On This Day: 5 January 1702

On this day in 1701, the Worcester was on the Thames in London receiving cargo for her ill-fated voyage to the East Indies. This had been going on for some time and was to continue a while yet. On this day, she received two deliveries.

James Burn, the boatswain, received on board 367 bars of Crin. I really do not know what this was. Burn’s spelling was interesting: seven was spelled sevin, and Worcester as wistter. Even allowing for this, I have been unable to work out what he meant by crin.

James Burn also signed for three chests from Thomas Bowrey, one of the owners and freighters. These chests were identified with a mark of a circle divided by a horizontal line and a vertical line from the centre of the circle down to the bottom of the circle. There was a “W” in the top segment, “E” in the bottom left segment and “S” in the bottom right. Similar identifying marks were common both in the East Indies and London.

It would appear that the boatswain was on duty for receiving cargo on this day. On other days, other crew members signed receipts. Crew members were only on half pay whilst still on the Thames and were unlikely to have been on duty continually. Burn was a Scotsman, aged 29, and survived to voyage to be arrested with the rest of the crew after the ship was seized by his countrymen. He was tried with the others and convicted of robbery, piracy and murder. Sentenced to be hanged on 18 April 1705, he was quietly reprieved, along with the other survivors, and released a short while after the execution of Captain Thomas Green, Chief Mate John Madder and Gunner James Simpson.


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