On This Day: 16 February 1685

On this day in 1685, Robert Callant signed a cargo shipping note on board the Borneo Merchant anchored in the road at Narsapore (modern Narasapuram in Andhra Pradesh). The note related to goods laden on the Boa Vista by Captain Thomas Bowrey. Callant was to command the voyage of the Boa Vista to Hugli in Bengal. The goods were destined for John Evans, the East India Company chaplain there.

Evans had paid for the foods to be delivered to him but Bowrey had been unable to reach Bengal in the Borneo Merchant the previous year due to adverse weather. Earlier this year, Bowrey had finally sold the pepper, the other cargo he had been stuck with when he coud not get to Hugli, to the Company at Fort St George. It had been easier to sell the ambergris, baleen and textiles to his associate, Henry Alford. There was also some indication that Bowrey had a cash flow problem and he was shortly to sail for Aceh.

Bowrey was discovering just how complex his affairs could become now that he was working for himself. When things did not go to his carefully laid plans, it was his responsibility to find the solutions. He had sent many letters to Evans (presumably overland) explaining why he had not been able to get his goods to him on time. Now he was having to carry out the difficult task of transferring cargo between two ships at anchor.

It would not be long before he started to plan to return home. Although this was always likely to have been his intension, did the difficulties he was experiencing hasten those plans?

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