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Papers on the Observatory's history, 1862 - 1909

Reference Code: GBR/0180/RGO 7/1

Scope and Contents

Correspondence and other papers relating to different aspects of the history of the Royal Observatory:

Copy of John Flamsteed's will.

Copy of Edmond Halley's will.

Correspondence from F. Streatfield asking for a list of Astronomers Royals and other information, and a letter from W.S. Granville Richards asking for any information about T. Taylor in the Royal Observatory records, 1878.

Correspondence with Captain S.P. Oliver on the subject of Halley's monument, 1880.

Correspondence between Sir George Airy and the Director of Works on the repairs made to Halley's tombstone at Lee, 1878-1881.

Address to Sir George Airy on his retirement, 1881.

Miscellaneous correspondence with Sir George Airy, 1882-1890. The correspondents are A.M.W. Downing, H.H. Turner and W.J. Wickison.

Memorial to Sir George Airy on his 90th birthday, 1891.

Letters of condolence from Admiral E. Mouchez and K. Worrschiloff on the death of Sir George Airy, 1892.

Obituary notices for Sir George Airy from 'The Times', 5 January 1892; 'East Anglian Daily Times', 5-11 January 1892; 'Proceedings of the Royal Society'; 'Institution of Civil Engineers'; 'Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society' (by H.H. Turner); and 'Astronomische Nachrichten' (by Turner).

Correspondence with E. Ammanney, J. Evans, J.W.L. Glaisher, Mr Horsyth, J.F. Tennant and Sir W. Thomson regarding a proposed memorial to Sir George Airy, 1892, with a list of people who attended the preliminary meeting concerning this matter.

Letter of enquiry from J.E. Hodgkin, 1882, questioning the accuracy of an excerpt from Flamsteed's manuscripts published in the 'Every Day Book' for 10 August (Journal 1880-1881).

Correspondence with W. Cudworth, 1887-1888, requesting and being granted permission to examine the letters of Abraham Sharp for the purpose of writing a biography.

Correspondence with the Revd B. Price, 1887, concerning the life of Halley and the literary qualifications of Mr Ranyard as a possible author.

Letter from E.M. Evans about Ilkeston church, which contains relics of the Flamsteed family, 1889.

Letter from R.B. Prosser trying to ascertain if G. Knight was ever paid the sum of £300 recommended by the Board of Longitude for his improvements to the mariners' compass, 1891.

Information supplied to Captain W.J. Wharton, 1892, about the voyage to Barbados of N. Maskelyne and C. Green (assistant to J. Bradley and N. Bliss).

'A Short History of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich' by W.T. Lynn, and two letters from Lynn on the subject of a memorial for Flamsteed in Burstow church, 1892.

Letter from Mrs A.S. Green, 1892, seeking permission to examine some engravings of the Royal Observatory and others owned by it, and to have copies made with which to illustrate 'A Short History of English People'.

Correspondence of the Flamsteed Memorial Committee, 1893.

Thomas Lindsay's 'Historical Sketch of the Greenwich Nautical Almanac', 1895.

Letter from Washington Teasdale enclosing photographs of J. Glaisher and Perigal, 1897, with a reply from Christie indicating that the photographs were received and retained, although they do not appear with this correspondence.

Letter from H. Griesbach enquiring about the place of birth and death of G. Gilpin, 1899.

Letter from the Coast and Geodetic Survey Office, United States of America, requesting information about the lives of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon for the purpose of including two biographies in a bibliography, 1899.

Letter replying and giving the requested information concerning C. Mason, 1899.

Letter from David H. Ray, 1901, requesting details of the instruments used by C. Mason and D. Dixon in America, c. 1767.

Letter from Christabel Airy, 1901, requesting permission for W. Williamson, an artist, to borrow and copy the bust of Sir George Airy owned by the Royal Observatory in order to make a medallion from it.

Letter from Josef and Jan Fric requesting details of the construction of the Royal Observatory buildings and instruments, 1902, with a reply giving a list of publications on this subject.

Letter from G. Borrel requesting a description of the Greenwich time signal system and the correction of faults in clocks, 1902, with a reply mentioning various excerpts and cuttings.

Letter from Dr Osmund Airy enquiring if Sir George Airy had any correspondence with James Bowman Lindsay, 1902, with a reply stating that no mention of any such correspondence could be found in the Royal Observatory papers.

Letter from Greenwich Council on the subject of a new coat of arms for the Council, with a reply arranging a meeting, 1902.

Letter to Jean de Tourga Stchiquelsky informing him that 'Zylinski's Vertical Circle' had been traced to the Front Courtyard and inviting him to view it, 1903.

Letters from A.V. White enquiring how the height of the Royal Observatory above 'mean water' at Greenwich and Liverpool was deduced, 1903.

Letter to the Director General of Ordnance Surveys at Southampton referring White's letter to him, 1904.

Letter to A.V. White informing him of the referral of his letter and enclosing a copy of the Director General's reply, 1904.

Letter from Sir R. Ball on behalf of an American friend wanting to know of any correspondence between B. Franklin and N. Maskelyne, 1905.

Letter from N.T. Thistleton Dyer requesting a rough proof of an article published in 'Nature' Magazine, 24 May 1906, which referred to his grandfather, N. Maskelyne, 1906, with a copy of the article.

Correspondence with the Revd G. Austen regarding instruments lent to him by the Board of Longitude, 1906. Austen's letters concern his attempt to obtain information about the Board of Longitude and ask if any of the instruments now in his possession correspond with those on the Board's list.

Rough draft and a final draft of a reply to the Revd Austen giving details of the Board of Longitude and informing him that the instruments he describes do not correspond with those listed by the Board, 1906.

Letter of reply from the Revd Austen giving his thanks, 1906.

Extract from the minutes of the meeting of the Longitude Commission, 2 March 1776, concerning the arrangements of the voyage of the 'Resolution' and the 'Discovery' to the southern hemisphere [1906].

Extract from the minutes of the meeting of the Longitude Commission, 17 August 1785, concerning the loan of astronomical instruments to Captain Cook [1906].

Letter to H.H. Turner requesting a copy of an article in the 'Cornhill Magazine' concerning Greenwich Time, 1907, with a reply enclosing the article.

Correspondence on the restoration of Halley's tomb at Lee, 1908, including a letter from E. Clapton, Rector of Lee, proposing the restoration.

Report from G. Lipton on the state of repair of Halley's tomb, 1908.

Letter to the 'Civil Engineer' asking that the repairs to the tomb be carried out under supervision of the Admiralty, 1908.

Extract from the 'Standard', 30 November 1908.

Correspondence on the subject of the restoration of Halley's tomb, 1908. The letters concern the attempt to establish which official body is responsible for the renovation: the Admiralty or the Royal Observatory.

Excerpt from the 'Blackheath Local Guide and Advertiser', 15 May 1909, on the restoration of Halley's tomb.

Articles on the history and work of the Royal Observatory, 1862, including 'The Royal Observatory' by James Glaisher, and 'A Night at the Observatory' by E. Dunkin.

Excerpt from the 'Philosophical Magazine', May 1863, on the subject of magnetic actions on clock rates.

Lecture by W. Ellis on the Greenwich system of time signals, delivered 1865, filed 1901.

Extract from the 'Horological Journal', November 1875, titled 'Standard Sidereal Clock', and a map showing the allowance of time to be made on account of the velocity of sound for the Westminster clock bell.

Extract from 'The Observatory' on 'The Historical Instruments at Greenwich', 1890.

Articles on the Royal Observatory by E.W. Maunder extracted from 'Leisure Hour', 1898.

Article from the 'New Penny Magazine' by C. McDonell titled 'What is Greenwich Time?', 1901.

Extract from 'Our Boys Magazine' by G. Angus, April 1905, titled 'Greenwich Observatory from within', 1905.

Cutting from the 'Illustrated Mail', 13 February 1904, on 'How Chronometers are examined and corrected'.

Extract from the 'Cornhill Magazine' by H.H. Turner, January 1907, titled 'Greenwich Time'.


  • Creation: 1862 - 1909


Conditions Governing Access

From the Management Group:

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (


1 volume(s) (1 volume)

Language of Materials


Former / Other Reference


Finding aid date

2006-03-30 10:39:03+00:00

Includes index.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom