The Gentleman of Jamaica

By W. E. May, published May 1987


Retired merchant captain Ralph Walker, (1749-1824), mentally unfulfilled by his Jamaican sugar plantations, turned to the problem of finding the longitude at sea. W. E. May describes the historical background to finding the longitude and Walker’s efforts, including his foray into magnetic variation and dip and which, though ultimately unsuccessful, played a useful part in compass development, particularly improvements to the azimuth compass. Walker later became a civil engineer, inspired by his own suggestion of un/loading ships in wet docks clear of the fairway, being approved by Trinity House.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Other (Nineteenth C) | Caribbean
Subjects include: Biography | Science & Exploration | Ship Handling & Seamanship

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