Pay 1675–1811

The subject of pay at the Observatory becomes increasingly complex from the nineteenth century onwards. Although there is information in the various archives about the amounts individuals were paid on certain specific dates, information about the overarching pay structures, pay ranges and dates when they were introduced are less well documented – particularly in the twentieth century. When it has been possible to work out the date ranges over which the various pay scales apply, they have been given, when not, spot values are given instead. Restructuring of the pay scales took place in 1871, 1896, 1912, the mid 1930s and 1946.  References to relevant archive files are given in brackets: RGO (Royal Greenwich Observatory Archive at Cambridge); ADM, WORK and T (former Admiralty and Treasury files at the Public Record Office Kew), MS (Royal Society).

This page should be read in conjunction with the pages pages listed below:

Background information
Pay of the Astronomers Royal & Directors, 1675–1998
Pay 1811–1835
Pay 1836–1871
Pay 1871–1945
Pay 1946–1998

 

Introduction

Flamsteed's salary was fixed at £100 a year by a Royal Warrant issued on 4 March 1675. With effect from 28 January 1675/6, Flamsteed was also allowed a labourer who was seconded from the Tower of London (Flamsteed Correspondence vol 1, p909.):

Whereas His Majesty hath Verbally Comanded me to send one of the Labourers belonging to the Office of the Ordnance to Greenwich Hill to be employed in the Observatory there and Elsewhere as Sir Jonas Moore Knight Surveyor Generall of the Ordinance should appoint, These are to pray and require you forthwith to send Cuthbert Denton one of the said Labourers to Greenwich Hill aforesaid to be employed as aforesaid, and to Obey all such Orders and Directions as shall be given him by the said Sir Jonas Moore, Either to repare to Labour at Woolwich, Deptford or Elsewhere as he shall think fit, and for soe doeing this shall be your Warrant

Tho. Chicheley  [Master General of the Ordnance]

28th January 1675[/76].

Writing on 9/10 October 1700, Flamsteed records that in 1694 ‘The Officers allowed me to Name my own laborer since which time I have named one of my own servants and receaved his pay for his maintenance which is a favour I must ever acknowledg.’

The later warrants appointing the succeeding Astronomers Royal: Halley (1720), Bradley (1742), Bliss (1762) and Maskelyne (1765), state they were to be paid a salary of £100. The warrants also stated that the Astronomer Royal was to be allowed and paid the yearly salary of £26 for a servant or labourer in the same manner as was allowed to their predecessor. This might be taken to imply that Flamsteed’s labourer and then his nominated servant (assistant) had also been paid at the rate of £26 a year. This does not however appear to have been the case. A number of documents survive, the earliest from 1694 and the latest from 1714 which show that Flamsteed’s assistants were paid at the rate of 18d a day – an amount equivalent to £27 7s 6d a year. Throughout the period 1694–1811, the Assistant’s salary like that of the Astronomer Royal was paid by the Board of Ordnance. Flamsteed also employed at various times a number of calculators. Witty and Weston who (had recently been Flamsteed’s assistant) were taken on as calculators in 1705 in connection with the publication of the Historia Coelestis. Flamsteed’s accounts relating to the Historia’s production were published in Baily’s Flamsteed, and appear to show that the two were paid at a rate of £30 a year with a similar amount being paid for their board and lodging.

In 1752, Bradley declined the living of Greenwich on the grounds ‘that the duty of a pastor was incompatible with his other studies and necessary engagements’, but was awarded instead a crown pension of £250 a year by King George II. This pension, which was paid from the Civil List, was also paid to Bliss, Maskelyne and Pond. Click here to read more about the Warrants. Click here to read about the pay of the Astronomers Royal in more detail.

 

1675–1719





Astronomer Royal

£100 + house
Labourer £26? + board and keep (provided by the AR)

Assistant

£27 7s 6d + board and keep (provided by the AR).
Calculator £30 + £30 board and keep

 

1720–1752





Astronomer Royal

£100 + house

Assistant

£26 + board and keep (provided by the AR). In later years, this was unofficially supplemented by income received from showing the Observatory to “strangers” – something that became expressly forbidden in 1765 when Regulations for the Observatory were introduced for the first time.

 

1752–1765





Astronomer Royal

£350 + house. (£350 = salary of £100 + crown pension of £250)

Assistant

£26 + board and keep (provided by the AR). In later years, this was unofficially supplemented by income received from showing the Observatory to “strangers” – something that became expressly forbidden in 1765 when Regulations for the Observatory were introduced for the first time.

 

1765–1771





Astronomer Royal

£350 + house. (£350 = salary of £100 + crown pension of £250)

Assistant

£60 + board and keep (provided by the AR). £26 from the Ordnance supplemented by £34 from Maskelyne personally.

 

1771–1810





Astronomer Royal

£350 + house + Board of Longitude allowance (£15 per meeting from 1774). (£350 = salary of £100 + crown pension of £250)

Assistant

£96. (£26 from the Ordnance, supplemented by £70 from the Civil List). According to Croarken, a deduction of £24 a year was made for board and lodgings. (Royal Warrant 5 July 1771)

By 1796 until at least 1804, the Assistants were also paid an allowance for winding up and comparing timekeepers. This was paid at the rate of £4 per timepiece per year (RGO14/18/260-270)

 

1810





Astronomer Royal

£350 + house + Board of Longitude allowance (£15 per meeting). (£350 = salary of £100 + crown pension of £250)

Assistant

£126 + accommodation (£26 from the Ordnance, supplemented by £100 from the Civil List (Royal Warrant 1 May 1810))

 

Pay 1811–1835