On This Day: 30 January 1681

On this day in 1681, Captain Thomas Bowrey was still at Goa with John Dunaway and a Portuguese boy. They had arrived there in a small boat with three lascars after their ketch had been attacked by pirates on the Malabar coast as described on 23 December. The remain lascar crew of the ketch would join them a few days later having taken 40 days to reach there from Burgara.

Goa had been the capital of the Portuguese empire around the Indian ocean and remained their territory until 1961 but they were no longer the powerhouse they had once been in the region. Blockades by the Dutch in the first half of the seventeenth century had taken their toll. When Bowrey arrived, the settlement was still using the old city or Velha Goa but it was already in decline. The population of 200,000 in 1543 had reduced to 1,500 by 1775.

1681 was during a short and rare period of peace in Europe but until a few years earlier England had been at war with the Dutch. Goa, therefore, would have been a relatively safe place to have stayed but it has to be assumed that he was keen to return to Fort St George as soon as possible. Presumably he was waiting for a suitable ship to call there. Nothing is known of Bowrey for the rest of the year. It is possible that he was to remain at Goa for some time yet.

2 thoughts on “On This Day: 30 January 1681

  1. These two posts are very interesting. I had wondered why Bowrey does not appear in the Fort St George (Madras) records until 1683 (or end 1682 – i need to check). Obviously he did a lot of travelling before then – see Temple’s Introduction in “Bowrey’s Geographical Account of Countries…” Perhaps he wasn’t based in Madras in his early years?
    Andrew S


    1. Andrew
      Not only was Bowrey unlikely to be working on his own account until about 1682/83 but the records of Fort St George did not appear to record the comings and goings of independent country ships before then. I have assumed that different people were involved in keeping the diary notes before and after this time.
      It is fortunate that Bowrey kept his own record of that time. Fort St George appears to have been his base but, as he recorded, he travelled a great deal. By the time he was working for himself, he appears to have a good knowledge of a very wide area of the “East Indies”.
      Incidentally, contrary to Temple, Bowrey arrived in Fort St George at the age of ten. His age is the third factor involved in the lack of records about him this early.
      If all goes to plan, I shall be able to get to TNA on Thursday and will, hopefully, have something to report after then.


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