Persons of Interest – Thomas Bowrey Posted 13 August 2018 by Tessa Keough It was 1669 and a young boy arrived, alone, at Fort St. George, India. His father had died at the height of the Great Plague and he had witnessed the Fire of London. His mother was about to leave England expecting to join her son and her second husband in Bombay, on the other side of the sub-continent, not knowing her husband had died and her son had moved on. It is unlikely mother and son ever saw each other again. That the young child’s story can be told is the result of a chance discovery in 1913, in a dark, windowless attic, of a chest holding a large collection of late seventeenth and early eighteenth century manuscripts. Thomas Bowrey – Man and Boy Thomas Bowrey was born in Wapping at a time of huge upheaval between the death of Oliver Cromwell and the Restoration. During his life in the East Indies he learned his trade and experienced the local culture. Later, he commanded other peoples’ ships in the country trade – independent, local trading on the periphery of the English East India Company – until he was able to afford a share in his own vessel finally allowing him to amass a fortune. He spent a total of nineteen years in the East Indies where he was attacked by pirates; imprisoned by a local military commander; was the first European to record the recreational use of cannabis and played host to the reformed pirate William Dampier; before departing in 1688. On the long journey home, Thomas started working on his Malay-English Dictionary, his only work published during his lifetime. Back home in Wapping, Thomas married his cousin. After abandoning a planned return voyage to the East Indies, he would never command a ship again but continued to invest in trading voyages for another decade or so. These ventures included the ill-fated voyages of ships taken by pirates, privateers and the Scots; cast away; blown up; and lost. Later he turned to dreaming up schemes to improve trade, and his fortune, without the risks associated with maritime ventures. These wide ranging projects included the slave trade; anti-piracy measures; and the South Sea Company. In connection with the latter, he collaborated with Daniel Defoe. Through all this, Thomas succeeded in amassing a sufficient fortune for alms-houses to be built in his name following his death. On the second and fourth Mondays of each month, we share a short story provided by a member about a person of interest in their one-name study. So whether your person is good, bad, or simply interesting or unusual, please send us your story. This post is from Guild member Sue Paul. Why not submit a story (200-300 words OR a bit longer if need be) about a person of interest in your own one-name study. Email each story and image(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org.