On This Day: 12 February 1679

On this day in 1679, a list was drawn up of the pay of the crew of the Laurel waiting at Gravesend. There are just four documents relating to the Laurel in the papers of Thomas Bowrey. I do not recognise the handwriting on any of these documents and, at the time, Bowrey was still in the East Indies. Perhaps Bowrey’s future father-in-law, Phillip Gardiner, invested in a voyage by the ship.

For whatever reason the documents have survived, the pay list is an interesting document for any student of seventeenth century merchant mariners. While still on the Thames above Gravesend, the crew received half pay except for the carpenter and his mate who received full pay no doubt because they were fully occupied. There were thirty-five men, including five who were discharged at Gravesend, on the list.

As would be expected, the captain John Payne received the highest pay £6 per month (the equivalent of about £850 in today’s values) and received £12 for four months on half pay. The lowest paid was John Whiston who received fourteen shillings per month but must have just joined the ship because he was due nothing. Whiston’s role was not recorded but he was probably an apprentice or other young man because everyone else earned over a pound each month.


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