On This Day: 18 October 1684

On this day in 1684, Robert Masfen, Robert Turlington and Edward Allen swore two different affidavits in front of Elihu Yale and John Coventry at Fort St George, Madras. One of these was also signed by Thomas Bowrey. Such affidavits are common survivors in Bowrey’s Papers and these two demonstrate the wide range of reasons why they were sworn.

The first (that signed by Bowrey), concerned the loss of a boat belonging to the sloop, Charles, at Vizagapatam on 7 September and the failure of the crew of the Borneo Merchant to find it. The description of the incident speaks of Tempestuous weather and the Currents and winds being so contrary. The four had previously drafted this statement on the day of the incident.

The second document concerned pepper and bale goods loaded onto the Borneo Merchant commanded by Bowrey in Banjar, Borneo and Batavia, Indonesia. They appear to be claiming that the ship could not have carried more cargo but, as the ship was jointly owned by Bowrey and Masfen it is difficult to understand why such an affidavit was required.

The only reason I can see for these affidavits is a form of defence against potential future charges or complaints. It would seem, from these affidavits, that today’s litigious culture is nothing new.

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