On This Day: 4 October 1701

On this day in 1701, Jacob Holam nominated his well bellowed Freind Dorothy Hammond to receive two months of his pay each year. He was about to depart for the East Indies on the Prosperous.

Provision was usually made for dependants at home when sailors set off on long voyages. Dorothy Hammond may have been Holam’s well beloved friend but it is much more likely that she was a local inn keeper or landlady with whom Holam had run up debts. The Royal Navy was notorious at the time for being very late paying their sailors who, consequently relied on credit when in port between ships. If Bowrey’s example was typical, life was better for those in the merchant service.

This document had been written out in Bowrey’s handwriting with gaps for name, friend and ship to be completed later. In the future, Bowrey would use printed forms but this was early in his career as ship owner and freighter. At this stage, perhaps he could not afford these or was not aware that there was an easier way than preparing handwritten forms. Did his sit, late into the night, just writing forms? His writing certainly looks a little shaky.

Having worked as a mariner himself for nineteen years in the East Indies, his understanding of the lives of the sailors on his ships was greater than that of most London merchants at the time.

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