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Papers of Nevil Maskelyne : Positions of places in the East Indies

Heywood, Peter

Papers of Nevil Maskelyne

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This small, roughened notebook represents a list of accurate locations sent to Nevil Maskelyne, Astronomer Royal, by Peter Heywood, a naval officer in the East Indies, around 1805. Infamous for his part in the mutiny on the Bounty in 1789 (see Greg Dening, <i>Mr Bligh's bad language: Passion, power and theatre on the Bounty</i> ), and subsequent royal pardon due to naval connections in 1792, Heywood went on to a moderately distinguished naval career. He was particularly noted for his skills in hydrography, and was offered the post of Admiralty hydrographer in 1818. The accurate locations listed in this notebook were also presented to the Admiralty in 1805 and were the basis for Admiralty charts of the East Indies published later.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The notebook is wrapped in a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage();return false;'> covering letter (RGO 4/109:46)</a> from Heywood to Maskelyne, explaining that the locations have been taken over nine years spent on various ships in the East Indies, and 'determined by good chronometers (No 4260 of Hughes & No 500 both made by Mr Earnshaw), and by my own observations.' The 'Mr. A Graham my most particular friend' at whose instigation he reports to have sent these, is presumably Aaron Graham, a former deputy judge, who had provided Heywood's legal advice during his trial for court martial, and whose niece Heywood subsequently married in 1816. His future wife entertained literary and scientific circles at her house in Dulwich, which included Sir Joseph Banks, and where Heywood and Maskelyne may also have met.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The locations are listed alphabetically in the notebook, with a new page for each letter, and spaces left to add further locations. Each is listed with its latitude, and its longitude by either lunar distance, or chronometer, or both. The facing page lists how the longitude was determined and when. Heywood appears to have visited certain locations multiple times, and been able to compare longitudes. That of the Amboina Flagstaff, for example, is <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(4);return false;'> noted as (RGO 4/109:1v-2r)</a> determined by 'Chronometer and lunar distances 1800 to 1804.' By contrast, other entries list only a date, or <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(12);return false;'> 'sun and moon indifferent' (RGO 4/109:5v-6r)</a> and give only a longitude from lunar distances. Some lack a longitude or latitude figure. Most, however, seem to have been found by chronometer from a previous location.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The dating of the book is a little confused. Heywood states on the opening page that observations were taken between 1799 and 1805, and a note on the flyleaf, possibly by Maskelyne, records the book as received in September 1805, yet some individual observations are dated 1797, and Heywood's covering letter appears to be dated November 1804. 1805 was a key year in the debates over chronometers between John Arnold and Thomas Earnshaw, which are played out in Volumes <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00026'> 26 (RGO 14/26)</a> and <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00027'> 27 (RGO 14/27)</a> of the Board of Longitude archives. Maskelyne was Earnshaw's main patron in his claims for a reward.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Katy Barrett<br />History and Philosophy of Science<br />University of Cambridge<br /></p>

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