Victorian London - Professions - Service Industry/General - Commissionaires

Commissionaires.
    A corps of industrious and intelligent messengers, recruited with wounded sailors and soldiers (of good character), recommended by the "Army and Navy Pensioners' Employment Company;" they number about 200.
    Charges: For half-a-mile, 2d.; one mile, 3d. ; or, 6d. per hour, and 2d. per quarter of an hour.
    Office: 22 Parliament Street. Barracks (which are well worth visiting): Change Court, West Strand. The corps was established in February 1859, mainly through. the instrumentality of a philanthropic private gentleman.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865


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Commissionaires.—Office, 419, Strand, about 200 yards cast of Charing-cross Station on opposite side of the way. The corps is formed of retired soldiers and sailors, of first- class character only, and is strictly disciplined. TARIFF FOR COMMISSIONAIRES ON PUBLIC POSTS.—By Distance: Half a mile or under, 2d.; one mile, or over half, 3d. By Time: 6d per hour or 2d per quarter ditto When taken by time, the commissionaire is to do 2 ½ miles per hour if walking. Should the employer pay the fare of a commissionaire by rail, boat, or omnibus he may require him to execute his duty by the time tariff. This will be calculated according to the time actually consumed in his going from and returning to his post. N. B—For distances exceeding three miles, employers will find better to avail themselves of the "time tariff;" this, however, must be stipulated at the time of engagement. By Day of 10 bouts, 3s. 6d.; half day, 2s. 6d. No return fare except when employed, or if sent more than three miles from post. The commissionaire may charge 1d. per utile for every 7 lbs. Exceeding 1 stone up to 56 lbs. in sending parcels, &c., employers are requested to note the time of despatch on the outside, in order that the receiver may ascertain whether any delay has occurred. The usual rate of walking, when the man is not engaged by time, may be taken at 3 ½ mile per hour, or five per boat or omnibus. N.B.—Delivery of circulars according to agreement. Terms can be obtained only at the office, no commissionaire being allowed to deliver them without authority. In cases where the "carriage of over-weight" together with the ordinary charge of 3d. per mile, exceeds the tariff of a cab, viz.6d, the commissionaire is not entitled to charge more than 9d. per mile, and must avail himself of a cab or other conveyance if his employer desires it. N.B.—The safe delivery of all property entrusted to the men (not exceeding £10 in value) is guaranteed. This amount of security will be increased, where men weaning chevrons are engaged, according to the following scale;— Commissionaires of the first class, £15; corporals £20; sergeants, £25. For a complete list of the tariffs of the corps, and for the permanent or temporary engagement of its members, see the "Annual Circular" of the corps, issued at the office. N.B.—All communications on business must be addressed to the adjutant. COMPLAINTS.—In case of any complaint it will be necessary to forward the ticket of the commissionaire against whom any charge is made. Each commissionaire is furnished with a book of tickets containing the tariff. Employers are particularly requested, whenever they engage a man, to demand one of them. It is hoped that any instance of overcharge or irregularity will be reported to the adjutant without delay. Several men who have been dismissed for misconduct having assumed a dress somewhat similar to that of the corps, for the express purpose of imposing on employers, gentlemen are particularly requested, before they engage the services of any man in uniform, to demand the production of the ticket book, and ascertain if he is a commissionaire. The sergeants, corporals, and commissionaires of the first class are distinguished by chevrons of sold lace. Special men are appointed to act as guides to strangers about London. Apply at the office. N.B. — Employers requiring a commissionaire for more than half a day should send a postal card to the adjutant informing him of their requirements. For the convenience of the public, and to promote uniformity of system throughout the corps, the following scale of wages is authorized for the different classes of commissionaires in permanent and temporary employment in the metropolis and large manufacturing towns. In the country districts, where house rent and the cost of living generally is less expensive, a commensurate reduction will be made. Commissionaires whose bodily health, either from wounds or other causes, unfits them for ordinary labour, may be engaged for light work at lower wages.

PERMANENT EMPLOYMENT.
(Per week)
Sergeants of the 1st class £1 5 0
Sergeants .. £ 1 4 0
Corporals of the 1st class £ 1 3 0
Corporals of the 2nd class £ 1 2 0
First class commissionaires £ 1 1 0
Commissionaires .. £ 1 0 0
TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT.
In the London or other division.
Per day // Half day
Sergeants.. ..4s 3d // 3s
Corporals and 1st class 4s // 3s 6d
If sent out of their district:
Per day // per week
Sergeants .. 5s // 25s
Corporals and 1st class 4s 6d // 22ss

When sent out of his own district for more than twelve hours, the commissionaire can charge only his actual fare for travelling, with an addition, for sergeants of 8d per diem, corporals and other men, 6d for finding bed, &c. N.B. — The tariff for "permanent employment" is intended for those cases where an engagement is expected to last for a year. Ten per cent. will be added to the above rate where any man is discharged within six months (except in any case of misconduct), or where be is engaged for the "season" only. Where whole "board" is given, a deduction of 1s. 4d. per diem, or 9s. per week, will be made; "dinner" only 5s. per week. Board and lodging, 12s. per week. The "season" refers to engagements in London between the months of January and August. The above tariff does not apply to commissionaires of special attainments and high education whose salaries would range from 30s. to 50s. per week. Nor is it to be understood by employers that the printed standard of wages precludes engagements between themselves and commissionaires on such terms as may be found mutually suitable. The value of labour and its remuneration depends on so many circumstances that it would be most undesirable to fetter the right of contract. Employers are reminded that the corps guarantees the honesty and sobriety of all its members, that in case of the illness of a commissionaire his place is provided for without any cost to them and that in the event of his death (owing to the provision made for his family) there is no prospect of any claim being made upon them or the support of those left behind.
SPECIAL NOTICE TO EMPLOYERS.
The object of the corps being to provide suitable work for all its members whatever their qualifications and bodily health, and at the same time to suit the convenience of employers whose requirements may be of an occasional or easy nature, the adjutant will at all times endeavour to provide commissionaires for situations where the amount of wages is limited to the work required, and therefore below any of the published rates.
LIST OF TARIFFS FOR SPECIAL SERVICES.
Service of Commissionaires for the Continent. — Employers requiring trustworthy men to take charge of papers, property, &c., to any part of the Continent, will be supplied with members of the corps at the following rate of wages: Ten shillings per diem, with a extra allowance of 6d. per hour for all time occupied in travelling over 12 hours in each day of 24 hours The actual (2nd class) fare incurred by railway or steamboat. None but staff- sergeants of the corps will be employed on this duty, and if employed beyond the week a reduction in these terms will be made. Hospital Service. — Commissionaires employed as temporary attendants at the hospitals in the metropolis will be paid at the following rate: 12 hours' duty by day, 4s.; ditto night, 5s. For a continuous service of one week and upwards the wages will be: Day service, 25s. night service, 28s. Where full rations are given, 1s. per diem will be deducted from the above amount. Service at Theatres and other Public Places of Amusement.—Commissionaires will be supplied in the capacity of ticket-takers, money-takers, door-keepers, &c., at wages varying from 2s. to 3s. per night, according to the time and nature of the employment. The fidelity and sobriety of these men being ensured, upwards of 150 men are now employed in the above capacity. Service of Night Watchmen, &c. The watching of docks and other premises of public companies, as well as streets and private houses in the metropolitan district, is effectually carried out by the relief and constant visiting of the commissionaires during the night by staff-sergeants of the corps. For this particular service a small extra charge is made. The ordinary wages of watchmen are as follows: Night duty inside premises, 3s. 6d. per night, or 23s. per week; outside premises, 4s. per night, or 26s. per week. Empty houses taken care of at 5s. per week, with an extra allowance of 2s 6d. where light and fuel are not found. Special arrangements are made for special services or for large bodies of men. N B—For delivery beyond the 3 mile radius a small additional charge will be made, or men furnished at 4s per diem.
NB—Circulars directed at 1s. per 100; folded at 4d. per 100. All addressed circulars must be fully directed, and have the initials of the postal district. If not tied up by streets an additional charge of 4d. per 100 will be made for sorting. Contracts made with societies and companies for large orders or periodical service. A sergeant in charge of the "circular department" will attend to receive orders when required. All circulars and cards must be sent in to the office of each division, no commissionaire being allowed to deliver them without proper registration.
The band of the corps, or any part of it, may be enraged for private parties, either in the metropolis or the country. Applications for terms, &c., to the sergeant in charge of the band, Exchange-court, 419, Strand, W.C.
Books, printed circulars, visiting cards, and newspapers are delivered. with despatch by the commissionaires at the following scale (which applies only to a radius of 3 miles from Charing-cross). Books, &c. over a quarter of a pound in weight charged extra.

RATE PER HUNDRED.

Districts

100 to 200

200 to 1,000

1,000 to 2,000

2,000 to 5,000

5,000 to 10,000

10,000 to 15,000

15,000 and upwards

HOUSE TO HOUSE

1,000 to 20,000 not addressed

Above 20,000 not addressed

All over London --

..

5s

4s

3s

2s 6d

2s

1s 6d

9d

6d

W SW,WC., E.C

4s

3s

2s 6d

2s

1s 6d

1s

9d

6d

..

N.W. N.E., S.E., N., S.&E

4s

3s 6d

3s

2s 6d

2s

1s 6d

1s

6d

..

NIGHT SERVICE, from 10 p.m. to 7 am. An orderly being on duty all night, anyone requiring a commissionaire may obtain one by applying at the head-quarters of the corps, 419, Strand. The tariff for night service in such cases is double the ordinary rate. SPECIAL N0TICE—Several sergeants who will terminate their temporary engagements at the close of the London season, can be specially recommended for duties of almost any kind. For further information apply to the adjutant.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879