E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
The last of these menials died out with the infamous Duke of Queensberry. In the early part of the eighteenth century no great house was complete without some half-dozen of them. Their duty was to run before and alongside the fat Flemish mares of the period, and advise the innkeeper of the coming guests. The pole which they carried was to help the cumbrous coach of their master out of the numerous sloughs on the northern and western high-roads. (See BOW STREET RUNNERS, ESTAFETTE.)