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Papers of John Pond : Correspondence on chronometers

Pond, John

Papers of John Pond

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This volume is a note book maintained by both Astronomer Royal John Pond and his assistant Thomas Taylor filled with copies of the outgoing correspondence from the Royal Observatory. Presumably Pond and Taylor kept this record of their interactions with chronometer makers due to the commercial nature of the correspondence, often regarding the commissioning of repairs and its negotiated price. We can also sometimes see the repairs that correlate to the incoming letters reporting the damage done to chronometers, for example on 16th of February 1822 Pond was <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00005-00229/'> instructed (RGO 5/229:32)</a> by John Barrow, Second Secretary to The Admiralty, to supply new chronometers to the Kangaroo Surveying Vessel in Jamaica via HMS Scout in order to replace chronometers that were damaged by lightning. In this volume we see the lightning-damaged chronometers being <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(12);return false;'> sent out for repair (RGO 5/233:2v)</a> on 29th of April 1822 after they had made their way back to Greenwich.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The other dominant subject of the notebook is evident in the large volume of instructions for the movement of chronometers to and from Greenwich and various other storage locations, usually near ports, or directly to ships preparing to sail. For example there is a <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(100);return false;'> letter (RGO 5/233:42v)</a> to Captain J Wilson, from Thomas Taylor, dated 20th April 1828, asking him when he is able to receive the chronometer that he has been instructed by Barrow to send him. There are also several accounts of chronometers that did not make it to port, which serve to remind us of the fragility of this hardware. Pond writes to Barrow to <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage();return false;'> inform (RGO 5/233:16)</a> him that two chronometers by Arnold had arrived in Portsmouth broken and had therefore been returned directly and that Pond had replaced them with chronometers by Parkinson and Baker. There are also several letters to Mr Cox, who was hired to care for government chronometers at the depository at Devonport shortly after an <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage();return false;'> outgoing letter (RGO 5/233:28)</a> to the Admiralty encouraging them to take him on. Pond a few days later, on 22nd of February 1826, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(77);return false;'> writes (RGO 5/233:32r)</a> to Barrow to see if it is appropriate to start sending chronometers down to Cox at Devonport and receives <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(79);return false;'> instructions (RGO 5/233:33r)</a> to do so three days later.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This notebook, mutually kept between Taylor and Pond, is a sign of the relatively new demand to keep a record of interactions with other gentlemen. There are a wide range of recipients to this outgoing correspondence, from clockmakers' assistants to members of the Admiralty and they are all recorded in these pages. There are also <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(73);return false;'> copies of letters that are pasted into the volume (RGO 5/233:31r)</a> suggesting that the maintenance of this book was of some importance as outgoing copies or drafts of letters would perhaps need to be called on later.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>There are also several rather interesting letters from Pond to the Admiralty Board asking to adjust the parameters of the annual chronometer trial held at the Royal Observatory. On 16th of June 1827, Pond <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(90);return false;'> reported (RGO 5/233:37v)</a> that the number of chronometers deposited for the annual trial had “so much increased of late years, that they very materially interfere with the business of the Royal Observatory” and suggests that the already existing regulation of two chronometers per maker in the trial should be enforced more carefully as it was easily evaded. Pond also suggests that at the end of the first month he should select forty of the best watches to continue for the remainder of the year's trial and have the rest removed.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>A rather significant list can also be found in the back of this notebook; a diary of orders, received by Pond, to send chronometers to particular ships followed by a record of the date that it was completed. Some of these requests for chronometers are completed within a couple of days of receiving them, others appear to take several months. The list starts 23rd July 1821, with the first letter copied into the notebook not appearing till 1822, and finishes on 31st July 1835.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Sophie Waring<br />History and Philosophy of Science<br />University of Cambridge<br /></p>

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