On This Day: 13 January 1697

On this day in 1697, the crisis around the St George Galley came to a head. Following William Walton’s visit to Captain Thomas Bowrey at Portsmouth, he and those who cared for Bowrey appear to have realised just how fragile he had become. Walton, Bowrey’s friend Nathaniel Long and his father-in-law wrote a letter to him asking him to return to London saying that they would meet with the other investors. Long added his own note at the end of the letter explaining that they had been unable to arrange a meeting with the others so that they could all sign the letter.

It seems that Walton had left Bowrey’s wife, Mary, and her sister at Portsmouth with him. Perhaps it was believed that he needed their support.

Phillip Gardiner, Bowrey’s father-in-law, wrote a separate letter on the same day.  This letter is more blunt. He explained that Long had been generous in his support for Bowrey and other investors were only a little molified. He stressed that Bowrey needed to return to London, leaving the ship in Portsmouth if necessary.

It is from this day that the voyage of the St George Galley was definitely over. There was no longer any chance that the ship would be repaired and continue onto the East Indies. Whether it was the galley or Bowrey that was the most fragile at this stage is questionable.


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