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Originated sometime after the foundation of the Shire in III 16011
As a title of the Mayor of the Shire, associated with Michel Delving in the Westfarthing of the Shire
Title of
Will Whitfoot, Samwise Gamgee, and (presumably) other unknown holders of the office of Mayor


About this entry:

  • Updated 7 August 2020
  • This entry is complete


The head of the Shire’s Messenger Service

The Hobbits of the Shire - at least those who could read and write2 - 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.



We have no really specific dates for the role of the Postmaster in the Shire, except that the Shire's postal service was definitely in place at the end of the Third Age, and apparently well established at that date. The position of Postmaster might in principle have dated back to the Shire's foundation in III 1601, though it seems more realistic to assume that it developed over time. Since the title of Postmaster was attached to that of the Mayor of the Shire, and the tradition of the Mayors was known to have continued into the Fourth Age, the Postmasters presumably did the same.


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


About this entry:

  • Updated 7 August 2020
  • This entry is complete

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