On This Day: 27 November 1696

On this day in 1696, Captain Thomas Bowrey was in the final stages of his preparation for his voyage to the East Indies as master of the Rising Sun. As part of his preparations, he assigned his power of attorney to his wife, Mary.

Reviewing the documents relating to this voyage it is clear that, in reality, it was Mary’s father Philip Gardiner who looked after Bowrey’s affairs whilst he was away. From Mary’s rare letters to her husband it can be seen that, although able to read and write, she did not have a high level of literacy. Usefully for researchers, Bowrey produced a summary of his current business affairs for Gardiner and this provides details not available elsewhere.

Bowrey never got further than Portsmouth on this voyage. The ship he had chosen and in which encouraged his friends and acquaintances to invest turned out to be defective. Combined with bad weather and an unfortunate incident with a Swedish man-of-war in Portsmouth harbour, it was enough for Bowrey to lose his nerve. The failure of this venture was to have repercussion for a long time afterward.


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