Papers of the Board of Longitude : Papers on the loan of instruments

Papers of the Board of Longitude

<p>This volume of lists and correspondence gives us a rare glimpse into the practicalities of running the Board of Longitude. It deals with the day-to-day considerations of the books and instruments that were under the Board's supervision, and links nicely into material in other volumes, including receipts for the instruments in [<a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00019/1'>RGO 14/19</a>], and correspondence in [<a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00014/1'>RGO 14/14</a>] regarding publications gifted by the Board. Here we find lists [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(141);return false;'>93r</a>] of who should receive those publications.</p> <p>Partly the volume reads like a catalogue of the whole of the Board of Longitude archives, except that papers are grouped in 'bundles' rather than volumes. There are careful indexes [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(125);return false;'>87r</a>] of the printed books and manuscript papers stored in the Board's warehouse, mostly by year, which includes correspondence, accounts, petitions, receipts, and reports. One such document [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(21);return false;'>11r</a>] is a list sent by <a href='/search?keyword=Sir%20Harold%20Parker'>Sir Harold Parker</a> , some months after he had handed over as Secretary to the Board, detailing the books, instruments and manuscripts that had been under his care. This gives us one idea of the somewhat slapdash nature of the Board's organisation even in the 1790s, which meant that Parker was still handing over to <a href='/search?keyword=George%20Gilpin'>George Gilpin</a> months later. Similarly the minute that opens the volume [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(9);return false;'>5r</a>] shows us the <a href='/search?keyword=University%20of%20Cambridge'>University of Cambridge</a> employing extra staff in order to deal with papers stored there by the Board and therefore retrieve the much-needed space for the University.</p> <p>Mostly, the volume shows us the processes of the Board administrating and loaning instruments. Again we see somewhat sporadic organisation, explaining the background to the minute note in Volume 3 [<a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00003/47'>RGO 14/3:24r</a>], in which the Board resolved to take a proper inventory of its instruments. In a letter [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(25);return false;'>13r</a>] in 1817, <a href='/search?keyword=Stephen%20Lee'>Stephen Lee</a>, secretary to the <a href='/search?keyword=Royal%20Society'>Royal Society</a>, wrote to <a href='/search?keyword=Thomas%20Hurd'>Thomas Hurd</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections.html#!csearch;authority=agent-178430;makerReference=agent-178430'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] , then secretary to the Board of Longitude, listing the items that had been removed from their shared warehouse at the request of the Astronomer Royal <a href='/search?keyword=John%20Pond'>John Pond</a>, and stating his anxiety that he had received no receipt for this. Similarly, there are rough and neat lists of instruments [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(45);return false;'>21r</a>] that the Board had minuted as lent out, but which they had no record of having been returned.</p> <p>Lastly, the volume deals with instrument loans made by the Board. We see various lists made by the then Astronomer Royal, <a href='/search?keyword=Nevil%20Maskelyne'>Nevil Maskelyne</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/379043.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] , one itemising instruments [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(57);return false;'>27r</a>] at the <a href='/search?keyword=Royal%20Greenwich%20Observatory'>Royal Greenwich Observatory</a> that should be sent with the astronomer on HMS <a href='/search?keyword=Investigator'>Investigator</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections.html#!csearch;authority=vessel-320960;vesselReference=vessel-320960'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] , and lists of what [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(261);return false;'>155r</a>] <a href='/search?keyword=William%20Gooch'>William Gooch</a>, what [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(271);return false;'>161r</a>] <a href='/search?keyword=William%20Dawes'>William Dawes</a>, and what [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(289);return false;'>171r</a>] <a href='/search?keyword=James%20Inman'>James Inman</a> took on their respective voyages, signed by them as a receipt. Most poignantly, correspondence between the secretary George Gilpin and <a href='/search?keyword=William%20Wales'>William Wales</a>, discusses what time-keepers the Board owned, including a note from Gilpin that, 'It has occurred to me since writing the above that <a href='/search?keyword=Kendal'>Kendal</a>'s 1st Watch [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/79183.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='RMG icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] was lent to <a href='/search?keyword=Capt.%20Bligh'>Capt. Bligh</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/107428.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] & was lost when the Mutiny [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/149152.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='RMG icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] took place.'</p> <p>Katy Barrett<br />History and Philosophy of Science<br />University of Cambridge<br /> </p>


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