On This Day: 14 September 1702

On this day in 1702, Thomas Bowrey wrote from London to Mr Wilkinson and  Mr Morregh. The letter is useful as a demonstration of the document interrogation that needs to take place when working with Bowrey’s papers.

Despite the volume of papers, it is clear that what survives is far from everything Bowrey wrote or received. Thus, a researcher needs to understand why each document is extant. While Bowrey was in the East Indies, he kept drafts of most of the letter he send but few of those he received survive. Once he had returned to England, the opposite is the case. More letter he received and fewer drafts or copies of those he wrote survive. If a draft or copy of a letter written by Bowrey in England survives it is likely to have been of more significance than similar written whilst he was in the East Indies.

As today’s document is endorsed on the reverse, in Bowrey’s hand, Letter to Wilkinson & Morregh at Portsmouth Sep 1702 it was probably sent. This may have been a draft, a copy or the returned original. In view of the lack of changes but my guess is a copy. The front of the letter is endorsed 2 Directed to Portsmouth & Plymouth. It may have been the Portsmouth copy returned for some reason but there is nothing in anyone else’s hand written on it.

The letter starts I wrote you from Tunbridge which I doubt missed you in the Downs. This letter does not survive. Clearly he had not received a reply and the implication is that Wilkinson and Morregh had ignored him. Bowrey is sending instructions for a voyage and, from his postscript, is concerned that it is late in the season and additional care is required. Presumably the recipients are on board one of his ships. The letter does not say which. It has been catalogued as relating to the Resolution. The next document in Bowrey’s papers, dated two months later, is a draft letter to the same recipients confirms that they are on board this ship.

I am yet to study the papers relating to the Resolution but my supposition, at this stage, is that Wilkinson and Morregh were the supercargo and his deputy. According to this letter, the captain was William Daly.

I know from another document that the Resolution returned safely to England and this probably explains the relatively few papers relating to this ship.


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