Blog Tour – Troublesome Apprentice by Liza O’Conor

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Today, we step back to the 19th century to understand London’s Postal office, because frankly, Vic sends out bills, but everyone keeps insisting they never got the letter requesting payment and that’s why they haven’t paid it.

So that got me to wondering…How good was the postal office?

First thing I discovered: it was greatly improved over the 18th century. Turns out back then, mail truly did disappear… by mail brigands. When they’d come upon a little postal boy, instead of protecting the mail with his life, the boy would hand over the mail. Some claimed the boys worked with the brigands by alerting them of valuable packages.

So around 1840 they fired the little boys and hired sturdy men instead, gave them leave time, pensions, and a good salary, dressed them in the uniforms of Royal Guards, provided them 2 pistols, a blunderbuss, and a time piece. (The blunderbuss and two pistols were probably replaced by a single revolver by the 1890’s.)

Having light and fast horse carriages, they could take up to 7 passengers (4 inside and 3 outside.) However, no one was allowed to get close to the Royal guard, but still they were each expected to tip him a shilling. In 1840, the guard received 10 shillings a week plus tips. Thus, his base salary was 260 pounds a year, and assuming an average of 10 passengers rode during a week, he could double his pay. So I have agree, the guards were paid very well. That is a solid middle class job. However, it was their protection of the mail that created confidence and reliability in the new service. Thus, a salary well justified. In 1860, the guard’s salary hadn’t changed one shilling. I suspect in 1890, he still received ten shilling and tips. (Over time the appreciation of a job well done diminishes.)

To be honest, some of the other postal workers didn’t fair as well. Postal carriers earned 6 shillings a week and clerks earned 100 pounds a year. However, sorters earned 16 shillings (416 lbs/yr) which was just a bit less than the Post Master (450 lbs/yr). Clearly, they valued those with the jobs critically needed to succeed. Anything in the 400 range was a good salary for the new middle class. One could afford a wife and a servant.

Postmasters outside of London were normally Inn Keepers who made extra money by delivering mail to the local village & estates. If your village wasn’t an official stop, but had mail, as the carriage drove by, they’d throw a bag of mail out and snag the outgoing bag the postmaster held out for them on a stick. I’m thinking they probably slowed the horses down a bit to do this.

While the fastest carriage ride for a traveler to get from hither to thither was the postal carrier, it was a hard ride. The driver only stopped for official business (postal stops & horse switches). No meal stops, no bathroom stops, and if the horses had to take a steep hill, passengers had to get out and hike up the hill to prevent the horses from getting tired.

Now to the actual London Postal Office:

Once people realized their secret love letters would not be stolen by brigands, letter writing increased and became very popular in the Late Victorian era. This resulted in Postal Offices by necessity, improving their efficiency,thus reducing overall cost, which caused even more letter writing as the price of a stamp decreased.

London post office

This shows the internal workings of the London postal office.

As you can see, job specialization had begun. Some tended thef customers, others sorted the mail to go out,weighed, & verified the mail had the proper stamps, and charged the receiver if they didn’t.

They were very firm that stamps must be placed in the right hand corner on the front of the envelope. Evidently, some people liked to place them on the back of the envelope, in lieu of the wax seal.

By 1854 they had perforated stamps that could be easily split without scissors and manufactured inexpensive envelopes to buy in bulk.You could also buy an envelope with the stamp already printed on the envelope. Now there was absolutely no reason not to send letters.

But still, in 1893, Vic could not get people to pay their bloody bills!

XnV Troubled Apprentice 400 x 640


The Adventures of

Xavier & Vic

Book 1

The Troublesome Apprentice

By Liza O’Connor

Cases to be Resolved:

The Key to Aunt Maddy’s Death

The Missing Husband of Mrs. Wimple

The Disappearing Scarlet Nun

The Clever Butcher’s Wife

The Rescue of Lady Anne



While investigating the death of a friend and client, Maddy Hamilton, Xavier Thorn (reputed to be the greatest sleuth in England) is greatly impressed with Maddy’s nephew, Victor, and offers him a job as his secretary. Aware of Xavier’s history of firing secretaries, Victor garners a promise that for three months he cannot be fired. Vic then proceeds, in Xavier’s view, to be cheeky and impertinent at every turn. Xavier endures the impudent pup because Victor is most skilled in extracting the truth from clients and intuiting facts with little evidence to assist.

As they solve a string of cases, Xavier discovers a few more important details about his troublesome apprentice, such as her true gender, and the realization that she has awakened his long dormant heart.

An Excerpt

Xavier cursed and threw his inkwell at the door. Unfortunately, the door opened at the same exact moment and the glass bottle slammed into Victor’s stomach, covering him in India ink.

“Blast it, Victor, knock before you enter,” Xavier cursed as he rose and approached the boy. “You are covered with ink,” he complained.

The fault is entirely yours, but we will make no more of it. Just remember to knock in the future.”

“I daresay I’ll not forget for a very long time,” Victor growled.

“Excellent attitude,” Xavier declared with excessive cheeriness. He ceased smiling as the young man continued to glare at him. “I hope you have not come to hand me your resignation because I will not take it. You have committed to remain three months, and I will hold you to it. And why are you so damnably late today?”

“Because I was sleeping and Gregory did not give me your note until I woke a half hour ago.”

“A fine excuse if masters customarily wrote notes ordering their people to work and, without such a note, the people were not meant to come.”

“Given last night, it had not occurred to me…never mind. You are right, I am completely in the wrong, and I apologize. I will be here at the crack of dawn each morning.”

Xavier relaxed. “Good enough.” He returned to his desk. “About the embrace last night…it was a one-time event.” He watched Vic’s expression and thought he caught a moment of regret before acceptance and relief took over.

Victor nodded. “I understand. You showed me a moment of kindness and I show up eight hours late for work. However, surely throwing an inkwell at me and ruining my best suit somewhat balances matters.”

“I did not throw the inkwell at you, but I am in agreement all should be forgotten and we will proceed from here. First of all, you need clean clothes. I doubt my clothes will fit you.”

The boy gave Xavier’s lean but muscular body a quick study, blushed, and agreed they would not.

“Well, you cannot remain as you are. You will make a mess as you dig your way through a mountain of paperwork. Go to the kitchen and find something to solve your problem. I expect you back here in ten minutes, ready to work, not a second later.”


The Troublesome Apprentice


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About the author

I’m tired of telling my proper bio. So you get the improper bio.

Liza O’Connor was raised by feral cats, which explains a great deal, such as why she has no manners, is always getting in trouble, and doesn’t behave like a proper author and give you a proper bio.

She is highly unpredictable, both in real life and her stories, and presently is writing humorous romances. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.

Mostly humorous books by Liza:

Saving Casey – Old woman reincarnates into troubled teen’s body. (Half funny/half traumatizing)

Ghost LoverTwo British brothers fall in love with the same young woman. Ancestral ghost is called in to fix the situation. There’s a ghost cat too. (Humorous Contemporary Romance)

A Long Road to Love Series: (Humorous Contemporary odd Romance)

Worst Week Ever — Laugh out loud week of disasters of Epic proportions.

Oh Stupid Heart — The heart wants what it wants, even if it’s impossible.

Coming to Reason — There is a breaking point when even a saint comes to reason.

Climbing out of Hell — The reconstruction of a terrible man into a great one.

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10 thoughts on “Blog Tour – Troublesome Apprentice by Liza O’Conor”

  1. Wonderful post, Liza! I marvel at how the mail ever got anywhere before motorized vehicles. LOL I do hope Xavier eventually gets paid. 🙂 Tweeted and shared.

  2. Sounds like the mail was a dangerous job but I’m glad that it got better in the 19th century. I don’t know why he didn’t get his bills though.

    All the best!

    1. No doubt the same reason why the seamstress had trouble getting paid. The rich were very bad about paying bills promptly. This remains a problem in England, and most of Europe even to this day. 90 days late is not uncommon.

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