Berthoud, Ferdinand

, an eminent French marine clock-maker, a member of the institute, of the royal society of London, and of the legion of honour, was born March 19, 1727, at Plancemont in Neufchatel. His father, who was an architect and justiciary, had destined him for the church; but the youth having had an opportunity, when only sixteen years of age, to examine the mechanism of a clock, became so fond of that study as to attend to nothing else. His father then very wisely encouraged an enthusiasm so promising, and after having employed an able workman to instruct his son in the elements of clockmaking, consented that he should go to Paris to perfect his knowledge of the art. He accordingly came to Paris in 1745, and there constructed his first specimens of marine clocks, which soon were universally approved and adopted. Bjerthoud and Peter Leroi were rival makers of these | longitudinal clocks, and came very near each other, although by different methods, in the construction of them but Berthoud’s superior experience made the preference be

fiven to his workmanship. They had both deposited the escription of their clocks with the secretary of the academy of sciences, sealed up, more than ten years before Harrison’s clocks were proved. Berthoud went twice to London, when the inquiries were making concerning Harrison’s invention, but returned each time without being able to satisfy his curiosity and therefore, his biographer adds, owes nothing to the English artist. Berthoud’s works, which are numerous, all relate to the principles of his art. 1. “Essay sur THorlogerie,1763, 2 vols. 4to. reprinted 1786. 2. “Eclaircissements sur l’invention des nouvelles machines proposees pour la determination des longitudes en mer, par la mesure du tempe,Paris, 1773, 4to. 3. “Traite des horologes marines,1773, 4to. Of this the reader will find a very ample criticism and analysis in vols. L. and LI. of the Monthly' Review, and an examination of Berthoud’s pretensions to superiority, compared with the prior attempts of Hooke and Harrison. 4. “De la mesure du temps,” a supplement to the preceding, 1787, 4to. 5. “Les longitudes par la mesure du temps,1775, 4to. 6. “La mesure du temps appliquee a la navigation,1782, 4to. 7. “Histoire de la mesure du temps par les horologes,1802, 2 vols. 4to. 8. “L’Art de conduire et de regler les pendules et les montres.” This, although mentioned last, was his first publication in 1760, and has often been reprinted. He wrote also some articles on his particular branch in the French Encyclopedia. Berthoud, by means of a regular and temperate system, preserved his faculties to the last. He died of a dropsy in the chest, June 20, 1807, at his house at Groslay, in the canton of Montmorency. His nephew, Louis, his scholar and the heir of his talents, carries on the business of marine-clock making with equal success, and is said to have brought these machines to a superior degree of exactness. 1


Biog. Universelle, —Dict. Hist. Monthly Review, ubi supra.