Postmasters General of Ireland

The Postmasters General of Ireland, held by two people simultaneously, was a new appointment set up as part of the establishment of the Irish Post Office independent from that of Great Britain, by the Act 23, 24 George III in 1784. The post lasted nearly fifty years.[1] The act was not repealed upon the Act of Union in 1800[2] but in 1831.[3]

Richard Trench, 2nd Earl of Clancarty non-absentee Postmaster General of Ireland

Act 23, 24 George IIIEdit

For the better support of your Majesty's government, and the convenience of trade ... be it enacted ... that as soon as conveniently may be there shall be one general letter-office and post-office established in some convenient place within the city of Dublin, with sub-offices throughout this kingdom from whence all letter and packets whatsoever to or from places within this kingdom, or beyond the seas, may be with speed and expedition sent, received and dispatched; and that the person, or persons from time to time to be appointed by the King's Majesty, his letters patent under the great seal of Ireland by the name and stile of his Majesty's Post Master General of Ireland, and that there shall be a secretary, a treasurer or receiver general an accountant general and a resident surveyor of the said general post-office; and also a comptroller of the sorting office thereof, to be appointed, made and constituted in like manner by letter patent under the great seal of Ireland.[1]


While both the post offices of England and Ireland had two postmasters general, in Ireland the assent of only one was required for decisions as opposed to the assent of both being necessary in England.[4] Besides confirming the monopoly for carrying letters in Ireland and giving the right to establish a four-mile limit penny post in Dublin, one of the postmasters general's duties was to measure the post roads in Ireland. During the time the postmasters general of Ireland existed profits in the Irish office increased from £15,000 in 1786 to £108,000 in 1831.[1]

Date First Postmaster General Second Postmaster General
16 July 1784[5] James Agar, 1st Viscount Clifden[6] William Ponsonby, 1st Baron Ponsonby[7]
1 January 1789[5] Charles Loftus, 1st Viscount Loftus[8]
18 July 1789[5] Charles Coote
14 July 1797[5] Charles Moore, 1st Marquess of Drogheda[9]
19 April 1806[5] Richard Hely-Hutchinson, 1st Earl of Donoughmore Lord Henry FitzGerald[10]
2 May 1807[5] Charles O'Neill, 1st Earl O'Neill[11] Richard Trench, 2nd Earl of Clancarty[11]
1 December 1809[5] Laurence Parsons, 2nd Earl of Rosse[12]

Most of the postmasters were habitual absentees except for Richard Trench, 2nd Earl of Clancarty,[13] who, concerned by the out-dated postal system in Ireland, sent Edward Lees, Secretary of the Irish Post Office, to London to study their modern methods of operations.[14]

When the foundation-stone for the new General Post Office in Dublin was laid by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Charles Whitworth, 1st Earl Whitworth, on 12 August 1814, the ceremony was attended by the incumbent Postmasters General, Charles O'Neill, 1st Earl O'Neill and Laurence Parsons, 2nd Earl of Rosse.[15]


Curiously, the act establishing the independent Irish Post Office was not repealed upon the Act of Union in 1800,[2] so the post continued until 6 April 1831, when the offices of Postmasters General of Ireland was abolished and consolidated into the existing single post of the Postmaster General of the United Kingdom with appointments of all officers for the Dublin office being made in London, per Act 1 William, cap 18.[11]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c Reynolds (1983), p. 28
  2. ^ a b Joyce, (1893), p. 378
  3. ^ Chambers's Encyclopaedia: A Dictionary of Universal Knowledge: Vol. VIII. London: W. & R. Chambers, Ltd. 1901. p. 347.
  4. ^ Joyce (1893), p. 367
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Cosgrave, Maurice (1991). A Brief History of The General Post Office Dublin. Dublin: An Post. p. 16.
  6. ^ Smith Ellis, William (1856). Notices of the Ellises of England, Scotland and Ireland from the Conquest to the Present Time its lords and families, ancient and modern. p. 123.
  7. ^ Barker, George Fisher Russell (1896). "Ponsonby, William Brabazon" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 46. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  8. ^ Ross, Charles (1859). Correspondence of Charles, First Marquis Cornwallis, Volume 2. London: John Murray. p. 449.
  9. ^ "MOORE, Charles, 6th Earl of Drogheda [I] (1730–1822)". Members Biographies. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  10. ^ "FITZGERALD, Lord Henry (1761–1829), of Boyle Farm, Kent and Thames Ditton, Surrey". Members Biographies. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  11. ^ a b c Haydn, Joseph (1851). The Book of Dignities. London: Longmans, Brown, Green and Longmans. pp. 461.
  12. ^ Dunlop, Robert (1895). "Parsons, Lawrence (1758-1841)" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 43. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  13. ^ Joyce, (1893), p. 368
  14. ^ Reynolds (1983), p. 56
  15. ^ M'Gregor, John James (1821). Picture of Dublin. Dublin: C. P. Archer. p. 40.