King’s Messengers

King’s Messengers were employed by the government to carry messages from the Admiralty during wars. They were often required to board packet ships in order to deliver messages to the theatre of conflict. The journeys were long with letters from London taking a week to arrive in the Baltic, two weeks to the Mediterranean and a month to the West Indies.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Lord Nelson wrote to Lord St. Vincent expressing his frustration at the time it took for messages to arrive. He wrote in September 1803, ‘it is now near three months since my last letters were dated from England; and but for a French newspaper, which hitherto we have procured through Spain from Paris, we should not have known how the world went on.”