People: William Malachy Hitchins

Name Hitchins, William Malachy
Place of work Greenwich
Employment dates
10 Feb 1787 – 23 Jun 1787

Posts Assistant

Born 1770


Died 1802

Family connections Son of Rev. Malachay Hitchins, computer, then comparer for the Nautical Almanac (1767–1809) and briefly Maskelyne’s assistant at Greenwich in 1769

Known addresses 1787
Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Born and brought up in Cornwall, William Malachy Hitchins was the third son of the Rev. Malachy Hitchins, a trusted friend and colleague of Maskelyne who had been working for him since 1768 as a Computer and then comparer of the Nautical Almanac. It was no doubt as a result of this friendship that William spent time at Greenwich with Maskelyne. William appears to have already been residing with Maskelyne prior to his appointment as assistant, as there is a receipt for a payment to him in the Board of Longitude accounts (RGO14/17/322) for ‘winding up, computing and comparing the going of Mr Kendal’s first timekeeper [K1] from November the 30th 1786 to Jany 13th 1787 and from February 16th 1787 to April the 26th 1787’, for which he was paid £1. 6s.

It was following the rapid departure of three assistants in quick succession (two had come and gone since December 1786), that Maskelyne appears to have decided to offer the post to the 17 year old William. William’s appointment was unusual because he was significantly younger than the typical Maskelyne appointee. Following a brief stint in the job, William decided instead to follow the law, becoming a solicitor in Marazion, Cornwall, where he died at a young age.