Book of the Day: The Dreadful Judgement

Dreadful Judgement Cover

In order to kick-start myself after my short interlude, I have decided to feature one of my long-time favourite books today. I love The Dreadful Judgement: The True Story of the Great Fire of London especially for Neil Hanson’s vivid description of Thomas Farriner’s walk through the streets of plague-ridden London. It was a London shortly to be afflicted by a second disaster, the Great Fire. Farriner was, of course, the baker whose shop was the origin of the blaze.

Captain Thomas Bowrey lived through both the Plague and Fire before departing for nineteen years in the East Indies. Hanson’s account was one of the sources I used to reimagine his life in Wapping. However, The Dreadful Judgement is so much more than just beautifully crafted description of events and the human stories, it is also a meticulously researched historical detective story, It combines modern knowledge of the physic of fire with eye-witness accounts.

Remarkably for such a work rooted in factual research, The Dreadful Judgement is as easy to read as a novel. I never cease to enjoy it.

Dreadful Judgement Publisher



Interlude: Bookbinding Masterclass


At the weekend, I attended a Bookbinding Masterclass at the British Library lead by Shelagh McCarthy. I returned to find that real life has caught up with me with such mundane issues to sort out as our fixed rate energy tariff ending soon. As a result, I have taken my eye off the ball that is Captain Thomas Bowrey for a short while. I will get back to my featured book series shortly.

The Masterclass far exceeded my expectations and I find that I love bookbinding. Since my return, my focus has been on tracking down the equipment and materials I need to continue making books at home. Over the next week or so, I shall be distracted by the arrival of my orders. I know that, once it has all arrived, I shall be side-lined into preparing a short biography of one of my ancestors to make into a book.

Rest assured that I will not desert Thomas for long and be patient. The photograph at the top of this post shows the five books I made: a lilac codex-style pamphlet book; an accordion book with patterned cover; a red Japanese Stab-style Stitched book; a blue Coptic codex; and a claret case binding. I leave you with a close-up of the final book we made, the case binding. I think you will agree that it looks like a “proper” book.

SUETABLET2 - WIN_20180516_082216


Book of the Day: The Worlds of the East India Company

World Of Cover

I am not sure why I have not featured The Worlds of the East India Company sooner. It is a book I have used for reference often whist writing Thomas Bowrey’s biography. Edited jointly by H V Bowen, Margarette Lincoln and Nigel Rigby the book is a series of fourteen interdisciplinary essays published to commemorate the four-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the East India Company in 2002. This list of contributors is impressive and the book does not disappoint.

The various essays consider a wide range of subjects from the beginnings of the Company to its lasting legacy with detailed focus on some of its consequences such as Lascars in London and it influence on art. I have found five of the essays particularly useful.

Om Prakash started off with The East India Company and Indian while Femme Gaastra wrote about War, Competition and Collaboration: Relations Between the English and Dutch East India Companies in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. The rivalry between the English, and later British, and the Dutch in the East Indies was an important element of shaping European involvement in the East Indies in which the independence of traders such as Thomas was an important factor.

Shompa Lahiri’s contribution was Contested Relations: The East-India Company and Lascars in London. The country ships, such as Thomas’, relied on lascars for their crews. For example, when he was attacked by Malabar pirates in 1680, there were four Europeans on board (including a Portuguese boy) but the remaining crew were lascars.

Bruce P Lenman considered The East India Company and the Trade in Non-Metallic Precious Materials from Sir Thomas Roe to Diamond Pitt. It was these non-metallic precious materials such diamonds and musk that Thomas used to transfer much of his wealth home at the end of his nineteen years in the East.

Finally, P J Marshall wrote the Afterword: The Legacies of Two Hundred Years of Contact. There is something for everyone interesting in the East Indies in this book.

World Of Publisher


Book of the Day: 1700 Scenes From London Life

1700 Cover

Moving on a few decades from the Restoration, my next featured book is Maureen Waller’s 1700 Scenes From London Life. By this time, Captain Thomas Bowrey had settled into married life in Wapping. Alongside his business documents relating to his East Indies trade, some of his more domestic papers have survived. Although they do not supply a full picture of an early eighteenth century household – there are many accounts from his tailor but none from Mary’s dressmaker – his archive also contains records of the property he owned including housing and a china shop.

Maureen Waller’s book with its detail of the life of Londoners at the time is a useful companion to Thomas’ domestic records allowing me to bring alive the life of his household. It was an exciting time to live in London, a city that had recovered from civil war, plague and fire to have become the most magnificent city in Europe. It was this city that Thomas helped supply with the exotic luxuries that the capital craved. His ships were included in the floating forest on the Thames.

1700 describes the life Thomas lived, the coffee shops he frequented, the Exchange where he did business and the city around him. It is another invaluable member of my bookshelf.

1700 Publisher

Book of the Day: Restoration London

Restoration Cover

Captain Thomas Bowrey was born on the eve of the Restoration making Liza Picard’s Restoration London perfectly targeted to his life. Subtitled From Poverty to Pets, from Medicine to Magic, from Slang to Sex, from Wallpaper to Women’s Rights, the range of the book makes it another invaluable go-to addition to my bookshelf.

The practical details of daily life are so often missing from social history books. Although Liza concentrates on the decade between 1660-1670, that is the period before Thomas left for the East Indies, much of the information about everyday life will have remained relevant following his return home. Whatever I need to know as I write Thomas’ biography, the answer is likely to be found within chapters such as The Household; Money, Poverty and Class; Cooking, Meals, Food and Drink; or Clothes, Jewellery, Cosmetics, Hairdressing, Washing and So On.

Liza’s writing style, sense of humour and eye for detail make her book both entertaining reading and a useful reference book. With a legal background, her preference for use of primary sources ensures that you can have confidence in the information presented. Although focusing on the period of Samuel Pepys’ diary, the copious use of other sources ensures that we see a London that is not restricted to his peculiar view of life.

Restoration Publisher

Books of the Day: The Sources for the Story of the Worcester

Yesterday my Worcester Timeline was referenced in another blog and I thought, if it is going to drive more people interested in the story of the Worcester here, it may be the time to feature books relevant to that story. More has been written about the case of the Worcester than any other episode in Thomas Bowrey’s life and it is the one element that is still capable of exciting vehement debate today. I cannot claim to have studied everything – each Internet search throws up more sources – but I have read enough to know that there is no one definitive version of what happened. Thus, today, I am featuring a number of books and other sources all of which relate to the Worcester or the events around it.

The main primary source is London Metropolitan Archives: CLC 427 MS24176 Lloyds of London Papers of Thomas Bowrey

For the case of the Worcester, the important folios as well as other primary sources are included in Lieut.-Colonel Sir Richard Carnac Temple, New Light on the Mysterious Tragedy of the Worcester 1704-1705, Ernest Benn, London, 1930

Temple is biased towards Bowrey and, therefore, Green. A more recent counterbalance to this is J Irvine Smith, The Trial of Captain Green lecture @ Annual General Meeting of the Stair Society, Edinburgh @ (accessed 26 February 2016)

A full transcript of the trial can be found at Thomas Bayly Howell, A complete collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and other Criteria and Misdemeanours from the earliest period to the year 1783, 1700-1708, in case 438 pages 1199-1328, Longman, Rees. Orme, Brown & Green, London, 1826 @

One of the best summaries is Eric J. Graham, Seawolves: Pirates & the Scots, pages 163-190, Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2007

Once you have worked through all of the above, you will have a good understanding of the complexity of the case. However, if you still have an appetite for more, the following may fill in some of the details:

Anon (Possibly Daniel Defoe), A Letter from Scotland, to a Friend in London: Containing a Particular Narrative of the Whole Proceedings Against the Worcester and her Crew from her First Arrival in Leith-Road, to 20th April 1705 …, London, 1705

Anon, The Case of Captain Green, Commander of the Ship Worcester and his crew Tried and Condemned for Pyracy and Murther in the High Court of Admiralty of Scotland, John Nutt, London, 1705

Karin Bowie, Scottish Public Opinion and the Anglo-Scottish Union, 1699-1707, Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Surrey

Karin Bowie, Newspapers, the early modern public sphere and the 1704-5 Worcester affair in Benchimol, A., Brown, R. and Shuttleton, D. (eds) Before Blackwood’s: Scottish Journalism in the Age of Enlightenment Series, Pickering & Chatto, London, 2015

Thomas Bowrey, The Case of the Owners and Freighters of the Ship Worcester in relation to the seising … of the said ship … in Scotland, for reprisal of the Scots ship Annandale, seised … in England. And also the case of the late Capt. Thomas Green, London

British Library: IOR/H/30 Petitions Relating to the Annandale, folios 2-15, 35-43

Rory Carroll, The Sorry Story of How Scotland Lost its 17th Century Empire in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian .com/uk/ 2007/Sep/11/britishidentity.past (accessed 19 June 2016)

Daniel De Foe, The History of the Union Between England and Scotland. To which is added the Articles of Union, &c., pages 23-31, John Exshaw, Dublin, 1799

Christine Hancock, John Madder Englishman or Scot? in the Journal of the Guild of One Name Studies volume 10 number 9 Jan-Mar 2011

Headsman, 1705: Captain Thomas Green and two of his crew on the Worcester @ (accessed 15 October 2014)

George Pratt Irish, editor, Papers relating to the Ships and Voyages of the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies, 1696-1707, page x, Scottish History Society, Edinburgh, 1924

Kinnaird,, (accessed 20 March 2016)

Andrew Lang, The Case of Captain Green in The Select Works of Andrew Lang @ (accessed 15 October 2014)

MadderGenealogist, 2013/ 04/11/start-of-the-voyage/ (accessed 15 October 2014)

John Prebble, The Darien Disaster, Pimlico, page 56, New York, 1968

Wikipedia (Thomas Green), (accessed 15 October 2014)