as if Avitli the reins 
in his hand, and to his favourite servant, Avho 
usually stood at his leaders' heads, " Let them 
go, George ; I've got 'em ! " and so sank down, 
dying, upon his pilloAV, in the happy delusion of 
being once more uj^on the road. 

Mr. Harry Eoker and others of the " young 
Oxonians " or "young Cantabs " with more taste 
for drivinn^ four-in-hand than knowledo-e of that 
very difhcult art, were frequent asj^irants for the 
ribbons, and as they Avere generally flush of 
money and free with it, they often tasted the 
delights of tooling a coach along the liighAvay. 
Professional coachmen on the Oxford and Cam- 
bridge roads reajied a bounteous crop of half- 
guineas by resigning the reins into these hands, 
but equally plentiful Avas the harvest of bruises 
and shocks gathered by the passengers as a result 
of their reckless or unskilled driving. These 
chartered lil)ertines of the road are mentioned 
Avith horror by travellers in the first half of the 
nineteenth century, Avho have pictured for us 
four horses galloping at the incredible speed of 



THE AMATEURS 257 

twenty miles an hour, and the coaches rocking 
violently, while the " outsides " hold on like 
firemen, hehind some uncertificated youn^^ cuh 
from Oxford or Canil)ridge, or, anticipating^ the 
final cataclysm, drop off behind or dive into 
the hedges. 

Even more than the passengers, coach-pro- 
prietors dreaded amateur coachmen, and very 
properly dismissed those professionals whom they 
caught allowing the reins out of their charge. 
They had cause for this dread, for not only 
was the act of allowing amateurs to drive itself 
an illegal one, entailing penalties, hut it often 
resulted in accidents, bringing in their train 
very heavy compensation claims. Juries invari- 
ably satisfied themselves as to whether a pro- 
fessional or an amateur was driving at the time 
when an accident occurred, and assessed damages 
accordingly. 

Sir St. Vincent Cotton was the cause of a 
serious accident that happened to the " Star of 
Cambridge." Springing the horses over a favour- 
able stretch of gallojnng-ground, he went at such 
a reckless pace that Jo Walton, the j^i'ofessional 
coachnian, seized hold of the reins. In doing 
so the coach Avas overturned, and tlie passengers 
severely injured. A jockey named Calloway 
had his leg broken, and, with others, brought 
an action for damages. The affair cost E;obert 
Nelson and his partners nearly two thousand 
pounds. 

A good amateur coachman was, as a general 

VOL. II. 17 



258 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

rule, like an accomplished violinist, only to be 
produced hy long training. Cauglit young and 
properly schooled, he might Ijccome an elegant 
as well as a thorough whip; hut the late-comer 
rarely attained both grace and comjilete mastery. 
" He who would master this most fascinatiu": 
science of coach man shij^," says Dashwood, in the 
NeiD Sporting Magazine, " must begin early, 
under good tuition. He must Avork constantly 
on all kinds of coaches, and, thereby accustoming 
himself to every description of team to be met 
Avith, no matter how difficult or unpleasant, will 
ere long acquire a jn-actical knowledge on that 
all-important point, the art of j^^itting horses 
well together." He then proceeds to sigh for 
one hour of "old Bill Williams," of the " Oxford 
Defiance," Avho, as a schoolmaster of gentlemen- 
as2)irants to coaching honours Avas, in his time, 
unequalled. He Avas supposed to have turned 
out more efficient coachmen than all the rest of 
his brethren put together. " Never by any 
chance — confound him ! — Avould he alloAV an error 
or ungraceful act to escape unnoticed, and I liaA^e 
often got olf his box. so annoyed at his merciless 
reproofs and lectures that I voAved no j^oAver on 
earth should make me touch another rein for him. 
The first morning, in particular, that I Avas Avith 
him I shall never forget. In spite of all my 
remonstrances, nothing Avould satisfy him but I 
must take the reins from the door of the very 
office, at the 'Eelle Sauvage,' he himself getting 
uj) behind, in order, as he said, not to ' fluster 



THE AMATEURS 259 

the young 'un.' By great good luck we got 
pretty Avell into the street, and, Avithout anything 
worth telling, for some way past Temple Bar ; 
but, as my evil star Avould have it, the narrow 
part of the Strand Avas uncommonly full, and 
having rather an awlvAvard team, and being more- 
over in a pretty particular stew, Ave had more 
than one squeak at sundry posts, drays, etc., etc. 
Still, not a Avord Avas uttered by the artist, though 
by this time he had scrambled in front, till, after 
a devil of a mistake in turning into the Hay- 
market, he touched my arm very civilly, Avith a 
' Pull up, if you please, sir, by that empty coal- 
cart.' I did so — at least, as Avell as I could — and 
found, to my utter horror, that it Avas for the 
purpose of his requesting the grinning blacka- 
moors that belonged to it to lend him some six 
or seven of their sacks, to take the drag home ; 
' for,' said he, ' I am sure the gentleman Avon't 
take it up to the Gloucester Coffee House a 
coach. ^ " 



CHAPTER XII 

END OF THE COACHING AGE 

" This is the patent age of inventions." — Byron. 

In 1789, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, of Shrewsbury, 
in writing his poem, the Loves of the Plants, 
penned a most remarkably accurate proj^hecy, 
comj)arable with Mother Shijiton's earlier " car- 
riages without horses shall go." He wrote : — 

Soon shall thy arm, unconqueied steam, afar 
Drag the slow barge, or urge the rapid car ; 
Or on wide waving wings expanded bear 
The flying chariot through the realms of air. 
Fair crews, triumphant, smiling from above, 
Shall wave their fluttering kerchiefs as they move ; 
Or warrior bands alarm the gaping crowd. 
And armies shrink beneath the rushing cloud. 

The first part of this prophecy Avas fulfilled in 
the period between 1823 and 183J3, when steam- 
carriages — the motor-cars of that age — had a brief 
pojiularity. 

Before railways successfully assailed the coaches, 
horsed vehicles had faced the inventions of a 
numl)er of ingenious persons Avho wrestled Avitli 
that problem of steam traction on common roads 
which had attracted Murdock in 1781. Trevithick 
took it up in 1800, and otliers followed ; but it 
was not until 1823 that the subject began greatly 



END OF THE COACHING AGE 261 

to interest cni^ineers. At that period, however, 
Hancock, Og*le, Church, Gurney, Sumniers, Sciuirc, 
Maceroni, Ilills and Scott-llussell phiiig'cd into 
that trouhled sea of invention. Chief among 
these, from the standpoint of results achieved, 
Avere Mr. (afterwards Sir) Goklsworthy Gurney, 
AYalter Hancock, and Colonel Maceroni. Gurney 
as early as 1827 had patented and tried a steam- 
carriage on the road. The holier, it was explained 
for the hcnefit of nervous people, was perfectly 
safe. Even if it were to hurst, heing " constructed 
on philosophical principles," no one could he hurt. 
On July 28tli, 1829, he ran one of his inventions 
on the Bath Uoad. This was what he termed a 
" steam-tractor," used as an engine to draw an 
ordinary harouche. Unfortunately for Gurney, 
he and liis party reached Melksham on the annual 
fair-day, and a hostile croAvd of rustics not only 
surrounded the steam-carriage, shouting " Down 
with machinery ! " hut stoned the engine, the 
carriage, and Gurney and his friends, with such 
effect tliat the machinery was disahled and several 
of the party very seriously injured. 

But he evidently travelled the kingdom pretty 
extensively with his machines, for he agreed with 
one Mr. Hanning to grant him the right of work- 
ing them on a royalty on the West of England 
roads, and entered into similar arrangements on 
the routes hetween London, Manchester, and 
Liverpool, London and Brighton, London and 
Southampton, and London, Birmingham, and 
Holyhead. Tliei]* price was agreed upon — to he 



262 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

hired at Or/, a mile, or to he sold by Giirney at 
£1000 each. Diiriu'j^ four months at the bea-inains^ 
of 1831, Sir Charles Dance, Avho had bought some 
of the carriages, cstal)lished a steam service on the 
road between Cheltenham and Gloncester. Three 
double journeys a day were made, 396 regular 
trips in all, covering 3611 miles, and conveying 
2666 passengers, who p^iid £202 Is. 6c/. in fares. 
The enterprise was just beginning to show a ])rofit 
Avhen the local Trusts secured an Act under which 
they raised the tolls against steam-carriages to a 
prohibitive height, and even went so far as to 
obstruct the roads with loose gravel and stones, 
with the result that the axle of one machine was 
broken. 

In June 1831 the " j'^^ilo^op^iical " boiler of 
one of Gurney's steam-carriages, Avarranted not 
to* burst disastrously, exploded at Glasgow, and 
seriously injured two Ijoys. Tom Hood wrote : — 

Instead of journeys, peo})le now 

May go upon a Gitrneij, 
With steam to do the horses' work 

By power of attorney ; 

Tho' with a load it may explode, 

And you may all be undone ; 
And find you're going up to Heaven, 

Instead of up to London. 

Yet a Select Committee of the House of Commons, 
which had l)e(Mi ajipointed to consider tlu; question 
of steam-carriages, reported, four months later, 
that such carriages could be 2>i'^>P^ll^'tl ^^^ an 
average rate of ten miles an hour; that they 



END OF THE COACHING AGE 263 

would become a clieajier and speedier mode of 
conveyance than carriages drawn by horses, and 
that they were perfectly safe (!). 

Between 1832 and 1838 there were no fewer 
than seven important Steam-Carriage Companies 
in existence, and probably, had it not been for 
the hostility of Turnpike Trusts all over the 
country, the roads would have been peopled with 
mechanically-propelled vehicles. But tolls were 
raised to such a height against the new-fangled 
inventions that it became commercially impossible 
to run them. Between Liverpool and Prescot 
the 4s. toll for a coach became £2 8s. for a 
steam-carriage; between Ashburton and Totnes 
the 3s. impost became £2. 

Evidently, from a coloured print published in 
1833, Goldsworthy Gurney projected a London 
and Bath service, but the turnpike authorities 
crushed that also. An inscription under the 
original print obligingly tells us all about this 
type of Gurney's carriages : — 

"The Guide or Engineer is seated in front, 
having a lever rod from the two guide-wheels, to 
turn and direct the Carriage, and another at his 
right hand, connecting with the main Steam Pipe, 
by which he regulates the motion of the Vehicle — 
the hind part of the Coach contaiDs the machiiiery 
for producing the Steam, on a novel and secure 
principle, which is conveyed by Pipes to the 
Cylinders beneath, and Ijy its action on the hind 
Avheels sets the Carriage in motion. The Tank, 
which contains about GO Gallons of Avater, is 



264 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

placed under tlic hody of the Coach, and is its 
full length and hreadth. The Chimneys are fixed 
on the top of the hind hoot, and, as Coke is used 
for fuel, there Avill he no smoke, Avhile any hot 
or rarified air produced a\ ill he disjielled hy the 
action of the Vehicle. At ditferent stations on a 
journey, the Coach receives fresh supplies of fuel 
and Avater. The full leng-th of the Carriage is 
from 15 to 20 feet, and its Aveig-ht ahout 2 tons. 
The rate of travelling is intended to he from 8 
to 10 miles per hour. The present Steam Carriage 
carries 6 inside and 12 outside Passengers. The 
front Boot contains the Luggage. It has heen 
constructed hy Mr. Golds worthy Gurney, the 
Inventor and Patentee." 

Gurney was held, hy a Parliamentary Com- 
mittee, to he " foremost for practical utility " ; 
hut that statement was owing, there is little 
douht, to the influence of his many friends in 
Parliament. Hancock's steam-carriages were at 
least as efficient — hut then he had no such 
influential supporters. Gurney claimed to have 
lost £36,000 directly in his exjieriments, and a 
much larger sum indirectly, through the excessive 
tolls imposed, and hrought his grievances hefore 
Parliament. A Committee recommended a grant 
of £10,000 to him, as the first to successfully 
apply steam-carriages to iise on puhlic roads. 

In 1824 Walter Hancock was ex2)erimenting 
on similar lines, hut it Avas not until 1828 that 
a proposal Avas made to run a service of steam- 
carriages hctween London and Brighton, and not 



END OF THE COACHING AGE 267 

until November 1832 that his " Infant " actually 
made the attempt. It had already, at the 
beginning of 1831, plied for public service as an 
omnibus between Stratford and London, and now 
was to essay those 52 miles between London and 
the sea. 

It performed the double journey, but, owing 
to lack of fuel on the Avay, not in anything like 
record time, although it is said in places to have 
attained a speed of 13 miles an hour. 

In 1833 Hancock started a steam omnibus 
between Paddington and the City, and by 1836 
had three. Between them, they conveyed no 
fewer than 12,761 passengers. They were named 
the "Era," "Autopsy," and "Automaton." Why 
the middle one should have been named in a 
manner so suggestive of accidents and 2)0st- 
mortem examinations is not clear. But indeed, 
the names of old-time and modern motor-cars 
and their inventors, strange to say, generally 
have been, and are now, sometimes singularly 
unfortunate. Thus, in 1821, a Scotch inventor 
of Leitli produced a steam-carriage. His name 
was Barstall ! Among recent motor-cars are the 
"Mors" and the "Hurtu." 

In October 1833 Hancock ran the " Autopsy " 
to Brighton in 8^ hours (including three hours 
in stops on the way), and later had successful 
trips to ^Larll)orough and back and Birmingham 
and back. These performances were considered 
so promising that a " London and Birming- 
ham Steam-Coach Company " Avas formed, and 



268 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

more stcam-coaclios ordered to he Liiilt. Eares 
between London and Eirmingliam were not to 
exceed £1 each, inside, and 10s. out. Hancock, 
a thorough heliever in his invention and its 
capacity for solving- the road-prohlems of the 
time, offered to carry the mails at 20 miles an 
hour; hut tlie Post OfTice declined. Railways 
had, in fact, just succeeded in attracting atten- 
tion, and were so strongly supported hy capitalists 
tliat steam-carriages suffered neglect, and their 
inventors were utterly discouraged. Bright hopes 
and jirospects gradually faded away, and hy 1838 
the railways held the field, undisputed. 

Railways themselves were at first ridiculed, 
and suftered from the necessity of obtaining 
Parliamentary sanction at a period Avlien the 
landowning interests and public opinion were 
decidedly hostile. Even when their construction 
was autliorised, every one ridiculed the railways, 
and called those people fools w^lio had invested 
their money in them. To be a railway share- 
holder was at that time, to the majority of people, 
proof jiositive of insanity, while engineers and 
directors were regarded as curious compounds of 
fools and rogues. Any time between 1833 and 
1837, the coachmen on the Great North Road 
would point out to their box-seat passengers the 
works of the London and Birmingham in i)rogress 
l)eside that highway, and distinctly visible all 
the way between Potter's Bar and Hatfield and 
at various other points. " Going to run us off 
the road, thci) saij,'" a coachman would remark, 



END OF THE COACHING AGE 269 

jerking his elbow and nodding his head towards 
the pkice where hundreds of navvies were delving 
in a cutting or tipping an embankment. Then, 
squirting a stream of saliva from between his 
front teeth, in the practised manner assiduously 
cultivated by admiring amateurs, he would lapse 
into a contemplative silence, quite undisturbed 
by any suspicion that the railway really Avould 
run the coaches off. Tlie passengers by coach 
were nearly all of the same mind. Some thought 
the railways would l)e useful in carrying goods, 
but declined to believe that they or any one else 
would ever travel by them ; and a large pro- 
portion of the railway directors and proprietors 
shared the same opinion, being quite convinced 
that railways would convey heavy articles ancj 
general merchandise, and that coaches would 
continue to run as of old. Lovers of the road, 
coachmen and passengers alike, called the engines 
"tea-kettles," protested that coaching had nothing 
to fear, and Avished their heads might never ache 
until railroads came into fashion. They declared 
they Avould never — no, nemr — go l)y the railroad ; 
but at length, when some urgent occasion arose, 
demanding speed, they trusted their precious 
persons in a railway train, and, to their surjirise, 
found it "not so bad after all." The next 
occasion, such a person going to town would 
shrink as he encountered the " SwalloAV " coach, 
by which he had always travelled, and would feel 
guilty as he shook his head to the coachman's 
"Coming by me this morning, sir?" Why? 



270 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DA YS OF YORE 

Because he had made up his mind to go hy train, 
and so save somethini^ in time and jiocket. This 
time our traveller rather liked it; and thus the 
"Swallow," and many another coach not already 
withdrawn, was doomed. 

Let us follow the career of such a coach, to 
its last days. 

Deprived of its hest passengers, the exchequer 
of our typical " Swallow " l)egan to decline. The 
stalwarts, whose love for the road was superior to 
economy of time and money, were faithful, hut 
they were not numerous enough, and did not 
travel sufficiently often, for the old style of that 
fast i^ost-coacli to be maintained, so it was reduced 
from four horses to three. In coaching parlance, 
it ran " pickaxe," or " unicorn." No connoisseur 
in coaching matters Avould condescend to travel as 
a regular thing hy a three-horse coach, and so 
those supporters were alienated, and, against their 
Avill, driven to the railway; and the " Swallow," 
hadly winged, carried only frightened old women 
A\'ho looked ujion steam-engines as Avild beasts. 
As they died away, no one took their places, and 
the old concern became a jiair-horse coach. The 
coachman had seen the change coming, and 
declared he Avould never be l)rought so low as 
to drive tAvo horses. He had said the same 
tiling Avhen it was proj)osed to have three. "Drive 
miicorn ! "he had said : " never ! " But he did, 
and he drove pair-horse as Avell, when the time 
came. It was better to do so than to lose liis place 
and face starvation. 



END OF THE COACHING AGE 271 

By this time the iron had entered the soul of 
our 2)oor okl friend, and had rusted there. He 
who had heeu so smart and gay, with song and 
joke and always good-humoured, suffered, like the 
coach, a strange and pitiful metamorphosis. The 
stringency of the times had thinned the estahlish- 
ment, and in the absence of ostlers and stablemen 
he put in the horses himself, badly groomed, and 
the harness dirty. No one washed or cleaned the 
coach, and it ran with the mud and dirt of many 
journeys encrusted on its sides. His coat grew 
seedv, his o^loves soiled. Instead of the silver- 
mounted whip he had Avielded for years, he used 
one of common make. The old one, he said, had 
gone to be repaired, but somehow or another the 
job was never completed. At any rate, no one 
ever saw the old whip again. At the same time his 
smart white hat disappeared and was replaced by 
a black one : observant people, however, perceived 
that it was the identical hat, disguised by process 
of dyeing. He could sink no deeper, you think. 
But he could, and did. Even the short journey to 
which the old " Swallow " had in course of time 
been reduced by railway extensions came at last to 
an end ; and then he drove the " Railway Bus " 
to and from the station, with one horse. His 
temper, once so high-mettled, liad by now groAvn 
uncertain. He was like an April day — stormy, 
dull, gloomy, and with fitful gleams of sunshine, 
all in turn. No one knew quite how to take 
him, and every one at last left him very much 
to himself. He was never a favourite with the 



272 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

"comiiK^-cial gentlomcn," ayIio were now his most 
iTcqueiit passengers, for he had ahvavs in the okl 
days looked down upon any one under the rank of 
a county urentleman, and conhl hy no means rid 
himself of that ancient attitude of mind. Indeed, 
he lived in the past, and when he could l)e iiulnced 
to talk at all, Avould generally he reminiscent of 
hetter days. Commencing with the unvaried 
formula, "I've seen the time when. . . ." he would 
then proceed to draw com})arisons, ]nuch to the 
disadvantage of present time and })resent company. 
He was then ahsurdly surprised when acquaint- 
ance, tired of these tactless speeches, avoided him. 
Not so quick in his movements as of yore, and 
always impatient of dictation, he resented the 
hluff impatience of a " commercial " one morning, 
and when that " amhassador of conmicrce " desired 
him to " look alive tliere, now, with tliose hoxes," 
flung the hoxes themselves on the ground, and 
told that astonished traveller to " go and he 
damned ! " Unfortunately, although the traveller 
would have overlooked the insolence, lie could not 
afford to disregard the loss of his samples, wliicli 
liappen(Kl to he china, and were all smashed. He 
reported the occurrence to the hotel-proprietor, 
Avho, heing a compassionate man, explained, as he 
instantly dismissed tlie olft^ider, that lu^ Avas very 
sorry, hut he could not afford to keep so violent 
a man in his employ. 

After this dramatic incident the ex-coachman 
hunsj ahoutthc station, and oljtained a few, a very 
few, odd johs as porter, until one day a gentleman 



END OF THE COACHING AGE 273 

alii>:litiug- from a train saAV him. With siirjiriso 
and sorrow in liis eyes he recognised the once 
smart coachman, who, years hefore, had tutored 
him in driving. "Good God!" he exclaimed: 
" is it you ? " The okl man burst into tears. 

He ended more happily than, hut for this 
chance, would have heen the case, for the Squire 
took him into his service, and there he remained 
until he followed his generation to the Beyond. 

The opening of the London and Birmingham 
Railway in September 1838 did not suddenly 
bring the Coaching Age to a close. Many 
routes remained for years afterAvards j^i'^ctically 
unassailed, and even on the road to Birmingham 
some coach-proprietors struggled with great spirit 
against the direct competition of the railway. 
At the close of 1838 a newspaper is found saying : 
" A fcAV months ago no fewer than twenty-two 
coaches left Bii-iningham daily for London. Since 
the opening of the railway that number has been 
reduced to four, and it is expected that these will 
be discontinued, although the fares by coach are 
only 206\ inside and Vds. outside, whilst the fares 
for corresponding places on the railroad are 30s. 
and 20s." 

Prominent among those men who declined to 
give up without a struggle Avas Sherman, of the 
" Bull and Mouth," whose coaches had run to 
Birmingham, jManchester, and other places on 
the north-Avestern road. For tAvo years he main- 
tained the unequal contest, and only relinquished 
it AA'hen he had lost seven thousand pounds and 
VOL. II. 18 



2 74 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

found his coaches running emj^ty. Before finally 
heaten, he had even gone the length of re-estah- 
lishins: some coaches orio-inally withdrawn in 
1836, on the opening of the Grand Junction 
Railway. The reasons for this were many. The 
train - service in those early days Avas \ery 
poor, and engine-power insufficient, so that lieavy 
loads, rain-showers that made the rails slippery, 
and the innumerable minor accidents always 
happening to the engines themselves, made 
travelling by railway not only uncertain, but, 
in not a few instances, even slower than by 
coach. Railway officials, too, Avere insolent to 
an incredible desrree. Only when one has read 
the " Letters to the Editor " in contemporary 
journals can we have any idea of that insolence. 
The j^ublic complained that, having run the 
coaches off and secured a monopoly, the officials, 
finding themselves masters of the situation, 
behaved accordingly like masters, and not like the 
servants of the public they really Avere, or should 
have been. Newspaper comments dotted the i's 
and crossed the t's, and generally empliasised and 
embroidered these grievances. It is not, then, 
to be Avondered at that a regret for " the good 
old times " found expression, or that coaches 
reappeared for a Avliile. Many coach-proprietors 
Averc deceived by this i:)artly indignant, partly 
sentimental attitude, and Avhen they liad com- 
mitted themselves to a rcAival did not iiiid the 
sujiport Avhich, from the ncAvspaper outcry, they 
might reasonably have expected. Thus early do 



END OF THE COACHING AGE 277 



we find that gigantic evil of modern times — 
irresponsible and misleading neAvspaper talk — 
directly to blame for losses and disappointments 
to those foolish enough to pay heed to it. 

Sherman's country partners Avere not so rash 
or so obstinate as he, and some of the coaches 
he personally Avould have continued had been 
withdrawn early in the railway advance. Among 
those Avas the Manchester "Red Eover " ; but 
Avhen the popular indignation against railway 
delays and official insolence Avas thus exploited 
by the ncAvspapers, Sherman was enabled to again 
secure the co-operation of his allies, and to put 
that coach on the road once more. The decision 
to do so AA'as announced in a striking handbill : — 



"The Red Rover re-established 
throuo;hout to Manchester. 



Bull and Mouth Inn and Queen's Hotel. 



It is Avith much satisfaction that the Pro- 
prietors of the Red Rover Coach are enabled to 
announce its 

Re-establishment 

as a direct conveyance throughout, betaveex 
London and Manchester, and that the arrange- 
ments Avill be the same as those Avhich before 
obtained for it such entire and general approval. 
In this effort the Proprietors anxiously hope that 
the public Avill recognise and appreciate the desire 
to supply an accommodation Avhich Avill require 



2 7^ STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

and deserve the patronage and support of the 
large and busy community on that line of road. 
The E;ED Hover will start every evening, at a 
quarter before seven, by way of 

Coventry, Stafford, Macclesfield, 

Birmingham, Newcastle-under- and 

Walsall, Lyme, Stockport, 

Congleton, 
and 2:)erform the journey in the time which before 
gave such general satisfaction. 

1^ It will also start from the ' Moseley 
Arms ' Hotel, Manchester, for London, every 
evening, at nine o'clock. 

Edward Sherman, ) Joint 

John Wetherald & Co., j Proprietors. 

Lomloii, Octoher 28/A, 1837." 

It was a gallant effort, but failed. Manchester 
men had grumbled at railway delays, but they 
were not sentimentalists, and when the London 
and Birmingham Hallway Avas opened through- 
out, and an uninterrujoted run through to Man- 
chester Avas })ossible, they forsook the road, and the 
" lied Hover " roved no more. 

But still, sentiment gushed freely over the 
coaches in every channel of the periodical press, 
except, of course, in those railway journals that 
even thus early had come into existence. Poetry, 
of sorts, Avas lavished on the coachmen by the 
bucketful, and they were made to consider them- 
selves martyrs in a lost cause. Tliey felt them- 



END OF THE COACHING AGE 279 

selves greatly honoured by all these attentions, 
and now 1)eg'an to 2)erceive that they Avere really 
very fine fellows indeed. It was a proud position 
they noAY occupied in the public eye, but it had 
its own peculiar draAvl)acks. Amid all this adula- 
tion tliey could not l)ut see that they were like the 
gladiators of ancient times, going fortli to glory, it 
is true, but to simultaneous extinction ; and as all 
the plaudits of the multitude must have seemed 
to them a hollow mockery, so did this latter hero- 
worship apjiear clieaj^ and unsubstantial to the 
coaclimen. Some of them assumed a ^^ensive air, 
Avliich did l)y no means sit well ujion their burly 
forms and purj)le countenances, and was often, to 
their disgust, mistaken for indigestion. 

Here, from among a wealth of verse, is a 
typical ballad of the time, among the best of its 
kind ; but even so, perhaps not altogether one 
that Tennyson would have been proud to father : — 

THE DIRGE OF THE DRAGSMEN 

Farewell to the Coach-box, farewell to the Vip ! 
By Fate most unkindly we're cotch'd on the hip ; 
Brother Dragsmen, come join in a general chorus, 
For there's nothing at present but ruin before us. 

Once who were so gay as we trumps of the team ? 
Now our glory hath vanish'd away, like a dream ; 
Doom'd to suffer adversity's punishing lash, 
For the villainous Railroads have settled our hash. 

Patricians no more of our craft will be backers, 
And our elegant cattle must go to the knackers ; 
Guards, porters, and stablemen now on a level, 
And all the load innkeepers book'd for the devil. 



28o STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

We four-in-hand worthies, however desarving, 
Will have nothing in hand to prevent us from starving, 
Compell'd by hard treatment our colours to strike. 
We may shortly turn Chartists and handle the pike. 

Our beavers broad-brimm'd, and our togs out and out, 
Must, the needful to raise, be soon shov'd up tiie spout ; 
Our fine, portly forms Avill be meagre as spectres, — 
So much for these steam and these railroad projectors. 

By Heavens ! 'tis a cruel affair, and the nation 
In justice are bound to afford compensation ; 
And, as on the shelf we must shortly be laid. 
To found an asylum for Cragsmen dscay'd. 

Theie, taking our pint in all brotherly love. 
We may chafT at the swells and the prads as we druv. 
While spectators, admiring, exclaim'd with a shout, 
" We're bless'd if tliat 'ere ain't a spicy turn-out ! " 

And how, as we tied round our necks the silk fogle, 
The rosy-cheek'd barmaids would tip us the ogle ; 
And when all was ready tlie ribbons to seize. 
How slyly the darlings would give us a .squeeze. 

A plague upon Eailways ! the system be blowed ! 
Grim engineers now are the lords of the road ; 
And passengers now are conveyed to their goal. 
Not by steaming of cattle, but steaming of coal. 

'Tis a black, burning shame ! ]\lust our glory be crush'd, 
And the guard's lively bugle to silence be hush'd ? 
Oh ! 'tis fit that our wrongs we should freely declaie. 
For we always look'd out for the thing that was fare. 

Let mourning as gloomy as midnight be spread 
O'er the Swan vnth Two Kecks and tlie Saracens Head ; 
Let the Black Bull, in Holborn, be cow'd, and the knell 
Of glory departed be heard from the Hell. 



END OF THE COACHING AGE 281 

The Blossoms must speedily fade from the bough, 
And ci'oss'd are the hopes of the Golden Cross now ; 
The White Horse must founder, the Mountain fall down, 
The Gloster be clos'd, and the Bear be done Broini 

The Eclipse is eclips'd, and the Sovereiijn is dead. 
And the Red Rover now never roves from its shed ; 
The Times are disjointed, the Blucher at peace, 
And the Telegraph sliortly from working must cease. 

Tha Victory now must submit to defeat. 
And the Wellington own he is cruelly beat ; 
The sport is all up with the fam'd Tcdhj-Ho, 
And the old Regidator no longer will go. 

Oh ! had I, dtar brethren, the muse of a Byron, 
I'd write down the system of trav'Uing on iron ; 
For flying like lightning but poorly atones 
For crushing the carcase or breaking the bones. 

So, f. ire well to the Coach-box, farewell to the Vip ! 
By Fate most unkind we are cotch'd on the hip ; 
Then join, brother Dragsmen, in sorrowful chorus, 
For at present there's nothing but ruin before us. 

On a few out-of-the-way routes, originally not 
worth the while of railway companies to exploit, 
coaching did, however, survive an incredi'ole time. 
Cordery in 1796 painted the even then old- 
estahlished Chesham coach, and coaches continued 
to run into Buckinghamshire until quite recent 
times. Ayleshury, Chesham, Amersham, and Wen- 
dover only ohtained direct railway accommodation 
Avlien the IMetropolitan Railway, under the lead of 
Sir Edward Watkin, extended into the country 
past HarroAV and Rickmansworth, reaching Ayles- 
hury in 1802. The Amersham and "Wendover 
coach — reallv hotter descril)ed as a three-horsed 



282 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

'bus — went to London daily nntil 1890, returning 
from the " Old 13ell," Holborn, at five o'clock in 
the evening. It was the sole survivor of the host 
of coaches that left London fifty years earlier. 

But two generations have passed aAvay since 
coaches began to disajipear and to become his- 
toric, and the " elderly man," with his enviable 
memories of a long journey in mid-spring or 
autumn on the outside of a stage-coach, written 
about l)y George Eliot, is no longer to be found, 
reminiscent of the times that were. Nay, the 
locomotive steam-engine itself is doomed, in turn, 
to be replaced by self-moving electric motor 
carriages, and avc shall live to drop a salt tear 
upon an express locomotive retired from active 
service, or to sigh at sight of a solitary Metro- 
politan E-ailway engine placed in a museum of 
things that were. The days of the prophets were 
not ended with the Bil)lical prognosticators, Avitli 
Nixon, red-faced or otherwise, or with Mother 
Shipton, or even with Erasmus Darwin, who, 
although he could foresee steam and the balloon, 
could not envisage electricity. They included 
George Eliot, also, among the prophets, shadowing 
forth, in a most remarkable way, the Central 
London Railway and other tube lines of our own 
time, in this extraordinary j^'^ssage : " Posterity 
may be shot, like a bullet, through a tube, by 
atmospheric pressure . . . bat the sIoav, old- 
fashioned Avav of i^ettini? from one end of our 
country to the other is the better thing to have 
in the memory. The tube journey can never lend 



.i,h^*,*AA/i,\^yitA^/iAitp /» >»>tyi^i/ /i,\.iAA,\ >i,hyA AH ia ,i a; 




' l-A-ii'i'i ■i%'i^-A)t%'J'J:t)i 'i'i'i'tVi't'iiiU -A ]i It ii'dA'J i J I 



END OF THE COACHING AGE 285 

much to picture and narrative ; it is as barren as 
an exclamatory ' O ! ' " IIoav true ! The scenery 
on Avhat the vuli^ar call the " Tuppenny Tube " is 
distinctly uninteresting. 

But Marian Evans had, you see, her limita- 
tions as a diviner of things to be. Electricity 
was not Avithin her ken; she did not suspect the 
steam-carriages of her youth Avould be reincar- 
nated as modern motor-cars. Yet, all the time, 
they were simply laid by, and Gurney, Hancock, 
and their fellows are justified in this our day. 
Everything recurs, essentially the same as before, 
with a complete revolution of the AA'heel of time, 
and thus the Road has become itself again. 

"Will a time come when the day of the motor- 
car will be looked back upon with that air of 
res-retful sentiment with which the vanished 
Coaching Age is regarded ? The rhythmic footfall 
of the horses and the rattle of the bars, the 
tootlins: of the " vard of tin " and the cheerful 
circumstance that attends the progress of a well- 
appointed coach, are things which have been, and 
may still be, experienced in our time by those who 
journey doAvn the roads affected by the summer 
coaches, to Brighton, St. Albans, and Virginia 
Water; but as the Coaching Age itself has 
jiassed away, these are only sentimental revivals. 
The horseless carriages are ujion us, and " going 
strong," alike in speed and scent. The odour of 
the imperfectly-combusted petrol desecrates the 
airs of the country-side. Already the length and 
breadth of the land have been explored by them, 



286 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

on roads good, bad and indifferent, hilly or flat; 
and the characteristic rattle of their machinery 
and the hoarse trnmpeting of their cyclorns are 
becoming familiar even to the rnstics of Devon 
and Somerset. 

Let it not be supposed, however, that skill in 
driving is not so necessary now as in the days of 
the spanking teams of coach-horses. The careful 
coachman of old saved his horses over the road for 
the long climbs and rugged places ; he " sprung " 
them perhaps on the level, and gave them a 
" toAvelling " as a persnader to greater efforts 
through snow-drifts, winds or floods; and the 
driver of a motor-car does many of these things to 
his machinery, not indeed with the aid of a whip, 
but through the agency of levers, taps and brakes. 
You can overdrive and exhaust a motor just as 
easily as you can a horse, while it Avants feeding 
just as w^ell. " A just man is merciful to his 
beast," and a cautious man is careful of his car, 
not only because if he was not he would perhaps 
be left with half a ton of inert machinery upon 
the road, but because he is just as fond of his 
automobile as many another of his steeds of flesh 
and blood. 

But to most people Avho have only seen motor- 
cars, and have neither driven them nor ridden in 
one, this will not readily be understood ; while 
the veteran Avho remembers the sights and sounds 
of the coaching days does not hear the clatter of 
the new occupants of the road with pleasurable 
feelings. To him. there is no music in the 



■■CS' 



END OF THE COACHING AGE 289 

'' GiWYY-Y-Y-iuupliX bang, g-r-rrr ! " of a Daimlor, 
changing sjococls in going npliill, nor any charm 
in the rattle of a Benz ; the "ft-ft-ft " of a motor- 
tricycle, or the banshee-like minor-key wail, 
" Avow-AvoAv-wow," of an electric cab on wood 
paA'ement. Hoav very odd if there were ! 

Does it ncA' er occur to thinking men that the 
"l)lessiniys" of invention and the as^e of mechanical 
and other improvements have been too loudly and 
consistently praised ? We need not be thought 
fanatically opposed to change if Ave deny the 
reality of some of those l)lessings. Let it be 
granted that they are ultimately in favour of the 
community and for the eventual improvement of 
the race ; but if you vicAV him unconventionally, 
does not the inventor, Avith his ingenious devices 
to overturn the practice and habits of generations 
j)ast, seem sometimes rather a curse than a 
benefactor to mankind ? While Avitli one hand he 
simplifies and cheapens something (Avhether it be 
in travel or in anything else does not particularly 
matter for argument's sake), Avith the other he 
sets a more strenuous pace to life. In the long 
ago he invented printing; and the Devil, seeing 
proi:>lietically ahead, looked on Avith approval, 
because he foresaw the halfpenny evening papers. 
He introduced gas, replaced horses by steam- 
engines, and away went the leisured pace of that 
generation ; and then, when a ncAver one Avas born 
to take steam as a matter of course, brought 
electricity to bear upon lighting and tractive pro- 
blems. Ahvays he sets you a quicker pace Avhen 
VOL. II. 10 



290 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

you would 1)0 going quietly or resting hy the Avay. 
One generation of him takes away the traffic of 
the roads ; another filches that of the railways 
and puts the traffic on the road again in an 
altered form. There is no finality ahout the in- 
ventor, Avho ought, for the jieacc of the age, first 
to he gently dissuaded, then admonished, and, in 
the last resort, severely dealt with. Our ancestors 
had a " quick Avay " Avith such, and discouraged 
invention l)y jiutting inventors to death as wizards. 
A drastic method, hut they saved themselves much 
worry and trouhle therehy. The inventor is not 
usually entitled to any consideration on the score 
of working for the hencfit of humanity. So little 
does he do so that he takes infinite care to patent 
and to provisionally protect even his immature 
devices. He Avorks, in short, to huild his OAvn 
fortune. 

Apply these feelings to the case of the coach- 
men Avho Avere horn in an age that kncAV nothing 
of steam. Every stand-hy Avas rooted up in the 
coming of raihvays, and the steam-engine Avas just 
as strange a moiistcr to them as the electric 
dynamo is to many of ourselves. Often they could 
not transfer their allegiance to the raihvay, even 
though they starved. It Avas iu)t ahvays stuhhorn- 
ness or pride that held them aloof, hut a certain 
and easily-understood lack of adaptahility that 
forl)ade one Avho had held the reins to handle 
the starting-lever of the locomotive. More guards 
than coachmen transferred themselves from the 
road to the rail, hecausc the duties Avere not so 



END OF THE COACHING AGE 291 

diverse ; but, although there Avere coachmen who 
took positions on raihvays, no one has ever heard 
of one who became an engine-driver. 

But coachmen and guards and the passengers 
they drove are all passed away, and the world 
rolls on as though they had never existed. The 
coaches, like the old Manchester " Defiance," 
shown in the picture, rotting away in the deserted 
inn-yard, were left to decay in unconsidered places 
or were reduced to firewood ; nnlike many of the 
old " Bull and Mouth " mails, which, after lying 
there for some time idle, Avere bonglit and shijiped 
to Spain, running for many years on Peninsula 
roads, from Malaga in the south to Vittoria and 
Salamanca in the north, and l3y a singular fate 
visiting in their old age those blood-red fields 
of victory Avhose fame they had once spread from 
London all over triumphant England. 



CHAPTER XIII 

WHAT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN 

" Steam, Jaines Watt, and George Steplienson have a great deal 
to answer for. They will ruin the breed of horses, as they have 
already ruined the innkeepers and the coachmen, many of Avhom 
have already been obliged to seek relief at the poor-house, or have 
died in penury and want." — The Times, 1839. 

" Where," asked Thackeray iu Vanity Fair, 
" Avliere is the road now, audits merry incidents 
of life ? Is there no Chelsea or Greenwich for 
the honest, pimple-nosed coachmen ? " No, there 
was not. The action of Parliament in sanctioning 
so many railways in so short a sj^acc of time, 
without making any legislative restriction or pro- 
vision in favour of the coachmen whose careers 
were ruined by railways, seems strange to the 
present generation, hut in no single instance were 
they considered. The greatest and swiftest revo- 
lution ever brought about in the methods and 
habits of travelling took place in the short period 
of time between 1837, Avhen the effect of raihvays 
first began to be felt, and 1818, Avhen most of the 
great main lines Avere opened. Eleven years is no 
great space in Avhicli to effect so sweejiing a change, 
and it is not surprising that ruin and misery were 
wrought by it, not among coachmen alone, but 
dealt out impartially to every one of the many 




THE COACHMAX, 1832. 



After H. Aiken. 



WHAT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN 295 

jieojile and interests whose prosperity was honnd 
up with the continuance of the okl order of things. 
Coachmen were hv no means the s^reatest sufferers: 
others felt the blow as severely, but in this chapter 
Ave have no concern Avith the great army of inn- 
keejoers, ostlers, post-boys and stable-helpers Avho 
so suddenly found their occupation taken away 
and no ncAV means of livelihood provided. 

What became of the coachmen ? In the A'ast 
majority of cases Ave do not, and cannot, know ; 
for if one thing be more certain than another, 
it is that Ave are better informed in classic and 
mediaeval lore than in the story of our forbears 
of two or three generations ago, and that most 
of tlie pa})ers aiul documents necessar}^ to a full 
and 2)articular history of coaching have been 
destroyed. 

Many among those not born in the age of 
coaches liaA'e marvelled at Avhat they consider the 
Avealth of reminiscences about the old coachmen. 
The truth is that there exists no such Avealth. 
There AA^ere certainly no fcAver than three thousand 
coachmen throughout the country in the days just 
b(;fore raih\'ays. What do Ave knoAV of them ? 
Very little. Even their names have been for- 
gotten, except in some (comparatiA^ely few) sj^ecial 
cases. No one can giA^e us a complete list of 
the coachmen of the Edinburgh Mail, of the 
Exeter " Telegraph," or Devonport " Quicksilver," 
or of any of the crack day coaches. Nearly 
complete in some cases, but ncA^er quite, because 
the reminiscent traA^ellers by famous mail or stage 



296 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

have never troul)lecI to detail sucli tliing-s ; caring 
only to narrate the 2^ecnliarly had or good coach- 
man sliiji, as the case might he, or the eccentricities 
in manner or dress, of the men ^vho drove tliem. 
The merely efficient coachman, ^vith no salient 
characteristics to l)e desci'i1)ed enthusiastically or 
sintefully caricatured, stood little chance of notice 
in print. He drove until the natural end of his 
career came, or until it was cut short hy the 
railway ; and in eitlier case ended ohscurely. 

On the other hand, the noted masters of the 
art of driving a coach, who taught the young 
hloods that accom])lishment, or who were excellent 
comjmnions with joke and song to Avhile the 
hours aAvay, have foniul ahundant notice ; and 
they are the chronicles of these men that make 
that apparent Avealth of reminiscence. 

The coachmen ended, as may he supposed, 
very variously. A generation ago, many of the 
city and suhurl)an omnil)uses Avere driven hy 
gloomy, purple-faced men, confirmed misanthropes, 
who vicAved the Avorld \vith jaundiced eyes, and, 
living in vivid recollection of the past, despised 
themselves, their oninil)uses, and the people they 
drove. These AAcre the old coachmen. The 
Pu'chmoml Conveyance Company, Avhose omnihuses 
in the 'sixties conveyed many Londoners hetween 
the " Goose and Gridiron," St. Paul's Churchyard, 
and that famous riverside town, employed a 
numhcr of old-time coachmen, Avho Avore tall 
hats Avith a gold hand, and Avere never tii'ed 
of telling their ])()x-seat 2><is«<3ngers ahout the 



WHAT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN 299 

open-handedness of the passengers of old, and inci- 
dentally that travellers hv 'bus were " not worth 

a d n " ; not, perhaps, a tactful or ingratiating 

manner, hut " out of the fulness of the heart the 
mouth sjieaketli . ' ' 

When the London and South-Western Raihyay 
Avas opened to Hichmond, in 18 ^3, the first station- 
master was a former coachman and coach-jiro- 
prietor, and a very notable one : no less a man, 
indeed, tlian Thomas Cooper, who had in his 
time run a service of coaches between London, 
Bath and Bristol, and had been landlord of that 
very fine old inn, the " Castle," at Marlborough, 
now and for many years past a part of Marl- 
borough College. Cooper's varied enterprises on 
the Bath Road at last led him direct into the 
Bankruptcy Court. When he emerged from the 
official whitewashing process, Chaplin had acquired 
his line of coaches, and to that highly successful 
man he became a local manager. It Avas Chaplin 
who obtained him the position of station-master, 
as doubtless he had, in his influential position 
of director and chairman of the L. & S.W.B., 
already found many posts on that line for 
coachmen, guards, and others. 

Jo Walton, tlie famous Avhip of the " Star 
of Cambridge," became a messenger at Poster's 
Bank in that town, after the railway had run 
him off. At an earlier date Dick Vaughan, of 
the Cambridge " Telegrajih," had been killed by 
l)eing thrown out of a gig ; but of him Ave knoAV 
little. Of Tliomas Cross, Avho Avas intimately 



300 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

connected with Caml)riclge, Ave know a good deal. 
He drove the Lynn " Union " for many years. 
Born in 1791, he died in 1877, in his eighty-sixth 
year. Ilis occnpancy of the liox-seat lasted 
from 1821 to 1817, wlien his coaching career 
was hrought to a close hy the opening of the 
length of railway between Cambridge, Ely, and 
King's Lynn. His was a remarkable history. 
His father, John Cross, from l)eing a highly 
prosperous coach-proprietor, with large estates 
and considerable social standing in the district 
between Petersfield and Portsmouth, was gradually 
brought low by misfortune and reckless specula- 
tions. John Cross, Avith the wealth and status of 
a 'country squire, had given his son Thomas an 
excellent education, and had destined him for 
the Navy ; but serious attacks of epilepsy, and 
the results of an accident caused from fallina^ 
in one of these fits on a number of Avine-bottles, 
cut his career in the Service short. He Avas a 
midshipman Avhen these distressing circumstances 
entirely altered his future. He then started 
farming, but misfortune dogged his ste2)s. As 
OAvners of horses, himself and his father fared 
no better, for the terrible disease of glanders 
broke out and quickly carried off 120 animals. 
Eventually ruin faced the family, and Thomas 
Cross at last Avas reduced to seeking employment 
as a Avhip in the very j^ard once oAvned by his 
father. At the age of thirty, tlien, married and 
Avith a family of his OAvn to support, Ave perceive 
liim pretty tlioroughly graduated in tlie scliool of 



WHAT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN 301 



life, and already familiar Avitli the Avorst blows 

that adversity 

could give. In 

the beginning of 

his coaching career 

he drove the 

" Union " between 

London and Cani- 

])ridge, but at 

different periods 

had the middle 

and the lower 

ground. 

He was not 
altogether a genial 
coachman, and 
held little inter- 
course with his 
brethren of the 
bench, to whom 
he considered him- 
self, as indeed he 
was, superior. It 
was not, hoAvever, 
a judicious atti- 
tude to adopt, and 
those who drove 
the "Star" and 
"Telegraph" Cam- 
bridge coaches — 
Jo Walton, James 
Heynolds, and others — retorted by describing him 




" A VIEW OP THE TELEGRAPH " : 

DICK VADGHAN OF THE CAMBKIDGE 

" TELEGRAPH." 

From an clching hy Koherl DiffJiton, lSOi». 



3o2 STAGECOACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

as an indifferent Avliip. Perliaj)s, in fact, he 
was, but the "Lynn Union" was never a dashing 
coach, and gave no opportunity of displaying the 
skill demanded on others. 

Tommy Cross was never so pleased as ^^'hen he 
could pick up a hox-seat passenger well grounded 
in the classics, or interested in poetry — for poetry 
first, and the classics afterwards, engaged his 
thoughts. lie drove four-in-hand all day, and 
when his day's work Avas done retired to some 
solitary chamber and mounted Pegasus, who 
carried him on the Avings of the wind to the un- 
earthly regions where dwell the sjnrits of Homer 
and Virgil. In short, he seems altogether to have 
lived a fine confused unpractical life, reflected to 
some degree in his book. The Autobiography of a 
Stage- Coachman, an interesting but formless work, 
so lacking in arrangement that it is difficult from 
its pages to gain any very clear view of his career, 
and actually impossible from it to discover Avhat 
Avas the name of the Lynn coach he drove and so 
constantly mentions. That it Avas the " Union " 
only independent inquiries disclose. The name 
" Union " must in later years have taken an 
equivocal and prophetic meaning to poor Thomas, 
for, like many another coachman, he saAV Avitli 
ajiprehension raihvays l^uildiug all OA^er the country 
and running the coaches oif successive roads. He 
knew his oavii turn must come, and Avas early 
seized Avitli fears for the future. In 18i3 he 
published, at Cambridge, in jiamphlet form, some 
verses in imitation of Gray's Elegy in a Country 




THE GUARD, 1832. 



H. Alkou 



WHAT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN 305 

Churchyard. lie called it Tlie Lament and 
Anticipation: of a Stage-CoachuHdi. It Avas, in- 
deed, a very doleful production, describing what 
was already liaj^pening on other roads and was 
presently to l)efall on this. It is not proposed 
to quote the sixteen pages of this poetical effort. 
Let two verses suffice to show at once how, if his 
Muse did limp unmistakahly, she Avas not wholly 
destitute of descrij^tive force : — • 

The smiling cliaml;ermaid, she too forlorn, 
The boots' gruff voice, the waiter's busy zest, 

The ostler's whistle, or the guard's lond horn, 

No more shall call them from their place of rest. 

Then comes the final catastrophe : — 

The next we heard, some new-invented plan 
Had in a Union lodged our ancient fiiend. 

Come here and see, for thou shalt see the man 
Doom'd by the railroad to so sad an end. 

The end was not yet, hut the Lynn "Union" 
was off the road in 1817, and Cross could not 
ohtain any form of employment on the railway, 
lie had already, in 181G, petitioned Parliament, 
hut without avail ; and now entered upon tliose 
unhappy years in a\ liich he eked out a precarious 
existence on the occasional aid given him hy such 
men as Henry Villehois, the good-heaited Norfolk 
sjxjrting squire, and others wlio liad often been 
passengers on the box-seat of the " Union." In 
those years he published several pieces in verse, 
generally cast in the ambitious epic form. Un- 
fortunately, he was not the poet lie thought 
himself, and they are rather turgid and bombastic 
VOL. II. 20 



3o6 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL TN DAYS OF YORE 

specimens of blank verse. He planned and wrote 
a History of Coachiufj, but in the bankruptcy of 
his printers the manuscrijit disappeared, and so 
what might have proved a really valuable work 
was lost. At last, in 1865, he found a home in 
lluijo'ens' Colle£]re, a charitable institution at 
North fleet, founded and endowed some twenty 
years earlier by a wealthy City merchant for 
gentlemen reduced to poor circumstances. This 
testimony to his social superiority above other 
coachmen seems to have cheered and invigorated 
him amazingly, for he was a collegian at Huggens' 
beneficent institution for twelve years, and lived 
to be nearly eighty- six years of age. 

Less fortunate Avas Jack Peer, or Peers, of the 
Southampton " Telegraph," famous in his day, but 
reduced to driving an omnibus, and thence, being 
morose and quarrelsome in that position, by de- 
grees to the workhouse. His unhappy situation 
became known to a gentleman who had often 
travelled by him in brighter times : a handsome 
subscription was raised, and he was at least 
enabled to end his days in quiet retirement. 

A great many ex-coachmen became innkeepers 
and publicans. Among these was Ambrose Pickett, 
of the Brighton "Union" and "Item," who 
anticipated the end of Brighton coaching in 1841, 
by becoming landlord of an inn in North Street, 
A\ itli the very ajipropriate sign of the " Coach and 
Horses." 

A much more famous coachman than he — Sam 
Hayward, of the ShreA\'sbury "Wonder "—followed 



jyHAr BECAME OF THE COACHMEN 307 

Mr. Weller's example, and married a widow, land- 
lady of the " Haven and Bell," on AVyle Cop ; but 
lie did not long survive the extinction of "the 
Road," and the widow soon found herself again in 
that situation. John Johson, who for many years 
drove the " Prince of AVales "—the " Old Prince," 
as it was familiarly called— a London, Oxford and 
Birminorham coach, continued on to Shrewsbury 
and Holyhead— 1)ecame a coach-proprietor, estab- 
lished at the " Talbot," Shrewsbury, and a thorn 
in the side of Isaac Taylor, of the neighbouring 
" Lion." Coaching came to an end at Shrewsbury 
in 1S12, and the name of Jobson was heard no 
more. 

Many coachmen were killed off the box in the 
exercise of their profession, as, in the chapter on 
accidents, has already been shown. A consider- 
able number, secure in the affection of the 
wealthy amateurs, many of whom they had 
taught the art of driving, entered the service of 
those noblemen and gentlemen, in some horsy or 
stable capacity. The eighth Duke of Beaufort, 
one of the Sir Watkin AYilliams Wynns, and 
others, thus found employment for these refugees 
of the road, and continually aided many more ; 
l)ut something in the long overlordship they had 
exercised over four horses, and a good deal more 
perhaps in that hero-worship doAvn the road, of 
which Washington Irving Avrites, had spoiled 
them. Their lives would not run sweetly in 
fresh grooves. They could not, or Avould not, take 
to new employments, and even, subsisting upon 



3o8 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

charity, Avcre often absurdl}" liauglity, insolent, 
and insuil'erablc. Like horses, good liviijg', conpled 
Avith little exercise, rendered them unmanageable, 
and they not infrequently quarrelled Avith the 
hand that fed them. " AVliat do you knoAv about 
throat-lashings and head-terrets ? " contemptuously 
asked Harry Simpson, ex-coachman of the DcA^on- 
port " Quicksiher," of Sir Watkin Williams 
Wynn, aaIio, before him, had been holding forth 
to some of his guests upon the respectiA^e merits 
of those harnessing methods in the old coaching 
days. " Nothing practically," ansAA^ered the good- 
humoured baronet ; " my ideas are only ideas. 
But you knoAV all about the subject : let us liaA'e 
the benefit of a professional vicAV." 

At this time Harry Simpson — " Little Harry," 
as he Avas called, undersized and " looking like 
a tomtit on a round of beef A\dien on the driving- 
box " — Avas stud-groom to that Welsh landoAvner, 
Avho, from comj)assion, had taken him into his 
employ Avhen coaching failed. " Little Harry," 
domineering and Avilfal as he Avas, remained in 
his service for thirty years, and died in 188G. 

Some of the undoubted A'eterans of the old 
order liA^ed to patriarchal ages, and Avhen they 
died their obituary notices confounded many a 
Avriter who had liglitly declared, years before, 
that tin; last of tin; coacliuKMi Avas dead. 

Matthew Marsli, avIio for many years droA^e 
the Maidstone " Times," had l)een a private 
soldier in the 1 Itli Foot, and fiuight and Avas 
Avoundcd at Wateidoo. He Avas generally averse 




THE GUARD, 1852. 



After H. All-en. 



WHAT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN 311 

from mentioning; that fact, hut one day, hearing 
from his hox a dispute ahout the hattlefiekl in 
which hoth disputants Avere in error, he corrected 
them, simply adding, " I happened to he there." 
He died in 1887, aged ninety-four years, aided 
in his declining days hy the Earl of Alhemarle, 
who had fought in the same campaign. 

William Clements, of Canterhury, who had 
driven the " Tally-Ho " and "Eagle" coaches 
hetween Canterhury and London before the nine- 
teenth century had grown out of its teens, died 
in 1891, aged ninety-one. He was " the last of 
the coachmen," yet, two years later, in the early 
part of 1893, we find the death recorded of Philip 
(commonly called " Tim ") Carter, aged eighty- 
eight. He it Avas who drove the " lied Hover " 
on June 19th, 1831, from the " Elephant and 
Castle " to Brighton in 1 hours 21 minutes — a 
pace then greatly in excess of anything before 
accomjilished on that road. The occasion was 
the opening of William IV. 's first Parliament, 
and the haste was for the double purpose of 
speedily carrying the King's Speech to Brighton 
and of advertising the "Red E-over " itself, then 
a newly-established coach. He did not run light, 
as many of the record-making coaches used, but 
carried fourteen passengers on that trip. 

A year after Carter's death Harry Ward passed 
away, August 4th, 1894, aged eighty-one. He 
Avas one of a family of ten, and the last, except 
his elder brother Charles, of Avhom mention Avill 
presently be made. Their father had himself 



312 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

been a coachman on the Exeter lioad, and lived 
at Overton at the time Charles Avas born. He 
afterwards became landlord of the " White Hart," 
Hartford Bridge, on the same great highway, 
eighteen miles nearer London. Harry Ward's 
career is partly told on page 247, Vol. I. In 
after years he drove coaches started in the revival 
on the Brighton lload and elsewhere. 

" Last," it Avas again said, of the coachmen who 
drove the famous coaches u]) to the time when 
railways ran them oif the road, was Charles S. 
Ward, elder brother of the above. He Avas born 
in 1810, and died in his eighty-ninth year, 
Decemljer 9tli, 1801). His Avas an interesting 
career. Son of one Avho had been a small ^yq- 
prietor as Avell as coachman, and thus familiar 
from his birth Avith horses, he AAas driving the 
Ipswich and Norwich Mail as far as Colchester 
at the early age of scAenteen, and Avas thus 
probably the youngest coachman ever entrusted 
Avith the conduct of a mail on any road. But 
he drove it for nearly five years Avithout an 
accident, and Avas then promoted to the Devon- 
port " Quicksilver," at that time the fastest 
out of London, nightly driA^ing the 29 miles 
to Bagshot, and then back, in the small hours 
of the morning, Avith the up-coach. After nearly 
scA^en years of this niglit-AVork, trying and 
monotonous CA'cn in summer, l)ut extremely 
hazardous in Avinter, he sought a change, and 
applied to Chaplin, avIkj Avas the proprietor of 
the " Quicksilver," for day-Avork. The very fact 



WHAT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN 313 

of his being so sure and safe a coachman on 
the night mail 02)eratecl at first against liis heing 
transferred to a coach not calling in so great a 
degree for those qualities, but in 1838 he obtained 
the offer of the Brigliton Day Mail, Avhicli Chaj^lin 
Avas about to start, together with the chance of 
horsing it a stage. Like many coachmen, am- 
bitious of becoming a pro2)rietor. Ward closed 
with this oft'er, but the Day Mail did not load 
Avell, and he soon gave vc^ his share. He might 
have known that Chaplin, so keen a business man, 
Avas not precisely the person to offer any one else 
a share Avortli retaining. 

Ward then left Chaplin, and went over to the 
Exeter " Telegraph," the fast day coach run l)y 
Mrs. Ann Nelson, in opposition to Chaplin's 
" Quicksilver Mail." Mrs. Nelson was glad to 
get so steady a Avhip as Ward, who for three 
years from this time drove the " Telegraph " 
daily betAveen Exeter and Ilminster, a double 
journey of Qi^ miles. In 18tl the Bristol and 
Exeter Railway, a continuation of the Great 
Western, Avas opened as far as BridgcAvater, and, 
by consequence, the "Telegraph" Avas Avithdrawn 
by Mrs. Nelson and her co-2:)artners. Ward, 
however, held on, and, Avith the coachman on 
the other side of his stage and the tAVO guards, 
extended the journey at one end as the raihvay 
cut it short at the other. Prom 1811 to 
April 30th, 1811, the "Telegraph" therefore 
ran the 1)5 miles between BridgcAvater and 
Devonport, taking up the railway passengers at 



314 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

the former place. On May 1st, 1811, the railway 
was opened to Exeter, and the journey of the 
poor old "Telegraph " was cut doAvn to 50 miles. 
But those were spirited times, and even then, 
driven thus into the West, there Avere com- 
peting coaches. A " Nonpareil " Bristol and 
Devonport coach had heen running daily at the 
same hours as the " Telegraph," hut was taken 
off, and a " Tally-Ho " put on the shorter Exeter 
and Devonport trip. Then the racing became 
furious. Up out of Exeter, on to the breezy 
heights of llaldon, and by the skirts of Dartmoor 
the two coaches sped — the " Telegraph," as Ward 
tells us in his reminiscences, alwavs leadinii". 
Several times they did the 50 miles in 3 hours 
20 minutes, and for montlis together never 
exceeded 1 hours ! 

That mad pace could not last; and so, as 
neither could run the other off the road, they 
agreed to keep it amical)ly for so long as the 
railway, pushing irresistibly onward, would suffer 
them to exist. On May 1st, 1S18, the South 
Devon Eailway was opened to Plymouth, and 
it seemed as though coaching in the West of 
England Avas quite killed ; but a num1)er of 
Cornish gentlemen approaching Ward with the 
proposal that he should start a fast coach into 
Cornwall, and promising to support it, he ^\\i 
a "Tally-Ho" on tlie road betAvcen Plymouth, 
Truro and Ealmoutli, a distance of 02 miles. 
He Avas so fortvuiate as to be offered the 
contract for carrying the mail betAveen those 



WHAT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN 315 

places, and the " Talh-llo " was converted into a 
mail, and ran for a number of years until the 
railway Avas opened to Truro, in May 1859. 
Then, and then only, did Ward's career as a 
coachman end, for although for some years, Ijeing 
proprietor, he had seldom driven, he had not 
hitherto deserted the hox-seat, despite the calls 
upon his time of the horse-mart and driving- 
school business he had meanwhile estal3lislied at 
Plymouth. 

Charles Ward, more fortunate, more business- 
like and far-seeing than the majority of his 
fellows, ended as the j^rosperous jiroprietor of 
livery stables in the Erompton Road, in whose 
yard he might Ijc seen on sunny days during his 
last years sitting on a bench against the Avarm 
brick Avail, and dozing the afternoons aAvay. 

Even as this page is Avritten, in January 1903, 
another old coachman — again " the last " ! — has 
died. This Avas Sampson BrcAver, avIio, living 
in his later years at Cedar Cottage, Vancouver, 
declared himself to be the last survivor of the 
old coaching days. Born in 1809, he Avas, there- 
fore, ninety-four years of age at his death. 
He said he drove on its final journey " the last 
regularly-running mail in England" : that betAveen 
Plymouth and Ealmouth, by Avay of Liskeard and 
St. Austell. He must thus have been in the 
employ of Charles Ward. 

Tavo, at least, of the coachmen committed 
suicide. One of these Avas Dick Yickcrs, Avho had 
driven the Holyhead Mail. In an evil hour he 



3i6 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 



resigned tlie ribl)ons to indulge a fancy lie had 
nursed of becoming a farmer. But farming was 
beyond him : he lost all his money at it, and 
hanged himself in one of his own barns at Tynant, 




iLLiAM Salt>:k 

JDu'cl Octobe V tlic ^ . 17 jG 

Hfi-e lies Will Sciltoi' lionctti^an 
^ neny jt £n\'y ifyoivcan 
Xrii** to Kis Bu fine fs ^ Ins ttnilt 
Al^vayt- punctual al%v.-»^s jiift 
Ri.^ liOT(<es concl tKey fpipaK ^voucltrlT 
l ln-y loN'tl jlu'ir Qoocl «»IcliTiali"eT' well 
His Jip hiM work is cLiofly t^one, 
H^^ Stav^'t' IS eiitleci Kacc i^ x'\in 
0»»v "ituimcy is -renia 1113110 (till . 



To t iijTil> up Sions holy Kill 
And now his xiatAjlts ai'c j 
Clij.* like cli-ivc up fo Heaven 
TaW tWe it<?>va.rdl of a.11 K»s Paivis 
And leave tt> otfceT* Kands the Jvem^' 




A STAGE coachman's EPITAPH AT HADDISCOE. 

near Corwcn. Charles Holmes, for more than 
twenty years coachman and })art-proprietor of the 
"Old Blenheim" London, Oxford and AVoodstock 
coach, and the recipient in 1835 of a liandsomo 



WHAT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN 317 

present of silver plate, subscribed for by Sir Henry 
Peyton and many otJier gentlemen, committed 
snicide by tlirowing liiraself off a steamer into 
the Thames. 

The question, " "What became of the coach- 
men ? " is jiartly answered in the subjoined col- 
lection of epitaphs and eulogies got together from 
far and near. Pirst comes the early and curious 
one at lladdiscoe, near Lowestoft, to William 
Salter, said to have lost his life by falling from his 
coach at the foot of the hill near the churchyard, 
shown on the page opposite. 

To this succeeds the highly interesting examjile 
in Over AYallop churchyard, Hampshire, to Skinner, 
the coachman of the Auxiliary Mail, U2:>set at 
Middle Wallop, on the Exeter Koad, by one of 
the wheels coming off. Skinner was killed on the 
spot, and the passengers injured. The inscription 
runs : — 

Sacn d 

to tlie Memory of 

HENRY SKINNER, a. Coachman, 

Avho was killed neai- this place 

July 13th, 1814, 

Aged 35 years. 



With i)a8sengers of every age 
With cai'e I drove from Stage to Stage, 
Till Death's sad Hearse pass'd by unseen, 
And stoi)t the course of my machine. 

Then comes a Latin passage: — 

Dum socios summa per vicos arte vehebam 
Mors nigi'a prteteriit — 
Machina cassa mea est. 



3i8 STAGE COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 
It may be translated : — 

While I was conveying various passengers with tlie greatest 

skill, Black Death intervened — 
My machine is broken. 

An epitaph is (or was, for most of the stones in 
late years have been cleared away) in Winchester 
Cathedral yard to the last coachman of the Win- 
chester and Sonthampton stage, bnt no record of 
it has been fonnd. 

Par away, in Sonth Shropshire, on tlie north 
side of St. Lawrence's chnrcliyard, Ludlow, 
lies John Ainngdon, Avho died in 1817, and who, 
according to his epitaph, "for forty years drove 
the Ludlow coach to London ; a trusty servant, a 
careful driver, and an honest man." 

His labour clone, no more to town 

His onward course he bends ; 
His team's iinshut, his whip's laid up, 

And here his journey ends. 
Death locked his wheels and ga\-e him rest, 

And never more to move. 
Till Christ shall call him with the blest 

To heavenly realms above. 

In the same district, in tlie pretty churchyard 
of Stanton Lacy, may lie found a stone to the 
the memory of John Wilkes, of the Worcester and 
Ludlow Mail, killed in 18015 by its overturning 
in a flood. Some poetic friend inscribed this 
tribute : — 

Alas ! poor Wilkes, swift down the winding hill 

The horses plunged into the fatal rill. 

The quiv'ring bridge broke down beneath the weight, 

And Wilkes was flung into the foaming spate. 



WHAT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN 319 

On liis prone form the coach then t . . , (? toppled) o'er, 

And he was crushed beneath, to rise no moj-e. 

No more to rise? No, no! Though here his work be ended, 

To Heav'n we hope his spirit hath ascended. 

Although on Earth his final drive be drove, 

lie's entered on a longer Stage above, 

Where, now his mortal days are past and gone — 

He drives with Phccbus' self the chariot of the Sun. 

Then there is the epitaph on the driver of the 
coach that ran between Ayk\shnry and London, 
written by the Rev. H. Bnllen, vicar of Dnnton, 
in whose chnrchyard he is hiid : — 

Parker, farewell ! thy journey now is ended. 

Death has the whip-hand, and with dust thou'rt blended ; 

Thy way-bill is examined, and I trust 

Thy last account may prove exact and just. 

May He who drives the chariot of the day, 

Where life is light, whose Word 's the living way ; 

Where travellers, like yourself, of every age 

And every clime, have taken their last stage — 

The God of mercy and the God of love 

*' Show you the road" to Paradise above. 

The okl whips had a whimsical way with 
them, and sometimes not a little pathetic as well. 
The road was not only the profession Avhence they 
drew their living, bnt it was their passion — their 
whole life. Thus, when a noted chaise- driver at 
Lichfield, one Jack Lewton, died in 170G, he was, 
at his last request, carried from the " Eald Buck " 
in that city by six chaise-drivers in scarlet jackets 
and buckskin breeches — the pall supported by six 
ostlers from the different inns. The funeral took 
place on August 22nd, in St. Michael's church- 
yard, as near the turnpike road as possible ; so 



320 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

tliat he might, as he said, enjoy the satisfaction 
of hearing his hrother whips pass and repass. 

Similar directions are said to have been left 
by Luke Kent, reputed to have been the first 
guard ever appointed to a mail-coach. The story 
goes that he Avas buried at Farlington, near 
Portsmouth, on the Chichester Road, and left an 
annual bequest to his successors on the Chichester 
coach, on condition that they should always sound 
their horns when passing the place of his inter- 
ment. Diligent inquiry, however, does not disclose 
the fact of any one of that name lying at 
Farlington ; but a Prancis Paulkner, who died 
at Petersfield, May 18th, 1870, aged eighty-four 
years, lies in a vault in Partington churchyard. 
He was a i?uard on the " Hocket " London and 
Portsmouth coach, and local gossip still tells 
that he left a request (perhaps also a bequest) 
that if ever stage-coaches should pass his vault, 
their horns should Ijc sounded. Certainly, a few 
years ago, Avlien a coach was run from Brighton 
to Portsmouth, its horn was always sounded on 
passing the churchyard. 

A conclusion shall be made with the eulogy 
of Robert Pointer, coachman on the Lewes stage, 
Avhich he is said to have driven thirty years 
without an accident. It does not apjiear what 
relation be was to the one-time famous " Pob 
Pointer," of the Oxford Pioad, and in 18'5t on 
the Brighton " (Quicksilver " — a favourite coacbing 
tutor. Th(d Bob J'ointer, according to the Duke 
of Beaufort, could always be depended on to 



J} '//AT BECAME OF THE COACHMEN 321 

start sober, l)ut the horses had to he changed on 
the way anywhere hut at jnihlic-houses, if it was 
desired that he shoiihl end his journey in the 
same condition : — 

Those who excel, whatever line 'tis in, 

Deserve applause, anil ought applause to win. 

Pointer in coachmanship superior shone ; 

His whip his sceptre, and his box his throne. 

Not skilled alone the fiery steeds to guide, 

For them in sickness and in health provide, 

He, by a thousand nice mlnutioi^ knew 

To win the restive, and the fierce subdue. 

As man and master, punctual and approved : 

By those who knew him best, the best beloved. 

Many's the time and oft, o'er Ashdown's plain, 

'Mid show'rs of driving snow and pelting rain ; 

When hurricanes bow'd down the lofty grove, 

When all was slough beneath and storms above ; 

And oft, when glowing skies cheer'd all the scene 

And threw o'er Sussex plains a joy serene ; 

When now the anecdote, and now the song 

Beguil'd the moments as we roU'd along ; 

Snug at his elbow have I mark'd his skill 

To rein the courser and to guide the wheel ; 

And had he Phaeton's proud task begun, 

To drive the rapid chariot of the sun, 

Safe through its coiu-se the Haminsr car had run. 



VOL. II. 21 



CHAPTER XIY 

THE OLD ENGLAND OF COACHING DAYS 

This is the time, iioav that Ave have passed the 
threshokl of a new era, A\li(>n okl hmdmarks are 
disappearing everywhere around us as we gaze, 
and the Old Enghxnd that we have known is 
being dispossessed and disestablished by a new 
and strange, an inhospitable and alien England 
of foreign j)l^itocrats — this is the psychological 
moment for a brief revicAv of Avliat this England 
of ours Avas like in the old davs of stao^e-coach 
and mail. 

If Ave could recapture those times Ave should 
find them s2)acious days, of much fresh air, 
illimitable horizons, a great deal of solid, un- 
ostentatious comfort for the stay-at-homes, and 
also of much discomfort for the tra Atelier ; but 
altliough no sensible person, fully informed of 
the conditions of life in tlie long ago, Avould Avish 
he had been born into those times, yet among 
their disadvantages aiul the discomforts incidental 
to travel scarce more tliaii two generations ago, 
there Avere to be found, as a matter of course, not 
a fcAV tilings Avliich Avouhl b(; looked upon Avitli 
rapture by the modern sentimentalist. That was 
the era Avhen the Suburb Avas unknoAvn anyAvhere 

122 



THE OLD ENGLAND OF COACHLNG DAYS 323 

else than around London, ajid even London's 
suburbs were sparse, scattered, sporadic, and 
separated by great distances from one another. 
Takinij^ coach from tlie City, Avhere the merchants 
and the shopkeepers commonly lived over their 
business premises, you came presently, north, 
south, east, or west, through suburban Stamford 
Hill, Sydenham, Clapton, or Kensington, to rura] 
Edmonton, Croydon, Romford, or Chiswick, and 
so presently to the L^nknown. That was, of 
itself, a charm in the old order of things— a 
charm lost long since in these crowded times, 
A\hen constant and intimate travel have made 
us familiar with distant towns, and l)y con- 
sequence incurious and incapable of surprises. 
Everything is known, if not at the first hand 
of personal observation, at least by proxy of 
our reading in guide-book history, or by the 
del)ilitating photograph, which leaves nothing to 
the imagination, and renders us travelled in the 
uttermost nooks and corners of the land, even 
though w^e be l)edridden, or thoroughgoing 
hahltues of the armchair and the fireside. The 
picture-postcard — the lowest common denomi- 
nator of the photograi^h — has come to give the 
last touch of satiety, the final revulsion of re- 
pletion. The Land's End has long since been 
exploited, John 0' Groat's is merely at the end 
of a cycle ride, the " bottomless " caverns of 
the Peak have l)een plumbed, every unscalable 
mountain climb^'d. " Coiiiin ! " Ave exclaim Avhen 
we are told any fact.. Xo surprises are left^ 



324 STAGE-COACH' AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

We may never before jiave journeyed to Edin- 
burgh, but johotograplis have rendered us so long 
familiar with its castle and rock that we 
cannot recollect a time when Ave were not familiar 
with the j^hysical geograj^hy of the " modern 
Athens," and we seem to have been l)orn with 
a knoAvledge of the geographical peculiarities of 
every other plac(\ We are, therefore^ naturally 
bored and unres2)onsive in situations Avhere our 
grandfathers were surprised and delighted ; but 
although possessed thereby with a j^rofoiuid 
dissatisfaction with ourselves, we cannot hope 
to win back to the unsophisticated joj^s of old 
time. 

Would that it could be done ! The Avish is 
everyAvhere evident, but only Lethean waters could 
sweep aAvay the useless lumber of mental Imggage 
that destroys imagination and blunts the senses. 
The many efforts made to bring back the " pro- 
perties " — to sjx'ak in the theatrical sense — of 
old time are pitiful or ridiculous, as your humour 
Avills it. These are the days Avhen things quaint 
and old-fashioned are reA'iAed for sake of their 
quaintness, sometimes in spite of their incon- 
venience and unsuitability ; Avhen ingle-nooks 
and oj)en hearths Avith fire-dogs are built into 
modern houses for effect, although sIoaa'-coui- 
bustion stoves are infinitely more comfortable 
aiul less wasteful of fuel. Our forbears, Avho 
did not knoAV sloAV-combustion stoves, Avere not 
the creatures of sentiment that Ave are, and 
A^'ould soon have abolished oj)en hearths for the 



.THE OLD E^^G LAND' OF COACHING' DAYS 325 

close stoves had they heen given the chance, 
just as they woukl Iiave exchanged tlie tallow 
dip for electric lighting had the opportunity 
offered. We do not know the feelings with 
which the first gentlemen to use carpets abolished 
the old rush-strewn halls and the manners and 
customs contemporary Avith them ; but if their 
sense of smell was as acute as our own, they must 
have noticed Avith great relief the absence of the 
dirt and festering bones that found a hiding-place 
beneath those rushes. All the marvellous changes 
in habits of living — the cheajDcning of food, 
the conversion of the luxuries of a former age 
into the ordinary requirements of this, and even 
the alterations in the face of the country and the 
houses of towns and villages — are due to those 
increased facilities of intercourse which, owing to 
the gradual improvement in roads, the coaches 
and waggons of yore were first able to give. 
AVhen public vehicles began to ply into the 
country, this England of ours was not only a land 
of Avide unenclosed heaths and commons, but the 
joeople of one county- — nay, CA^en the inhabitants 
of toAvns and villages— Avere markedh^ difl^erent 
in thouglit and prejudices, in sjieech and clothing, 
from those of others ; Avbile local style in Iniilding, 
and the A'arious building materials obtained locally, 
gaA'e each successiA'e place that a2:)pearance of 
something ncAV and stranii-e Avhicli the traA'eller 
does not always meet Avitli noAvadays in far distant 
lands. As the drainage of lakes and fens, the filling 
u]3 of the valleys and the reduction of the hills, 



326 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

have quite revolutionised the physical geography 
of Avide areas, ofteu changing the natural history 
of the districts atfected, so has cheap, constant 
and quick travelling and conveyance of materials 
helped to reduce j^haces and people to one dead 
level. Romance tlies ahashed from the level, 
monotonous road, where, years hefore, in some 
darkling holloAv hetween the hills, ringed in hy 
dense woodlands, it lurked in company with the 
highwayman. AVe do not desire the return of 
those gentry, hut what would literature have done 
without them ? Highway and turnpike improve- 
ments long ago sliced oft' the most aspiring hill- 
tojis, and, carrying the roads through cuttings, 
used the material thus cut away for the purpose 
of filling up the gullies and deep depressions. 
Where the early coaches toiled, often axle-deep, 
through the Avatersplashes formed by the little 
rills and streams that ran athwart the way, later 
generations have built bridges, or have done things 
infinitely worse ; so that a watersplash has become 
a rare and curious object, noteworthy in a day's 
journey. Only recently, on the Dover Road, near 
Eaversham, has such a waters])lash- — one of the 
most picturesque in the country — been abolished. 
Ospringe was a little Kentish Venice, with a 
clear-running shallow stream occuj)ying the Avhole 
of* the roadway, with raised footpaths for pedes- 
trians at either sid(% and ancient gabled cottages 
looking do\v]i upon the i)retty scene. Alas ! the 
sj)arkling stream now goes under the road, in a ])ipe. 
In the old days, no traveller going north along 



THE OLD EXGLAXD OF COACHING DAYS 327 

tlie Great Xorth Road lef t Alconbury Avitlioiit first 
seeing that the jd riming of his jjistols was in order, 
w]iil(» the passengers by mail or stage secretly put 
their watches and jewellery between their skin 
and their underclothing, or deposited their j^urses 
in their boots, before the coach topped Alconbury 
Hill. For at " Aukenbury," as Ogilby in his old 
road-maps styles it, you were on the threshold of 
a robbing-2)lace only less famous than Gad's Hill, 
near Rochester, or those other notorious dark or 
daylight lurks (for day or night mattered little 
in those times), Hounslow Heath and Finchley 
Common. The name of this ill-reputed place was 
*' Stonegate Hole." It is marked distinctly on 
the maps of Ogilby and his successors, between 
the sixty-fourth and sixty-fifth milestones from 
London, by the Old Xorth lload, measured from 
Shoreditch, and passing through Ware, Royston, 
and Caxton. 

Passing Papworth Everard, you came in those 
days, on the left hand, just before reaching the 
fifty-sixth milestone, to " Beggar's Bush," where 
you probably saAV the tramjis, vagrants and foot- 
pads of that age skulking, on the chance of robbing 
some traveller unable to take care of himself. 
Here, in sight of these wretches, you ostentatiously 
toyed Avitli your pistol holsters, or loosened your 
sword ill its scabbard, and so passed on scathless. 
On leaving Alconbury, however, the horseman 
generally preferred company, because the highway- 
men of Stonegate Hole were well armed, and, by 
consequence, courageous. 



328 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL' IN DAYS OF YORE 

What, exactly, was Stonegate, or Stangate, 
Hole ? It was the deep and solitary hollow that 
then existed at the foot of the northward slope 
of Alconbury Hill, known now as Stangate Hill, 
The name derived from this road being a j)art of 
the old E/oman "Ermine Street," formerly a stone- 
paved way, and the "Hole" was formed l)y a rise 
that immediately succeeded the descent. Quite 
shut in by dense woods, it was an ideal sjiot for 
highway robbery. When, in the later coaching 
era, the road was lowered through the crest of 
the hill, and the earth was used to raise it in the 
hollow, Stonegate Hole disappeared. Bones were 
found during the j^i'ogi'ess of the w^orks, suj3j)osed 
relics of unfortunate travellers who had met their 
death at the hands of the highwaymen. A more 
or less true storv was Ions; told of an ostler of the 
" Wheatsheaf," the inn that once stood on the hill- 
top. He, it seems, used to help in putting in the 
coach-horses Avhen the teams were changed, and 
would then take a short cut across the fields, and 
be ready for the coach when it came down tlie 
road. The coachman, guard, and jDassengers, who 
did not knoAV that the shining pistol-barrel he 
levelled at them was really a tin candlestick, were 
duly impressed by it, and yielded their valual)les 
accordinii^lv. 

A tale used to be told of one of the old 
"London riders," or "l)agmen," who lay at the 
"Wheatsheaf" ovenn'glit and s(»t forth the next 
morning. His saddle-ljags were full, and so 
weighted with samples of his wares that he could 



THE OLD EX GLAND OF COACHLNG DAYS 329 

scarce sit his horse, and liad to be helped into the 
saddle by an ostler. Once up, his eves only with 
difficulty peered over this mountainous weight, 
but in this manner he set forth. He had not s^one 
far before he thought he had lost his way, Avhen 
fortunately he perceived another horseman, and 
hailed him. The stranger took no notice ; and so 
our traveller ranged up alongside him with the 
question. Instead of replying, the stranger thrust 
his hand into his breast-pocket and withdrew what 
the traveller imagined to be a pistol. Recollec- 
tions of the evil repute of the place suddenly 
rushed into the traveller's mind, and, putting 
spurs to his horse, he dashed away from the 
supposed highwayman, and did not draAV rein 
until in the neighbourhood of Huntingdon. 

There he met a party of horsemen, who deter- 
mined to hunt the highwayman down, and so, 
Avitli the traveller, hurried on to Stonegate. 
" There he is ! " cried the traveller, as they came 
in view of a peaceful-looking equestrian, amljling 
o:entlv along. 

"You are mistaken, sir," said one of the party: 
" that is our Mayor, the Mayor of Huntingdon." 

But the bagman asserted he Avas right, and so, 
to end the dispute, the whole party rode up, and 
one wished "Mr. Mayor" good morning. It was 
indeed that worthy man, and although he again, 
instead of making answer, drew something from 
his pocket, it })rodiiced no alarm among his fellow- 
l)urgesses, for thcii at least knew him for a very 
deaf man, and had often seen him reach for that 



330 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

ear-trumpet Avhicli lie now drew forth, clapped to 
his ear, and asked them Avhat it was they said. 

Swift, who, travelling hetween London, Chester, 
Holyhead and Dublin, remarked upon the many 
nations and strange peoples he passed on the way, 
serves to emj^hasise these notes upon the fading 
individuality of places and peojile. The dialect 
of " Zummerzet " has not wholly decayed, but it 
has become so modified that when old references 
to its Boeotian nature are found, the reader who 
knows modern Somerset, and does not consider 
these changes, concludes that its grotesque speech 
was greatly exaggerated; just as he cannot be 
made to implicitly believe the remarkable and 
oft-repeated story told by William Hutton of the 
visit of himself and a friend to Bosworth in 1770, 
when the people set the dogs at them, for the only 
reason that thev were strano-ers ; or that other 
tale of the savagery of the Lancashire and Y^ork- 
shire villagers, who, when a person unknown to 
them a2)peared, conversed as folloAvs : — 

" Dost knaw 'im ? " 

"Naya." 

" Is't a straunger r " 

" Ay, for seAver." 

"Then pause 'im; 'eave a stone at 'un ; fettle 
'im." 

No inoffensive stranii^er in country districts is 
likely to meet Avith that recej^tion nowadays. The 
stranger in those times was regarded, as he gene- 
rally is in savage countries, as necessarily an 
enemy; but travel has changed all tliat, and it has 



THE OLD EXGLAND OF COACHING DAYS 331 

l)een reserved for the London " hooligan," who 
has been tanght hetter, to perj)etrate, in the very 
centre of civilisation, the barliarous methods of the 
nninstructed peasantry of generations ago. 

Stories like these are only incredible when the 
circumstances of the age are unknown. In times 
when a stranger might easily enough prove to be a 
highwayman, or at the very least some Govern- 
ment emissary intent upon collecting hearth- 
money, window-tax, or one of the very many 
duties then levied upon necessaries of life, a 
strange face might be that of an enemy, and at 
any rate was unlikely to be that of a friend. 
Sightseers were unknown. No one stirred from 
home if he could find an excuse for staying by his 
own fireside. "What do you Avant here?" asked 
th(^ Welsh peasants of the earliest tourists ; and 
declined to believe them when they said they 
journeyed to view the Welsh mountains. " Eor 
Christianity's sake, help a poor man ! " implored 
an early traveller in Scotland, fainting by the 
Avay. The door was slammed in his face. 
" Surely you are Christians ? " exclaimed the 
unhappy man. "There are no Christians here," 
replied the half -savage Scot : " we are all Grants 
and Erasers." That last is, perha2)s, rather a 
savagely humorous than a true story, Ijut the 
mere existence of it is significant. More authentic 
— nay, well established — is the statement that 
even so late as 17i9, in Glasgow, two people of 
the same name Avould commonlv be distinguished 
by some physical p(»culiarity ; or else, if one was 



332 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

travelled and the other not, the one who had heen 
to the capital would be " London John," or James, 
accordiiiii; to what his Christian name might he, 

A course of reading in the " travels " of the 
authors and diarists who ambled about England, 
on horseback or otherwise, in the old days, 
sufficiently demonstrates the aloofness and isola- 
tion, and the essential differences that divided the 
country districts. When the Dukes of Somerset 
resided at Petworth, in Sussex, the roads were so 
bad that it was next to imj)ossible to get there, 
and when once there it was equally difficult to get 
aAvay. PetAVorth is only forty-nine miles from 
London, l)ut the Duke of Somerset maintained a 
house at Godalming, sixteen miles along the road, 
Avhere he could halt on the way and j^^ss the 
niijrht. His stcAvard ii^enerallv advised the servants 
some time before his Grace started, so that they 
might be on the road " to point out the holes." 
When the Emperor Charles VI. visited Petworth, 
his carriage was attended by a strong escort of 
Sussex jieasants, to save it from falling over. In 
spite of their efforts, it was several times over- 
turned, and that was a very sore and bruised 
I]m])eror who sup])ed that night with the Duke. 
Similar adventures befel Prince George of Den- 
mark, liusband of Q,ueen Anne, visiting Petworth 
from AVindsor. He went in some state, with a 
number of carriages. " The length of way was only 
forty miles, but fourteen hours Avere consumed 
in traversing it ; AAliih> almost CA'ery mile Avas 
signalised by the overturn of a carriage, or its 



THE OLD ENGLAND OF COACHLNG DAYS izi 

temporary swamping in the mire. Even tlie 
royal chariot woukl have farcnl no bett(n' tlian the 
rest, liad it not been for the rehivs of peasants 
who ])oisecl and kept it erect l)y strength of arm, 
and shonhhn'ed it forAvard the last nine miles, 
in Avliich tedious operation six g'ood hours were 
consumed." 

The travellers of that era, knowing how strange 
the country must he to most people, gravely and 
at length described places that in these intimate 
times an author would feel himself constrained to 
a2:)ologise for mentioning, excejit in a personal and 
impressionistic way ; and they not only so describe 
them, l3ut there is every reason to believe their 
writings w^ere read with interest. More interest- 
ing than their dry bones of topograjihical history 
are the accounts they give of manners, customs, 
and thoughts common to the time when travellers 
were few and little understood. When, in 1700, 
the Reverend Mr. Brome, rector of the pleasant 
Kentish village of Cheriton, determined to make 
the explorations of England that took him, in all, 
three years, he w^as obliged, as a matter of course, 
to wait until the sjiring was well advanced and 
the roads had again become passable. Setting 
forth at last, one mild May day, his friends and 
parishioners accompanied him a fcAV miles, and 
then, with the fervent ' ' God be with you's " that 
w^ere the parting salutations of the time, instead of 
the lukewarm "Good-bye's " of to-day, turned back 
home-along, and expected to hear of him no more. 
But he did return, as his very dull and jejune 



334 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS 01 YORE 

book, chiefly of stodgy historical and topographi- 
cal information, published in 1726, sufRcientl}^ 
informs us. 

"AVeeping Cross" is the name of a sjiot just 
outside Salisbury, supposed to have taken its 
nam(^ from being the spot where friends and rela- 
tives took leave of travellers, with little prosj^ect 
in their minds of seeing them again. There is 
another " "VVeei:)ing Cross " on the London side of 
Shrewsbury, near Emstrey Bank, about a mile 
from the town and overlookino; the descending 
road, Avhence the j^i'ogress of the travellers could 
be followed until distance at last hid them from 
view. There are, doubtless, other places so 
■named throughout the country. The oft-repeated 
legendary statement that travellers usually made 
their wills before setting out is thus seen to be 
reasonable enough, but it is specifically supported 
l)y the author of Letters from a Gentteinaii in the 
North of Scotland, who, writing about 1730, says : 
" Tlie llighlaiids are but little knoAvn, even to the 
inhabitants of the low country of Scotland, for 
they have ever dreaded the difficulties and dangers 
of travelling among the mountains; and wIkmi 
some extraordinary occasion has obliged any one 
of them to such a i)rogress, he has, generally 
speaking, made liis testament before he set out, 
as though lie were entering upon ji long and 
dangerous sea-voyage, wherein it A\as very d()ul)t- 
fnl if lie should (^ver return." 

When Airs. Calderwood, of Toltoji and Coltness, 
made a journey from Scotland into Engl ind in 



THE OLD ENGLAND OF COACHLNG DAYS 335 

1756, she Avrote a diary, a very inucli more enter- 
taining and instrnctive affair than the Reverend 
Mr. Brome's hook — which, indeed, conkl haveheen 
coni})ihMl from oth(>r Avorks without the necessity 
of travellinii', and, hut for a few fleeting glimpses 
of original ohservation, actually gives that imprt\s- 
sion. ]\rrs. Calderwood tells us that at Durham 
she went to see the Cathedral, where the woman 
who conducted her round the huilding did not 
understand her Scottish ways (nor indeed did Mrs. 
CalderAvood comprehend everything English). " I 
sui)pose, hy my questions, the woman took me for 
a heathen, as I found she did not know of any 
other mode of worship hut her oww ; so, that she 
might not think the Bishop's chair defiled hy my 
sitting down in it, I told her I was a Christian, 
though the way of worship in my country differed 
from hers." Mrs. Calderwood, quite obviously, 
had never heard of St. Cuthhert and his antijiathy 
to women, so respected at Durham that woman- 
kind Avere not admitted within certain boundaries 
in his Cathedral church ; nor was she familiar 
with hassocks, for she narrates how tlie woman 
" stared when I asked what the things were that 
they kneeled upon, as they aj^peared to me to he 
so many Cheshire cheeses." 

TJie modern tourist along our roads finds a 
deadly sameness overspreading all parts of the 
country. The same cheap little suhurhan houses 
of stereotyped fashion, huilt to let at from £25 to 
£30 a year, that sprawl in mile upon mile on the 
outer ring of London, are to hc^ tVnuul — ]iav, aro 



336 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

insistently to the forecrround — wherever he ffoes. 
They form the approach to, the outpost of, every 
town, large or small, he enters, and are built 
in the same way, and of the same materials, 
whether he travels farther north, south, east, 
or west. It was not so, need it be said, in the 
old times. Then the coach passenger with an 
eye for the beautiful and the unusual had that 
sense abundantly gratified along almost every 
mile of his course, for when men did not build 
on contract, and when the contractor, had he 
existed, Avould not have been able to work out- 
side his own district, there w^as iiulividuality in 
building design. We all know the truth of the 
adage that " variety is charming," and of variety 
the travellers had tlnnr fill. .Vnd not only Avas 
there variety in design, but an endless change 
of materials gratified the eyes of those wiio cared 
for these things. London, with its dingy brick, 
was succeeded, as one penetrated westwards, by 
the weather-boarded cottages of Erentford and 
Hounslow, by the timber framing and brick 
nogging of the next districts, by the chalk and 
flint of Hamj^shire and Wilts ; and at last, when 
one had come to the stone country, h\ the yellow 
ferruginous sandstone of Ham Hill, that character- 
ises the houses and cottages between Shaftesbury, 
Orewkerne and Chard, Coming into Devon, 
the yellow stone was replaced by the rich red 
sandstone, or the equally red "cob" of that 
western land ; and a final change was found 
^vhen, the Tamar passed and Plymouth left 



THE OLD ENGLAND OF COACHING DAYS 337 

behind, the massive granite churches, houses and 
cottages astonished the new-comer to those parts. 
No one coukl buikl Avith other than local materials 
in those days. The material might he, like the 
granite, stubborn and difficult, and expensive to 
work, but it would have been still more expensive 
to bring other materials to the spot, and so the 
local men worked on their local stone, and in 
course of time acquired that peculiar mastery 
of it and that way of expressing themselves 
which originated that " local style " whose secret 
is so ardently sought by modern architectural 
students. You cannot transplant the old style 
of a locality. Like the wilding plucked from its 
native hedgerow, it dies, or is cultivated into 
something other than its original old sweet self 
and becomes artificial. Cynic circumstance has 
so decreed it that, while these ancient local 
growths have in modern times been copied in 
London and the great towns, the rural neigh- 
bourhoods have been cursed with an ambition 
to copy London, while everywhere cheap red 
brick is ousting the native stone, flint, or wood. 
When the fashionables travelled down by 
coach to Bath, one might safely have offered a 
prize for every brick house to be found there, 
for Bath was, and is, l3uilt of the local oolite 
known as " Bath stone." The prize would never 
have been claimed ; but something like a modern 
miracle is now haj^pening, for even at Bath red 
brick has underbid the native stone and gained 
an entrance. 

VOL. II. 22 



338 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

Nothing escapes the modern desecrating touch. 
" Aukl Reekie" itself — Edinburgh, that hist 
stronghold of the Has Been — is not the same 
" beloved town " that Sir Walter Scott knew. 
The French Renaissance character of its grandiose 
new buildings does not alone tend to change it 
into something alien to sentiment and ancient 
recollection ; but that which our ancestors would 
have thought a mere impossibility, that which 
themselves would, and ourselves should, stigmatise 
as a crime committed against History and the 
Picturesque, has almost come to pass. In short, 
the deep ravine Avhere the Nor' Loch stagnated 
of old, where the AYaverley Station is now j^laced, 
has been deprived of something of its apparent 
depth, and the Castle Rock of a corresponding 
height, l)y the towering proportions of the vast 
buildings that fill u]^ the valley and desecrate 
the site of the northern capital. 

Sturdy survivals of olden days are the local 
delicacies that first obtained a Avider fame from 
that time when they were set before the coach 
passengers at the country inns where the coach 
dined, or had tea, or supped, and were so greatly 
appreciated that supplies were carried away for 
the benefit of distant friends. Some, however, 
of these delicacies have disappeared. No longer 
does Grantham produce the cakes mentioned by 
Thoresby in 1083. Grantham, he says, was 
"famous in his esteem for Bishop Fox's bene- 
factions, but it is chiefly noted of travellers for 
a peculiar sort of thin cake, called ' Grantham 



THE OLD ENGLAND OF COACHLNG DAYS 339 

Whetstones.' " "What jorecisely Avere the cakes 
known by tliis unpromising name we cannot 
say, for the making of them is a thing of the 
past. 

Stilton cheese, never made at Stilton, obtained 
its name exactly in the manner already described. 
It was a cheese made at Wymondham, in Leices- 
tershire, but its merits were first discovered by the 
coach-pai'ties who dined at the " Bell " at Stilton, 
whose landlord o])tained his supply from AYymond- 
ham, and drove a roaring trade in old cheeses sold 
to the coaches to take away. " Stilton " cheese 
is now only a conventional name, like that of 
" Axminster " carpets, made nowadays at Kidder- 
minster. 

To brins: home with him bas^s and boxes of 
local delicacies was to the old coach-traveller as 
much an earnest of his travels as the bringing 
back of a storied alpenstock is to the tourist in 
Switzerland. The Londoner, returning home from 
Edinburgh, could come back laden with a number 
of things which, easily obtainable now, were then 
the spoils only of travel. Prom Scotch short- 
bread the list would range to Doncaster butter- 
scotch, York hams, Grantham gingerbread, and 
Stilton cheeses. On other roads he might secure 
the cloying Banbury cake, still extant, and as 
sickly-sweet and lavish of currants as of yore ; 
the famous Shrewsl)ury cakes, manufactured by 
the immortal Pailin, Avho left his recipe behind 
him, so tliat the cakes of Shrewsbury still continue 
in the land ; Bath l)ims, phenomenally adliesive 



340 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

and sprinkled with those fragments of loaf sugar 
without which the exterior of no Bath hun is 
complete ; the cheese of Cheddar ; the toffee of 
Everton ; pork pies from Melton Mowhray ; or a 
barrel of real natives from Whitstable. All or 
any of these, I say, he might carry home with 
him, while few places Avere so unimportant in 
this particular way that he could not ring the 
changes on gastronomic rarities as he went. 

All these things were the products of that old 
English tradition of good cheer and hospitality 
Avhich lasted even some little way into the railway 
age. Journeys were cold, hut hearts were warm, 
and the more rigorous your travelling the better 
your welcome. It would seem, and actually be, 
absurd to surround a modern arrival by railway 
with the circumstance that greeted the advent of 
the coach. In the bygone times the guest had no 
sooner alighted at his inn and proceeded to his 
room than a knock came at his door, and lo ! on 
a tray a glass of the choicest port or cordial the 
house contained. To this day the courteous old 
custom survives at the "Three Tuns," in Durham, 
whose traditional glass of cherry brandy is famous 
the whole length of the great road to the north. 

Eor the little folks who travelled by coach, 
either with their own people or, like Tom Brown, 
in charge of the guard, warm motherly hearts beat 
in the bosoms of the stately landladies of the age, 
all courteous punctilio to their grown-up guests, 
but sympathy itself to the wearied youngsters. 
Such'was Mrs. Botham, of the "Pelican," at 



THE OLD ENGLAND OF COACHLNG DAYS 343 

Speeuhamland, on the Bath Uoacl — that " Peli- 
can " of whose "enormous bill" some waggish 
poet had sung at an early period. Mrs. Botham, 
an awesome figure — like Mrs. Ann Nelson, of the 
"Bull," Whitechapel, dressed in black satin^ 
unbent to the youngsters, for whom, indeed, she 
had always ready a packet of brandy-snaps. 

The earlier travellers were even more wel- 
comed, not by the innkeepers alone, whose 
welcome Avas not altogether altruistic, but by 
the country folk in general. 

The annual reappearance of the early stage- 
coaches was a much greater event to the villagers 
and townsfolk of the more remote shires than we 
moderns might suppose, or feel inclined to believe, 
without inquiry. But we must consider the winter 
isolation of such places in those remote times, and 
then some faint glimmering sense of their aloof- 
ness from the world will give us an understanding 
of the relief with which they again saw real 
strangers from the outer Avorld. In the long 
winter months, when days Avere short and roads 
only to be travelled by the most daring horsemen, 
spurred to the rash deed only by the most urgent 
necessity, the passing stranger Avas rare, and ex- 
cited remark, and the company in the inn parlour 
or by the ingle-nook discussed him, both because 
of his rarity and by reason of their OAvn raAV 
material for the making of conversation being 
run very Ioav indeed. We should be more thankful 
than Ave generally are that our lot Avas not cast 
in a seventeenth-century village, for Avinter in such 



344 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

surroundings was dulness incarnate. Because they 
could not obtain fodder to keep the sheej) and 
cattle in good condition through the winter, the 
farmers and graziers of that time killed them 
before that season set in, and the villagers lived 
uj)on salted meat. Every house had its salt-beef 
tul) and its bacon-cratch under the kitchen ceiling, 
Avell stocked with hams and sides ; but vegetables 
were so scarce as to be practically unobtainable. 

Every household brewed its own beer and kept 
a stock of cider, and most housewives were cunning 
in the preparation of metheglin, a sickly-sweet 
and heavy drink that revolts the modern j^alate, 
but was then greatly appreciated. Evenings were 
not long, even though it grew dark before four 
o'clock, for folks went to bed by seven or eight. 
There was little inducement to sit up late, because 
only the feeblest illumination Avas possible to any 
but the very rich, and the yeomen, the farmers 
and the cottagers had to rest content with the dim 
sputtering glimmer of the tallow dips that every 
eight or ten minutes required the attentions of the 
snufPers. "When the night cometh," we read in 
the Bible, "no man can work"; but that is a 
statement which, literally true at the time when 
the Bible Avas done into English, can noAV only 
be read and understood figuratively. No one 
could Avork by the artificial illumination then 
possible. 

ConceiA'c*, then, the joy Avith Avhicli returning 
spring Avas greeted — spring, that brought l)ack 
light and fresh food and intercourse Avith the 



THE OLD ENGLAND OF COACHING DAYS 345 

world outside the rural parish. Mankind liad 
travelled far from those prehistoric times of 
annual terror, "when the ignorant savage saw the 
sun's lio-lit ii:oini!^ out with the comiuo; of Avinter, 
and so, with abject fear, passed the darkling 
months until the vernal solstice brought him 
hope again. No one in the Old England of two 
hundred and fifty years ago trembled lest the sun 
should not return at his appointed time; but when 
the sap rose and the birds began to sing again, 
and Avarmth and light had begun to replace the 
fogs and mists of winter, the hearts of all rejoiced. 
May Day was then the great merrymaking 
festival, but the first coach that ventured along 
the roads, now beginning to set after the winter's 
rains, had a welcome of its own. At Sutton-on- 
Trent, on the Great North Road, the springtide 
custom of welcoming the earl}^ coaches was 
royally observed, and kept up for many years. 
No coach, during a whole week of jollity, was 
suffered to proceed through that jovial village 
without it halted and ate and drank as only 
Englishmen could then drink and eat. Guards, 
coachmen and passengers were freely feasted, 
willy-nilly. Young and old plied them with the 
good things, spread out upon a tray covered with 
a beautiful damask najikin, and heaped with 
plum-cakes, tartlets, gingerbread, and exquisite 
home-made bread and biscuits ; while ale, currant 
and gooseberry wines, cherry brandy, and occa- 
sionally s})irits, Avere eagerly jiressed upon the 
strangers. Half a dozen damsels, all enchanting 



346 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

young peojile, neatly clad, rather shy, hut courte- 
ously importunate, plied the passengers. 

Thoresby records a similar custom at Grantham, 
near by, on one of his journeys. Under date of 
May 4th, 1714, he says : " We dined at Grantham, 
and had the usual solemnity, being the first pas- 
sage of the coach this season ; the coachman and 
horses decked with ribbons and flowers, and the 
toAvn music and young people in coujiles before 
us." The " town music " Avas Avliat we should 
nowadays call the Town Band. 

When such courtesies obtained alons; the 
roads the coachmen and guards would have been 
churlish not to have, in some prominently visible 
manner, done honour to the season. And, indeed, 
May Day and sjiringtime decorations were features 
on most coaches. The coachman's whij^stock was 
ornamented with gay ribbons and bunches of 
flowers, while the coachman himself wore a floral 
nosegay that rivalled a prize cabbage in size. The 
guard was no less remarkable a figure, and his 
horn was wreathed with the most lively display of 
blossoms. Eestoons of flowers and sprays of ever- 
greens so draped and covered the coach that the 
insides, peering out upon the festivities, very 
closely resembled those antic figures, the " Jacks- 
in-the-Green," that used on May Day to prance 
and make merry from the midst of an embowering 
canopy of foliage, even so late as thirty years ago, 
in London streets. The horses, too, bore their part. 
Their new harness and saddle-cloths, the rosettes 
and Avreaths of laurel on tlieir heads, smartened 



THE OLD ENGLAND OF COACHLNG DAYS 347 

them up so that even the animals themselves Avere 
conscious of the occasion, and bore themselves 
with becoming' pride. 

Those old customs are, as a matter of course, 
gone. Coaches no longer dash through the old 
"thoroughfare" Adllages ; and when, with the 
advent of spring, the motorist aj)pears upon the 
road, the villagers, rather than welcoming his 
apjiearance, curse him for the clouds of dust he 
leaves behind. Motor-cars, they tell us, are to 
repeople the old coaching-roads, Avliose prosperity 
is, through them, to return, and the j)icturesque 
old wayside inns, with their memories of the 
coaching age, are to once again experience the 
rush of business. It may be so, but no one will 
regret the fact more than the lover of Old Eng- 
land, who, in the repeopling of the roads, sees 
their modernising inevitable, and the equally 
inevitable bringing " ujd to date " of those quaint, 
quiet, and comfortable hostelries so dear to the 
genuine tourist. It is true, they do not dine 
you elaborately — as your extravagant motorist 
comjDlaius — but life is not all chicken and cham- 
pagne, and it will be a sorry day when the plain 
man, fleeing the gaudy glories of hotels at 
fashionable resorts, finds the unsophisticated inns 
of the countryside remodelled on the same plan. 
Already the picturesqueness of the old roads is 
threatened. They are, if you please, too hilly, 
too narrow, or not straight enough for that new 
tyrant of the highways, the owner of a high- 
powered motor-car, and plans have actually been 



348 STAGE-COACH AND MAIL IN DAYS OF YORE 

drawn up by irresponsible busybodies for straight 
and broad neAV tracks, or for the remodelling of 
the old roads on the same principle. E,oadside 
trees and avenues keep the surface damp and 
muddy after rain, and so, as rubber-tyred cars 
are apt to skid and side-slip on mud, the same 
voices call for the abolition of Avayside trees. 
Old England is in a parlous state, when these 
tilings can be advocated and no indignant pro- 
tests rise. 



CHRONOLOGICAL SUMMAEY 

1610. Patent granted for an Edinburgh and Leith waggon- 
coach. 
1648. Southampton weekly stage casually mentioned. 

1657. Stage-coaches introduced: the London and Chester 

Stage. 

1658. First Exeter Stage. 

,, ,, York and Edinburgh Stage. 

1 66 1. „ Oxford Stage. 

„ Glass windows first used in carriages : the Duke of 
York's carriage. 

1662. Only six stage-coaches said to have been existing. 
1665 
1667 



1669 

1673 
1679 

1680 
1681 
1706 
1710 

1730 

1734 



iS'orwich Stage first mentioned. 

Bath Flying Machine established. 

London and Oxford Coach, in 2 days, established. 
,, „ „ Flying Coach, in 1 day, esta- 

blished. 

Stages to York, Chester, and Exeter advertised. 

London and Birmingham Stage, by Banbury, men- 
tioned. 

" Glass-coaches " mentioned. 

Stage-coaches become general : 119 in existence. 

London to York in 4 days, 
(about). Stage-coaches provided with glazed windows. 

"Baskets" or "rumble-tumbles" ijitroduced about 
this period. 

Teams of horses changed every day, instead of 
coaches going to end of jom'ney with same 
animals. 

Quick service advertised : Edinburgh to London in 
9 days. 

349 



350 CHRONOLOGICAL SUMMARY 

1739. According to Pennant, gentlemen who were active 

horsemen still rode, instead of going by coach. 

1742. London to Oxford in 2 days. 

„ „ „ Birmingham, by Oxford, in 3 days. 

175 1. „ „ Dover in 1 4 days. 

1753. Outsides carried on Shrewsbury Stage. 

1754. London and Manchester Flying Coach in 4| days. 

„ Springs to coaches first mentioned : the Edinburgh 

Stage. 
„ London and Edinburgh in 10 days. 
1758. London and Liverpool Flying Machine in 3 davs. 
1760. ,, ,, Leeds Flying Coach advertised in 3 days : 

took 4. 
1763. London and Edinburgh only once a month, and in 

14 days. 
1776. First duty on stage-coaches imposed. 
1780. Stage-coaches become faster than postboys. 
1782. Pennant describes contemporary travelling by light 

post-coaches as " rapid journeys in easy chaises, 

fit for the conveyance of the soft inhabitants of 

Sybaris." 
1784. Mail-coach system established. 

1800 (about). Fore and hind boots, framed to body of 
coach, become general. 
,, Coaches in general carry outside ]^)assengers. 

1805. Springs under driving-box introduced. 
1 8 19. "Patent Safety" coaches come into frequent use, to 

reassure travelling public, alarmed by frequent 

accidents. 
1 824. Rise of the fast day-coaches : the Golden Age of 

coachiuir. 
„ Stockton and Darlington Kailway opened : first 

beginnings of the railway era. 
1830. Liver2)ool and Manchester Kailway opened: coaching 

first seriously tlireatened. 
1838. London and Ijinuingliain Hailway opened: fir.st 

great blow to coaching; coaches taken otf Holy- 
head Koad as far as Binuinirhani. 



CHRONOLOGICAL SUMMARY 351 

1839. Eastern Counties Eailway opened to Chelmsford. 

1840. Great Western Railway opened to Reading. 

,, London and Soutliampton Railway opened to Ports- 
mouth : coaches taken off Portsmouth Road. 

1 84 1. Great Western Railway opened to Bath and Bristol : 

coaches taken off Bath Road. 
„ Brighton Railway opened : coaching ends on Brighton 
Road. 

1842. Last London and York ^Mail-coach, 

1844. Great Western Railway ojjened to Exeter: last 

coaches taken off Exeter Road. 

1845. Railways reach Norwich. 

,, Eastern Counties Railway opened to Cambridge. 

1846. Edinburgh and Berwick Railway opened. 

1847. East Anglian Railway opened to King's Lynn. 

1848. "Bedford Times." one of the last long-distance 

coaches withdrawn. 
„ Eastern Counties Railway opened to Colchester. 
., Great Western Railway opened to Plj^mouth. 

1849. Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway opened. 

1850. Chester and Holyhead Railway opened. 

1874. Last of the mail-coaches: the Thurso and Wick Mail 
gives place to the Highland Railway. 



INDEX 

Accidents, i. 206, 274, 281, 307, 310 ; ii. 28, 9G-122 

Allen, Ralph, Post Office reformer, i. 146 

Amateur coachmen (for individuals, see Coaching Notabilities) 

,, „ penalty for allowing them to drive, i. 209 

„ „ rise of, i. 231 

„ „ incident on the road with, ii. 91-3 

„ ., originated about 1800, ii. 239 

,, „ account of the, ii. 239-59 

Balloon coaches, appear about 1785, i. 296 

" Basket," the, described, i. 96, 99 ; miseries of travelling in, i. 101, 295 

Baxendale, Joseph, ii. 127-43, 207 

Besant, designer of mail-coaches, i. 178 

Bonnor, Charles, i. 168, 171 

" Booking," i. 320-23 

,, -clerks, responsibilities of, i. 320 

„ „ described by Dickens, i. 322, 330 

„ -offices, i. 320-23 

,, ,, described by Dickens, i. 122, 330 

Boonen, Wm., Queen Elizabeth's coachman, i. 5 
Brighton, first coach to, 1756, i. 134 ; first Sunday coach to, 1792, i. 198 
Buckingham, Earl of, sets up a carriage, i. 7 
Bugles {see Key Bugles) 
Byers, — , professional informer, i. 214-17 

Canals, ii. 130, 133 

" Caravan," origin of word, ii. 128, 129 

Carriages, introduction of, i. 2-13 ; become fashionable, i. 11 

Carriers, the, i. 65 ; antiquity of, i. 103 ; account of, i. 103-45 ; re- 

.strictions on, 1622-29, i. 195 ; forbidden to travel on Sundays, 

1627, i. 196 
Cary, Piobert, rides horseback to Edinburgh, 1603, i. 16 
Coach and Harness Makers Company, founded 1677, i. 12 
" Coach and six through Act of Parliament," origin of saying, i. 86 

352 



I^WEX 353 

Coaches : — 

Mail-coaches, general account of, i. 146-80 ; to be exempt from 
tolls, i. 156 ; Post Office officials resist introduction of, i. 157 ; 
established 1784, i. 158 ; originally diligences, or light post- 
coaches, i. 160 ; system extended 1785, i. 163 ; continually 
breaking down, i. 174 ; new type of, introduced, i. 178 ; 
Besant's patent coach, i. 178 : Besant's coach condemned by 
Matthew Boulton 1798, i. 179 ; always four-horsed, i. 180 ; 
coachmen of, subject to severe penalties for misdemeanours, 
i. 211; used for illegal sale of game, i. 254; for smuggling, 
i. 256 ; outside passengers of, limited to three, i. 258 ; bring 
early news, i. 260 ; cross-country, shabby, ii. 2 ; increased 
number of, injure roads, ii. 5 ; stage-coaches unable to 
compete with, ii. 5 ; exemption of from tolls injurious 
to Turnpike Trusts, li. 4-9; paid toll in Ireland from 1798 
ii. 9 ; exemption repealed as regards Scotland, 1813, ii. 9 ; 
tyrants of the road, ii. 10 ; exposed to dangers, ii. 10 ; 
pre-eminence of declines from 1824, on introduction of fast 
day-coaches, ii. 11 ; additional number of passengers per- 
mitted, ii. 12 ; mileage paid to contractors for, ii. 12-15 ; 
contractors disinclined to do business with Post Office, 
ii. 15 ; railways begin to supplant, 1830, ii. 16 ; procession 
of, on King's birthday, ii. 17-22 ; list of, starting from 
London 1837, ii. 23 ; the fastest, 1836, ii. 27 ; number of, 
1838, ii. 27 ; West of England routes cut up by railways, 
ii. 36-9 ; horses sold off, ii. 39 ; last of the mails, ii. 40 ; 
described, ii. 40-47 ; Waude's mail-coach, 1830, ii. 43-7 ; go 
seven days a week, ii. 148 ; freedom of from attack, ii. 148 ; 
robberies of, frequent, ii. 149 ; attacked by lioness, ii. 151 ; 
adventures of, in snow, ii. 152-5, 159-62, 166-9, in Hoods 
ii. 162-6, 169 ; West of England, started from Piccadilly^ 
ii. 207. 

Mail-coaches :— 

Banff and Inverness, ii. 165 
Bath, ii. 22, 23 
Birmingham, ii. 23 

„ and Liverpool, ii. 169 

Brighton, ii. 23, 24, 101 

Day, ii. 313 
Bristol, established 1784, i. 158-60 ; ii. 1, 17, 22, 23, 149, 207 
Cambridge Auxiliary, ii. 215 
Canterbury and Deal, ii. 27 
Carlisle and Edinburgh, ii. 27 

„ „ Glasgow, ii. 23, 24, 27, 108 

Carmarthen and Pembroke, ii. 15, 215 
Cheltenham and Aberystwith, i. 264 ; ii. 119 

VOL. II, 23 



354 INDEX 

Mail-coaclies {continued) :— 
Chester, ii. 15, 23, 215 
Derby and Manchester, ii. 40 
Devonport (Quicksilver), i. 246, 264, 303 ; ii. 22, 23, 28, 31-6, 

39, 122, 182, 207, 227, 252, 295, 308, 312 
Dover, ii. 15, 23, 24, 150 

„ Foreign, ii. 215 
Edinburgh, ii. 23, 24, 39, 75, 295 

„ and Glasgow, ii. 166 

Exeter, New, i. 264 

„ ii. 22, 23, 28, 31, 35, 106, 151 
Falmouth, ii. 23, 31, 35 
Glasgow, i. 247 ; ii. 1 -3 
Gloucester and Carmarthen, ii. 23 

„ ii. 22, 28, 215 

Halifax, ii. 23, 106 
Hastings, ii. 23, 24, 215, 237 
Holyhead, ii. 15, 23, 207, 315 
Hull, ii. 23 
Ipswich, ii. 150, 312 
Lancaster and Kirkby Stephen, ii. 152 
Leeds, ii. 23, 24 
Liverpool, ii. 23 

„ and Manchester, ii. 12 

„ and Preston, ii. 27 

Louth, ii. 23, 28, 106, 235 
Lynn and Wells, ii. 23, 235 
Manchester, ii. 23 

Norwich, by Newmarket, ii. 15, 23, 215 
Plymouth and Falmouth, ii. 314 
Poole, ii. 160 

Portsmouth, ii. 23, 24, 160 
Southampton, ii. 22, 23 
Stroud, ii. 22, 23 
Wick and Thurso, ii. 40 
Worcester, ii. 23, 215, 318 
Yarmouth, ii. 23, 24 
York, ii. 150. 
Stage-coaches, first established 1657, i. 2 ; considered vulgar, 
i. 25 ; i)atent for Edinburgh and Leith waggon-coach 
granted, 1610, i. 56; said to have begun about 1640, i. 57; 
John Taylor travels by the Southampton coach, 1648, i. 58-60 ; 
Chester Stage, first regular stage-coach, established 1657, 
i. 60; Exeter, Okehampton, Plymouth, Newark, Darling- 
ton, Ferryhill, York, Durham, Edinburgh and Wakefield 
stages established 1658, i. 61 ; itinerary varied to suit 



INDEX 355 

])rospective travellers, i. 63 ; Oxford coach, 1661, i. 63 ; 
Preston, Lancashire, 1662, i. 63 ; horses went whole 
journey, i. 63 ; changed once a day, i. 63 ; Norwich coach, 
1665, i. 64 ; lack of full information, about 1660-80, i. 64-74; 
early stages described by Taylor, the Water Poet, i. 65 ; 
described, i. 65-7, 82 ; first provided Avith glazed windows, 
about 1710, i. 67 ; agonies of travelling in, i. 63, 67, 72 ; 
Bath Flying ^lachine, 1667, i. 68 ; De Laune's Present State 
of London, 1681, contains first lists of, i. 77-9 ; general in 
1681, i. 77 ; opposition to, dies down, i. 79; fares moderate, 
1684, i. 79 ; winter still, in 1731, largely a season of no 
coaches, i. 82 ; easily outpaced by pedestrians, about 1750, 
i. 82-85 ; six horses and a postilion generally used, 1754- 
1783, i. 85, 86, 90 ; horses changed oftener than once a day, 
i. 87 ; consequent acceleration, i. 88 ; beginnings of com- 
petition and rivalry, i. 89 ; agreements between pro])rietors, 
i. 89 ; consequent decelei-ation of coaches, i. 90 ; Edinburgh 
stage a " glass machine on steel springs," 1754, i. 89 ; of 1750, 
described by Sir Walter Scott, i. 97 ; outside passengers 
first provided with seats, about 1800, i. 181 ; fore and hind 
boots introduced, about 1800, i. 181 ; contempt of insides 
for outsides, i. 181, 210 ; " Land Frigate," London and 
Portsmouth, i. 182 ; springs under driving-boxes introduced 
about 1805, i. 185 ; ii. 240 ; shorter stages adopted, about 
1800, i. 186 ; travel at night, from about 1780, i. 186 ; ii. 66; 
speed increased, i. 189 ; duty levied, 1776, i. 205 ; duty 
increased 1783 and 1785, i. 206 ; accidents increase, i. 206 ; 
Gamon's Acts, regulating number of passenger;, 1788-90, 
i. 206-9; severity of Acts of 1806 and 1811, regulating, 
i. 209-12 ; the law constantly broken, i. 212 ; rise and pro- 
gress of the professional informers, i. 213-18 ; duties reduced, 
1839, i. 218-20 ; provincial coaches despised, i. 245 ; first 
begin to be named, i. 282 ; opposition and rivalry of, 
i. 282-8 ; " machine " becomes a favourite term, about 1754. 
i. 286; introduction of "diligences," about 1776, i. 287; 
" diligences," originally fast, become slow, i. 288-92 ; Shilli- 
beer's Brighton Diligence, i. 290-92 ; the Post-Coaches and 
Light Post-Coaches, a fast and exclusive type, i. 292-5 ; 
objectionable company in, i. 294 ; " Accommodation " 
coaches, slow and capacious, introduced about 1800, i. 295 ; 
generally acquire names from about 1780, i. 295 ; the 
principles and system of naming described, i. 295-317 ; the 
public alarmed by increasing accidents, 1810-20, i. 310 ; 
" patent safety," i. 309-16 ; Waude's coaches, ii. 16 ; fast day 
coaches begin, 1824, ii. 173-87 ; attain speed of eleven and 
twelve miles an hour, ii. 179, 185; Cobbett on, ii. 182; 



356 INDEX 

gas-lighting of, proposed, ii. 186 ; Glasgow and Paisley- 
coaches lit V)y gas 1827, ii. 186 ; increased comfort and 
elegance of, ii. 186 ; "short stages," the, ii. 187-93 ; threatened 
by railways, ii. 208; rivalry, 1830-36, ii. 215-17 ; threatened 
by steam-carriages, 1824-38, ii. 260-68 ; run off by rail- 
ways, ii. 269-74 ; long survived on branch routes, ii. 281 ; 
ended generally 1848, ii. 292. 
Stage-coaches (mentioned at length) : — 
Age, Brighton, ii. 247, 252 
Amersham and Wendover stage, ii. 281 
Bath Flying Machine, 1667, i. 68 
Bedford Times, i. 2 
Beehive, Manchester, ii. 162, 229-31 
Birmingham Flying Coach, 1742, i. 92 

„ Improved Flying Coach, 1758, i. 92 

„ and Shrewsbury Long Coach, 1753, in 4 days, i. 95 

„ stage, 1697, by Banbury, i. 77 ; in 2^ days, 1731, i. 80 

Chesham stage, ii. 281 
Chester stage, 1657, in 4 days, i. 60 ; in 5 days, i. 62 ; in 6 days, 

1710, i. 73 
Coburg, Brighton, ii. 97 

„ Edinburgh and Perth, ii. 108 
Comet, Brighton, established 1815, i. 305-8, 312 

„ Southampton, ii. 207 
" Confatharrat," Norwich, 1695, i. 80, 282 
Coronet, Brighton, ii. 251 
Criterion, Brighton, ii. 105 
Defiance, Exeter, ii. 235 

„ ^Manchester, ii. 207, 22S 
Derby Dilly, the, i. 239 
Duke of Beaufort, Brighton, ii. 101 
Edinburgh stage, once a fortnight, 1658, i. 61 ; in 10 days summer, 

12 winter, 1754, i. 89 ; once a month, in 12 days, 1763, i. 90 
Emerald, Bristol, ii. 207 
Estafette, Manchester, ii. 186 

Everlasting, Wolverhampton and Worcester, i. 238-40 
Exeter Fly, in 6 days, 1700, i. 80 

„ Flying Stage, 1739, generally 6 days, i. 90 
„ Fast Coach, 1752, every Monday, in 3^ days summer, 6 
winter, i. 91 
Exeter stage, in 4 days, 1658, i. 61 ; in 8 days summer, 10 winter 

1673, i. 74 
Expedition, Norwich, ii. 150 
Fowler's Shrewsbury stage, 1753, in 3i days, i. 95 
(Glasgow and Edinburgh stage, 1678, in 3 days, i. 76 ; 1743, i. 76 
„ „ „ Caravan, 1749, in 2 days, i. 77 



INDEX 357 

Stage-coaches {continued) : — 

Glasgow and Ediiiburgli Fly, 17.")9, in U days, i. 77 

Gloucester Old Stage, ii. 240 

Greyhound, Birmingham, ii. 207 

Hull and York stage, 1678, i. 74 

Independent Tally-Ho, Birmingham, ii. 215 

Land Frigate, Portsmouth, i. 182 

Lark, Leicester and Nottingham, ii. 110 

Leeds Flying Coach, 1760, in 4 days, i. 93 

Lewes and Brighthelmstone Flying Machine, 1762, i. 28.3 

„ stage, i. 283 
Liverpool Flying Machine, 1758, in 3 days, i. 93 
Magnet, Cheltenham, ii. 207 
Maidenhead and Marlow Post-Coach, i. 294. 
Manchester Flying Coach, 17")4, in 4i days, i. 92 
Nelson, Newcastle-on-Tyne, i. 67 
Newcastle Flying Coach, 1734, in 9 days, i. 87 
Nimrod, Shrewsbury, ii. 215 
Norwich stage, 1665, i. 64 
Oxford Flying Coach, 1669, in 1 day, i. 69 

„ stage, 1661, in 2 days, i. 63, 68 
Peveril of the Peak, :\Ianchester, ii. 107, 229, 237 
Potter, Manchester and Stafford, ii. 150 
Preston, Lancashire, stage, 1662, i. 63 
Prince of Wales, Birmingham and Shrewsbury, i. 185, 231 ; ii. 

240, 307 
Quicksilver, Brighton, ii. 102-5 

Red Rover, Brighton, ii. 311 
„ Liverpool, ii. 207 

Manchester, ii. 162, 229, 277 

Regent, Stamford, ii. 207 

Rocket, London and Portsmouth, ii. 320 

Rockingham, Leeds, ii. 81 

Safety, Cambridge, i. 241 

Salop Machine, the " original," 1774, i. 98 

Shrewsbury Caravan, 1750, in 4 days, i. 119 

Sovereign, Patent Safety, Brighton, i. 311 

Stag, Shrewsbury, ii. 216 

Star, Cambridge, i. 241 ; ii. 257, 299 

Taglioni, Windsor, i. 316 

Tally-Ho, Birmingham, ii. 214, 237 

„ Plymouth and Falmouth, ii. 314 

Tantivy, Birmingham, i. 278, 317 ; ii. 185, 207, 237 

Telegraph, Cambridge, ii. 207, 299 

„ Exeter, i. 300-303 ; ii. 34, 39, 227, 295, 313 

„ Manchester, i. 300 ; ii. 185, 207, 227-9 



358 INDEX 

Stage-coaches {continued) : — 
Telegraph, Southampton, ii. 306 

„ Norwich, by XewinarkL-t, ii. lo, 150 

Times, Bedford, i. 2 ; ii. 217 

„ Brighton and Southampton, ii. 113 
„ Camljridge, i. 241 
True Blue, Leeds and Wakefield, ii. 97 
Umpire, Liverpool, ii. 217 
LTnion, King's Lynn, i. 250 ; ii. 300, 302-5 
Wakefield stage, 1658, in 4 days, i. 61 
Warwick „ 1694, once a week, in 2 days, i.'80 
Wellington, Newcastle-on-Tyne, ii. 66-95 
Wonder, Shrewsbury, ii. 49, 185, 215, 227, 306 
Worcester Old Fly, ii. 241 

York stage, 1658, in 4 days, i. 61 ; 1673, i. 74 ; 1706. i. 75 
Coaching Age, began 1657, i. 2, 60 ; end of, ii. 260-91 ; long survived 

on branch routes, ii. 281 ; ended generally by 1848, ii. 292 
Coaching Notabilities : — 

Barrymores, Earls of, ii. 241 
Cotton, Sir St. Vincent, ii. 246-51, 257 
Jones, C. Tyrwhitt, ii. 251 
Kenyon, Hon. Thomas, ii. 233 
Lade, Sir John, ii. 241 
Lennox, Lord William, i. 278, 347 
Mellish, Colonel, ii. 241, 245 
Mytton, John, ii. 245 
Peyton, Sir Henry, ii. 233 
Stevenson, Henry, ii. 247, 251-4 
Warburton, R. E. E., i. 317-19 
Warde, John, i. 185, 231, 317 ; ii. 240 

Worcester, ^Marquis of (afterwards 7th Duke of Beaufort), ii. 
101, 251 
Coachmen, forbidden to allow amateurs to drive, i. 209 ; penalties 
on, for misdemeanours, i. 209-11 ; the early, i. 221-30; the later, 
i. 231-48 ; the " flash men," i. 235 ; denounced violently by 
Borrow, i. 235-8; described, ii. 72-4, 83-7, 91-4; ii. 174-7; 
" shoulder " fares and " swallow " passenger?, ii. 200-203 ; con- ' 
tempt of, for railways, 1833-37, ii. 268 ; lose their occupation, 
ii. 278-81 ; what became of the, ii. 292-321 
Coachmen : — 

Abingdon, John, ii. 318 
Bailey, Jack, i. 231 ; ii. 240 
Brewer, Samjjson, ii. 315 
Carter, Philij), ii. 311 
Clements, Wm., ii. 311 
Cracknel], E., i. 318; ii. 185 



INDEX 359 

Coaclimen {continued) : — 
Creery, Jack, ii. 1")2 
Cross, Thomas, i. 238 ; ii. 2D9-306 
Emmens, Joe, i. 228 
Hayward, Sam, ii. 306 
Holmes, Charles, ii. 31G 
Howse, Jerry, ii. 186 
Jobson, John, ii. 307 
Layfield, Tom, ii. 91 
Marsh, Matthew, ii. 308 
Parker, — , ii. 319 
Peers, Jack, ii. 306 
Pickett, A., i. 315 ; ii. 306 
Pointer, Robert, ii. 320 
Salisbury, Harry, ii. 185 
Salter, Wm., ii. 316 
Simpson, Harry, ii. 308 
Thorogood, John, i. 238 
Vaughan, Dick, ii. 299 
Vickers, Dick, ii. 315 
Walton, Jo, i. 241 ; ii. 257, 299 
Ward, Charles, i. 238 ; li. 120, 311-15 

„ Harry, i. 238, 246 ; ii. 311 
Williams, Bill, ii. 257-9 
Wilson, John, i. 238-40 
William, i. 240 
Coachmen killed : — 
Aiken, — , ii. 106 
Austin, — , ii. 106 
Burnett, — , ii. 107 

Cherry, — , ii. 116 

Crouch, Thomas, ii. 107 

Draing, James, ii. 115 

Eyles, — , ii. 116 

Fleet, — , ii. 101 

Frisby, — , ii. HO 

Ptoberts, Thomas, ii. 106 

Skinner, Henry, ii. 317 

Upfold, William, ii. 113 

Vaughan, Dick, ii. 299 

Walker, Joseph, ii. 98 

Wilkes, John, ii. 318 
Coach-proprietors, alarmed by establishment of mail coaches, 1784, 

i. 160 ; provide driving-boxes with springs, 1805, i. 185 ; petition 

against Bill regulating stage-coaches, 1788, i. 208 ; liabilities of, 

i. 208-10 ; prosecuted and fined, i. 216 ; relief of, at close of 



30O 



INDEX 



coaching age, by reduction of duties, i. 218-20 ; begin to name 
their coaches, i. 282 ; indisposed to adopt " safety " coaches, 
1805, i. 309 ; obliged by public opinion to do so, 1819, i. 311- 
16 ; hazardous business of, from 1824, ii. 173 ; cut fares in 
competition, 1834, ii. 187 ; bitter rivalry among, i. 283, ii. 215- 
18 ; of short stages, ii. 187 ; business of, described, ii. 194- 
238 ; spirited struggle of, against railways, ii. 273-8 ; misled by 
irresponsible newspaper talk, ii. 274-7 
Coach-proprietors : — 

Alexander, Israel, ii. 102 

Batchelor, James, of Lewes, i- 283-5 

Brawne, 8., i. 283 

Bretherton, of Liverpool, ii. 238 

Capps, Thomas Ward, of Brighton, ii. 253 

Carter, of Shrewsbury, i. 109 

Chaplin, William, of the " Swan with Two Necks," Lad Lane> 

ii. 34, 141, 173-5, 195-210, 212, 228, 238, 312 
Chaplin, William Augustus, ii. 210 
Chaplin it Home, ii. 209 
Coopei', Thomas, of Thatcham, ii. 173 
Costar <k Waddell, of Oxford, ii. 186 
Cripps, William, of Brighton, ii. 251 

Cross, John, of the " Golden Cross," Charing Cross, ii. 300 
Fagg, Thomas, of the " Bell and Ci'own," Holborn, ii. 235 
Gilbert, William, of the " Blossoms " Inn, Lawrence Lane, ii. 237 
Goodman, S., of Brighton, ii. 102-5 
Grey, Robert, of the " Bolt-in-Tun," Fleet Street, ii. 237 
Hearn, Joseph, of the " King's Arms," Snow Hill, ii. 237 
Hine, — , of Brighton, ii. 181 
Home, Benjamin Worthy, of the " Golden Cross," Charing Cross, 

ii. 15, 141, 208, 210-25 
Home, Henry, ii. 223 

„ William, ii. 210-13, 215 
Jobson, J., of Shrewsljury, ii. 215, 307 
Mountain, Mrs. Sarah Ann, of the " Saracen's Head," Snow Hill, 

ii. 214, 236 
Nelson, Mrs. Ann, of the " Bull " Inn, Whitechai)el, i. 300 ; ii. 

227, 232-5, 236 ; ii- 313, 343 
Nelson, John, ii. 235 

„ Robert, of the " Belle Sauvagc," Ludgate Hill, ii. 215, 

229-35 
Roberts, — , of the "White Hor.se," Fetter Lane, ii. 213 
Rothwell, Nicholas, of Warwick, i. 80-85 
Sherman, Edward, of the "Bull and Mouth," St. Martin's-le- 

Grand, ii. 186, 207, 215, 216, 217, 226-8, 229, 231, 273-8 
Shillibeer, George, i. 290-92 



INDEX 361 

Coacli-proprietors {continued) : — 

Taylor. Isaac, of Shrewsbury, ii. 21'i, 216, 307 

Teather, Edward, of Carlisle, ii. 23S 

Tubl., J., i. 283-.3 

^Vaddell, of Binningliani, ii. 238 

Ward, Charles, ii. 313-1.-) 

"Waterhouse, William, of the "Swan with Two Necks," Lad 

Lane, ii. 196 
Webb, Frederic, of Bolton, ii. 238 
Wetherald, J. ct Co., of Manchester, ii. 238, 278 
Whitchurch, Best ct Wilkins, of Brighton, i. 312-I.t 
Willans, Wni., of the " Bull and Mouth," St. Martin's-le-Grand, 

ii. 227 
"Worcester, Marquis of (afterwards 7th Duke of Beaufort), ii. 101 

Coach travelling, on the roof, described by ^^loritz, 1782, i. 99-102; 
by mail, 1798, described by Boulton, i. 179 ; passengers booked 
in advance, i. 321 ; miseries of early morning, i. 325-32 ; about 
1750, described in Roderick Random, i. 333 ; courtesies to ladies, 
1714, i. 335 ; romance of, i. 336 ; severe test of a gentleman, 
i. 337 ; humours of coach-dinners, i. 337-47 ; coach-breakfasts, 
i. 347-51 ; social gulf between inside and outside passengers, 
i. 351 ; described by De Quincey, i. 351-3 ; humour in, i. 353 ; 
adventures described, i. 355; savage idea of humour, i. 356-8; 
practical joking, i. 357 ; outside the most desirable place in 
summer, ii. 67 ; in 1772, ii. 48-65 ; in 1830, ii. 66-95 ; miseries of, 
in winter, ii. 155-8, 169 

"Comet" coaches, begin about 1811, i. 304-8 

Commercial travellers, known successively as "riders," "bagmen," 
"travellers," "commercial gentlemen," " ambas.sadors of com- 
merce," and "representatives," i. 56; come into existence about 
1730, i. 118 ; adventure of a, ii. 328 

"Common stage-waggons," a term specified by General Turnpike 
Act of 1766, i. 204 

Cornets-a-piston, popular with guards, i. 280 

Cresset, John, denounces stage-coaches, 1662, i. 26, 70-74 

Darwin, Dr. Erasmus, prophesies railways and balloons, ii. 260, 282 

" Derby Dilly," the, i. 289 

Dickens, Charles, on coach booking-offices, i. 322 ; on miseries ot 
early morning travelling, i. 32.5-32; on coaching prints, ii. 110: 
Christmas stories, ii. 162 ; at the " Bull," Whitechai)el, ii. 234 

Diligences, a species of Light Post-Coach, i. 16J, 287-92 ; originally 
fast, and carried three inside passengers only, i. 287 ; became 
slow, i. 288-90 ; Shillibeer's Brighton Diligence, i. 290-92 

•' Double Horse," the, i. 53 



362 INDEX 

Eliot, George, foreshadows tube railways, ii. 282-5 
Elizabeth, Queen, suffers from riding in carriage, i. "> ; prefers riding 
horsel)ack, i. 5 

Fares, by stage-coach, a shilling for every five miles, 1684, i. 79 ; 
London and Bath, £l 5s., 1667, i, 69 ; Bath Flying Machine, 3(7. a 
mile, 1667, i. 69 ; London and Oxford, 12s., 1669, i. 71 ; lOs., 
1671, i. 71 ; Liverpool Flying Machine, about 2|<Z. a mile, 1758, 
i. 93 ; reduced in competition on Brighton Road, 1762, i. 284 ; in 
competition with railways, 1838, ii. 273 ; Shrewsbury and London 
Long Coach, 18s., 1753, i. 95 ; 8hrew^sbury and London Caravan, 
15s., 1750, i. 119 ; Shrewsbury and London Stage, inside, £l l.s., 
1753, i. 119 ; Shrewsbury and London ^Machine, inside, 30s., 
1764, i. 120 ; Newcastle and London, 1772, ii. 63 ; 1830, ii. 67, 95 ; 
reduced all round, 1834, ii. 187 

Fares, Short stages, ii. 189 

„ Waggon, from \d. to 1(/. a mile, i. 69, 139; hi. a mile, or Is. a 
day, i. 120, 131 

Floods, ii. 165-70. 

Fly Boats, i. 140 ; ii. 130 
„ Vans, London and Falmouth, 1820, i. 136-9 

" Flying Coach," the first, 1669, i. 69 

"Flying Machines," the first, 1667, i. 68 ; described, i. 68-93, 283-5 

Flying Stage-waggon, London and Shrewsbury, in 5 days, 1750, i. 
118 

Gamon, Sir Pilchard, legislates on coaching, i. 206-8 
Gay, John, the Poet, his Journey to Exeter., 1715, i. 28-33 
Goods, carriage of, by pack-horses, i. 106-111; ii. 124; by sledges, 
called " Truckamucks," i. 107 : pack-horses partly replaced by 
waggons about 1730, i. 117 ; cost of carriage, 1750, i. 135 ; by 
road and canal, about 1830, i. 140 ; carrying firms, ii. 123-43, 
207-10. 
Guards, generally, "shoulder" fares and "swallow" passengers, 

ii. 200-203. 
Guards of mails, not to fire off blunderbusses unnecessarily, i. 209 ; 
servants of General Post Office, i. 249 ; gross excesses of early, 
i. 250-52 ; Post Office responsible for excesses, i. 251 ; how armed 
and equipped, i. 251-60 ; extravagant behaviour restricted, i. 252 ; 
appointments eagerly sought, i. 252 ; salary small, 10s. 6(/. 
weekly, i. 253 ; " tips " render appointments valuable, i. 253 ; 
illegal purveyors of game, i. 254 ; trusted and confidential 
messengers, i. 255 ; as snmgglers, i. 256 ; bravery of, and devotion 
to duty, i. 256 ; number of, i. 256 ; responsibilities of, i. 258 ; 
l)urveyors of news, i. 259; their duties, i. 261; instructions to,, 
i. 262 ; prosperity of, i. 262 ; jiosition poor on cross-country mails, 



a\jDi:x 363 

i. 2G3 ; salaries raised, 1842, i. -Ki'-i ; forbidden to play key-bugle, 

i. 280 ; devoted to duty, ii. 160 ; rashness of, ii. 1i>'> 
Guards of mails : — 

Couldery, — , i. 26.') ; ii. 120 

Kent, Luke, ii. 319 

:N[urrell, "Cocky," i. 271 

Nobbs, ]\[oses J., i. 264-71 ; ii. 119 
Guards of stage-coaches, i. 272-81 ; stages not always'provided ■with. 

i. 272 ; versatile accomplishments of, i. 273 ; annual festivities. 

of, i. 275-8 ; snowbound at Dunchurch, ii. 162 
Guards of stage-coaches : — 

Faulkner, Francis, ii. 320 

Goodwin, Jack, ii. 162 

Hadiey, Kobert, i. 274, 276 

Lord, Joe, ii. 152 

Russell, Thomas, i. 281 

Young, George, i. 273 
Guide-posts obligatory, 1690, i. 112 
Gurney, Sir Goldsworthy, inventor of steam-carriages, ii. 261-5, 285 

Hackney coaches, denounced by Taylor, i. 9 ; established 1605, i. 9-13 

" Hammercloth," derivation of the term, i. 68, 97 

Hancock, Walter, inventor of steam-carriages, ii. 261, 264-8, 285 

Hazlett, Robert, highwayman, ii. 53 

Highwaymen, the, i. 85, 116, 120-23, 157, 186, 332-5 ; ii. r.3, 59-61, 
144-50, 326, 327-9. 

Hobson, Thomas, the Cambridge carrier, i. 65, 103-5, 205 ; ii. 124 

Hoby, Sir Thos., sets up a carriage, 1566, i. 4 

ilorsemen, the, i. 14-56 

Horses, generally six to a coach until about 1783-90, i. 85, 86, 90 ; 
usually same horses from beginning to end of journey until 1734, 
i. 63, 87 ; the " Double Horse," i. 53 ; " parliamentary horse," i. 
218 ; fast coaches wear horses out quickly, 1824, ii. 173 ; average 
price paid for, 1824, ii. 176; system of working improved, 1824, 
ii. 176 ; bad-tempered, bought cheap, ii. 177 

Informers, i. 213-18 

Inns (mentioned at length) :— 

Bell and Crown, Holborn, ii. 235 

Belle Sauvage, Ludgate Hill, i. 323, 324 ; ii. 229, 237 

Blossoms, Lawrence Lane, ii. 185, 229, 237 

Boar and Castle, Oxford Street, ii. 189 

Bolt-in-Tun, Fleet Street, ii. 215, 237 

Bull, Whitechapel, i. 324 ; ii. 227, 232-5, ,343 

Bull and Mouth, St. Martin's-le-Grand, i. 323, 324 ; ii. 67, 68, 
147, 178, 214, 215, 226, 231, 273, 277 



364 INDEX 

Inns {continued) : — 

Four Crosses, Willoughby, i. 46 

George, Huntingdon, ii. 74 

Golden Cross, Charing Cross, i. 322, 323, 324, 329 ; ii. 210, 213, 214 

Goose and Gridiron, St. Paul's Churchyard, ii. 189, 296 

Green Man and Still, Oxford Street, ii. 190 

Hardwicke Arms, Arrington Bridge, ii. 73 

King's Arms, Snow Hill, ii. 237 

Lion, Shrewsbury, ii. 215 

Old Bell, Holborn, ii. 190, 282 

Pelican, Speenhamland, ii. 340, 343 

Saracen's Head, Snow Hill, i. 324 ; ii. 67, 214, 236 

Swan with Two Necks, J.ud Lane, i. 323, 324 ; ii. 178, 19')-9, 

204, 228 
Talbot, Shrewsbury, ii. 215 
Three Tuns, Durham, ii. 340 
Wheatsheaf, Bushyford Bridge, ii. 94 
Winterslow Hut, ii. 151 

" Journey," original meaning of word, i. 107 

Key-bugles, popular with guards, i. 279-81 

Legislation, i. 194-220 

Long coaches (an intermediate class of vehicle, between stage-coaches 

and waggons), i. 95, 119, 210, 286 
Long Coach, Birmingham and Shrewsbury, 1753, 3i days to liOndon, 

i. 119 

" Machines " introduced 1667, i. 68 ; the term in general use about 

1740, i. 69, 120, 282 ; a favourite term, i. 286 
Mail-coaches — see " Coaches : ]Mail-coaches " 
Mary, Queen, her State Coach, 1553, i. 3 
Matthews' Patent Safety Coach, i. 312 

Milton, Kev. W., inventor of Patent Safety Coach, 1805, i. 309; ii. 96 
Motor-cars, early (1823-38), ii. 260-68 ; modern, ii. 285-9, 347 

Northumberland, Earl of, sets uji a carriage, 1619, i. 8 
Nunn, James, buyer of horses for Chajjlin, ii. 204-7 

Old-time travellers : — 

Brome, Kev. — , tour of, 1700, ii. 333 

Calderwood, Mrs., of Polton and Coltness, 1756, ii. 334 

Gary, Kobert, rides from London to Edinburgh, 1603, i. 16 

Charles VI., Emperor, visits Petworth, ii. 332 

Clarendon, Henry, Earl of, travels from Chester to Holyhead, 

1685, i. 21 
CoVjbett, I^ichani, rides horseback, i. 55 ; on coaches, ii. 181 



IXBEX 365 

Old-time travellers {contimied) : — 

Denmark, Prince CJeorge of, visits Petworth, ii. 332 

De Quincey, Thomas, on contempt of inside passengers for 
outsides, i. 210, 351-3 : prefers outside of coaches, ii. 67 

Dugdale, Sir William, mentions Birmingham coach of 1697, i. 77 

Fiennes, Celia, in Lancashire, 1691, surprised at finding sign- 
posts, i. 115 

Gay, John (the i)oet) A Journey to Exeter, 1715, i. 28-33 

Hawker, Col., on travelling in 1812, i. 245 ; on cost of journey, 
London to Glasgow, 1812, ii. 1-3, 4; on "Bull and Mouth" 
inn, 1812, ii. 227 

Johnson, Dr., i. 52-3 

Macready, William C. (the actor), on incredilily slow journey, 
Liverpool to London, 1811, i. 294 

Moritz, Rev. C. H., on miseries of outside passengers, 1782, 
i. 98-102 

Murray, Piev. James, descriljes a journey from Ne\vcastle-on-Tyne 
to London, 1772, ii. 48-65 

Parker, Edward, on miseries of coach journey from Preston, 
Lancashire, 1662, i. 25-63 

Pepys, Samuel, often loses the road, i. 112 

Somerset, Dukes of, and Petworth, ii. 332 

Sopwith, Thomas, on discontinuance of York ]\rail, ii. 39 

Sorbiere, Samuel de, on waggoners, 1663, i. 127 

Swift, Jonathan, Dean, his couplets for inn signs on Penmaen- 
mawr, i. 21 ; on horseback journey, Chester to London, 
1710, i. 33, 73 ; on journey London to Holyhead and Dublin, 
1726, i. 33 ; diary of journey, London to Holyhead, 1727, 
i. 34-47 ; epigram at Willoughby, i. 46 ; travels by stage- 
waggon, i. 132 ; on travelling, ii. 330 

Taylor, John (the "Water Poet"), travels to Southampton, 1648, 
i. 58-60. 

Thoresby, Ral])h, travels by York stage to London, 1683, i. 27, 
73 ; finds the Hull to York stage discontinued for Avinter 
season, 1678, i. 74 ; going horseback, often misses his way, 
i. 112 ; describes custom of treating lady passengers in 
coaches, 1714, i. 335 ; on spring festivities, 1714, ii. 346 
Wesley, John, generally travelled horseback, i. 47 ; describes his 
adventures, i. 47-52 ; finds unpleasant company in a coach, 
i. 293 
Omnibuses, displace "short stages," ii. 193; "Wellington," Stratford 
and Westbourne Grove, ii. 235 ; of Richmond Conveyance Co., 
ii. 296. 
Outside passengers first heard of, and probable origin of carrying, 
i. 95; miseries of, i. 98-102; first provided with seats, i. 181; 
treated with contempt by inside passengers, i. 210, 351-3 ; ii. 181 



366 INDEX 

Pack-horses, i. 106-9, 111, 118; partly rei)laced l)y -waggons about 
1730, i. 117 ; i)ack-horse trains, ii. 124 

Palmer, John, Post Oftice reformer, account of, i. 148-80 (Appendix, 
Vol. I., p. 3")9) ; proposes a service of mail-coaches, i. loo ; plan 
for, matured 1782, i. 156 ; establishes first mail-coach, 1784, 
i. 158 ; proposes to extend system to France, i. 163 ; aj)pointed 
Comptroller-General 1786, i. 164 ; contentions with Postmasters- 
General, i. 165-72 ; his character, i. 166 ; betrayed by Bonnor, 
i. 168 ; dismissed, i. 172 ; grant to, i. 173 ; death of, i. 174 ; 
ancestry of. Appendix, Vol. L, p. 359 ; descendants, 359 

"Parliamentary Horse," the, i. 218 

" Patent Safety " coaches, i. 309-16 ; ii. 109 

Pepys, Samuel, sets up a carriage, 1668, i. 11 ; in travelling, often 
loses the road, i. 112 

" Pickaxe " team, i.e. three horses, ii. 270 

Pickford k Co., i. 139 ; ii. 123-43, 208 
„ Matthew, ii. 125-7 
„ Thomas, ii. 125-7 

Poor people, how they travelled, i. 115, 131-3, 139 ; find it cheaper to 
go by rail, i. 144 

Postboys, i.e. mail-carriers, i. 146, 152 ; went toll-free, ii. 5 

Postes, Master of the, i. 14 

Post-horses, State monopoly of, i. 14-23 ; monopoly abolished, 1780, 
i. 23 ; mileage charges for, i. 15 ; increased, i- 18 

Postmaster-General, office of created, 1657, i. 18 

Postmasters, i.e. keepers of post-horses, i. 15-18, 147 

"Post Office of England" created, 1657, i. 17; re-established, 1660, 
i. 22 

Post Office, General, i. 14-19, 20, 22-4, 46-180 ; declines Hancock's 
offer to convey mails by steam-carriage, ii. 268 

Railways : — 

Mails first carried by, 1830, ii. 16 ; authorised to convey mails, 
1838, ii. 16 ; run York coaches off road, 1840, ii. 39 ; run 
waggons off, ii. 138 ; threaten coaching, ii. 208 ; projected 
railways criticised, 1838, ii. 209 ; ruin the early steam- 
carriages, ii. 268 ; ridiculed, 1837, ii. 268 ; cut up the coach 
routes, ii. 270-74; bad service of trains, 1838, ii. 274 ; insolence 
of officials, ii. 274-7 ; public dissatisfaction with, 1838, ii. 
274-7 ; tube railways foreshadowed by George Eliot, ii. 
282-5 

Grand Junction, ii. 141, 274 

Highland, ii. 40 

Liverpool and Manchester, ii. 16, 96, 138 

J.ondon and Birmingham (now London and North-Western), ii. 
141, 208, 222-.-), 273, 278 



INDEX 367 

Kailways {continued) : — 

London and Manchester, ii. 16, 96, 138 

„ „ Southampton (now London and .South-Western), ii. 
17, 36, 209, 299 
Metropolitan extended to Aylesbury 1892, ii. 281 
North British, ii. 40 

" Piide and Tie," custom of, i. 54 

Eijipon, Walter, carriage-maker to Queen Mary, i. 4 

Eoads, bad state of, 1568, i. 5 ; dreadful condition in North Wales in 
eighteenth century, i. 20-22 ; Exeter lload described in 1752 as 
" dreadful," i. 91 ; first General Highway Act, 1555, i. 106 ; mere 
tracks and unenclosed, 1739, i. Ill ; not safe for solitary travellers, 
i. 115 ; gradually improve from 1700, i. 117 ; growth of heavy 
traffic cuts them up, i. 123 ; ignorance of road-surveyors, i. 123 ; 
legislation to protect, 1760, i. 123-6 ; 1622-29, 194-6 ; 1752, i. 199- 
202 ; General Turnpike Act, 1766, i. 202-5 ; improve generally, 
ii. 3 ; shocking state of, between Carlisle and Glasgow, 1812, ii. 4 ; 
wear and tear of, by mails, ii. 4-9 ; and early steam-carriages, 
ii. 262 ; vulgarised by modern " improvements," ii. 326 ; terrible 
state of, in Sussex, ii. 332 ; picturesqueness of, threatened by 
coming changes, ii. 347 

Robberies from coaches, ii. 144-50 

" Rumble-tumble," i. 96, 97, 99 ; miseries of travelling in the, i. 101, 
139 

Rutland, Earl of, sets up a carriage, 1555 

Shillibeer, George, his " Brighton Diligence," i. 290-92 ; his omni- 
buses, ii. 193 
Short stages, the, ii. 188-93 
" Short Tommy," the, ii. 175 
*' Shouldering," i.e. stealing, fares, ii. 200-203 
Sign-posts obligatory, 1690, i. 112 
Silver, Anthony, carriage-maker to Queen Mary, i. 3 
Smollett, Tobias, i. 108, 110; on travelling in 1748, i- 115-17, 334 
Snowstorms, i. 261. 264-9 ; ii. 137, 157, 159-62, 166-9 
Stage-coaches — see " Coaches : stage-coaches " 
Stage-waggons, established about 1500, i. 2 : see " Waggons" 
Steam-carriages, 1823-38, ii. 217, 260-68 
Sunday, a day of rest, i. 29, 90 

„ Trading Acts, i. 196-9 ; ii. 148 
*' Swallowing," i.e. stealing, fares, ii. 200-203 

Talbot, the old English hound, i. 109 

" Tantivy," meaning of the word, ii. 185 

" Tantivy Trot," coaching song, ii. 185 

Telegraph coaches established, from about 1781, i. 300-303 



368 INDEX 

Telegraph f?prings introduced, ii. 228 

" Tipping," origin and progress of, i. 228-30 ; of mail-guards, i. 253, 

262 ; forbidden, i. 263 ; of coachmen, i. 345 ; ii. 1 
Tom Brown^s Schooldays, i. 347 
" Travel," origin of the word, i. 107 
"Truckamuck," a kind of sledge, i. 107 
Turnpike Acts, growth of, 1700-1770, i. 117; penalise narrow and 

encourage broad wheels, i. 124-6, 202-205 ; General Turnpike Act, 

1766, i. 202-205 
Turnpike keepers, i. 24, 208, 212 ; prosecuted by informers, i. 217 ; 

sleepy, ii. 79 
Turn])ike roads, not in favour with waggoners, i. 126 
Turnpike tolls, i. 124; leviedi on waggons,|i. 20C-205 ; doubled on 

Sundays about 1780, ii. 147 ; heavy discriminatory charges 

against steam-carriages, ii. 262, 263 
Turnpike Trusts, grievances of, against Post Office, ii. 4-9 ; action of, 

against steam-carriages, ii. 262, 263 

" I'nicorn " team, i.e. three horses, ii. 270 

Van, origin of the name, ii- 129 
Van ])roprietors : — 

Chaplin k Home, ii. 209, 229 

Pickford k, Co., i. 123-43 

Ptussell ct Co., i. 136-9 
Van proprietors prosecuted for technical offences, i. 216 
Vidler & Parratt, mail-coach manufacturers, i. 178 ; ii. 17, 18, 44 

Waggons, i. 103-45 ; established about 1500, i. 103 ; increase in 
number and weight about 1760, i. 123 ; legislation directed 
against 1766, i. 124-6, 202-204 ; only disappear so late as 1860, 
i. 144 ; four-wheeled waggons forbidden 1622, i. 194 ; loads over 
20 cwt. forbidden 1622, i. 195 ; restrictions on teams, i. 195-200 ; 
on loads, i. 200 

Waggoners, character of the, i. 126-31 ; forbidden to ride on their 
waggons, i. 205 ; preyed upon by informers, i. 212-14 

Waude, , coach-builder, ii. 16, 43-7, 228 

Weller, Tony, as typical coachman, i. 221 

Witherings, Thomas, Master of the Postes, i. 17 

Yard-porters, status of, ii. 178 

York, James, Duke of, sets uji a "glass coach," 1661, i. 11, 66 



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