A list of those providing postal services to the population of Harris (with additional dates of significance):
1840 – Uniform Penny Post introduced in Great Britain
Kenneth Morrison, 40, Postmaster, Tarbert, b. Inverness
Norman Morrison, 50, Tarbert, Post
Roderick Morrison, 50, Obb, Post
1848 – Sunday Postal Deliveries stopped
Roderick Morrison, 59, Parcel Carrier, Obe, b. Harris
John Mackinnon, 37, Cluer, Letter Carrier, Visitor
John Macleod, 20, Strond, Letter Carrier
Master of Harris Mail Boat – http://direcleit.blogspot.com/2010/03/master-of-harris-mail-boat.html
1855 – Construction of the road from Stornoway to Harris, through the parish of lochs, began in 1830. It was eventually completed in 1854, and though it was a road only in the vaguest sense of the word it was sufficient for the GPO to contemplate an expansion in the postal services.
It was proposed to run a foot-post from Stornoway to Tarbert twice weekly in summer and once weekly in winter, at a cost of thirteen shillings a week. Two runners were employed on this service: one messenger took the mail as far as Balallan and the other carried it from there to Tarbert. This service came into operation on 29th March 1855.
Roderick Morrison, 41, Obb, Post Runner
Roderick Kerr, 22, Strond, Post
1870 – Telegraph service starts in UK but see earlier piece on telegraph cables!
Roderick Kerr, 30, Strond, Post Runner
Henry Galbraith, 65, Obbe, Postmaster b.Ireland
Roderick Kerr, 40, Strond, Letter Carrier
1883 – Parcel Post begins
Angus Macdonald, 59, No.5 East Tarbert, Postmaster
Roderick Campbell, 40, Scalpay, Sub-Postmaster
Norman Macsween, 17, Scalpay, Post Runner
Mary Galbraith, 67, Obb, Post Mistress
John Macdonald, 26, Strond, Post Runner
1894 – Picture Postcards introduced
Angus Macdonald, 70, North Harris, Postmaster
Angus Macaskill, 20, North Harris, Post Man
Marion Campbell, 43, Scalpay, Sub-Postmistress
Kenneth Campbell, 22, Scalpay, Letter Carrier
Finlay Mackinnon, 34, Cottar’s House, Stockinish, Post Runner
Mary Mackay, 51, Manish Post Office, Assistant Postmistress
Margery Mackay, 80, Manish Post Office, Grocer
Mary Gilbraith, 77, Obb, Post Mistress
Malcolm Macrae, 22, Obb, Letter Carrier
Christopher Macrae, 18, Obb, Postman or Letter Carrier
Donald Macaskill, 27, Bernera, Post Runner
Helen Maclean, 52, Bernera, Post Mistress
I think there are several significant feature here.
The appearance in 1891 of the Postmistress in Obb suggests that prior to this it may well have been the case that whatever postal services were available were integrated into suitable pre-existing businesses in Obb.
Tarbert’s absence from these records after 1841,when is had a Postmaster, until 189, is at first sight slightly more surprising because if anywhere would have been expected to have shown the development of postal functions then surely Tarbert would have been it?
It is not until the start of the 20th Century that we see evidence of a system of postal functions covering the mainland of Harris and the outliers of Bernera and Scalpay too.
The role of Letter Carrier or Post Runner was often undertaken as an additional, secondary one and my relative’s appearance in the records is perhaps the exception that proves this particular ‘rule’?
Roderick Kerr, Postrunner, died at home in Strond aged 56 on the 3rd January 1891 of Chronic Bronchitis.