Ralph Allen (1693-1764)

Ralph Allen was an entrepreneur and philanthropist born in Cornwall. In 1720, in his late twenties, he was awarded a seven-year contract to control the Cross and Bye Posts in the South West.

During the term of the contract, he realised that post boys were delivering items of mail without declaring them resulting in lost profit. As a result, he introduced a ‘signed for system’ that prevented any malpractice.

His reputation grew and he was awarded control over more and more of the postal system. He continued to sign seven year contracts until he died aged 71. It is estimated that he saved the Post Office £1,500,000, in old money, over a 40-year period.