On this day in 1707, Henry Smith wrote to Thomas Bowrey in Marine Square Wapping from Doncaster. He was already making excuses – his whole letter was just one long excuse. His horse had been scouring (diarrhea) for five days. Doncaster should only have been a four day ride from London. He doubted that Mr Thomson’s 14 guinea gelding could have performed better than he did on his mare.
Smith was on his way to Edinburgh to act on behalf of Bowrey and the other owners and freighters of the Worcester that had been seized by the Scots almost three years earlier. Why was it necessary for Smith to be so defensive?
Henry Smith had one quality. He was a good accountant. He had, however, been in trouble for much of his life. He had worked for the East India Company at Bantam but was dismissed, probably for living a disreputable life. On his way home to England, he was in Bombay whilst he waited for ship home. Here he bad mouthed Bowrey to whom he was related through Samuel Smith. Back in London, he managed to talk round the East India Company who sent him back out to Bombay. Here, he caused a great deal of trouble and was sent home again. It then appears that he managed to get involved in mutiny and piracy in the West Indies. In 1701, he was forced to appeal to Bowrey for help from Newgate prison. You do have to wonder why Bowrey considered him a suitable person to act for him in Edinburgh. Perhaps the mission was considered dangerous and Smith expendable.