On this day in 1704, Braham Smyth send his two bills to Thomas Bowrey. Smyth was a cheesemonger and had supplied cheese and butter for the Mary Galley.
Cheese was an important element in the early 18th century diet. Wholesale cheesemongers kept factors in the dairy producing regions of the country. They purchased cheese and butter direct from the farmer and at the local fairs, sending the produce by ship to London.
The first of Smyth’s bills was for 63 cheeses. The other was for a total of 139 old Cheddar and other cheeses plus 8 firkins (small barrels) of butter. Half the butter was from Whitby.
Whilst an 18th century ship cannot have been the best environment for storing cheese, it is easy to understand how it kept well enough during a voyage. Butter would be very different. If it survived the early stages of a voyage, it cannot have stayed fresh for long once the ship reached the tropics.