On This Day: 21 January 1706

On this day in 1706, Thomas Bowrey signed a pre-printed letter presumably designed to be sent to sea captains, ships’ supercargoes and other mariners. That he had printed forms designed for this purpose suggests that he sent these letter to most, if not all, ships departing for the East Indies and clearly shows that he had not given up his language projects after the death of Thomas Hyde.

He requested that the recipients collected Indian characters for alphabets, numbers, months and days of the week plus around 200 of the most used names of men, animals and merchandise. He continued by providing strict instructions on how to record the information and the amount of detail he wanted especially about merchandise.

In his final paragraph, he explained that he wanted the information for a book about all parts of India which he thought would be for the public good. By India he probably meant the whole of the East Indies including present day Malaysia and Indonesia. This project does not appear to have come of anything and I have found no responses to this letter within Bowrey’s papers.


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