Postage perk was abused

I recently published a photo of an envelope franked FREE and wondered if there were any philatelists who could tell me more.

Saturday, 10th September 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 12th September 2016, 5:18 pm
An envelope franked FREE 22 SEPT.

As ever, there was always someone, and thanks to Mike Hill for the following.

He says: ‘This is a Free Frank allowed to MPs and other senior members of government and, like many ‘perks’, it was severely abused.

‘Each letter had to be signed by the person concerned, thus St Vincent on the lower part of the letter. Possibly the 2nd Viscount.

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‘Free Franks are dealt with in great detail by the late JW Lovegrove FRPSL in his book Herewith my Frank 2nd Edition 1990.

‘The parliamentary franking system started in 1642 and ended in 1840 with the introduction of the universal penny postage – the e-mail equivalent of the new Victorian age.’

And of the Viscounts St Vincent (1801), Mike says: ‘The heir apparent is the present holder’s son the Hon James Richard Anthony Jervis (born 1982).

‘The only male line that still exists in remainder to the Viscountcy is the current male line of the 2nd Viscount.

‘The male line of Mary Ricketts, daughter of the 2nd Viscount, with her husband the 7th Earl of Northesk, which the title would pass to on the extinction of the 2nd Viscount’s line, became extinct with the death of the 14th Earl of Northesk.’ So, now you know.