In his household account book of his stay at Bath with his wife we learn that neither Thomas nor Mary Bowrey bathed in the waters today. We also have a lists of expenses faithfully noted.
On just one day, Thomas Bowrey paid for:
- Fish: Sole, Crab and Lobster, Shrimp and Salmon
- A Pig
- Anchovies & Nutmeg
- Pepper & 2 Rols
- Vinegar & Onions
- 2 Loaves
- 6 Rols [forms of both bread rolls and sausage rolls were known at the time]
- 2 Pints of Wine Mistaken
- Making a Pigeon Pie
- Lemon & Capers
- A Leg of Mutton
- 6 Rols
- Tart & Custard & Cheesecake
- Wine (Thursday)
- Beans & Bacon
- 1/2 a Barrel of Beer
- A Lemon
- Wine (Friday)
From the date in the account book, this may have been the supplies for a number of days but less than a week. As Bowrey’s friend Nathaniel Long is mentioned, the supplies may have been for two couples and, perhaps, the servants as well but nevertheless it would appear that they lived very well if not healthily by present-day standards.
On this day, Thomas Bowrey paid his rent to his father-in-law, Philip Gardiner. The receipt survived in Gardiner’s papers now held at the Essex Record Office.
After Bowrey married Mary Gardiner in 1691, he moved into her father’s house in Marine Square, Wapping also known as Well Close Square. He may have moved in on his return from India two years earlier because letters to him at that time were addressed to him care-of Gardiner.
His rent for himself, Mary and a maid was £19/10/0. As 24 June is a quarter day, this was most probably three months’ rent (although it was possibly for six months or a year). The present day equivalent is over £2,700.
On this day in 1699, Thomas and Mary were staying in Bath for four weeks. Bowrey kept a Household Account Book for the stay.
What is delightful about this little book is that, in addition to recording his expenses, Bowrey noted other information such as exactly when he and Mary bathed and a packing list of Things sent from Bath in my Trunk which gives us an insight into what was considered to be essential for a holiday in the late 17th century.
It is a long list so I do not intend listing everything but it included just two gowns & petticoats for Mary. Three gowns do not seem to be much for four weeks but the two sent in the trunk – one fine chintz gown and one silk & silver gown – were probably very valuable and fashionable. The six aprons were presumably to protect the expensive gowns.
The pair also took a limited amount of valuable jewellery: a pair of diamond earrings, a diamond buckle, a ring set wound (perhaps ‘all round’ like a modern full eternity ring) with diamonds and a gold ring. Two thoughts come to mind: were these made from diamonds Bowrey obtained in the East Indies and why was it considered safe to send valuable jewellery in the equivalent of present-day check-in luggage?
The item interested me most was the periwig included on the list. Knowing that Bowrey wore a wig enables me to start to picture what he may have looked like.
On this day in 1699, Thomas Bowrey and his wife, Mary, were staying in Bath for four weeks. There is some evidence that both Thomas and Mary suffered poor health and spent spells in both Bath and Tunbridge Wells in the hope of some healing.
Although Bath is often associated with the Regency period, its restorative waters had been known, and taken advantage of, since pre-Roman times. Elizabeth I granted a royal charter to the town to care for the springs in 1591. Bath had become a very fashionable destination from the 1670s and by 1699 arrangements had to be made to accommodate the horses of the gentry on the town common.
On this day in 1705, Bishop John Evans of Bangor wrote to Thomas Bowrey asking if Bowrey knew of any ships bound suddenly for India. The Bishop went on to commiserate for his misfortune in ye Worcester and requested more information about it from Bowrey. The Bishop offered his opinion that the ship was a political sacrifice designed to divide England and Scotland and signed himself as Bowrey’s real friend.
John Evans had gone to India as an East India Company chaplain in 1678 where he was based in Hugly, Bengal. By 1692, he was based at Fort St George but he fell foul of the Company for his association with interlopers (free merchants outside the control of the company) and trading as a merchant. The Company discussed stopping his salary at the beginning of 1692 and he returned to his homeland of Wales via London about 1698. Evans was made Bishop on 4 January 1702. As Bishop of Bangor and, later, Meath he was not afraid of courting political controversy.
In India, Thomas Bowrey was based for most of his time at Fort St George but also spend much time in Hugly so it is likely that he had known the Bishop for ten years from 1678. Bowrey did business with Evans in the East Indies in the 1680s and again in 1702 after he had returned to England.
On this day in 1705, Joseph Dupuy assistant supercargo of the Mary Galley wrote to Thomas Bowrey and the other owners from Bencoolen reporting the loss of some of the Spanish dollars sent on the ship from London.
He said he could not account for the loss because the dollars had been in sealed bags from the time they were delivered to the chief mate Richard Griffin. Griffin had kept them in his custody until they were passed to the Captain Joseph Tolson. Having said that, Dupuy then said that one of the bags had been damaged by seawater whilst in Griffin’s chest and burst. Dupuy could make no further explanation.
With hindsight, it seems that there may have been trust issues on board already – they had only recently arrived in the East Indies – and Dupuy was attempting establish his innocence at an early stage.
On this day in 1708, John Elliot the surgeon on the Mary Galley appeared as the deponent in a court case conducted by Lord Chief Justice Holt. It is no longer clear what this case was about but the galley’s captain, Joseph Tolson, gave evidence. Thomas Bowrey’s papers include a note of this.
Tolson was accused of surrendering the ship that had been entrusted to him to two French men-of-war. Prior to that he had shared the diamonds (being brought back from the East Indies) with is chief mate, Richard Griffin – the Judge commented that all concerned with the diamonds were rogues.
In his defence, Tolson offered to show the court his wounds but was told there was no occasion to do so. In fact the court considered his evidence ridiculous and he was laughed at.