Some time ago, I wrote an article about the story of Thames River Postmen and especially about the Evans family who over generations delivered the post in the Pool of London. I was delighted to be contacted by Clifford. L. Evans who is the youngest grandson of Herbert Lionel Evans who held the title of Thames River Postman until the 1950s. Clifford has researched his distinguished family of river postman and has agreed to share his findings with Isle of Dogs Life.
Over the next few weeks, I will publish Cliff’s fascinating research into one of the most unusual postman’s rounds in London. We begin with the first River Postmen whose tenure was marred by tragedy and crime.
John Plumridge put the idea of the River Postman to the General Post Office in 1793, however at that time the proposal was turned down. The matter was raised again in 1799, and for a 3-month trial period the service began on the 10th February 1800. Due to its success the Thames River Post was born!
William Simpson became the first River Postman of the Pool of London. He was reported to have delivered and received over 26,864 letters in his first year of service. In 1806 tragedy struck, and, whilst on duty he fell into a scuttle accidentally left open on board the ship “The Good Intent”, and died as a result of his injuries.
His son also called William, who had been his fathers’ assistant, took over from him at the age of 16, and it is reported that he was his fathers’ second apprentice, the first having drowned 3 years earlier.
Whilst serving as a River Postman Simpson Jnr, stole various letters and £20 from a merchant in Whitechapel, London. This crime was a capital offence, and carried the Death penalty. He went into hiding and a Warrant poster (picture below) was circulated with a reward of £100 from the Postmaster General Francis Freeling.
He was captured at “The Swan” public house, Forest Row, East Grinstead, East Sussex, and spent his time before the trial in custody at the Newgate Prison in London. He was tried at the Old Bailey on 21st October 1810, where he was found guilty of this felony, and was condemned to the gallows. The Jury recommended that due to his age, the death sentence should be reduced. The Crown amended the sentence, and after serving 6 months in Prison he was transported to a life overseas. His name appears on the list of convicts onboard the ship “The Guilford”, which sailed from England bound for New South Wales Australia.
Newgate Prison in London
Samuel Evans was apprentice to William Simpson, and during the search and court cases Samuel Evans succeeded as the next River Postman and served from 1810 until 1832, thus beginning the dynasty passed down from father to son for nearly 150 years.
The next part will feature the beginning of the Evans family dynasty that would deliver the post on the river for the next 150 years
Thank you for publishing my article