Amazing Historical and Contemporary Facts From Your Favorite Authors.
Where's The Coachman
Offered by Candice Hern
Author of ONCE A DREAMER
Most upper class families during the late 18th and early 19th centuries kept more than one vehicle: large traveling coaches to small town carriages, coachman-driven carriages with liveried footmen to sleek owner-driven sporting vehicles. But there was one vehicle that had no driver on the box, and that is the type of vehicle you will find in my January 2003 book, Once a Dreamer, as the hero and heroine chase an eloping couple across the country.
The post chaise or traveling chariot was a small carriage pulled by two or four horses, and was owned or hired by those wishing to travel privately, that is not on a large public conveyance like a stage coach or mail coach. The post chaise was "steered" by postillions, or post boys, seated upon the horses. There was no seat for a driver, and none was needed. One post boy was engaged to drive each pair of horses, ie a team of four horses was driven by two post boys, a lead-boy and a wheel-boy. Each rode on the left side of a pair, and wore iron guards on his right leg and foot to protect against injury from the center pole. The wheel-boy was generally the more experienced of the two. New post boys were trained by riding the lead team with the wheel-boy calling out instructions from behind.
When the horses were changed along the route, new post boys were hired with them. Boys in name only, these riders were generally small, hardy little men, like jockeys, and were often colorful characters nattily dressed in "uniforms" associated with specific posting inns. They almost always wore white leather breeches and short jackets with large brass buttons, and tall beaver hats in which they kept their possessions. Private postillions were kept by those who traveled frequently and used their own traveling chariots. But these drivers often posted only to the first stop on a long journey, driving the owner's team back home after new horses and post boys were hired.
Hired post chaises were most often traveling chariots that had been discarded by gentlemen - sort of like a fleet of used rental cars. The hired chaises were generally painted yellow, hence the nickname Yellow Bounder. They were quite small, usually with only one forward seat facing a large glass window. There was often an outside bench seat in the back, over the rear wheel, where servants rode. Luggage was carried on a little forward platform between the front springs, and could also be strapped on the roof.
Coaching prints of the period most often commemorate the larger and grander stage coaches and mail coaches, so lovingly romanticized after the end of the coaching era. But the post chaise and traveling chariot, with post boys driving, were likely a more common sight on the roads since there were so many more of them. Here are two prints that show the post chaise and post boys clearly. The first shows two post chaises racing, and the other shows a post chaise with a back seat for the servants.
So, when you read ONCE A DREAMER and wonder where the coachman is, now you know.
Candice Hern, a native Texan, now resides in beautiful city of San Francisco.
This amazing woman held down a high pressure job in the high-tech business world while penning eight books in eight years. She now writes full-time, and ONCE A DREAMER is a January 2003 full length historical romance from Avon. She loves Regency Period and her books reflect that love.
Order Candice's Books
Read an interview with Candice
Visit Candice's Website