On This Day: 1 November 1700

On this day in 1700, Sitoan Landon wrote the Thomas Bowrey from Banjar, Borneo. This letter demonstrates the complexity of Bowrey’s affairs following his return home to England.

Landon starts by saying that he had sent Bowtey what was profitable to be purchased for him. This was, somewhat surprisingly, a sumpitan (blowgun) with arrows and a catte of bird ncast (possibly birds nests?). As the letter also mentions in a postscript the Malabar Characters he has sent by another ship, these items may have been for Thomas Hyde the Bodleian Librarian assisting Bowrey with his Malay-English Dictionary and a book on oriental characters. Hyde was a collector of such oriental curiosities. Although, if this was the case the mention of profit is not really appropriate.

Bowrey had also asked Landon’s advice about a new settlement in the region. Bowrey was later to produce proposals about the setting up of an English trading post in the region. Unfortunately, Landon said this was not his expertise but suggested that, having visited a number of places, Lant Poulo was an excellent place.

The letter concluded with a request to pass on Landon’s regards to Mrs Etherington. Richard Etherington was a sea captain. After his return home, Bowrey’s first ventures into the East Indies trade was to offer his knowledge and expertise in the region in return for a share in the profits of Etherington’s voyage.

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