Informal East India Company Lunch

Yesterday’s lunch at the Gilbert Scott restaurant, St Pancras, was enjoyable with a group interested in various aspects of the East India Company, admittedly at a later period than that of Captain Thomas Bowrey. As Derek, our organiser said, there was unlikely to be another conversation such as ours going on in London at the time. In fact, for us, it was probably the most interesting discussion anywhere.

We became so involved that the time flew and a couple of us had to dash for our trains before the coffee.

To give you some idea of what it was like, our conversation ranged from knowledge of preventing scurvy before the time of Dr James Lind – Bowrey’s household and ship victualing accounts included large amounts of lemon and limes and there are accounts of mariners knowing that they had to make for land as soon as scurvy appeared on board – and incidences of people connected to the East India Company committing suicide by jumping from windows – apparently a frequent occurrence but not something recorded in Bowrey’s papers. In his time, it seems that people were more likely to blame others for their misfortunes. It seems, later, that personal guilt was more common.

It has been great fun attending conferences and celebratory meals since I finished writing Bowrey’s biography. It is a shame that it has all come to an end for this year but it is now the beginning of December and Christmas is looming up ahead of us and we have received our first three Christmas cards. However, the festive season will just be a short interlude. My diary for next year is already filling and I look forward to continuing to bring Thomas Bowrey to the attention of the world.


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