On This Day: 16 January 1706

On this day in 1706, Mrs Buckley paid Thomas Bowrey £27/4/0 in respect of one year’s rent for his houses in Goodmans Fields. She also paid an additional £6/16/0 for the tax due. The total was the equivalent of just under £5250 today. These were the houses I wrote about a short while ago. On the reverse of the receipt, Bowrey has made a note of some of his expenses for the houses including a payment for 19 of cousin Davis’ men. If this was all his expenses, his profits for the year were a little under £17 or about £2,500 in today’s values. This demonstrates some of the difficulties in understanding monetary values in the past. The profit does not appear great, just a month or two’s rent in Goodmans Fields today, but would have been sufficient to rent one or more houses in an upmarket area of London for a year in 1706.

On the reverse of the receipt, Bowrey also wrote note about the goods, presumably somewhere in the East India market. From this we learn that fish hooks were much esteemed, that people would work for beads and wood was plentiful. Frustratingly, there is no indication of the place concerned.

This reuse of paper is something that is seen rarely within Bowrey’s papers and their volume means that I often forget the value of paper at the time. Paper-sellers were reasonably affluent tradesmen. Most of the tradesmen’s bill sent to Bowrey were on tiny scraps of paper. Paper was still made by hand from rags. It would be more than an century before cheaper paper made on an industrial scale from wood pulp would become available.



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