AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area

Post Office: Accountant General's Annual Accounts

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0813 POST 3 Series
Held at: British Postal Museum and Archive: The Royal Mail Archive
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: Post Office: Accountant General's Annual Accounts
Date(s): 1678-1938
Level of description: Series
Extent: 33 volumes
Name of creator(s): Post Office


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Accountant General was appointed by the Postmaster General to keep an account of all revenue in the Post Office. There was another major financial position, that of the Receiver General, who was appointed independently to remove all responsibilities for cash from the hands of the Postmaster General, taking receipt of all money paid into the department, and paid cash directly from these funds. These two positions overlapped, and there is much duplication of work, and records, and they were finally amalgamated in 1854.


Scope and content/abstract:

This POST Class contains the annual accounts of the Accountant General (mainly the income and expenditure of the Post Office) and the general accounts of individual postmasters and agents.

General accounts

POST 3/3-5, 7, 9, 11, 13-17, 20-23 and 26 comprise the Accountant General's annual accounts of the income and expenditure of the General Post Office, based on receipts and payments made by the Receiver General. All of the volumes, except POST 3/23 and 26, contain accounts audited by the Commissioners for Public Accounts. The latter two items contain rough accounts only.

The accounts cover foreign, colonial and inland post offices and services, including salaries paid to deputy postmasters in England and Wales, officers and letter carriers at the Inland and Foreign departments in London, mail guards and overseas agents; money due to deputy postmasters; balances due from deputy postmasters and agents in England and Wales, Edinburgh, Dublin and overseas; old debts of inland postmasters, including those declared irrecoverable; packet boat hire costs, general expenses and passenger revenue; returned letters costs; income and expenditure on express mails; window money receipts; letter carriers' money; money received for postage and conveyance of inland, foreign, cross and bye road, penny/twopenny post and inland packet letters; stamp revenue; riding work allowances; incident payments; ship letter gratuities; franked letter costs; taxes; and expenditure on management of the GPO in Scotland and Ireland.

The lists of individual postmasters' salaries, balances due and old debts provide a valuable source of information for local and family historians, as they give the name and post town of each postmaster. Researchers should, however, note that: a) POST 3/23 and 26 are rough accounts and do not contain these lists; b) volumes are not indexed; c) lists containing similar information on postmasters in Scotland and Ireland are not contained in these volumes.

The general annual accounts in POST 3/27-34, covering 1854-1938, reflect the expansion and increasing complexity of GPO business and services. To an extent, the type of information included, and its arrangement, differs from that in the preceding annual accounts. They do not contain lists of individual postmasters salaries, balances due and old debts. Volumes include GPO accounts with other government departments and foreign post offices; UK, colonial and overseas postage stamp revenue; accounts for returned, refused, missent, redirected and overcharged letters; summaries of salaries, allowances and wages to London Headquarters staff, Surveyors and their clerks, postmasters, agents, sub-postmasters and receivers in the UK, Ireland and abroad, letter carriers and mail guards; compensation payments for loss of fees to postmasters and agents in the UK and abroad; income and expenditure on mail conveyance by railway, mail coach, omnibus, cart, contract packet boats and private ships; cost of sites, buildings, rents, rates, taxes and fuel; pensions and superannuation payments; Money Order, Post Office Savings Bank, Government Annuities and Life Insurance accounts. POST 3/27 also contains the annual accounts of individual colonial, foreign and UK packet station agents and postmasters, arranged alphabetically by location.

POST 3/33-34 comprise general statements of annual income and expenditure, signed by the Comptroller and Accountant General. They contain information similar to that in POST 3/27-32, though in a more summary form.

Postmasters' general annual accounts

POST 3/1, 6, 8, 10, 12, 18, 19, 24 and 25 contain annual general accounts of individual postmasters and agents. The first five volumes cover England and Wales, Edinburgh, Dublin and some packet stations in Europe, such as Amsterdam, Lisbon, Corunna and Rotterdam. The last four volumes cover only England and Wales. They include payments to the Inland or General Office and Bye and Cross Road Office for letters, and expenditure on salaries and allowances for riding work, office duty, sub postmasters and letter carriers, mail conveyance, returned letters, incidents, mail guards wages, ship letters and express mails.

In volumes POST 3/6, 8, 10 and 12, the general annual account of the GPO precedes the postmasters' accounts. These general annual accounts correspond to the respective account in POST 3/7, 9, 11 and 13, although they are presented in a different format.

This group of records also forms a useful source for family historians, as it gives the names of postmasters and agents at each office. Unfortunately, only POST 3/1 includes a name index. Volumes POST 3/6, 8, 10 and 12 are indexed by place. Volumes POST 3/18-19 and POST 3/24-25 do not contain any indexes, although the accounts are arranged alphabetically by place (within each division for POST 3/18-19).

Postal Divisions

The information in the lists of postmasters' salaries, some lists of balances due, and in the postmasters' accounts, (see POST 3/1-15), is arranged by the six postal roads. However, the roads are not stated at the beginning of each section, one running into another without apparent break. Some reference to the postal roads does however occasionally appear. The six roads, West, North, Bristol, Chester, Yarmouth and Kent, are first named in the account for 1787 (see POST 3/16), the last four not being geographically restricted to the town or county named. In 1788 the six roads system is replaced by nine divisions, apparently of no geographical arrangement, e.g. division 8 includes both Durham and Croydon. Accounts for the West Indies division, including Barbados, Tobago, St Vincent, Grenada, Dominica, Antigua, Trinidad and Bermuda, are entered in POST 3/16-17 and POST 3/20-22. Accounts for the East Indies division, including St Helena, Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius, Ceylon, Madras, Calcutta and Bombay, are entered in POST 3/21 and POST 3/22.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:


Conditions governing access:

Public Record

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Postal Heritage Trust's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. See our published policies for full details. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Finding aids:

A Guide to the Royal Mail Archive

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records transferred internally from Royal Mail.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
24/03/2011 EAD validated May 2011

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Placename Search

* To search for other records with similar placenames, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"