1775 letter from Bristol by Falmouth packet, carried through the British blockade of New York harbor.
War broke out in April 1775 with the battles of Lexington and Concord. American attacks on British ships soon followed, and led to withdrawal of scheduled packet service to New York. The last advertised mail from Falmouth departed on 15 September 1775 and arrived at New York on 10 November. This letter was carried on the unadvertised sailing Falmouth packet Swallow, which departed Falmouth on 9 January 1776, and arrived at New York on 9 March.
The letter was sent unpaid under the assumption that it would go by private ship, so was rated “4d” in Bristol – the inland postage to London. London rerated the letter 1/4 due in New York. The post office in Manhattan had been attacked by revolutionaries, so Swallow offloaded mails to HMS Asia, a 64-gun blockade ship in New York Harbor. On 11 March, Deputy PMG Foxcroft was given permission to board Asia with clerks to sort the mails. On 19 March, Francis Dashwood (PO Secretary) and Elias Nixon were given permission by the New York Committee of Safety to bring mails ashore. Agents traveled to New York to collect their town’s letters from Nixon and Henricus Boel (First Clerk).
The letter was carried by horseback to Philadelphia, where it was rated 2s6d due. This charge comprised the 1/4 due to Great Britain for an unpaid letter, inflated by a factor of 1.8 for conversion to Pennsylvania currency. Philadelphia added 2d for local delivery, and collected 2/6 from the addressee.