People: Charles Dilkes Loveless (Lovelace)

Name Loveless, Charles Dilkes
Place of work Greenwich
Employment dates
23 September 1844 – February 1848

Posts 1844 – 1848

Magnetic Assistant

Born 1827, Dec 11?

Died 1904, Jul 05?


Known addresses 1860

Vanburgh Fields


In the early days of the Magnetic Observatory, posts were directly funded directly by the Treasury rather than by the Admiralty. As such, they were not established posts. Seemingly recommended by Lieutenant Rivers, one of the officers at Greenwich Hospital, Loveless was initially taken on on a trial basis on 23 September 1844 (RGO6/24/92). Aged just 16, he had attended the Royal Naval School in Camberwell. He was taken on at around the same time as Hugh Breen Junior (who was promoted from the post of Computer on the Lunar Reductions). The two of them replaced John Hind and James Paul who both resigned from the department in the autumn of 1844. Loveless resigned his post in February 1848.

At the time when Loveless was in post, although the Magnetic Assistants were well paid (£120 a year), their position was also a precarious one as the Magnetic Observatory was only ever supposed to be temporary. In 1849, the number of Magentic Assistants was reduced from three to one. Loveless appears to have left to take up a seccure post (on less pay) at the Royal Hospital for Seamen (Greenwich Hospital). The New Navy List for 1853 records him working as a third class clerk working for the Clerk of the Cheque on a salary of £80 a year.

His father, Bassett Jones Loveless, lost his left arm when serving on the 32-gun frigate Castor under Captain Charles Dilkes, after whom Charles appears to have been named. Loveless senior was appointed to the staff of Greenwich hospital on 8 May 1844 (Navy List). He is recororded as living in and a lieutenant on a pension of £91. 5s a year.

According to Philip Newell (Greenwich Hospital, 1984)

‘Mr [Charles] Dilkes Loveless was one of a long line of faithful servants of Greenwich Hospital. He began as a clerk in the old out-pensions department and by 1870 he was the acknowledged authority on the past of the institution (succeeding John Livingston Jay who wrote a history of which no copy can now be traced). Reports on the Hospital and its School fell like autumn leaves between 1860 and 1882, too numerous to detail, but for most Loveless was Secretary or member and wrote any summary of the past that was needed.’

The name Loveless sounds similar to Lovelace. In the correspondence regarding his appointment, Rivers, Glaisher and Airy all seem to write Lovelace (RGO6/1). Loveless’s name also appears as Lovelace in Airy’s Journal, the 1844–1848 volumes of Greenwich Observations and the Reports of the Astronomer Royal. Presumably Loveless never saw his name in print, which could be why the error persisted. Whether or not he was also paid under the wrong name is unclear.

In 1860, Loveless wrote to Airy asking if he could be of any use in the preparations for the forthcoming solar eclipse expedition to Spain and offering his services (RGO6/124/177).


See also

Transcript of [Charles] Dilkes Loveless’s Report of 1859 on The Royal Hospital School, Greenwich, Bernard de Neumann