Rehabilitating Nevil Maskelyne – Part Four: The Harrisons’ accusations, and conclusions

It is clear that another component of the Harrisons’ suspicions towards Nevil Maskelyne was their long-held conviction that he was actually a competitor for the longitude reward that they thought was rightfully theirs. We cannot be sure whether or not Nevil was hoping to obtain one of the rewards for…

Rehabilitating Nevil Maskelyne – Part Three: Cultural differences

The Harrisons and the bulk of the Commissioners of Longitude may have ended up conflicting so much by the 1760s and 1770s because they held a number of different social, legal and economic viewpoints. Some of these can be attributed to the general confusion that existed in Georgian Britain about…

Rehabilitating Nevil Maskelyne – Part Two: Why lunar distance?

Another element of the accusation that Maskelyne and the Commissioners of Longitude were wrong-headed in their treatment of John Harrison, is the idea that they were short-sighted to continue to consider the lunar-distance method as well, and that they were over-invested in it due to self-interest. Today many people have…

Rehabilitating Nevil Maskelyne – Part One: Reassessing the accusations

Today is the bicentennial of the death of Nevil Maskelyne (6 October 1732 – 9 February 1811), who was much admired in his own time but has been unfairly reduced in recent years to the arch villain in the tale of John Harrison‘s invention of the marine chronometer. As I’ll…