Richard Hornby Liverpool, c1840

A good 2-day marine chronometer in a 3-tier mahogany box, signed on the silvered dial Richd Hornby Liverpool. 793. The chronometer is complete with winding key and 7 old rating certificates.

 The chronometer has a fascinating history as it was owned by Captain Thomas Rankine in the late 19th and early 20th century and used by him on sailing vessels and steamships - scroll down the page for details of the history and the artefacts included with this item.

Richard Hornby, son of a watchmaker, was born in Liverpool in June 1789 and died in November 1849. His son Gerard continued the business as Richard Hornby & Son. Richard Hornby worked at Pool Lane, Liverpool from 1832, the lane being renamed South Castle Street in 1837.







The chronometer has an Earnshaw type spring detent escapement, and a compensation balance with wedge shaped weights.



The chronometer has subsidiary dials for seconds and state of wind, and gold hour and minute hands.

The good mahogany 3-tier box has brass corners, brass key escutcheon, a brass shield to the upper lid, a bone plaque to the middle tier numbered 793 and brass drop handles.

The chronometer box measures 6˝” x 6˝” x 7” high.


This chronometer was owned by Captain Thomas Rankine of Kincardine, who obtained his masters ticket in 1884 and commanded sailing ships and steamships owned by Thomas Dunlop & Sons of Glasgow.

It is probable that Captain Rankine owned this chronometer and used it at sea on the 4-masted sailing ship Clan Buchanan in the late 1890’s as his journal entry for 16 October 1894 refers to ‘his own chronometer’. He certainly used the chronometer on board the SS Queen Helena at the end of his career as shown by the surviving rating certificates.

  • This chronometer is sold with the following items:
  • Captain Rankine’s Masters Certificate dated 5 September 1884
  • Captain Rankine’s Shipping Federation certificate dated 16 February 1982, with later stamps
  • Captain Rankine’s log book for the period 30/03/1893 – 23/05/1896 onboard Clan Macfarlane and Clan Buchanan
  • A picture of the Clan Buchanan sailing ship (scroll down to bottom of the page to see this picture)
  • Two undated obituary notices (from newspapers)
  • A photograph, presumably of Captain Rankine taking a sextant reading onboard the SS Queen Helena
  • A metal disc stamped A Rankine Ship Clan Buchanan
  • Seven chronometer rating certificates


CaptainThomas Rankine:

Born 1853

Masters ticket 1884

Retired 1913

Died 1931



Clan Macfarlane (sailing ship) (journal 30/03/1893 – 01/05/1894)

Clan Buchanan (4-masted sailing ship) (journal 27/06/1894 – 23/05/1896)

Netherlea (Steam ship)

Queen Helena (Steam Ship) 1910 – 1913

All the above ships owned by Thomas Dunlop & Sons, Glasgow


Rating certificates (all when on Queen Helena):

T.S. & J.D. Negus, New York 26/11/1910

T.S. & J.D. Negus, New York 10/03/1911

T.S. & J.D. Negus, New York 13/06/1911

Felix Martin & Co., Swansea 16/05/1913

T.S. & J.D. Negus, New York 20/06/1913

Rodolfo Bosenberg, Buenos Aires 21/08/1913

Dobbie McInnes Ltd, Liverpool 21/10/1913


The 4-masted sailing ship Clan Buchanan


Stock No. C1134

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