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EDMUND PRIDEAUX

and his contribution to

POSTAL HISTORY

 

Edmund Prideaux, second son of Sir Edmond of Netherton ( near Honiton ) and Katherine Edgecumbe, was born in Farway, 27th September, 1601. Edmund married twice: to Jane Collyns 23 August 1627, Jane died in 1629, so Edmund married again to Margaret Ivery, who died 1683, well after Edmund's death in 1659.

 

For many years, Edmund Prideaux was intensely and profitably involved with the development of the Postal Service. The validity of patents for the conduct of posts was raised in both houses of Parliament. Edmund was a barrister at the Inner temple, having a practice in Chancery. As MF for Lyme Regis, he was trusted by Cromwell as being well informed and of sound judgement. His property had been sequestrated by the Royalists, and so, was then to be rewarded by Parliament, in being appointed a Commissioner in charge of The Great Seal of Parliament.

 

Edmund Prideaux served as chairman of a committee appointed in 1642, upon the rates of inland letters. Both houses appointed Edmund master of the posts, messengers and couriers in 1644. He then arranged posts between Hull and York, Lyme Regis; Chester and Holyhead to Ireland in 1649; then to Bideford in 1650 and Kendal in 1651; by 1649 Edmund is said to have covered the whole country, at a sixpenny rate, offering a regular weekly service.

 

Edmund was to become the King's counsel and by 1649 he had become Cromwell's Attorney General, his annual income from the postal services was some 15,000, that from his legal practice, 5,000 from being King's counsel another 5,000. It is small wonder that he was envied by many. Edmund Prideaux had met various alternative Posts with all means at his disposal, some legal, some an abuse of his position. On the 21st March 1650, Mr. Attorny General Prideaux was to take over the business of inland posts and to be accountable for the profits. He persevered until 1653, when he continued with his legal practice alone.

 

Upon Edmund's 'forced retirement', he bought Forde Abbey at Thornecombe, Devon where he built a large home for himself. On 31st May 1658 Edmund Prideaux was made baronet, for "mainteyning of 30 foot soldieres in his highnesses army in Ireland". Edmund died 19th August 1659, leaving a great fortune.

 

Edmund was the second son of Edmund of Netherton, who was, in turn, the second son of Roger Prideaux of Soldon, Edmund's elder brother being Sir Nicholas Prideaux, 'builder' of Prideaux Place.

 

Now can be seen where Edmond Prideaux, third son of The Dean of Norwich, fits into the story. One of the places which Edmond visited and made a drawing was Forde Abbey, in 1720 or so, some 60 years after his great-great uncle Edmund's death.

 

There is no doubt that Edmond's inquiring mind learnt much of his family's achievements on all his visits to family and friends, making drawings as he went.

 

There is also no doubt that Edmond, upon meeting Ralph Allen, made it known that his great-great uncle was responsible for the framework of the Posts, which Ralph Allen was to reform; it may well have been that Ralph Allen contacted Edmond in his interest in the Posts in the first place; in any event there is every reason to suppose that these two men had common ground for conversation, more than just in the writings of Pope and other matters that were appropriate to gentlemen in Bath.

 

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