On This Day: 24 January 1702

On this day in 1702, the ship Worcester was lying on the Thames at Gravesend. Finally, she was ready to sail but Robert Callant, the supercargo, was not on board.  Thomas Bowrey and the other owners wrote to him ordering him to immediately make his way to the ship where further orders awaited him. These orders were not to be opened until after they had crossed the equator.

Bowrey was impatient for his ship to depart, far too impatient to delay the Worcester much longer. She was moved to the Downs, a stretch of the English Channel off Sandwich in Kent where ships waited for the right weather conditions or a convoy in which to sail for security from pirates, privateers and enemy shipping. Bowery sent a message to the captain, Thomas Green, ordering him to sail in two days whether or not Callant had arrived.

As the supercargo was responsible for the trading undertaken on the voyage and, thus, its success or otherwise, deliberately sailing without one was a drastic measure. What appears to have happened is that Callant arrived at Gravesend to find the ship had sailed. He moved on to Deal, arriving there before the ship reached the Downs. She was delayed because the Worcester had damaged her main top mast and a replacement had to be found. The owners, Bowrey included, were becoming increasingly frustrated with the delays.


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