top of page

1875: The last of the Cuckfield Postboys

Hampshire Telegraph - Saturday 27 February 1875


Death of an Old Roadster at Cuckfield.

— Almost the last of the old race of postboys who thronged the villages and posting towns between London and Brighton died on Monday last.

James Silsby, or rather 'Jimmy Freezer', a name he familiarly went by, was a native of Cuckfield, and between 50 and 60 years since took to the “Coppy," in the employ of Mr. James Webber, on his opening the present “King's Head" as a posting house.

Afterwards he rode for Mr. Best, of the “Talbot,” Mr. Johnson, of Hickstead, at one of the Croydon posting houses, and other places on the road, but for years has only occasionally mounted the blue jacket.

Cuckfield Post Office at the Talbot circa 1915

It was often amusing to listen his tales of "the road," when he and another drove the Duke of York from Cuckfield to the Pavilion Brighton in an incredibly short time, of his having driven King William, the Duke of Sussex, various foreign princes and potentates in the stirring times "after the war," the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, Sir Francis Burdett, Daniel O'Connell, the liberal but unfortunate banker Fauntleroy, and other celebrities, and his graphic relation of the pranks and tricks played the nobs and swells on their road from London to the Queen of Watering-places.

He died at the house of his son at Sutton, Surrey, to whom he was paying a visit, on Sunday last, aged 75, but has for years principally resided at Cuckfield, his native place, where his quiet unobtrusive manners gained him good deal of respect.

Horsham, Petworth, Midhurst and Steyning Express - Tuesday 02 March 1875


The Last of the Postboys

The last of the “Knights of the Goppy” who were so numerous formerly in this once famous posting town, went the way of all flesh on Sunday last, and as regards this locality, the genus has become extinct.

James Silsby, better known ‘on the road’ as 'Jimmy Freezer', began his career above half a century since as driver to Mr James Webber, who opened the present Kings Head as a posting house, but afterwards rode for Mr Best, of the Talbot; Mr Johnson, of the Castle, Hickstead; the Crown, Croydon, and other posting houses, and even up to within a few years of his death might be occasionally seen here, booted and spurred, in his blue jacket, managing the wheelers when a four horse job by chance happened along, with all the coolness and confidence of his younger days.

He used to be delighted to relate his reminiscences of the road in its palmy days, when George IV was King, and Brighton in its glory, and boasted of having driven two Kings, two Royal Dukes, several foreign princes, the great Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, Sir Francis Burdett, Daniel O'Connell, Fauntleroy, and various other celebrities, including, he used to say, half the nobles and scamps in the country.

For a good many years he has resided at Cuckfield, and was much respected for his quiet and unobtrusive demeanour, but died in Sutton, where he was on a visit to his son, after a short illness, at the age of 75.


bottom of page