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    Huddart at Shovell's grave
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2008 Sep 10, 07:10 -0400

    There's a poignant little story that appears as a footnote in the history of
    the "Trigonometric Survey" in the 1790s.
    
    The survey had revealed that the Isles of Scilly were misplaced in latitude
    by 2' which, as they said at the time, "may not perhaps be considered
    extraordinary," but even at this late date the published longitude of the
    Scillies was in error by a whopping 26.6'. Note that this is at the end of
    the eighteenth century, long after the longitudes of such important points
    near the mount of the English Channel should have been settled... As the
    commentator in the survey puts it politely, "but how, in a maritime country,
    like our own, where chronometers are in such constant use, so great an error
    in the longitude should have remained undetected, except by one person, is
    surprising." Yeah, surprising!
    
    The error in the longitude of the Scillies had been previously noted by
    Captain Joseph Huddart who had visited the islands, some years earlier, and
    here's where it gets poignant. Huddart had visited the exact spot on the
    beach where Sir Cloudesley Shovell, shipwrecked with a loss of thousands of
    lives in 1707 due to poor navigation, had been buried in the sand by the
    locals. Huddart had brought with him one of Arnold's chronometers, a premier
    example of the great invention of the age, and right there, standing by
    Shovell's temporary grave, Huddart carefully measured the longitude by
    observing equal altitudes of the Sun. His result differed only about one
    mile from the correct longitude recently determined by the trigonometric
    survey.
    
    Incidentally, among the many items recovered from the wreck site of
    Shovell's flagship, the Association, were the faces of several pocket
    watches --expensive, primitive forerunners of the delicate chronometer that
    Huddart held in his hand by Shovell's grave decades later.
    
     -FER
    
    
    
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