The Victorian Englishman who mailed himself
W Reginald Bray was called the Human Letter

The first man to truly “go postal” was a peculiar English gentleman named W. Reginald Bray.

The Human Letter

Whether Bray was peculiar before is unknown, but his purchase of the Post Office Guide delivered him to a strange place.

The postal service rules at Victorian times were a lot more generous than they are now.

The smallest item that could be posted was a bee and the largest an elephant!

There was nothing in the rules to say you couldn’t send people

On November 14th, 1903, Bray completely failed to resist this Victorian postal service rule:

‘a person may be conducted by express messenger to any address on payment of the mileage charge’.

He later explained in a newspaper article that he had found this particularly useful when:

‘one very foggy night I could not find a friend’s house, so instead of wandering about for hours I posted myself and was delivered in a few minutes’.

And apparently, it was cheaper than a taxi!

An official form from 1903 acknowledges ‘Delivery of an Inland Registered Person Cyclist’ to Bray’s home address.

Bray being delivered by registered post to his home on Devonshire Road. Look at the expression on his father’s face.

 

Acknowledgement of Bray’s successful delivery

 

Other items Bray posted included:

 

His Irish terrier Bob

A rabbit skull*

A turnip (address and message encarved)

A bowler hat

Seaweed

A clothes brush

A purse

A slipper

A frying pan

A crocheted letter created for him by his mother

A postcard addressed to “The Driver, Locomotive No. 133, Caledonian Railway, Glasgow Station”.

 

This one didn’t reach its destination

 

The one addressed to “A resident nearest to this rock” wasn’t delivered either

 

The postman’s revenge

The most wonderfully peculiar aspect of these pranks is that the majority of Bray’s mail was delivered.

That includes himself three times and his dog, Bob.

What the unfortunate postmen involved felt about all of this is unknown.

(And possibly unsuitable for the royal mail.)

Maybe the penny fee for undeliverable letters afforded a small measure of satisfaction.

One postman at least had a little fun, sending the letter to  ‘The Resident, Bournemouth’ back with this rhyme scrawled on it:

‘Pursuing this game

We hope there are not many

However, for your hobby

You will have to pay a penny.’

 

Happy January 10th, Peculiar People Day.

For further fascinating information on Bray, check out the definitive book: “The Englishman who Posted Himself and Other Curious Objects“.

He later went on to become “The Autograph King” and Hitler-botherer.

 

*the address spelled out on the nasal bone, and the stamps pasted to the back

 

Sources include:

BBC

heartheboatsing.com

Newyorker

Siobhan O’Shea is a freelance writer. She writes about pretty much everything but especially likes to bring readers’ attention to new tech, marketing, human behavior, and other oddities.