Captain James Cook was an Eighteenth Century seafarer chiefly remembered for discovering Australia and New Zealand
When and Where was he Born?
27th October 1728, Marton in Cleveland, Yorkshire, England. (Now part of Middlesbrough).
Cook was the son of a Scottish migrant farm worker and a local girl.
Local School paid for by his father’s employer.
Chronology/Biography of Captain James Cook:
1745: After many years helping his father on the farm he left home aged seventeen and took up an apprenticeship in Staithes, North Yorkshire, at Mr Sanderson’s grocery and haberdasher’s shop.
1746: Mr Sanderson realised his apprenticeship was not suited and transferred him to the Quaker ship owners, John and Henry Walker at Whitby which is nearby.
1747: James Cook spent several years sailing aboard coasters beginning with the collier ship “Freelove” plying its trade between the Tyne and London.
1752: Cook is promoted to Mate on the Colllier Brig “Friendship”.
1755: Although he had been a success and even offered the Command of his own craft he decided to join the Royal Navy as an Able Seaman. As Britain was rearming for the Seven Years war he felt the chances of a successful career would be more likely with the military service. On the 17th June he takes up his post on H.M.S. Eagle and quickly promoted to Master’s Mate.
1757: After the “Eagle” was damaged in a skirmish Cook transferred to the 64 Gun Ship of the Line H.M.S. Pembroke on the 27th October. The Captain of the “Eagle”, Hugh Pallister had recognised his talent and he was now warranted as a Master of the Ship. He was ordered to Canada to survey the St. Lawrence River to help with the navigation of that area by British warships. When the main fleet was ordered back to Britain he transferred to Admiral Colville’s flagship.
1762: James Cook moves to the Mile End Road in London with his new wife.
1763-67: He began surveying the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador during the summers in the Schooner “Grenville” and spent the winters at home preparing his charts for publication. He gained a reputation for accuracy which made his maps widely admired.
1768: He is commissioned as First Lieutenant aboard H.M.S. Endeavour and sailed from Plymouth on 26th August. He was asked by the Royal Society to take an expedition to the Pacific, amongst other things, to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun.
1769: (3rd June) Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun. (7th October) The ship’s boy Nicholas Young sites New Zealand. (18th December) He rounds the northernmost point of New Zealand and begins exploration of the West coast. He discovers the Society Islands.
1770: (28th April) “Endeavor” reaches Botany Bay in Australia and Cook claims the land for Britain. (26th August) He rounds the Northern part of Australia. (11th October) Arrives in Batavia.
1771: (12th July) Captain Cook arrives back in Britain.
1772: (13th July) He is promoted to Commander and sails again from Plymouth, this time in H.M.S. Resolution. H.M.S. Adventure is also sent as part of the expedition.
1773: (17th January) Crosses the Antarctic Circle. (15th August) The ships reach Tahiti. (“4th September) They Discover the Hervey Islands. (3rd November) “Resolution” and “Adventure” become separated.
1774: (12th March) Cook arrives at Easter Island. (10th October) Discovers Norfolk Island.
1775: (30th July) Arrives back in Britain.
1776: (12th July) Sets sail from Plymouth again in H.M.S. Resolution but this time with H.M.S. Discovery in the expedition. He is charged with discovering a passage around the north coast of America from the Pacific.
1777: (12th February) Arrives in New Zealand. (29th April) Arrives in Tonga. (11th August) Arrives in Tahiti. (24th December) Discovers the Christmas Island.
1778: (7th February) Sights the coast of Oregon in North America. (8th August) Cook crosses the Bering Strait which separates North America form the main continental landmass. (26th November) Arrives back in Hawaii were he is greeted with enthusiasm and takes part in a ceremony which the locals think make him a god.
1779: (4th February) Captain Cook leaves Kealakekua Bay but has to return four days later due to damage to the ship. The local people were at first friendly but on the 14th February he set ashore on Kealakekua Beach to retrieve a ship’s boat which had been stolen by the inhabitants. A priest felled him with his club as he wished to show that he was a mortal and then he was set upon by the mob and several daggers plunged into him. Several of Cook’s marines were also killed in the melee. Clerke, now in charge, stopped his men from taking reprisals and collected all that remained of Cook when things had calmed down. He then went on to try and finish Cook’s work but was thwarted and set sail for Britain once more, unfortunately dying enroute. The ships reached port in Plymouth harbour on the 4th October 1780.
21st December 1762 to Elizabeth Batts after a brief courtship at St. Margaret’s Church, Barking, London.
When and Where did he Die?
14th February 1779, Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii.
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
Remains committed to the sea off Hawaii.
Places of Interest:
The Vache, Cook Memorial by Palliser, Chalfont St. Giles.
St Andrew the Great Church, Cambridge has marble memorial on walls and also the graves of Elizabeth his wife and two children James and Hugh.
James Cook Birthplace Museum, Stewart Park, Marton, Middlesbrough.
St. Cuthbert’s Church, Marton has stained glass window memorial.
Captain Cook Heritage Trail.
“Bottle of Notes” Sculpture, Middlesbrough.
Cleveland Centre, Middlesbrough has a model of the Endeavour and a map of the world showing its route.
Endeavour replica held on River Tees at Stockton-on-Tees.
58 Notte Street, Plymouth has a plaque commemorating Cook’s visit before Endeavour voyage.
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.( Also has full Statue outside the Queen’s House).
Full Statue, The Mall.
89 Mile End Road, Plaque marks site of Cook’s house at 7 Assembly Row.
St Paul’s Church, Shadwell, holds baptismal records of Cook’s son James.
340 Highway, Shadwell, plaque marks site of Cook’s house at 126 Upper Shadwell.
Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Grape Lane, Whitby.
Resolution Project, Whitby.
Full Statue, West Cliff, Whitby.
All Saint’s Church, Great Ayton has graves of his mother and five of his brothers and sisters.
Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum, 101 High Street, Great Ayton.
Captain Cook Obelisk, Easby Moor, Great Ayton.
Statue of Cook as a boy, Upper Green, Great Ayton.
Captain Cook Heritage Centre, Staithes.
Plaque marking visit of ships Resolution and Discovery, Stromness, Orkney.