On This Day: 12 July 1712

On this day in 1712, Jacob Mears wrote to Thomas Bowrey from Berlin. He had been there long enough for this to have been his fourth letter and he was yet to receive a reply. Mears first wrote from Berlin (where he had arrived on 27 May) four days after his arrival. On 20 June Mears had written to ask if Bowrey had received his previous letter because he had been in Berlin for five weeks without hearing from Bowrey.

Thus at least out of four of Mears’ letters were received by Bowrey, so why had he not replied? It is impossible to know for certain but, during the same period, a number of letters from the Searle family to Bowrey have survived at the Essex Record Office. Not all of these appear to have been addressed to Marine Square, the address Mears was using. All the Searle letters relate to a family dispute in which Bowrey was mediating.

Did Bowrey have too much to deal with and was he giving priority to helping his friends or did he simply not receive the letters until he returned home? Whatever the reason, Bowrey replied to Mears three days before the date of this letter from Mears (these letters probably crossed in the post). Mears subsequent letter is no help in resolving the mystery because he simply wrote: I could not Imagine the reason for not hearing from you.

Despite the volume of Bowrey’s papers, I often wish that even more had survived.

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