‘Packet Ship Officer’ – Portrait

As Britain’s interests spread across the globe, packet ships were used as a secure way to deliver mail to and from Britain’s colonies and trading partners. Packet boats were in operation as early as the 17th century. The first recorded route was in 1660 from Harwich to Holland. The Royal Mail Archive holds records detailing both the movement of inland and overseas mail by sea, such as log listings, contracts by companies for the conveyance of mail, voyage records and packet boat reports.

This oil painting of an officer is by the circle of Thomas Gainsborough. It depicts him standing side on but facing front, in red uniform, with a tri-corn hat tucked under his arm.

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