On This Day: 10 January 1705

On this day in 1705, Charles Sherer wrote to Captain Thomas Bowrey from Calcutta. The long, chatty but business-like letters from Sherer to Bowrey after he returned home to England are a joy. Not only did he have clear hand and used conventional spelling but he writes many details that would otherwise be lost.

Sherer starts his letter by thanking Bowrey for the blank notebooks and dictionary he had sent his step-son, Robin Lesley, the tale of whose downfall I have previously recounted in this blog. There is still no good news of him other than he had an excellent faculty of learning languages. It is to be hoped that he found Bowrey’s Malay-English dictionary useful.

In this missive, Sherer explains that the knives Bowrey had sent out to India with his Middleton cousin were sent up the Country to be sold for no less than 25 rupees but most of them had been returned unsold. I had wondered why Bowrey had sent them to a region well able to make their own. However, Sherer complains about the poor prices being received for all goods from England. Trade was not good.

Like many of Bowrey’s acquaintances who wrote to him in London, Sherer was hoping to return himself soon. All the correspondents complained that they had sustained loses and there was no chance of bettering themselves further. It does appear that, either by luck or design, Bowrey had returned at the right time. Sherer’s fortunes were so low that he was hoping to find an aristocratic patron (Price Devereux, 8th Viscount Hereford) for his six year old son and a beneficial job for himself. He was planning to leave his wife, the sister of Robert Masfen, behind in India. She was still too weak from a recent illness and had children in India. Her daughter was married to Maximillion Fleetwood at Madras.

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