I have no doubt the people involved understood the transaction recorded by today’s document but I do not. On this day in 1706, Captain Thomas Wybergh in Lincolns Inn addressed his bill for muslins to Mr Benn Davies. Wybergh was the commander of Thomas Bowrey’s Rising Sun who had recently arrived home from the East Indies. It was the quaint wording of this bill that caught my attention and marked it out from the mass of similar documents in Bowrey’s papers.
It said: Mr Benn davies you have the Paper in your Pockett in which is incerted the Depts due Upon the Shipps Bookes to put in your Dept of Zach Davis, which desire you to Pay him according to agreement. [Mr Ben Davies, You have the paper in your pocket in which is inserted the debts due upon the ship’s books to put in your debt of Zachary Davis, which I desire you to pay him according to our agreement.] It is unclear precisely what this strange wording actually meant. The bill goes on to say that the items listed were delivered to him on board. Was he part of the crew, a passenger on the voyage or had just collected the items in person?
The items listed included muslins, French brandy, a ham and beef, japanned boxes and fans. The final line has a value of zero but is long and strangely varied including: arrack, sugar, gingham, waistcoats, cheese and chocolate.
The reverse of the bill only adds further confusion. It is addressed to Bowrey rather than Benn Davies and has been endorsed in Bowrey’s hand to the effect that it is Wybergh’s bill for muslins, etc.