The Revenue Stamps of Mauritius

by John Wilson

Handstamps from the Start of Occupation by the British from 1810 (King George III Use)

Obviously, something was needed to replace the French revenue stamps after the British occupation, if it were possible to continue to collect revenue in the same manner as earlier. Very little in the way of archives has been discovered, although there is a brief reference to some handstamps which were used during the reign of King George III contained within William A Barber’s book “The Impressed Duty Stamps of the British Colonial Empire”.

Plate 4 contains colour copies of four examples – the only ones that I have seen and which have all come to light in the past three or so years but not, I must stress, due to any specific research on these by me. This is because I have been unable to trace any research material of any substance.. The red squares are inscribed "Internal Revenue" and the black circular stamps display the duty paid.

Plate 4

Plate 4 (click to enlarge)

The first and second of these exhibits show much clearer pictures of the black circular duty stamp. On the third example, the duty amount is obliterated  by the red stamp. No dates are shown at all on the impressions. Although the circular stamps are all shown as "G III R", the crowns are all different, but one can reasonably assume that they were all used between 1810 when the British first occupied the island and 1820, when King George III died. Maybe one can extend this end date a little further, before the authorities got around to producing new dies.

On the large cutting from  "The Mauritius Gazette", the impressions are not at all clear, but the newspaper is dated somewhat surprisingly on Christmas Day 1830. It is impossible to tell which Monarch is shown  on the black impression. In the absence of any supporting data, one must expect the reigning King in 1830 which could have been George IV or William VI as the former died during that year. Again, the George IV die could still have been used after William VI had succeeded.

Continuing on the question  of "overlaps", the rim of the black impression on  the first item on the plate  reads "Isle of France" etc so, although this was a George III stamp,  the original French name of the island was still being used.

I had hoped that I might have found some reference to the George III period in Peter Ibbotson’s two excellent books on Mauritius Postal History and Stamps, but nothing appears. This could be because, at the time these were written, none of the above examples had actually come to light.

The large cutting is the only evidence I have of how these impressions were used i.e. for the collection of newspaper tax. We take it fro granted today that dissemination of news is accessible cheaply to everyone, but this was not always so. These   levies must have been used on other documents, as can be seen if one looks again at the first three examples on Plate 4 and the scraps of manuscript. 

Very little evidence has come to light on this method of taxation for the period from the end of King George III's reign right up to 1869 when the first Queen Victoria revenue stamps were issued.