Posts Tagged ‘nevil maskelyne’

LIEUTENANT WILLIAM DAWES – THE ‘ETERNAL FLAME’ & THE SHOCK OF THE NEW SOUTH WALES CORPS

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

‘He [Dawes] was the scholar of the [First Fleet] expedition, man of letters and man of science, explorer, mapmaker, student of language of anthropology, teacher and philanthropist’. Professor G.A. Wood, Lieutenant William Dawes and Captain Watkin Tench, Royal Australian Historical Society Journal, Vol. 19, Part 1, 1924

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‘English clockmaker John Harrison, a mechanical genius who pioneered the science of portable precision timekeeping…invented a clock that would carry the true time from the home port, like an eternal flame, to any remote corner of the world’. Dava Sobel, Longitude, Fourth Estate, 1998

1788 – Warranne – Sydney Cove, 26 January:  K I – a faithful replica of H-4 John  Harrison’s ‘sea-going pocket watch’ fetched up at one particular ‘remote corner of the world’ aboard HMS Supply one (1) of  eleven (11) ‘First Fleet’ ships with a complement of 1500 souls.

While Indigenous Australians know of Marine Lieutenant William Dawes non-indigenous Australians ‘and from all the lands on earth we come’ know almost nothing of Dawes.

And it appears northing at all of Harrison’s chronometer H-4. The ‘portable precision timekeep[er]’  whose ‘eternal flame’, played such an important role in the invasion of New Holland and dispossession of its First Peoples?

Harrison H-4 Chronometer

‘When leaving Botany Bay [for Sydney Cove] Phillip noticed [La Perouse with] two French ships in the  offing….there would seem to be “some justification for the saying that England won Australia by six days”. Edward Jenks, History of the Australian Colonies, cited H.E. Egerton, A short History of British Colonial Policy, Methuen, London 1928

 

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YORKSHIRE: COOK – HARRISON – 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, London, 1998

Harrison H-4 Chronometer

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

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

1714  – Westminster: An enquiry into England’s first recorded 18th century maritime disaster resulted in legislation- The Act of Longitude 1714.

A Board of Longitude was established under the Act. Its task to invite submissions, evaluate their worth and award a prize of £20,000 to whom-so-ever solved the problem of determining longitude at sea.

The contest developed into a naked grab for cash to the detriment of the world’s seafarers.  A king’s ransom, reckoned now at more than £400,000,000, did much to delay recognition of the solution at the cost of countless lives.  See: Lotto and Longitude

‘John Harrison, the man who solved longitude in 1759’. Peter Ackroyd, Revolution, Macmillan, London, 2016 See: Lieutenant William Dawes & ‘The Eternal Flame’

In truth there were only two (2) viable contenders for the Longitude Prize. The Nautical Almanac of Astronomer Royal Rev. Nevil Maskelyne a system of  Luna Tables  and Star Cataglog. A method favoured by a succession of Astronomer Royals.

‘The Board of Longitude was top-heavy with astronomers, mathematicians and navigators…the Reverend Nevil Maskelyne the fifth astronomer royal, who contested his [Harrison’s] claim to the [Longitude] prize money and whose [Maskelyne’s] tactics at certain junctions can only be described as foul-play’. Dava Sobel. ibid.

The other was a sea-going ‘pocket-watch’ the invention of an artisan, John Harrison a Yorkshire carpenter.

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CAPTAIN COOK CAUGHT SHORT 

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

The Royal Society had accepted the recommendation of [Maskelyne] the Astronomer [Royal] 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

Greenwich: Rev. Nevil Maskelyne, Britain’s fifth Astronomer Royal judged Alexander Dalrumple, a Fellow of the Royal Society; ‘a proper Person’ but the Lords of the Admiralty would have none of Alexander Dalrymple. See: Malicious Maskelyne 

South Seas: Instead Admiralty chose James Cook, then a lowly Warrant Officer of the Royal Navy, to lead a scientific expedition to the ‘South Seas’ to observe the Transit of Venus.

‘[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. 

Earlier Edmond Haley of comet fame had predicted this celestial phenomenon would occur again in early June 1769.The expedition was a two-for-the-price-of-one venture.

The Royal Society favoured Tahiti as an ideal place to observe the Transit. But the Society could not bear the full cost of sending observers to Tahiti.

They went into partnership with the Lords of the Admiralty who agreed to supply a ship and pay its captain and crew.

 After the Transit Endeavour’s Captain, now Lieutenant James Cook, was to open the Admiralty’s ‘secret instructions’. His task, sail HMS Endeavour deep into southern latitudes in search of the fabled Great South Land.

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THE THIRD MAN – CHARLES GREEN & LONGITUDE

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’s Greatest Explorer, Ebury Press, 2002

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

London: John his elder brother took Holy Orders and established a school in Soho, London.  There Charles found his ‘heavenly passion’ astronomy. After graduating he stayed on to teach mathematics.

1760 – Greenwich Observatory: In 1760 Charles applied successfully for the position of Assistant Astronomer at Greenwich Observatory. He went on to serve as Chief Assistant to three (3) Astronomer Royals, James Bradley, Nathaniel Bliss and briefly Reverend Nevil Maskelyn.

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MALICIOUS MASKELYNE

Monday, August 14th, 2017

‘The Transit [of Venus] 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

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

A century later, the Society flowered under the patronage of King George III (1720-1820), to become one of the world’s most celebrated scientific institutions.

Tahiti: In 1767 with the Transit of Venus in the offing – 3 June 1769 – its second appearance that decade – the Society petitioned King George III for financial support to send observers to send an expedition to Tahiti and report on the phenomenon.

‘That the passage of the Planet Venus over the Disc of the Sun, which will happen on the 3rd of June in the year 1769, is a Phaenomenon (sic) that must, if the same be accurately observed in proper places, contribute greatly to the improvement of Astronomy on which Navigation so much depends.

 As the [Fellows] are in no condition to defray this Expense about £4,000 pounds, exclusive of the Expense of the Ships…with all humility and submit the same to your Majesty’s Royal consideration’. Cited, H.C. Cameron, Sir Joseph Banks, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1968

1768 – February: To that end James Douglas 14th Earl of Morton, then President of the Royal Society, on 15 February 1768 penned a Memorial requesting the Monarch’s financial support.

Royal money was forthcoming for it was clear accurate and reliable ‘Navigation on which so much depends’ equated with domination over the world’s oceans. Domination would expedite expansion of territory and trade. Strategically placed ‘bases’ would more likely assure victory in time of conflict.

‘And the sum of £4,000 pounds clear of fees, [was] to be placed at the disposal of the Society…On March 5th of the next year, 1768, the Navy Board was instructed by the Admiralty to purchase a suitable vessel for the great voyage to the South Seas’. Cameron, Sir Joseph Banks, Angus and Robertson, 1968

Deptford -1768, 5 March: Admiralty settled on the Earl of Pembroke. Renamed Endeavour she was a typical coal carriercat-built bark’ of 368 tons ‘stoutly built, flatly bottomed of shallow draught’.

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