STREET Jonathan (1756 – 1838)


Situated in the Consecrated/West Section of Jesmond Old Cemetery

Born in 1756, Jonathan Street may well be the person who was born the earliest in this Cemetery. He married Isabella Wardle on the 15 November 1788 in St John when he was aged 32 and Isabella 24. We find from the Newcastle Courant, dated 2nd February 1838, that Jonathan was a Mail Guard:

Mr Jonathan Street, now the oldest mail guard, is still living in this town. He was guard to the London and Edinburgh mail coach from Northallerton to Newcastle on the first day of its commencing running, in November 1785 and continued so for a great many years, always greatly respected on the road.

The postal delivery service started in 1635 and continued in the same way for 150 years. John Palmer, a theatre owner, transported his actors between theatres by coach and he suggested that it would be quicker to use this method to deliver post quicker. William Pitt, Chancellor of the Exchequer allowed him to carry out an experimental run between Bristol and London. The journey took 16 hours instead of 38 which was how long it took by the existing system. This method of delivery continued until the 1830s when railway deliveries started to take over and by 1850 coach deliveries ceased altogether.

In R.C. And J.M. Anderson’s 1973 book Quicksilver: A Hundred years of Coaching 1750-1850, the authors paint a picture of the coaches armed guards. Dressed in bright red greatcoats and only too keen to make a racket on a coaching horn, these men provided a high-profile deterrent, backed up by two pistols and a substantial blunderbuss. A force to be reckoned with I bet!

The Newcastle Journal, dated 4th August 1838, reports that Jonathan died on 2nd August, 1838, at Brandling Place aged 82 years, much respected.