Box chronometer, number 419, wood / metal / glass, made by Richard Hornby, Liverpool, England, 1830-1837, used at Sydney Observatory, Observatory Hill, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Liverpool produced a number of well known chronometer makers, mainly due to its proximity to the town of Prescot. This town was a centre for the manufacturing of movement maker for the whole of Britain and ensured a good supply for local manufacturers.
Hornby was born in Liverpool in 1789 and died there in 1849 after which time his son Gerard looked after the business. After 1851 the company became 'Richard Hornby and Son, Watch and chronometer Manufacturers'.
Hornby often used the Massey lever escapment which was used by many Liverpool chronometer makers. Hornby however also made escapments of his own design although these are rare; the earliest known one dating from 1814. This instrument was used at Eden by William Macdonnell during observations of the 1874 Transit of Venus.
The early date of this instrument, coupled with the rarity of chronometers made under Richard Hornby's own name, increases the significance of this example of chronometer manufacture in Liverpool.
Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management Project, March 2008
Purcell, A. C., 'Richard Hornby; Watch and Chronometer Manufacturer of Liverpool', Antiquarian Horology, Number 1, Volume 11, 1990
Russell, H. C., Observations of the Transit of Venus, 9 December 1874, Government Printer, 1892