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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Express Riders

Express riders on horseback delivered oral messages, letters, or documents before postal service and other means of communication were available. The term "express messenger" was used in England as early as 1619. Col. John Barnwell on 30 Apr. 1712, during the Tuscarora Indian War in North Carolina, "sent express" to New Bern to have boats and tools brought to him for the campaign against the Indians. On 22 May 1760 the provincial Assembly was directed to "pay the Expences of the Messenger (whilst in Town) which is sent to His Excellency with Express from the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia to this Province and to South Carolina, out of the Tax for Contingencies."

Additional Resources:

Fort Barnwell, NC Highway Historical Marker C-32:

Minutes of the Lower House of the North Carolina General Assembly North Carolina. General Assembly April 24, 1760 - May 23, 1760 Volume 06, Pages 362-420, DocSouth, UNC:



In my research on my American Revolution patriot who, in his pension application called himself an Express Rider, I learned the men who served in this capacity were Privates. Privates were paid 26 2/3. Men who also had a horse ie Express Riders, were paid 40. I have more, pay records and conversations with West Point archivist and testimony. Also Express Rider was not an official job description.

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