On this day in 1705, Richard Griffin wrote to his parents from the Cape of Good Hope. Griffin was chief mate of Thomas Bowrey’s Mary Galley. They had arrived safely a week earlier, his ship having stopped to restock with water. Griffin was passing on news he had obtained from someone living at the Cape that Captain Goodfellow was dead and Mr Gunn drowned (according to other sources, with three others whilst going ashore in India). The fifth mate, called Davis, was currently in command with Mr Watts as his chief mate. Davis had been elected to the position.
It appears that Griffin’s brother, Nicholas, was a midshipman on board the East India Company’s Abbington but he was well, a brisk sailor and minds his business very well. He was well respected by everybody. This must have been welcome news for the parents of a young man starting his career at sea.
From East India Company records, it appears that Goodfellow believed had had been poisoned in India by the black wench of Mr Brabrons. The Abbington had sailed from England together with the Josiah. There was a near mutiny on the Josiah between the Cape and the west coast of India.
The events described in this letter illustrate the risks associated with East Indies trading voyages at the time.