On This Day: 4 February 1703

On this day in 1703, Samuel Dodd replied to Thomas Bowrey’s questions concerning his legal position following the piracy of the Prosperous. What Bowrey had asked related to his entitlement to ship another cargo to the East Indies under the licence issued for the Prosperous and whether this new cargo would be exempt from customs duties.

The East India Company had a legal monopoly of English trade with the East Indies but an Act of Parliament had allowed Separate Stock, that is independent, ships to be granted a licence by the company to trade in the region. The Prosperous had been granted such a licence but all her outbound cargo had been taken by pirates before any trade could take place.

Dodd’s opinion was a mix of good and bad news for Bowrey. He should be allowed to ship the same value of cargo again without paying any additional duty but that the licence would not be extended to a different ship. He would need to obtain a new licence which begs the question: was there a cost involved or just a difficulty in obtaining the licence? I can recall no mentions of a fee being paid in any of Bowrey’s papers but also only once is there any correspondence about obtaining a licence.


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