On This Day: 15 October 1688

On this day in 1688, Henry Alford received goods from Thomas Bowrey at Fort St George (Madras). The receipt was considered important enough to be witnessed by Robert Mellish.

It is a strange list of items received ranging from the abstract (Bowrey’s orders for goods left with Captain George Herron in Bengal) to physical goods (two barrels of butter and a parcel of timber). The reason becomes clear if you know that in five days Bowrey would leave India for good on the Bengal Merchant. The receipt represents the final odds and ends of Bowrey’s business life in the East that he had been unable to resolve before he sailed.

On the reverse of the receipt, Bowrey has written a note, presumably to Alford, asking him to enclose the receipt when he writes to him in London by the next ship to depart. Thus explaining how it ended up in Bowrey’s Papers. The letter should be addressed to Bowrey at Mr Thomas Short’s or, in Bowrey’s absence, to Phillip Gardiner. Gardiner was to become Bowrey’s father-in-law and was described as his kinsman and cousin although I have not been able to confirm how they were related.

Short was a drugster of Threadneedle Street but his relationship to Bowrey is even more of a mystery. Bowrey started writing to him and Gardiner as he prepared to return to England. He addressed cargos to Short and Gardiner. There was no reference to him in Bowrey’s Papers before this time or after his return home yet he was entrusting his fortune to him and may have been planning to stay with him in London.

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