Freeling, Francis (DNB00)


FREELING, Sir FRANCIS (1764–1836), postal reformer and book collector, was born in Redcliffe parish, Bristol, on 25 Aug. 1764. He began his official career in the Bristol post office. On the establishment of the new system of mail coaches, in 1785, he was appointed to aid the inventor,Palmer, in carrying his improvements into effect. Two years later he proceeded to London, and entered the service of the general post office, where he successively filled the offices of surveyor, principal and resident surveyor, joint secretary, and sole secretary, for nearly half a century. In a debate in the House of Lords in 1836 the Duke of Wellington stated that the English post office under Freeling's management had been better administered than any post office in Europe, or in any other part of the world. Freeling possessed ' a clear and vigorous understanding . . . and the power of expressing his thoughts and opinions, both verbally and in writing, with force and precision.' A baronetcy was conferred upon him for his public services on 11 March 1828. Freeling had been a warm admirer of Pitt, but he suffered no political partisanship to affect his administration of the post office. His leisure was devoted to the formation of a curious and valuable library. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1801, and was one of the original members of the Roxburghe Club, founded in 1812. Freeling died at his residence in Bryanston Square, London, on 10 July 1836. A marble monument was erected to him in the church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, with an inscription commemorative of his services. He was thrice married. By his first wife, Jane, daughter of John Christian Kurstadt, he had two sons. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by the elder, Sir George Henry Feeling, born in 1789, who matriculated at New College, Oxford, 17 March 1807 (Foster, Alumni Oxon.); was for some time assistant secretary at the post office, and subsequently commissioner of customs (1836-1841); and died 29 Nov. 1841, leaving issue.

[Ann. Reg. 1836; Gent. Mag. 1836, 1838; Foster's Baronetage.]

G. B. S.