1805 – a time of Napoleon’s battles

Here is another Postal History, this time connected with Napoleon.

This letter, dated 5 February 1805, is addressed to Major Dudingston, Elie, Fifeshire North Britain from G. Nicols in Winchester. It is interesting because many of the events mentioned in the letter refer to things connected with Napoleon‘s battles against the English.

postal marks
The postal markings on the letter are :-

  • London morning duty date stamp in red, FEB 6 1805
  • a poor smudged Edinburgh date stamp in red , of the type in use from 1801-1812 where the year was included between the month, in this case FE and the day ‘9’
  • charge marks: first ”6′ which would have been the rate to get the letter from Winchester the place of posting, to London. There, the clerk would have worked out the whole cost to Scotland, so crossed out the ‘6’ and replaced with ‘1/1′.

A Stamp News reader has been exchanging information with me about postage rates, and we have agreed that this is correct for the overall distance of 501 miles from London prior to 12 March 1805. The mileage included the 62 miles from Winchester to London, then the 439 miles London to Elie in Fifeshire. The charge was 10d for up to 300 miles and then 1d for every 100 miles thereafter. It seems a bit mean to have charged the extra 1d when the distance was only one mile over the 500 – particularly as the road distances changed as the roads were improved.

The letter begins with a reference to Major Dudingston’s son Charles

Duddingston letterWinchester
5th of Feby 1805

My dear Dudingston




( Authority to post given by authors.)

To read more, please visit the authors – http://www.earsathome.com

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  1. I have just come across your interesting article. I am a postal historian with an interest in this period but more especially postal routes from Europe to G.B. especially from Italy. If you have examples of mail from southern Europe in the period from December 1804 to the end of 1805, I would be grateful of scans or details.


    1. Dear Mr. Vandervelde,

      This article was posted here with the permission of the authors, who originally posted it at their own website, http://www.earsathome.com/. Though they are based in Australia, they have quite a lot of information about the postal history and stamps of Great Britain. At the bottom of their homepage you will find information on how to email them. They would be much better able to answer your questions than would the Beau Monde.

      Thank you for stopping by,


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