On This Day: 16 March 1689/90

Today’s letter is a sad one. Robert Masfen, Bowrey’s closest business partner in the East Indies, wrote informing Bowrey of the death of his wife. Bowrey was by this time living in Wapping having departed from India in October 1688.

Masfen’s wiife had died of a violent fever five months earlier but this was the first opportunity to get a letter to England (voyages to and from the East Indies was seasonal). Masfen had the consolation that his wife was well prepared for her death having been near to death previously. Mortality was always close in the East Indies at this time. Masfen’s mother would give Bowrey a memorial ring – common practice although what people did with all the rings they were given is not clear. Bowrey bequeathed five rings costing £1 in his own will.

Despite his bad news, Masfen was not neglecting their trade in the East Indies and continued by giving an update before hoping that Bowrey heave good times in England. At that time, Masfen wanted to return to England. I do not believe that he did. By 1896, he is still in India and has a new wife, Anne.

Finally, the letter gives us a little insight into Bowrey’s personal life. He had clearly left the East Indies panning to marry because Masfen wrote: Iff you are married I wish you & your Lady all ye good injoyments and happiness of that Life.

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