The Board of Longitude

The Board of Longitude is the name given in later years to the group of Commissioners who were appointed to administer a series of Government awards or ‘prizes’ for finding longitude at sea. The Board was in existence from 1714 until 1828. Over the years, the composition of the Board and the scope of the awards was amended by various Acts of Parliament.

Amongst those appointed as Commissioners were the Astronomer Royal (A.R.) and the Savilian, Lucasian, and Plumian Professors of Mathematicks in Oxford and Cambridge. A total of seven Astronomers Royal served on the Board.

A.R. Dates
Dates on Board
Capacity in which served
John Flamsteed 1675–1719 1714–1719 A.R.
Edmond Halley 1720–1742 1714–1742 Savilian Professor & A.R.
James Bradley 1742–1762 1721–1762 Savilian Professor & A.R.
Nathaniel Bliss 1762–1764 1742–1764 Savilian Professor & A.R.
Nevil Maskelyne 1765–1811 1765–1811 A.R.
John Pond 1811–1835  
1811–1828 A.R.
George Airy 1835–1881 1826–1828 Lucasian Professor


Longitude Acts – the 23 Acts of parliament relating to the work of the Commissioners

Transcript of the 23 Longitude Acts (text searchable)

The original copy of the1714 Longitude Act in the Parliamentary Archives



Expenses and salaries paid to the Commissioners, Secretary, Superintendents etc

Papers of the Board of Longitude

Books and academic papers