On This Day: 11 December 1703

On this day in 1703, Peter Tom in Flushing wrote to Thomas Bowrey at Well Close Square. From this letter we get an insight of the full impact on the recent Great Storm.

After the storm, the Rising Sun was taken across the Channel for repairs. All the capacity of London shipyards was taken up repairing Royal Navy and East India Company ships. An independently owned ship would have a very low priority. Once in Flushing, the ship’s crew’s troubles were not over. Tom and the ship’s carpenter, with the help of a knowledgeable local, had been searching for replacement masts and had finally found what they needed at Flushing.

The ship’s master, Thomas Wybergh, was absent so Tom believed it was his responsibility to inform Bowrey of his concerns about the supercargo, Captain Rowley. In Tom’s opinion, Rowley fell far short of the prudence and sobriety needed to provide good management for the voyage. He suggested that Bowrey would have been better taking a man out of Bidlam (Bedlam or the Bethlehem Hospital, an institution for the insane). Tom apologised for being so frank but Rowley had been responsible for the loss of a boat with two men and a boy on board.

He finishes his letter by stressing his own good character and suitability for Rowley’s job. Was Rowley as bad as he had painted or was Tom simply taking the opportunity of his captain’s absence to engineer an opportunity for his own advancement?

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