On this day in 1696, Captain Thomas Bowrey paid his bill of £1/5/0 for provisions supplied by a Mr Masson. Masson’s initials were, perhaps, J C I but his signature is unclear. The reverse is annotated simply Mr Masson. Thus, there is very little information provided by this receipt but it is the only document for any 22 January within Bowrey’s papers and I am called upon to write something interesting about it.
Masson does not appear to have supplied anything else to Bowrey and the term provisions could refer to any number of things. We know that he was possibly still living at Greenwich at the time on his extended honeymoon following his marriage to Mary Gardiner in September 1691 but even this is not certain. Unfortunately, his address in Greenwich has not been identified.
At the time, his fortune was slowly being repatriated from the East Indies and, as it arrived, Bowrey was making investments in companies such as the East India Company and the Linen Manufacture of England. Later in 1696, he would start releasing these funds and begin speculating in trading voyages to the East Indies.
It would be so nice, therefore, if today’s document said just a little more and enabled us to place Bowrey in a particular place or undertaking a certain activity but life is not like that and it does not. We simply know that he probably purchased some groceries a short time before this date in 1696.