Graphical version

National Maritime Museum

Hydrographic Department: Chronometer Records


Reference code(s): GB 0064 CSR

Held at: National Maritime Museum

Title: Hydrographic Department: Chronometer Records

Date(s): [1821-1961]

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 13ft: 4m

Name of creator(s): Hydrographic Department


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Hydrographic Department of the Admiralty was established by Order-in-Council in 1795 for the purpose of supplying up-to-date charts and hydrographic information to ships of the Royal Navy, in the first instance from a mass of undigested material accumulated at the Admiralty. In 1809 the Department also became responsible for supplying the fleet with chronometers. Through the nineteenth century the scope of the Department was steadily expanded until by the 1880s Great Britain became the first nation to offer a world coverage of charts and sailing directions on sale to shipping of all nations.


Scope and content/abstract:

Chronometer records of the Hydrographic Department, consisting of sixty-three volumes of registers, digest books, indexes, trial records and correspondence, 1821 to 1950. Issues and receipts of chronometers are registered in twenty-eight volumes, 1821 to 1936, and on a series of record cards, 1936 to 1950. Digests of chronometer repairs comprise nine volumes, 1836 to 1933; indexes to these registers and digests are contained in twelve volumes, 1820 to 1939. Other subjects include records of observations of standard mean solar clocks, 1951 to 1961 (2 vols). Single volumes include a list of contracts, c 1917 to 1918; a list of chronometers, c 1920; a departmental address book, c 1913 to 1922; a record of instruments which were not government property (including loans), 1940 to 1947; valuations and reports on second-hand instruments, 1943 to 1944. Single volumes of internal reference and communication sheets (with some external correspondence) relate to returned instruments, 1938; to those removed from departmental books, 1930 to 1939; to chronometers issued on loan, 1930 to 1937; to sales of instruments, 1932 to 1936; to those returned from service, 1937 to 1938; and to chronometers formerly belonging to Royal yachts, 1930 to 1935.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue online at the: National Maritime Museum website .


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The papers records were transferred from the Hydrographic Department in 1972 by arrangement with the Ministry of Defence.


Existence and location of originals:

They are located in the Astronomy Section in the Old Royal Observatory.


Archivist's note: Edited by Sarah Drewery, Sep 2011.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: 2010-08-26

Hydrographic surveying | Surveying
Military equipment | Equipment

Personal names

Corporate names