People: Thomas Glanville Taylor

Name Taylor, Thomas Glanville
Place of work Greenwich
Employment dates
12 Aug 1822 – 1830 (RGO5/233/7)

Posts 1820 Supernumerary
1822, Aug 12

Appointed as additional Second Assistant

Born 1804, Nov 22

Died 1848, May 4


Family connections Son of Thomas Taylor, Assistant (1807–1835)
  Brother of Henry Taylor
Brother-in-law of Mary Bradley, sister of the wife of the Astronomer Royal John Pond
  Possibly a distant relative of Henry Glanville Barnacle (1849–1938)

Known addresses 1822–1830
Royal Observatory, Greenwich


Born in Ashburton in Devon, Thomas Glanville Taylor grew up at the Observatory where his father Thomas Taylor was Assistant, first to Nevil Maskelyne and then to John Pond. According to his obituary, he was employed by Pond as a supernumerary computer around the beginning of 1820. When in 1822, Pond increased the number of assistants from two to four, Thomas Glanville Taylor together with William Richardson were recruited onto the Observatory staff. They were paid a salary of £100 a year with a £10 increment for every three years service. They were also provided with accommodation. Both proved capable. As well as his regular duties, Taylor spent time working on the reductions for Groombridge’s Catalogue of Circumpolar Stars for which he was  paid separately by the Board of Longitude. He also compiled and published ephemerides for some of the asteroids and minor planets. In early 1830, he assisted Edward Sabine with his pendulum experiments which were carried out at the west end of the Meridian Building (click here for Sabine’s paper in Phil Trans). 

When later in 1830, the East India Company needed a new Director for its Observatory in Madras, the post was offered to Richardson, who declined it on medical grounds. It was then offered to Taylor who accepted. Having resigned his post at Greenwich, he was replaced by Frederick Simms.

Taylor arrived in Madras in September 1830. He subsequently published numerous volumes of observations and catalogues. Descended on his mother’s side from Sir John Glanville (1586-1661), speaker of the House of Commons, Taylor married Eliza Baratty, the daughter of Colonel Eley CSI on 4 July 1832. They had three sons and a daughter. He was already a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, when he was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society on 10 February 1842. When elected, the only other living, former or current member of the Greenwich staff, who was a fellow, was the then Astronomer Royal, George Airy.

Taylor never fully recovered from an accident at the Trevandrum Observatory in Kerala, India, which was caused by his ‘shortness of sight’ (short-sightedness?). He died at the age of 44 in Southampton, England.



Obituary. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 9, p.62 (1849)


Further Reading

The Madras Observatory 1792–1931. Ananthasubramanian, C. K. Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 85, NO. 2:629/APRI, P. 97, 1991

Taylor, Thomas Glanville (1804–1848), A. M. Clerke, rev. Anita McConnell, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004