On this day in 1691, John Gray wrote to Philip Gardiner from Barbados. I am extremely grateful to Mr Gray for writing in an extremely clear hand – unlike the letter’s recipient – even if his spelling was very poor in modern terms. Gardiner not only used a script long outdated by this time but scribbled it in a way we expect of GPs today. Gardiner was an apothecary and poor handwriting in the medical profession is nothing new.
Gardiner was Thomas Bowrey’s father-in-law and, possibly, also his cousin who he trusted with his business affairs in England before he returned from India. This letter interests me because Gardiner’s origins are still a mystery to me, other than he possibly had a connection with the Clacton area of Essex, and I am always looking for clues. It seems that Gray may have been a Wapping man because he mentions his friends there.
John Gray had not only sent the letter. Captain Hobman, who had brought it from the Caribbean, had also been given a piece of eight (or silver dollar) to have a drink with Gardiner, Captain Rutter and brother Bayly. The letter concerned the payment of money due from the estate of a Mr Richardson. Gray was greatly put out by the work in having to deal with the estate without the payment of even a farthing (a quarter of a penny) and clearly wanted Gardiner to feel obligated to him.
I know from Bowrey’s papers that great pains were taken in settling the estates of people who died thousands of miles from home. Gardiner has written notes on the reverse of the letter but the parts I can decipher do not add anything meaningful to what Gray wrote.