• Henry_Box_Brown

Human Mail


Unusual deliveries to start off 2015 in today’s Wikiworm, posted, as ever, from the weirder side of Wikipedia.

Human mail is the transportation of a person through the postal system, usually as a stowaway. While rare, there have been some reported cases of people attempting to travel through the mail. This form of travel is illegal in many countries, and highly dangerous, with cases leading to prosecution and serious injury.

More common, at least in popular fiction, is the mailing of a part of a person, often a kidnap victim.

  • Henry Box Brown (age 42), an African-American slave from Virginia, successfully escaped in a shipping box sent north to the free state of Pennsylvania in 1849. He was known thereafter as Henry “Box” Brown.
  • W. Reginald Bray mailed himself within England by ordinary mail in 1900 and then by registered mail in 1903.
  • Suffragettes Elspeth Douglas McClelland and Daisy Solomon mailed themselves to the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, H. H. Asquith at 10 Downing Street on 23 February 1909.
  • Reg Spiers 1964, mailed himself from Heathrow Airport London, to Perth Airport Western Australia. His 63 hour journey was spent in a box made by fellow British javelin thrower, John McSorley. Spiers spent some time outside his container in the cargo hold of the plane, and suffered from dehydration when he was offloaded onto the tarmac of Bombay Airport. He arrived in Perth undetected and returned home to Adelaide.
  • Charles McKinley (age 25) shipped himself from New York to Dallas, Texas in a box in 2003. He was attempting to visit his parents and wanted to save on the air fare by charging the shipping fees to his former employer. However, he was discovered during the final leg of his journey having successfully travelled by plane.
  • An inmate (age 42) serving a seven year drug conviction sentence in Germany escaped from a prison by climbing into a box in the mail room which was picked up by a courier in 2008.
  • In August 2012, a man in Chongqing, a city in southern China, decided to ship himself to his girlfriend as a prank. Unfortunately, his prank almost turned deadly when the courier took three hours to deliver the package. Seng had minimal air in the box, and it was too thick to puncture a hole so that he could breathe.


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In between dealing with all things technological in the Dabbler engine room, Worm writes the weekly Wikiworm column every Saturday and our monthly Book Club newsletters.