News

Day 2 of ‘Looking for the Longitude’: ‘galvanizing public interest’

  • 16 June 2016

Location 2: Houses of Parliament

Unknown, An Abstract of the Act of Parliament concerning the Discovery of the Longitude, and other improvements in Navigation, 1714, engraving, Dimensions unknown

Bodleian Library, Abstract of Longitude Act, Unknown, An Abstract of the Act of Parliament concerning the Discovery of the Longitude, and other improvements in Navigation, 1714, engraving, Dimensions unknown

One of the last acts of Queen Anne’s reign had dealt with the “longitude problem”, asking for proposals for finding a means of measuring it accurately at sea. The Act established a group of commissioners to judge proposals, and put them in charge of banded reward money for varying degrees of success. The “great reward” was £20,000. Short abstracts of the Act were printed and disseminated, galvanizing public interest. This Abstract was annotated by French mathematician and inventor Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, and then pasted into his copy of Isaac Newton’s Principia.

Read day 2 by expert Richard Dunn, (Royal Museums Greenwich) on the background of the longitude problem