Why I am proud to say that Thomas KINGHORN was a mail guard

29 Apr

I appear to have been neglecting my Thomas KINGHORN research recently, I think the problem is that I have very little information to go on, there is very little I can do online and it is almost completely new territory to me.

I have however not been completely idle, I am in the middle of reading The Mail-Coach Men of the late Eighteenth Century1 which I have borrowed from my local library, although I think I am going to have to buy a copy for my own bookshelf.

There is some wonderful detail on the origins of the mail coach service, and the people involved in setting it up and running it. There is also some great general information on mail guards such as:

… the key-men were the mail-guards. Everything depended on their integrity, their loyalty, their tireless zeal in the discharge of their arduous duties, their hardihood of body as well as of mind.

There was also something else which might give me another place to search in the records:

The pay was 10s. 6d. a week; in addition, there were regular tips, seldom withheld by the public and not discouraged by the Post Office. There was provision for sick-benefit and retirement pension and a contribution of two guineas towards the funeral expenses of a guard.

I don’t think Thomas lived long enough to gain a retirement pension, but maybe his widow received some form of pension, and probably the two guineas towards his funeral.

It appears that the mail guard was not just responsible for the safety of the mail, but was in charge of pretty much every aspect of the operation:

He was responsible for giving the word to go, for the maintenance of speed, the conduct and sobriety of the coachman, and for taking action when breakdowns and other mishaps occurred.

On this final point the author also notes that:

It was part of his training to go through the shops of the factory at Millbank and carried a considerable kit of tools and spares to effect roadside repairs.

What I am seeing is a picture of a man who had to be resourceful, honest, reliable, strong, intelligent, courageous and loyal (amongst other things). It makes me proud to say that my 4x great grandfather was a mail guard.

1 Vale, Edmund. The Mail-Coach Men of the late Eighteenth Century. Newton Abbot, Devon: David & Charles (Publishers) Ltd, 1967

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