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Charles Green - Biography


From Information given by William Wales FRS (his Brother-in-Law)

Extract from The Life of Captain James Cook, London, pp. 176-178 (footnotes) by Andrew Kippis, (1788).

"Mr Charles Green (the youngest son of Mr Joshua Green of Swinton, near Rotherham, in Yorkshire, a considerable farmer, and a freeholder of the county) was born in the year 1735. The principal part of his education he derived from his eldest brother, the Rev. John Green, late of Denmark Street, Soho. Mr John Green was master of a school in that place, and, after some time, took in his brother Charles, as an assistant teacher. In this situation, he made such a progress in astronomical knowledge, that, in the latter end of the year 1760, he became assistant to Dr Bradley, at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. This was upon the occasion of Mr Charles Mason's having quitted that office, to go to the Cape of Good Hope, for the purpose of observing the transit of Venus, in 1761. With Dr Bradley Mr Green remained at the observatory, till the Doctor's death, which happened in 1762. Upon Mr Bliss's appointment to the place of Astronomer Royal, Mr Green continued to be assistant to that gentleman. As Mr Bliss's health was very precarious, and his residence chiefly at Oxford, the principal care of the observations devolved on Mr Green. Indeed, he was so useful to Mr Bliss, that when, in 1763, in conjunction with Dr Maskelyne, he was appointed by the Commissioners of the Board of Longitude to go to Barbadoes, to make observations for the trial of Mr Harrison's time-keeper, it was agreed that a temporary assistant only should be provided at Greenwich, till his return. Accordingly, he remained at the observatory till the death of Mr Bliss, in September, 1764, and the appointment of Dr Maskelyne, in the spring following. After this, he was employed by a number of gentlemen, who had formed a scheme of bringing water from some part of the river Coln, below Uxbridge, to Marybone. But Mr Green having proved, by this survey, that there would be a deficiency of fall, if the water should be taken from the tail of the lowest mill in that stream, and objections being raised, by the proprietors of those mills, to the water's (sic) being taken above them, the design dropped. Mr Green's appointment, by the Royal Society, to observe, together with with Lieutenant Cook, the transit of Venus in 1769, having already been related in the course of this work, it is sufficient to add, that he fell martyr to the unwholesome air of Batavia; for though he lived to quit that place, he died twelve days afterwards, of a dysentery, on the 29


of January, 1771.

Mr Green was tolerably well versed in most branches of the mathematics, and had a tincture of various other sciences. Metaphysical enquiries were his favourite pursuits; and he was more fond of displaying his knowledge in this respect than was conductive to his advantage. Though he loved his friend much, he sometimes showed that he loved his jest better, by which he made himself enemies. He was a most excellent observer. Of this Dr Maskelyne was so well convinced, that, though they had disagreed at Barbadoes, and were not afterwards on terms of friendship, the Doctor not only proposed him to the Royal Society, as the most proper person to observe the transit of Venus, but supported his interest with great earnestness, against some others of the Society, who wished to send out a different person. The observations of Mr Green which particularly related to the transit of Venus, were printed in conjunction with those of Lieutenant Cook. His remaining ones, which are pretty numerous, are now preparing for publication, under the direction of the Commissioners of Longitude.

Mr Green was engaged for a time, in concert with Doctor Scott the present Rector of Simonburn, Mr Falconer, the author of the Shipwreck, and some other persons, in writing a dictionary of arts and sciences; but he did not continue his assistance through more than half the work. Mr Green, as a reward for his going to Barbadoes, had been appointed purser of the Aurora frigate, which was afterwards made choice of to carry Mr Vansittart, and the other Supervisors, out to India. As Mr Green was then absent with Lieutenant Cook, his old colleague, Mr Falconer, applied to the Commissioners of the Navy, for leave to exchange the Bristol, to which he belonged, for the Aurora. In consequence of this he was lost with her; and, probably, at no great distance, either of time or space, from where the body of her quondam purser, Mr Green, was committed to the deep. [From the information of Mr Wales.]"

Extract supplied by Wendy Wales


Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1775, volume 23, number 4 (2000).

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