On This Day: 24 May 1705

On this day in 1705, Robert Horne, shipwright of Bermondsey, swore his affidavit in from of the Lord Mayor of London. He was carpenter on the East India Company ship, the London, on a voyage to the East Indies. During March 1703, they were on the Malabar Coast and he went on board the Worcester and had a drink with the ship’s quartermaster, Thomas Seers. He met with him again the following September at Bengal when Seers fell sick and died. He can confirm this because he helped nail up his coffin and saw it interred.

This document adds little to the story of the Worcester other than to confirm the dates the ship was on the Malabar Coast and at Bengal but Bowrey gathered together any evidence he could find.

However, the document sheds some light on the world of a 17th century East Indies mariner. Skills, at the time, were transferrable – a shipwright would become a ship’s carpenter just a ship’s captain became an engineer in charge of building the fortifications at a new settlement (as Bowrey’s uncle did) and a army officer became a ship’s captain (at Stephen Adderton did). This is a pattern that is becoming familiar again as technology changes our present-day job market.

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