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This English etching from 1793 shows a postilion guiding the two front horses. The rear horses are controlled by a coachman
File:Trooping the Colour Queen carriage 16th June 2007.jpg
A postillion in charge of Queen Elizabeth's carriage during the Trooping of the Colour, London, 2007

A postilion (or postillion, occasionally Anglicized to "post-boy"[1]) rider was the driver of a horse-drawn coach or post chaise, mounted on one of the drawing horses.[2] By contrast, a coachman would be mounted on the vehicle along with the passengers.

Postilion riders normally rode the left (or "near") horse of a pair because horses usually were trained only to be mounted from the left.[3][4] With a double team, either there would be two postilions, one for each pair,[5] or one postilion would ride on the left rear horse in order to control all four horses.

This style of travel was known as "posting",[6]. The postilions and their horses (known as "post-horses")[7] would be hired from a "postmaster" at a "post house".[1] The carriage would travel from one post house to the next (a journey known as a "stage"), where the postilions and/or horses could be replaced if necessary.[1] Posting was once common both in England and in continental Europe.[8] In England, however, it declined once railways became an alternative method of transport.[1] It remained popular in France and other countries.

See also

  • Le postillon de Lonjumeau, an 1836 French comic opera by Adolphe Adam.
  • "My postillion has been struck by lightning". A comical phrase supposedly found in old-fashioned foreign language phrase books.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Rogers (1900), p. 280
  2. Definition of postillion by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.
  3. Which side of the road do they drive on? Brian Lucas.
  4. Rogers (1900), p. 279
  5. Rogers (1900), pp 282-283, 107
  6. Rogers (1900), p. 278
  7. Rogers (1900), p. 282
  8. Rogers (1900), pp. 279-280


External links


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