A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2022 May 4, 11:15 -0700
Here are some musings on the origin of the name of this small street:
"If you’re interested in reading more about the longitude puzzle and John Harrison’s tenacious trials, head to the library and check out Dava Sobel’s book Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time (New York: Penguin, 1995).
So you might be asking, what does this story have to do with Charleston, and our Longitude Lane? To answer that question, let’s return to the early months of 1762. Charleston is a port town, and the livelihood of almost everyone in town in tied in some way to ship traffic in an out of the port, and across the ocean to the West Indian Islands and Europe. Kingston, Jamaica is more than 1,000 miles away, but nevertheless the frequency of ship travel between here and there keeps us in regular communication with folks in Jamaica. In 1762, the governor of Jamaica who attested to the accuracy of Harrison’s marine chronometer was none other than William Henry Lyttelton, who took that post after serving as governor of South Carolina for several years. Thus the merchants of Charleston who traded with merchants in the port of Kingston, Jamaica, would have heard about the accuracy of Harrison’s H4, and they might have discussed the matter with our old governor personally.
In short, I think it’s likely that the maritime merchants of Charleston learned about Harrison’s solution to the longitude puzzle before the news reached London in late March 1762. Or perhaps the news of Harrison’s battle with the Longitude Board in London in early April found its way to Charleston by mid-May. In either case, one fact remains constant: the earliest reference to Longitude Lane that I’ve been able to find in the newspapers of Charleston is on 22 May 1762, when George Bedon announced the sale of a some imported liquors “at his Store in Longitude Lane, opposite the late Mrs. Gibbes’s Wharf.” The fact that Bedon had to describe the location of this Longitude Lane to the public is an important clue to the novelty of the name."
Wht do you think? :)