People: George Gilpin

Name Gilpin, George
Place of work Greenwich
Employment dates
25 Mar 1776 – 30 Jul 1781

Posts Assistant

Born c.1755?


Died 1810
Buried in the churchyard of: St Mary Le Strand, 2 May 1810

Prior to coming to the Observatory, George Gilpin had acted as assistant to William Wales on Cook’s second voyage of Discovery on the Resolution (1772–75) where Elliot described him as ‘a quiet yg. Man’. He took over as Maskelyne’s assistant from John Hellins in 1776 and was succeeded in 1781 by Joseph Lindley. Like some of Maskelyne’s other assistants, he received additional payments from the Board of Longitude for his work in testing chronometers at the Observatory.

After leaving the Observatory, Gilpin worked from 1785 until his death in 1810 as Secretary (Clerk and Housekeeper) to the Royal Society. He was said to be 30 at the time of his appointment. He also worked as a Computer for the Nautical Almanac. When William Wales died at the end of 1798, Gilpin was appointed to replace him as Secretary to the Board of Longitude. He continued to hold the office until his death. He was buried in the churchyard of St Mary Le Strand, which stood just outside the Royal Society’s offices.

The church of St Mary Le Stand with the north wing of Somerset House where the Royal Society held its meetings and Gilpin lived from 1785 until his death in 1810. View in the Strand, engraved by H. Le Keux from a drawing by G Shepherd and published for the Beauties of England & Wales by Vernor, Hood & Sharpe, 1 July 1810

Click here to view Gilpin’s account with the Board of Longitude (RGO 14/17: 294-309A)


Family matters

Gilpin was married to Lydia Green, daughter of William Green, whose brother Charles Green had been Assistant to Bradley and Bliss between 1761 and 1765. Mary Green, one of Charles Green’s sisters was married to William Wales.