Today’s letter from Patrick Stewart in Edinburgh to Thomas Bowrey in Wapping demonstrates Bowrey’s tenacity.
He had written to Stewart’s deceased cousin (of the same name) requesting that he chased Alexander Spotiswood for the £10 he owed Bowrey. £10 in 1711 would be worth over £1,000 today – a not insignificant amount – but Spotiswood had been acting in the case of the Worcester for Bowrey four years earlier and the amount still being claimed in that case was nearly £28,000 (worth over £4m today). Stewart promised to ensure that the debt was paid.
Bowrey was still fighting for compensation for the loss of the ship an cargo when he died in 1713 but, despite that, he was still chasing far smaller amounts. In 1711, Bowrey was also working on his proposals connected to the South Sea Company (of Bubble fame) and the East African slave trade with equal passion. Was he doing too much and did this explain his relatively early death?