On This Day: 3 March 1703/04

Today’s document is a fairly insignificant bill totally £461/10/- connected with another of Bowrey’s ill-fated ships, the Mary Galley. Galleys were vessels that could be rowed, as well as sailed, when the winds were unfavourable and merchant galleys were smaller than most other merchantmen.

The bill was for 200 hubblebubbles (a glass pipe in the form of an oriental hookah), 100 spires (drinking glasses with air-twist stems) and 24 palm boxes & covers (paun boxes for keeping betel-leaf). This formed only part of the outward cargo of the Mary Galley but typical of much of what was carried.

Two of these items were notable in not being the usual trade goods taken to the East Indies. The East India Company charter stipulated that a large proportion of the goods taken to the East Indies should be broadcloth. There was no market for this heavy fabric in the East and the requirement was ignored in the main but they still usually carried goods similar to those made for the domestic market. Free merchants, such as Bowrey, had fewer constraints but this cargo was different from his others for which we have details. Bowrey appears to be using the knowledge he gained whilst in the East Indies to improve the type of goods that could be traded there.


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