Posted by on 20 July 2011 in Ancestry World Archives Project, General, Record Collections

Post Office

We have yet more new records to tell you about today. This time we’ve turned our attention to your ancestors’ occupations – and specifically the people who worked for the Postal Service.

The Post Office is a British institution. Not only is it a popular part of any village community, but it’s traditionally one of the country’s biggest employers. So, many of you will discover that you have ancestors included in British Postal Service Appointment Books, 1737-1969.

These records span three centuries of remarkable change and innovation. In the 18th century, messengers carried individual letters around the country on horseback. By the time the collection finishes in 1969, aeroplanes were flying tons of mail all over the world.

Perhaps the greatest stories come from the time of the Industrial Revolution. The coming of the railways made it far easier to carry post from city to city – and the written word became vital to the spread of thoughts and ideas.

Of course, not everybody was out delivering the mail. Our records tell you exactly what job your ancestors did – from head sorter to office teaboy. You can also see where they worked, and track their movements around the country.

In many cases, you can even discover who recommended them for the position. Perhaps this is a close friend or another family member for you to explore?

A big thanks to the volunteers of the Ancestry World Archives Project who helped to transcribe these crucial records. Their work is vital as we make more and more collections available online. Find out more about the Project

Don’t miss our exclusive video, revealing more of the fascinating history behind these records with insight from Tony Robinson. This is part of an ongoing occupations series – look out for more videos about forthcoming record collections in the near future!

Search the Postal Service Appointment Books, 1737-1969

Image © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2011/ The British Postal Museum & Archive



Is there some source that identifies the various codes used within the Appointment books? For someone with no knowledge of the post office positioning structure the codes are a mystery.

20 July 2011 at 4:44 pm
John Howes 

Plus one to Gerald’s comment. Certainly would be useful to have some key to the common abbreviations (although some aren’t THAT difficult to work out). I’m sure there’s people out there who could help compile this, if it doesn’t exist already.

20 July 2011 at 6:18 pm
John Howes 

Nothing like taking up your own suggestion, is there? I’ve started compiling the abbreviations I can crack on my blog at Add your own in the comments if you will.

20 July 2011 at 8:47 pm
Liz Laycock 

Thank you, thank you, thank you! My father and many of his siblings had PO careers and these new records are of great interest except I couldn’t figure out, or find out, what the shorthand for their job roles meant. As you said, some were easy but many of mine were SC&T or CC&T – and now I know, it all makes sense.

24 July 2011 at 2:17 pm
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