On This Day: 31 December 1701 & 1702

On this day in 1701 & 1702, and probably every year from 1690 to 1706, William Charlton, sent his bill for caring for the Duck yacht during the previous year to Captain Thomas Bowrey. The care with which the Duck was treated demonstrates Bowrey’s fondness for his yacht. She was built by John Freame of Wapping to Bowrey’s exacting specifications.

Occasionally, he let the yacht out to someone else. In 1705 this was to Peregrine Osborne the 2nd Marquess of Carmarthen who used the yacht for 109 days. A Member of Parliament from 1677 until he became a member of the Lords in 1689 and he chose the Royal Navy as a career over politics. Osborne became Vice Admiral of the Red (the senior vice admiral subordinate only to the Admiral of the fleet – the red – and the admirals of the white and blue) in 1703. He was a ship designer who served as liaison with the Tsar Peter the Great on his visit to Deptford in 1698. Bowrey charged him £1 per day (worth little more that £150 today) for the used of the Duck. Considerably less than a yacht charter today but, then, Bowrey’s yacht was a great deal less luxurious.

It is not known why Bowrey chose the name for his yacht but, as he cared so much for her, the name was likely to be significant. There is a letter dated 1700 in which is written Sir if you please to tell your Dear Duck. I suspect that Duck may have been his pet name for his wife, Mary.

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