Bowrey himself wrote two books in his lifetime. His Malay-English dictionary was published in 1701 and was the first such dictionary. Not a linguist, his dictionary has attracted much criticism but remained in use for many years. The introduction contained a very short autobiographical account. In contrast, The Case of the Owners and Freighters of the ship Worcester, published in 1705, contained no biographical details. Rather, it was one of Bowrey’s responses to the seizure of the Worcester. His A Geographical Account of the Countries Round the Bay of Bengal was not published until long after his death and includes only a limited number of references to his life in the East Indies.
Richard Carnac Temple uncovered much of Bowrey’s life in India and following his return to England in 1689. He wrote about it in his introductions to the Bay of Bengal (1905) and The Papers of Thomas Bowrey (1927). These have been used as the basis of biographies of Bowrey in the Oxford Dictionary of Biography and on Wikipedia – the only published biographies of Bowrey written to date.
Many other writers have referenced specific aspects of Bowrey’s life. These range from his correspondence in The Pen and the People: English Letter Writers 1660-1680 by Susan Whyman (2011) to his experimentation with cannabis in The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics by Richard Davenport-Hines (2002) via his experience of piracy in Madagascar in Arne Bialuschewski’s Thomas Bowrey’s Madagascar Manuscript of 1708, in History in Africa, volume 324 (2007).
Finally, Bowrey is mentioned in two contemporary diaries. His meetings with Peter Briggins towards the end of his life are recorded in Briggins’ unpublished diaries, one of which is held at the London Metropolitan Archives. The current location of a second, subsequent diary is not known and I would be interested on any information about its whereabouts. Earlier, whilst living in Aceh on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, Bowrey invited the privateer, pirate and mariner William Dampier to his house. The meeting is recorded in Dampier’s A New Voyage Round the World (1927).