On This Day: 14 May 1687

On this day in 1687, Bowrey wrote two letters to the East India Company at Cuddalore complaining that he had been imprisoned by the havildar (military commander) at Porto Novo. Following a voyage in which he carried a cargo of cloth and slaves for two of the brothers of Ahmad Marcar (Maraikkayar). This lead to a dispute with Marcar who refused to hand over cloth he had purchased for Bowrey. Bowrey had reacted very badly to this and struck Marcar’s servant on East India Company premises.

Bowrey was held in leg-irons in the Marcar’s cookhouse. He initially appeared to consider the imprisonment was an affront to his dignity but, later in the day, started to fear for his life. He write to the Company in melodramatic terms.

The Company’s Council at Cuddalore were torn between believing this to have been a slight against someone under their protection and being annoyed at Bowrey’s actions. They were concerned that Bowrey’s future conduct may risk the factory’s security and, even, their lives.

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