A Reward for the Longitude

By E.G.R. Taylor, published February 1959



A Welsh physician, Zachariah Williams, was one of several who believed that longitude could be found by knowing how magnetic compass variation changed with time and place. He came to London soon after the longitude prize was announced and began working on tables of predicted variation, assisted by his daughter Anna. However, it had long been clear to scientists and seamen that such methods were useless. Williams died in 1755, dependent on the considerable support of friends. These included Dr Johnson, who cared for Anna when she became blind until she died in 1783. Anna had also assisted her father’s friend, the scientist Stephen Grey.

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Filed under: Other (Eighteenth C) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Science & Exploration

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