To kill for?

Coronavirus

Visitor notice: We are pleased to announce that Royal Museums Greenwich is reopening. To find out more about which sites will be open and how to plan your visit, click here.

Of the many online sources now available, one that I looked at again quite recently was Old Bailey Online, which gives details of proceedings from 1674 to 1913. It's an extraordinary resource that can come up with amazing snippets of information about people who wouldn't normally appear in the historical record. It's also useful for telling you how much things were worth.In an idle moment, I did a search for longitude. This brought up some expected finds, including mention of stolen chronometers, but one item was really quite bizarre. This was the trial of John Glendon in 1692, accused of murdering Rupert Kempthorne. Apparently, they were at the Ship Tavern in Temple Bar, when 'some difference arose between them about Latitude and Longitude, Mr. Kempthorne alledging that there was no such word as Longitude'. Swords were drawn and Kempthorne died in the resulting fight, with Glendon convicted of manslaughter. His punishment included being branded on the hand.I'm not sure what to make of this sorry tale, other than to note that the passing of the Longitude Act in 1714 must have made longitude a more familiar word.