On this day in 1704, Martin James sent his bill to Captain Bowrey for Old Cordage for the Mary Galley. Old Cordage is how Bowrey endorsed the bill on the reverse. According to James, the items supplied were worn cabell and worn ropes. The total cost of this old rope was £3/19/6 – about 50% more that yesterday’s cost of paining oars and canvas.
Was Bowrey economising by purchasing second-hand rope for use on the Mary Galley? This is always possible but old rope was also used to caulk ships – fill the gaps between boards to ensure that the vessel was watertight. Centuries later, workhouse inmates and prisoners would be given the job of oakum picking or unpicking old rope to be used for caulking ships.