On This Day: 8 November 1701

On this day in 1701, J O Litter wrote to Thomas Bowrey from Fort St George (Madras) India. Other than another letter from Liller nine months earlier, there are no other documents relating to him in Bowrey’s papers yet Liller signs himself your affectionate friend.

In his previous letter, Liller explained that he was unable to obtain the paper Bowrey wanted. This time, he had done his best to carry out Bowrey’s request but as for ye Lords prayer can make nothing of it at present. Bowrey’s Malay-English Dictionary included a copy of the Lord’s Prayer in Malay but had already been publish by the time this letter was received.

Liller’s letter illuminates a little of the attitudes of the Europeans to the people they lived among in the East. He had been ill, having lost all his senses as well as the use of his hands for three months. He was sure that he was going to die. However, Liller did not believe that he was ill but rather that the chief interpreter and merchant had put a spell on him he described as a Damnable trick. He believed that he had recovered because someone else had lifted the spell from him. This all happened because he would not let the East India Company be cheated & put upon by those Rouges. Today we would suggest that Liller was suffering from a neurological condition exacerbated by the stress of dealing with attempts to defraud the Company.

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