On This Day: 14 December 1692

On this day in 1692, Robert Masfen wrote a letter to Thomas Bowrey from on board the William & Mary at Ingelee (probably a village in India but I have been unable to positively identify the location). This is just one of many long, rambling letters by which Masfen kept Bowrey up to date with business in the East and, more importantly, with news of the people among whom he had spent most of his life. For the first four years back in England, Bowrey spent as much time looking back as to the future.

Henry Alford, to whom Bowrey had assigned his power of attorney, had died and was buried at Fort St George with his wives. Masfen’s sister, Philadelphia, a widow with three children had married Charles Sherer, like Bowrey an independent merchant and mariner. Philadelphia’s children had been sent home to live with her mother and sister in England. Sherer made purchases on Bowrey’s behalf. In return, Bowrey paid Masfen’s mother for looking after the children.

Masfen’s first wife had died and he needed help looking after his son, Bowrey’s godson named Thomas after him, and remarried despite have no real desire to do so. Despite his reluctance, he considered himself lucky to have found another good wife. Masfen had been very ill and wrote frequently of wanting to return home, possibly reminding Bowrey of his own later years in India, and he sent many personal items to his old friend. Some make me question the choices though. Why would a man wish to wear a periwig, cravat and ruffles in the tropics?

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