John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal, regarded his observations as his personal property. Lead by Newton, the Visitors succeeded in getting them published in 1712. The issue of ownership and publication of the observations festered on for the best part of the next fifty years and was not properly resolved until Maskelyne’s appointment as the fifth Astronomer Royal in 1765, when a list of regulations was drawn up for the first time, as to how the business of the Observatory should be conducted.

In the early 1850s, the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty (who had taken over the funding of the Observatory from the Board of Ordnance) asked Airy to formalise the Regulations. Dated 1853 and given the long title of Regulations, public and private, of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, they numbered 53 in total. They were published as an appendix in the 1852 volume of Greenwich Observations. The regulations were updated in 1874 and published as an appendix in the 1873 volume of Greenwich Observations.


Proposed Regulations 1765
Regulations 1765
Regulations 1853
Regulations 1874


For more information on Rules and Regulations, the Royal Greenwich Observatory Archives at the Cambridge University Library should be consulted (ref: GBR/0180/RGO4/301 & GBR/0180/RGO40).