Posted by: Christine | January 12, 2012

My Family and the Post Office

Last year Ancestry added the British Postal Service Appointment Books to their collections. These are the indexes to the Postmaster General’s minute books. They show the point when a person began working for the Post Office or started at a new position within the Post Office. The books were kept from 1831 until 1969. These were of interest to me, as I know several members of my family worked for the GPO/BT.

In these books I found references to my husband, father, mother, maternal grandfather and on my father’s side, an uncle and great-uncle. Several cousins were too young to be included. People running sub-post offices were self-employed and not listed in the books, which meant I couldn’t find my father’s grandfather there. I know that the Post Office was a large employer, but they seemed to contain an inordinate proportion of my family! Of those not in the Post Office, on the Madder side at least, most seem to have been tailors. Is there some mysterious link between tailoring and the Post Office? Apart from stitching mailbags of course, and I’m sure there must be one or two of those in the family tree somewhere – but that is another story.

Recently the complete copy of the 1911 census appeared on Findmypast and I revisited some of the images previously obtained, to see if I had any idiots or imbeciles in the family. I didn’t, or at least none that anyone admitted. One relative that I looked at was one of my “black sheep”.

Benjamin Madder was born in 1840 and the half-brother of my great-grandfather (of the sub-post office and a tailor). Benjamin was also a tailor and had moved from Norfolk to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, and then to Huntingdon. I had found him in various censuses up to 1881, but then he disappeared. In 1891 his wife stated that she was married and in 1901 a widow, but I was unable to find his death. It took me several years to track him down, but I eventually discovered he had changed his name, to Maden, and married another woman (bigamously) in Tunbridge Wells. Together they had a daughter. 

It was this family I looked at in 1911. Benjamin was still a tailor, the “wife” was deaf and the seventeen-year-old daughter was Assistant in Post Office – another one!

1911 Census image of Benjamin Maden and family in Tunbridge Wells

Then, I don’t know why, I looked at some of the other images associated with this family; in particular the “List” from the Enumerators book images. This shows the names and addresses of all the people in the area and so you can see all the neighbours. Benjamin Maden was living next door to the Telephone Exchange!

Enumerators List showing Benjamin Maden next to the Telephone Exchange

What is this thing about my family, tailoring and the Post Office?

Benjamin's daughter entering the Post Office in 1920

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