On This Day: 30 October 1701

On this day in 1701, John Hilliard master of the Prosperous listed the goods to be carried on behalf of the joint freighters, including Thomas Bowrey. Hilliard was organised and had clear handwriting making this documents ideal for anyone studying shipping at this period.

Most of the goods were carried in chests and barrels clearly marked with the owners brand and numbered. The contents of each numbered chest or barrel were listed.

The goods are listed with their respected weights, weight rather than volume being the primary limitation on the amount of cargo that could be carried. Too heavy a cargo and the ship would not handle correctly and may even sink. Too light a cargo and you were not getting full value from the voyage. Thus it is particularly interesting that this cargo carried a quantity of heavy old and new guns, shot, gun carriages, anchors, lead and iron.

There needed to be the potential for a very good market for these items to make such a cargo worthwhile. Iron and lead were not in short supply in the East Indies. More domestic goods were also carried including 52 coffee mills alongside clothing; drinking, looking and magnifying glasses; alcohol; and toys. I believe that the intention, from the start, was for the Prosperous to trade with the pirates who actually captured the ship and turned many of her crew. They were playing with fire.


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