The Rev Dr Nevil Maskelyne DD FRS FRSE (6 October 1732 – 9 February 1811) was the fifth British Astronomer Royal. He held the office from 1765 to 1811, he was the first person to scientifically measure the weight of the planet Earth.
Maskelyne was born in London, the third son of Edmund Maskelyne of Purton, Wiltshire, and his wife, Elizabeth Booth. Maskelyne's father died when he was 12, leaving the family in reduced circumstances. Maskelyne attended Westminster School and was still a pupil there when his mother died in 1748, his interest in astronomy had begun while at Westminster School, shortly after the eclipse of 14 July 1748.
Maskelyne entered St Catharine's College, Cambridge in 1749, graduating as seventh wrangler in 1754. Ordained as a minister in 1755, he became a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge in 1756 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1758.
Originally pursuing his career as a minister he was Rector of Shrawardine from 1775 to 1782 and then Rector of North Runcton from 1782; in 1784 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His proposers were John Playfair, John Robison and Dugald Stewart.
In 1784 Maskelyne married Sophia Rose Turner of Cotterstock, Northamptonshire. Their only child, Margaret (1786–1858), was the mother of Mervyn Herbert Nevil Story-Maskelyne (1823–1911) professor of mineralogy at Oxford (1856–95). Maskelyne's sister, Margaret (1735-1817), married Robert Clive.
Nevil Maskelyne is buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, the parish church of the village of Purton, Wiltshire, England.
Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
Nevil is 22 degrees from Vlad III of Wallachia, 19 degrees from John Carradine, 21 degrees from Lon Chaney, 18 degrees from Rutger Hauer, 23 degrees from Gloria Holden, 11 degrees from Christopher Lee, 23 degrees from Bela Lugosi, 24 degrees from Leslie Nielsen, 11 degrees from David Niven and 20 degrees from Margaret Allison on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.