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Archives in London and the M25 area

Post Office: Postmaster General's Reports

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0813 POST 42 Series
Held at: British Postal Museum and Archive: The Royal Mail Archive
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Full title: Post Office: Postmaster General's Reports
Date(s): 1790-1841
Level of description: Series
Extent: 152 volumes
Name of creator(s):

No further information available


Administrative/Biographical history:

Please contact the Archive for further information.


Scope and content/abstract:

The Postmaster General's Report series (POST 40 and POST 42) began in about 1790 and comprise reports on all aspects of Post Office organisation in England, Wales and Scotland; as well as those on the Packet Boat service and overseas postal arrangements up to 1807, when a separate Packet Report series (POST 39 and POST 41) was introduced.

POST 42 comprises reports on all aspects of Post Office business and until 1837, when this report series faded out, the reports referred to important cases, such as the running of major departments and key decisions. It consists of volumes containing copies of reports to, and minutes from, the Postmaster General (including those which have since been destroyed), and is the only guide to the contents of POST 40. POST 42/1-25, 35-42, 59-139 and 141 are indexed. The Postmaster General's decision on each case is also recorded.

The class includes a degree of duplication. [Series A], which are Indices of subjects, persons and places, are duplicated with additional notes in [Series B]. [Series A] are duplicated as abstracts in [Series D], and [Series D] are duplicated with additional notes in [Series E].

In 1794 a parallel series entitled Postmaster General's Minutes (POST 30 and POST 35) was created, followed in 1811 by a Packet Minute series (POST 29 and 34), corresponding with the packet reports. When the Report series came to an end around 1837 the Minutes were continued alone. The Reports seem to have been the more important of the two series, while the early Minutes were concerned mainly with comparatively minor matters relating to personnel, etc.

For further details of how this class relates to the other report and minute classes, see the following section 'Related Material'.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Please see Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Public Record

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Allied Materials

Related material:


POST 42 is one of several POST classes that contain reports and minutes that have been generated at Headquarters level, usually for the purpose of bringing a variety of Post Office matters to the attention of the Postmaster General. Records can relate to people, places or subjects. The various POST classes that hold these records cover the years 1790-1973. The reason there are numerous classes for such records is that organisational changes have occurred within the Post Office through the decades and different and sometimes overlapping systems have been put in place for such record keeping. For a fuller understanding of central records and how the POST classes that they can be found in relate to each other, readers are advised to consult the 'Guide to Reports and Minutes', which includes a timeline that illustrates what periods and subjects are covered by the various POST classes and how they relate to each other. This can be viewed in the BPMA search room and online. For now, here are two pointers.

1. As a rule of thumb, there are two POST classes for each run of records. One class contains the full paperwork for each case ('papers') and the other class is likely to contain an index or series of précis to this material ('volumes'). This means that the indexes of a 'volume' class will often list the material in the corresponding 'papers' class by subject, name, or place.

2. There are a number of POST classes that address issues such as Packet Service minutes, Scottish minutes, Irish minutes and miscellaneous matters. However, the principal classes likely to address central issues of general importance for England and Wales are:

1790 - 1840: POST 40 (POST 42 volumes)

1840 - 1921: POST 30 (POST 35 volumes)

1921 - 1955: POST 33 (POST 38 volumes)

(1941 - 1948): POST 102 (overlaps with POST 33)

1955 - 1973: POST 122 (also POST 35 volumes)


POST 40 (Postmaster General's Report Documents) contains many of the actual papers that POST 42 refers to.

POST 35 (England and Wales Minute Volumes) contains an index for the first four years (1790-1794) of records in POST 42.

In 1807, Packet Service Reports moved to a run of records dedicated to overseas matters: POST 41 (Packet Service Report Volumes) and POST 39 (Packet Service Report Papers).

POST 35 (England and Wales Minute Volumes) and POST 30 (England and Wales Minute Papers) are two classes that run parallel to POST 42 and POST 40 from 1792 until 1841 and contain records of a similar, but generally secondary, nature. After 1841 when POST 42 and POST 40 stop, the sort of information that had been recorded in Postmaster General Report 'volumes' and 'papers' was amalgamated with the England and Wales Minutes volumes and papers in POST 35 and POST 30 respectively, with two exceptions.

Firstly, reports that had been concerned with Irish matters in the old POST 42 and POST 40 were now recorded in POST 36 (Irish Minute Volumes) and POST 31 (Irish Minute Papers). Irish records had been recorded in this pair of classes from 1831 and so with the cessation of POST 42 and POST 40 in 1841, this 'overlap' or Irish records was removed.

Secondly, reports that had been concerned with Scottish Matters were recorded in POST 37 (Scottish Minute Volumes) and POST 32 (Scottish Minute Papers) when these series' of records were established in 1842, a year after the 1841 cessation of POST 42 and 40.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Entry checked by Barbara Ball

Rules or conventions:

Compiled in compliance with General Internation 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:
Entry checked June 2011

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