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  • Updated 25 December 2018
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Postmaster

The head of the Shire’s Messenger Service

The Hobbits of the Shire - at least those who could read and write1 - delighted in sending letters to one another. The Shire provided for this with an extensive Messenger Service, in which numerous Messengers or postmen carried letters to and from post-offices scattered throughout the Shire, even in villages as small as Bywater. Like the smaller Watch, this service was attached to the office of the Mayor of the Shire, so that one of the official titles of the Mayor was 'Postmaster'.

The role of Postmaster seems to have carried little actual responsibility, as the Mayor was said to have had few real official duties of any kind. Nonetheless, there were times when urgent action was needed: for example, the invitations to Bilbo Baggins' Birthday Party of Shire-year 1401 overwhelmed the Messengers, so that volunteer postmen had to be organised. Presumably it was the Postmaster who did this organising, though it's unclear what specific role the Postmaster (at that time Mayor Will Whitfoot) played in this minor postal emergency.


The position of Postmaster was an office of the Mayor of the Shire. For a list of known Mayors (and therefore also Postmasters) see the entry for Mayor of Michel Delving.


Notes

1

By no means all the Shire-hobbits could read or write, and indeed among the lower classes literacy seems to have been viewed with a certain amount of suspicion. Sam Gamgee's father evidently could not read, and says of his son Sam, 'Mr. Bilbo has learned him his letters - meaning no harm, mark you, and I hope no harm will come of it.' (The Fellowship of the Ring I 1, A Long-expected Party).

See also...

Messenger Service

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About this entry:

  • Updated 25 December 2018
  • Updates planned: 1

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