On This Day: 29 December 1696

It was probably on this day in 1696 when Mary Bowrey and her sister Elizabeth Gardiner escorted by William Walton arrived in Portsmouth to visit Captain Thomas Bowrey on board the St George Galley.

Walton was there to represent the other investors in the voyage of the galley but Mary and her sister are likely to have been their to improve Bowrey’s morale. His correspondence with his friend, Nathaniel Long, shows every sign that he was feeling low physically and, most likely, mentally as well. The limited surviving correspondence between Mary and her husband demonstrates that there was real affection between the couple.

However, Mary was an unlikely bride for Bowrey. Her sister was more literate and much more business minded. Elizabeth was also a more suitable age. The age gap between the couple was greater than the norm for people of their class and time and Mary was younger than would be expected at marriage. Correspondence indicates that Bowrey hoped to marry shortly after returning from India but delayed it by a couple of years leading me to believe that, perhaps, he had expected to marry Elizabeth and fell for Mary instead.


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