On this day in 1684, Thomas Bowrey write to John Evans at Hugly from Fort St George. As I have written previously, John Evans later became Bishop of Bangor but, at this time was employed by the East India Company.
Like most of the Company’s employees at the time, Evans was also involved in the East Indies trade on his own account. He had commission Bowrey to carry goods for him. Today’s letter was to explain why he was unable to return to Hugly in the current year and give Evans a detailed account of the business he had done on his behalf.
The business was not one-sided. Evans had purchased some musk on Bowrey’s behalf. This musk was a greasy secretion with a powerful odour produced in a gland of the male musk deer and similar secretions from other animal. and used in the manufacture of perfumes. Unlikely as it sounds, this secretion was valued for its use in perfumes and many perfumes today are still referred to a musk but now a synthetic equivalent is used.
Musk, one of the most valuable product of the East Indies, was to cause Bowrey great difficulties. He had purchased a quantity as one way to send his wealth home to England only to discover that the East India Company had banned musk owned by private individuals on Company ships.