On This Day: 10 December 1687

On this day in 1687, Thomas Bowrey started two account books for his stay in Porto Novo (Parangipettai, India) – one business and the other for his household. It was to be his last visit to the town and he was to stay for three months. He was in the middle of his preparation for returning home to England. His previous stay there, earlier the same year, had been distressing. He was imprisoned for a few days following an altercation with a local merchant.

For the household he bought a quarter of pork, four measures of rice, three loaves of bread, twenty-five limes, oil and wood plus some non-specific provisions. He also made the first of regular payments to the Cunecoply of Porto Novo. Over the three months he made twenty-nine such payments to, I guess, some form of local official but whether this is a bribe or local tax is not clear.

For the business, he paid for ten Coolies from Madras for Mr Fleming and four Peons as well as small amount of coconut oil. Both coolie and peon usually refer to unskilled labourers and the rate paid was the same for both. In view of his earlier experience it is possible, therefore, that they were batta peons, or armed guards, employed to provide Bowrey with protection.



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