People: Charles Green

Name Green, Charles
Place of work Greenwich
Employment dates
1760 – 25 Mar 1765

Posts Assistant

Born 1734


Died 1771, Jan 29


Born in Yorkshire, Charles Green was appointed to the post of Assistant in 1760 by the third Astronomer Royal, James Bradley. He succeeded Charles Mason, who went to the Sumatra to observe the Transit of Venus on 6 June 1761. At the time of the Transit, Bradley was ill, so it was observed at Greenwich by Green and Nathaniel Bliss, who missed its beginning because of cloud cover (click here to view Bliss’s report (pdf)). When Bradley died in 1762, Green continued as Assistant to Bliss who was appointed as Bradley’s replacement.

In 1763, the Board of Longitude asked Green to accompany Nevil Maskelyne to Barbados to make observations in connection with the trial of John Harrison’s fourth timekeeper H4. Green returned to Greenwich in July 1764 shortly before Bliss died. Although Bliss died on 2 September, his successor Maskelyne was not appointed until 8 February 1765. Meanwhile, according to Abram Robertson who wrote the preface to the second volume of Bradley’s Observations, Green continued as Assistant, apparently making his last observation on 15 March 1765, the day before Maskelyne took up residence. Howse (Nevil Maskelyne, Cambridge, 1989), goes on to say that Green left on Lady Day, 25 March. He was replaced by Joseph Dymond. Although some authorities state that Green resigned because of an earlier disagreement with Maskelyne, the circumstances of his resigning are not at all clear. Green was paid £50 by the Board of Longitude ‘For the Observations made by him at the said Observatory [Greenwich] between the decease of Mr Bliss and the appointment of the Reverend Mr Maskelyne, and for the Reduction of near 1,500 places of the Moon taken by Dr Bradley and places of stars to the 3rd magnitude settled by him’. This payment was presumably in addition to his £26 annual salary rather than instead of it.

After leaving Greenwich, Green worked on a project to bring water to Marylebone and later as purser of the frigate Aurora. He accompanied Cook on the 1769 Transit of Venus expedition to Tahiti, dying from dysentery on 29 January 1771.


Family matters

Green was one of seven children of Joshua and Ann Green. His sister Mary married William Wales, (also from Yorkshire), who was one of the first Computers employed by Maskelyne to work on the Nautical Almanac and who later accompanied Cook on his second voyage of Discovery on the Resolution (1772–75). The daughter of his brother William married George Gilpin who accompanied Wales on the Resolution and was Maskelyne’s Assistant from 1776–81.


Further reading

Charles Green (from the Captain Cook Society website)

Green, Charles (bap. 1734, d. 1771). Derek Howse, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004