On This Day: 19 January 1684

On this day in 1684, Ralph Ord at Porto Novo gave his written authority to Thomas Bowrey to recover a consignment valued at 250 pagodas from Corroa de Brillo if he should meet him. The consignment belonged to Mr Clarke but de Brillo had never delivered it to Ord. This failure of de Brillo was against the unwritten code in the East Indies where valuable goods were frequently entrusted to mariners for delivery, either within the region or to England. Without such trust, trade could not have taken place.

The English East India Company world was a tightknit community. Ord was originally the schoolmaster at Fort St George but, two years earlier, had requested a change of employment because teaching was prejudicial to his health. At this time, he was a factor at Porto Novo and would eventually become chief at Priaman. He died there in 1687. In 1681, Bowrey’s business partner, James Wheeler, had married Ord’s daughter, Tryphona, who had been a bridesmaid at the marriage of Elihu Yale’s son the previous year.

There is nothing further about de Brillo in Bowrey’s papers and we will never know if the consignment was recovered.


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