Edward Barlow was a seventeenth century mariner who left a diary of his life at sea. Today’s book, A Seventeenth Century Mariner is Captain A G Course’s book based on this diary. You may, perhaps, come across Barlow having found one of his illustrations from his diary somewhere on the Internet.
Other than being at sea at a similar time to Captain Thomas Bowrey, there was likely similarity between them but Course’s book is still able to provide some of the details not available in Bowrey’s papers. Barlow was the son of a farmhand born well away from the coast who ran away to sea in a way often seen as romantic whereas Bowrey was the son of a naval captain born in a community of sailors and was born to the sea. Barlow started his career on a Royal Navy ship, a world rejected by Bowrey.
The original diary is held at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich but, frustratingly, Course’s book is not a transcript of it. However, today’s book still provides very useful details of a sailor’s daily diet. Within Bowrey’s papers, there are bills for food for his ships but not indication on how this was consumed on board. More importantly, the diary include the voyage Barlow took on an East India Company ship to Formosa (Taiwan or the Republic of China) as well as other voyages to India. He later commanded a Company ship.
Today’s book includes invaluable contemporary descriptions of places, or details about people, known to Bowrey.