Carnatic 1869

  • Digital Collection


Recovered from wreck of the "Carnatic"

This cachet in one line of lower case is on a printed label pasted on to the reverse of an envelope from England to Feyzabad, India. It bears an unclear English postmark of AU 27 / 69, probably from either BLANDFORD in Dorset or GLANDFORD in Norfolk and the stamp has been washed off taking with it the 1844 type numeral for the town.


Several transit marks were applied, mostly to the reverse, commencing with BOMBAY 9 NO 69 in red, a large and attractive TRAVELLING POST OFFICE / N.W.P. (North West Province) Code C 10 NO 69 in green, two hexagonal LUCKNOW Code S 16 NO. / 69 in black, and the arrival marks of FIZABAD / 17 NO.  / 69 to front and back, with another mark dated 18 NO. 69 to the reverse and yet another with date unclear, all struck in red.


This envelope was delivered to a Royal Artillery Regiment in the area but received the annotation “Not Royal Arty”. It was suggested that the Post office “Try Barritch” hand written in violet, thought to be a small town to the north of Fizabad, close to the border with Nepal and otherwise spelt Bahraich. It seems that the envelope was forwarded there as after another attempt at delivery, the envelope eventually received a fine oval mark DEAD LETTER OFFICE / 11 MR 70 / BAHRAICH.  


These marks applied in India, are not so surprising since Hastings was actually Edward George Godolphin Hastings, in 1869, a Captain in the Bengal Cavalry serving in an administrative post for the last five years in Peshawar amongst the Pathans, on the North West frontier, most probably based for a time at Faizalabad in the Punjab, as opposed to Feyzabad in Uttar Pradesh.


Captain Hastings was born at Dinapore on 29 January 1842 and was appointed to the rank of Major on 1 October 1878 (London Gazette) rising later to Lieutenant-Colonel in the Bengal Cavalry, having been awarded the Companion of the Bath for service as chief political officer in 1880 in Kabul, Afghanistan and on return then held the post of Divisional Judge in Peshawar. He died on 2 December 1884, aged 42 and only two years after getting married. (Allens Indian Mail)


Another type of label with a slight variation of the wording (Recovered from wreck of "Carnatic") is known to have been used on mail from this wreck.



Here are the details of the loss of the Carnatic;

The P&O steamer Carnatic, 1700 tons, was wrecked on 13th September 1869 off Shadwan Island in the Gulf of Suez, while outward bound for India. The ship struck at 1am on Monday 13th September, in calm weather.

Although close to land the ship's company remained on board all the following day until about 1.00 AM on Tuesday 14th, the Carnatic sank suddenly with considerable loss of life, 15 Europeans and 15 Natives.

Some of the mail bags were recovered by divers on 24th October.