Archive for August, 2017

A TETHERED GOAT – JOHN McENTIRE- 10 DECEMBER 1790

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

‘Military and police raids against dissenting Aboriginal groups lasted from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. These raids had commenced by December 1790. Professor Bruce Kercher, An Unruly Child, A History of Law in Australia, Allen and Unwin, 1995

1790 – 13 December, Sydney: Governor Phillip summoned Marine Captain Watkin Tench attend him at Headquarters on 13 December 1790.

Tench was given orders to march for Botany Bay at ‘day-light to-morrow morning…to put to death ten[10] we were to cut off, and bring in the heads of the slain,  for which purpose, hatchets and bags would be provided [and] if practicable, bring away two [2] natives as prisoners.

I [Phillip] am resolved to execute the prisoners who may be brought in, in the most public and exemplary manner, in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected’. Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

1790 – 14 December: Tench’s party consisted of; ‘two [2] captains, two [2] subalterns, and forty [40] privates, with a proper number of non-commissioned officers’.

Phillip made a spurious claim that he ordered the raid in response to an ‘unprovoked’ wounding of convict John McEntire by the warrior Pemulway at Botany Bay on 10th December 1790.

Diversion, it does not take a military strategist to smell a rat; take off the heat – emphasise an enemy and give the guys with the guns something to do. See: Machiavellian Macarthur

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CAPTAIN COOK – JOHN HARRISON – CHARLES GREEN: THREE YORKSHIRE MEN WALKED INTO A BAR

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

‘He [John Harrison] wrested the world’s whereabouts from the stars, and locked the secret in a pocket watch’. Dava Sobel, Longitude, Fourth Estate, 1998

Harrison H-4 Chronometer

Since earliest times sea-faring nations such as England, Portugal, France, Spain and the Netherlands vied with each other to solve – the Holy Grail of Navigation – longitude – calculating with precision a ship’s position while at sea beyond sight of land.

1714:  Legislation, The Act of Longitude 1714, followed an enquiry into England’s first recorded 18th century maritime disaster.

In 1707 in heavy weather off the Cornish coast six (6) of Admiral Shovell’s ships lost their bearings and dashed to pieces on the Scilly Isles with the loss of 1500 lives.

Under the 1714 Act a Board of Longitude was established to invite and evaluate submissions and award a prize of £20,000 to whom-so-ever solved the problem of longitude.

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CAPTAIN COOK CAUGHT SHORT 

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

The Royal Society had accepted the recommendation of the Astronomer [Maskelyne] that [Dalrymple] the well-known hydrographer of the Pacific should be chosen as ‘a proper Person to be sent to the South Seas’. H.C. Cameron, Sir Joseph Banks, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1968

The Admiralty would have none of Alexander Dalrymple a Fellow of the Royal Society who Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne adjudged ‘a proper Person to be sent to the South Seas’.

Instead Admiralty chose James Cook a lowly Warrant Officer of the Royal Navy to replace Maskelyne’s choice of Dalrymple as Chief Observer of the Transit of Venus at Tahiti predicted to occur in early June of 1769. See: Malicious Maskelyne 

‘[Cook] Whose remarkable qualities as a seaman and as a navigator and cartographer the Admiralty had learned to value because of his outstanding service in the operation under [General] Wolfe in Canada [Seven Years War 1756-1763]. Cameron. ibid. 

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THE THIRD MAN – CHARLES GREEN

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

‘The grim roll-call broke his [Cook’s) heart…the death of the astronomer Charles Green marked a wave of those who ‘departed this life’….By the end of January [1771] they had barely enough men to man the ship [HMS Endeavour]’. Vanesssa Collingridge, Captain Cook, The Life, Death and Legacy of History Greatest Explorer, Ebury Press, 2002

Charles Green son of ‘a prosperous’ free-hold Yorkshire farmer was born in Swinton towards the end of 1734. He received a broad education with a strong emphasis on science.

John his elder brother having taken Holy Orders established a school in Soho, London. Charles found his ‘heavenly passion’ astronomy. After he graduated Charles staying on for a time to assist John with the teaching of mathematics.

In 1760 Charles applied successfully for the position of Assistant Astronomer at Greenwich Observatory. He served three (3) Astronomer Royals in that capacity.

James Bradley first of these men had, in 1742, succeeded Edmond Halley of comet fame who held the post of Astronomer Royal for twenty-two (22) years from 1720-1742.

Bradley is celebrated principally for his work on the speed of light. In 1728 he estimated light moved at the speed of 295,000 km (183,000 miles) per second.

Three (3) centuries later – 2017 – Bradley’s calculations were amended to 299,790 km (186,290 miles) per second.

If only Bradley had stuck to light and left time and longitude to Mr. John Harrison inventor of the sea-going ‘pocket-watch’ – an accurate marine chronometer – many a sea-farer would not have met a watery end. Bradley’s tenure lasted twenty (20) years he died in 1762.

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MOON VERSUS MACHINE

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Compared with that of Banks, Mr. Green’s equipment was comparatively modest. On May 5th, 1768, at a meeting of Council of the Royal Society it was resolved that the instruments for the use of the Observers of the South Latitudes be the following:

 Two [2] reflecting telescopes of two [2] foot focus…[1] brass Hadley’s sextant, [1] barometer bespoke of Mr Ramsden, [1] Journeyman’s Clock bespoke by Mr Skelton, two [2] Thermometers of Mr Bird, [1] Stand for Bird’s Quadrant, [1] dipping needle bespoke by Mr Ramsden’. H.C. Cameron, Sir Joseph Banks, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1966

Here two (2) of a plethora of questions must be asked. Who was Mr. Green and why did HMS Endeavour sail on such an important voyage without Mr. John Harrison’s H-4 chronometer?

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MALICIOUS MASKELYNE

Monday, August 14th, 2017

1663 – England: In 1663 during the reign of King Charles II (1660-1685) a collection of ‘enquiring men of science’ – the ‘Invisible College’ – morphed into the Royal Society.

A century later under the patronage of King George III between 1760  and 1820 the Society flowered into one of the world’s most celebrated scientific institutions.

1767: With the Transit of Venus in the offing – 3 June 1769 – its second appearance in the decade 1760 the Society petitioned King George III for financial support.

‘The Transit was more than just an astronomical curio, it was the key to a wealth of information about the universe, information that would be seized upon by the intensely curious men of science who characterised the age. Vanessa Collingridge, Captain Cook, The Life, Death and Legacy of History’s Greatest Explorer, Random House, 2003 

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LOTTO AND LONGITUDE

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

‘But by reason of the motion of the Ship, the Variation of Heat and Cold, Wet and Dry, and the Difference of Gravity in different Latitudes, such a watch hath not yet been made”. And not likely to be, either, he implied’.  Isaac Newton cited, Dava Sobel, Longitude, Fourth Estate, London, 1998

‘Not likely’ – not so – as early as 1736, on a timed voyage, England to Lisbon aboard HMS Centurian, H-1 a marine clock had shown itself a reliable time-keeper.

‘He [Harrison] succeeded, against all odds, in using the fourth – temporal – dimension to link points on the three-dimensional globe’. Sobel ibid.

Accurate time-keeping was essential to the calculation of longitude that gave a ship’s precise position at sea when beyond sight of land.

‘John Harrison, the man who solved longitude in 1759’. Peter Ackroyd, Revolution, Macmillan, 2016

Harrison was the carpenter from Yorkshire whose invention, the sea-going watch, solved the problem of longitude.

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