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Rowland Hill

Rowland Hill (1795-1879) is the man usually credited with the invention of the modern postal service.

He was born at Kidderminster in Worcestershire (where his statue still stands) and for a time he was a teacher. Hill published his most famous pamphlet Post Office Reform: its Importance and Practicability in 1837, when he was 42.

Hill wrote in his reform plan about the need for pre-printed envelopes and adhesive postage stamps. He also called for a uniform low rate of one penny per half-ounce a letter to anywhere in the British Isles. Previously postage depended on distance and the number of sheets of paper; now one penny could send a letter anywhere in the country. This was a lower rate than before, when the cost of postage was usually more than 4d. With the reform the sender paid for the, now lower, cost of postage rather than the receiver.

The lower cost made communication more affordable to the masses. The uniform penny postage was introduced on 10 January 1840, four months before stamps were issued on 6 May 1840.

Rowland Hill is buried in Highgate Cemetery.

See Penny Black, Penny Red

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