|Place of work||Greenwich|
||1 Jul 1807 – Sep 1835
||First Assistant (by default)
|Family connections||Father of Thomas Glanville Taylor, Assistant (1822–1830)|
|Father of Henry Taylor, the discredited editor of the Groombridge Catalogue & husband of the sister of the wife of John Pond the Astronomer Royal
|Known addresses||1807–1835||Royal Observatory, Greenwich
|1835–1843||17 Melbury Terrace, Marylebone
Following the resignation in 1807 of Thomas Ferminger as his Assistant, the fifth Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne, appointed Thomas Taylor, to replace him. Prior to his appointment, Taylor had spent 11½ years as a schoolmaster in the Navy.
Until Pond’s arrival as Astronomer Royal in 1811, only one assistant was normally employed at the Observatory. By 1825, Pond had six assistants at his command. As the longest serving, Taylor became by default, the First or Chief Assistant. In a note written for his successor Airy in 1835, Pond described him as having been a most trusted servant, but went on to say ‘He may now be considered as quite superannuated; his sight is imperfect; he has grown petulant and has latterly taken to drinking’. His duties were described as observing with the Transit, superintending all the computations and corresponding with the captains of ships respecting chronometers. Like the other assistants, he also spent time rating the chronometers and operating the Time Ball, which at that time, was dropped by hand (RGO6/72/223&226).
As a condition of his appointment to replace Pond as Astronomer Royal, Airy had wanted rid of both Taylor and Richardson. The Admiralty agreed to the former, but not to the latter. As a result, Taylor was pensioned off with Pond at the end of September 1835.
While at the Observatory, Taylor invented an astronomical alarm clock designed to sound when particular stars were due to transit the meridian. It was more convenient to use that a conventional alarm clock which had to be reset after each star transit (of which there may have been as many as 20 to be observed each night). Taylor was awarded 15 guineas for his invention by the Society of Arts in 1819. The National Maritime Museum in London has two examples in its collections. (Object ID: ZAA0525; Object ID: ZAA0526)
This is the last Will and Testament of me Thomas Taylor of Melbury Terrace Dorset Square in the county of Middlesex Esquire
First I direct that all my just debts funeral and testamentary expenses may be paid as soon as conveniently can be after my decease and whereas I have lately purchased in the joint names of myself and my daughter Harriett Taylor in the books at the Bank of England the sum of three hundred and twenty two pounds stock three per centum consols now I do hereby declare that I consider this as a free gift to my said daughter and which I do for the purpose of avoiding the probate and legacy duties and I give and bequeath unto my said daughter Harriett Taylor all those my two leasehold messuages or tenements and premises with the appurtenances situate in Tranquil Vale Blackheath in the Parish of Lewisham in the county of Kent and which I hold under Mr Jackson and Mr Woodgate and all that my other leasehold messuage or tenement and premises with the appurtenances situate in Park Street Greenwich in the county of Kent aforesaid which I hold under Mr Martin to hold the said respective premises unto her my said daughter Harriett Taylor her Executors Administrators and assigns for the remainders of the respective terms which shall be to come therein at my decease for her and their own use subject to the rent and covenants in the leases under which I hold the same also I give and bequeath unto my daughter Susannah Richards wife of William Richards all that my leasehold messuage or tenement and premises with the appurtenances situate in South Street Greenwich aforesaid which I hold under the Trustees of Morden College to hold that same unto my said daughter Susannah Richards her Executors Administrators and assigns for the remainder of the term which shall be to come therein at my decease for her and their own use subject to the rent and covenants in the lease under which I hold the same also I give and bequeath unto my said daughter Susannah Richards the sum of four hundred pounds owe[d?] to me on mortgage from the late James Russell of Blackheath aforesaid secured on certain leasehold premises at Blackheath and all Interest which shall be due thereon at the time of my decease and the security for the same to hold the same unto her my said daughter Susannah Richards her executors administrators and assigns for her and their own use also I give and bequeath unto my son Thomas Glanville Taylor all that my leasehold messuage or tenement and premises with the appurtenances situate and being in the Egerton Road in the parish of Greenwich aforesaid which I hold under Mr Valentine to hold the same unto him my said son Thomas Glanvill Taylor his executors adminstrators and assigns for the remainder of the term which shall be to come therein at my decease to and for his and their own use subject to the rent and covenants in the lease under which I hold the same also I give and bequeath my duplex silver watch to the older Son of my Son Thomas Glanvill Taylor for his absolute use and all my wearing apparel to my son Henry Taylor for his absolute use and as to all the Rest Residue and Remainder of my property Estate and Effects whatsoever and wheresoever which I shall die possessed of and not hereinbefore by me disposed of I give and bequeath the same after and subject to the payment thereout of all just debts funeral and testamentary expenses unto my said two sons Thomas Glanvill Taylor and Henry Taylor and my said two daughters Harriett Taylor and Susannah Richards equally to be divided between them share and share alike their respective absolute use and I do hearby nominate constitute and appoint George Smith of Park Row Greenwich aforesaid Esquire and Robert Christopher Parker of Greenwich aforesaid Gentleman Executors of this my will and I do declare that they respectively shall be answerable only for so much of my property Estate and Effects as they respectively shall actually receive or shall come to their hands by virtue of this my will and that the one of them shall not be answerable or accountable for the other of them or for the acts deeds receipts disbursements or defaults of the other of them the joining receipts for conformity notwithstanding but each of them for his own acts deeds receipts disbursements and defaults only and that they respectively shall and may out of the monies coming to their hands by virtue hereof retain to and reimburse themselves respectively all loss costs charges damages and expenses which they may respectively be put unto in the Execution of this my will and lastly I do hereby revoke annul and make void all former Wills Codicils and Testamentary dispositions by me made and do publish and declare this only to be my last Will and Testament In Testimony whereof I the said Thomas Taylor have to this my last Will and Testament contained in two sheets of paper affixed together with my seal set my hand and seal to wit my hand to the first sheet thereof and my hand and seal to this the second and last sheet thereof this tenth day of october one thousand eight hundred and thirty nine
Thomas Taylor Signed sealed published and declared by the said Thomas Taylor the Testator as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us (who were both present at the same time) and who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses attesting the same Rich. Hickman 11 Chapel St Edgware Road St Marylebone – E Hayward 11 Chapel Street
Proved at London 24th July 1843 before the worshipful John Danberry[?] Doctor of Laws and Surrogate by the oath of Robert Christopher Parker the surviving Exor. to whom Admon was granted having been first sworn duly to Administer
Transcribed from the Will of Thomas Taylor of Melbury Terrace Dorset Square, Middlesex (PROB 11/1983/157) by Andrew Wells
1. Two variant spellings Glanville and Glanvill are used.
2. All the properties mentioned in the will are/were within a mile of the Observatory.
3. Built in about 1825, Melbury Terrace was a road immediately to the west of Dorset Square that ran along the east side of Harewood Square. Melbury Terrace and Harewood Square were swept away in the 1890s to make way for Marylebone Station. To add to the confusion, the south side of Blandford Square,which was immediately to the north of Harewood Square, was renamed Melbury Terrace at some point in the (mid?) 20th century. This road too was subsequently swept away during a later redevelopment.