1831 Rare Als - John Barrow - Francis Beaufort For Sale

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Signed & Inscribed

Sir Richard F. Burton

Rare Original ALS
Sir John Barrow

Nautical Content
New Navigational Tables by Beaufort and Raper
1831


One Original Signed Letter from Sir John Barrow to Davies Gilbert. 8vo. 1 page on a single-leaf, dated 22 August, (content reveals the year is 1831). Leaf measures approximately 18cm x 11,5cm (7 inches x 4.5 inches). Very good condition, nicely preserved, and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

In 1831, the Royal Astronomical Society deemed it imperative for advancement in navigation, to form "New Requisite Tables" which would be introduced in the impending publication of the New Nautical Almanack. At the behest of Captain Beaufort, Hydrographer to the Admiralty, RN Lieutenant Henry Raper, a revered authority on navigation, was in charge of constructing the charts. Here Sir John Barrow, Secretary of the Admiralty, is evidently responding to an enquiry by Davies Gilbert, mathematician and President of the Royal Society. Barrow assures Gilbert that he has directed the question to Captain Francis Beaufort, who is an integral member of the committee charged with making the nautical charts.

Signed in the original by Sir John Barrow, the letter states: "The subject of the New Requisite Tables is in the hands of the Astronomical Society and has been for some time, but as yet they have not made any report. I have shown your note to Capt Beaufort who is one of the Committee."

A report published in the Nautical Magazine, March 1831, corroborates the significance of this work, and the involvement of such leading authorities in navigation.


The following is from 'The Nautical Magazine, &c.' Vol. 1, March 1832, page 207-208

The New Requisite Tables At the last Annual General Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society, the following notice of this work was given in the report of the Council.
"During the past year, the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have consulted the Council also on another important subject connected with the advancement of navigation. In consequence of the alterations about to be introduced into the New Nautical Almanack, it has been considered expedient that new Requisite Tables should be formed to accompany it: and, with the view of carrying this object into effect, in the most efficient and satisfactory manner, a committee has been formed, to consider, arrange, and propose such tables as may be thought most proper for that end. This committee has already met, and a sketch of the proposed tables has been drawn up, but not yet agreed upon: for in an affair of so much importance, there cannot be too much time devoted to the consideration of the subject."
We have been favoured with a copy of the report of this committee, and shall make it our duty to lay it before our readers in our next number, with the names of the persons from whom it has emanated. Distances At Sea
In a former number, we alluded to a Table which Lieutenant Raper, R. N., was constructing, at the suggestion of Captain Beaufort, R.N., the Hydrographer to the Admiralty, to enable navigators to determine their distance from an object by inspection; and it is of so useful a nature, that we have copied it into our own pages. The navigator will find it particularly applicable in obtaining a correct departure, where estimated distance was formerly adopted.
-TABLE- For finding the Distance of an Object, by two Bearings and the Distance run between them. The Table is to be entered with the number of points contained between the ship's head and the first bearing of the object, at the top, and with the number of points, reckoned the vame way, between the ship's head and the tfrond bearing, at the side; the number in the table at the intersection of the two columns being multiplied by the distance run, is the distance from the object at the time the lait bearing was taken.*
EXAMPLE: - The Eddystone bears N.W., and after running WbS. 8 miles, it bears N.N.E.; the number of points between WbS. and N.W. is 5, and that between WbS. and N.N.R is 11, then under 5 points at the top, and abreast of 11 points at the side, stands the number 0.9, which being multiplied by 8 gives 7.2 miles, the distance at the time of the .last (N.N.E.) bearing.
If the bearings are observed to quarter points, the numbers may be taken out accordingly. This needs no example.
* The number in the Table is the value of the expression Sin A / Sin (B-A), where A is the number of points at the top, and B is that at the side.


Sir John Barrow, 1st Baronet (1764-1848), was a British geographer, explorer, and avid promoter of Arctic exploration. As second secretary of the admiralty, he promoted numerous voyages to further knowledge of geography and navigation. In his position at the Admiralty, Barrow was a great promoter of Arctic voyages of discovery, including those of John Ross, William Edward Parry, James Clark Ross, and John Franklin. Point Barrow in Alaska is named for him. He is reputed to have been the initial proposer of St Helena as the new place of exile for Napoleon Bonaparte following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Barrow was a fellow of the Royal Society, and in 1821 received the degree of LL.D from the University of Edinburgh.

In May 1829, John Barrow, Second Secretary of the Admiralty, selected Captain Francis Beaufort (1774-1857) to head the Hydrographic Office, replacing Captain William Parry. Through Beaufort the Hydrographic Office made great scientific advances. Among his most notable accomplishments was the development of the Wind Force Scale, known today as the "Beaufort Scale." Captain Robert FitzRoy made wide use of it during the Beagle's second survey. During his tenure Beaufort converted what had been a minor chart repository into the finest surveying and charting institution in the world. Some of the excellent charts the Office produced are still in use today.

Davies Gilbert (1767-1839) was a British engineer, author, and M.P. who chaired many Paliamentary committees. A learned man, he published some scientific papers, and was a tireless promoter of scientific ventures.

Henry Raper (1799-1859) was a British Royal Naval lieutenant who became a nineteenth-century authority on navigation. Amongst his achievements was his quantification of the unreliability of a key longitudinal measurement, lunar distance, when taken at different times. One early beneficiary of Raper's research was Robert FitzRoy, whose second expedition was made famous by the work of his travelling companion, Charles Darwin. Raper is primarily remembered, however, for his seminal work 'The Practice of Navigation and Nautical Astronomy', for which he was awarded the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1841.




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1831 Rare Als - John Barrow - Francis Beaufort

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