Captain James Cook

 

James Cook was born October 27th 1728 (Julian Calendar) in the village of Marton, Yorkshire, England, one of seven children. In 1746 at the age of 17, Cook became an apprentice to the Walker Family, ship owners at Whitby. In 1755 Cook enlisted in the Royal Navy as an ordinary sailor. Working his way through the ranks eventually took command of his own survey ship. Cooks work with mapping and surveying was extremely accurate and those surveys gave him a name.

Returning to England in 1762 he soon married Elizabeth Batts and they had six children. In 1768 Cook became Captain of the Endeavour Bark.

Cook led a scientific expedition to Tahiti in the Pacific to view the eclipse of the planet Venus in 1769. Continuing southward his instructions were to prove if a continent existed in the Southern Hemisphere. Cook stopped at New Zealand and circumnavigated both island discovering the South Island and accurately charted the coast. Sailing west Cook discovered the eastern side of Australia in 1770, which he named Cape Hicks, sailing north he discovered Botany Bay, Sydney Harbour, further north Cook harbour (Cooktown) until they reached the tip of north eastern Australia (Cape York). Rounding Cape York Cook sailed westward, discovered and named the Endeavour Strait and proved a new sea route between Australia and New Guinea, stopping at Jakarta for ship repairs before continuing sailing to England, arrived home in 1771.

H.M.S. Endeavour

Cook was promoted to Commander, his second mission to travel south, find Cape Circumcision and determine if it was part of the continent. Leaving England in 1772 with the ships Resolution and Adventure on a three year voyage. Sailing around South Africa crossing the Antarctic Circle, reaching New Zealand then on to Tahiti, heading south until reaching the ice pack, sailing north and landing at Easter Island in 1774. Onto Tahiti then sailed west discovering Tuamoutu Islands, Society Islands, Tonga, Fiji Islands, New Hebridies (Vanuatu), south to New Caledonia, then onto Cape Horn claiming Kerguelen Island returning to England in 1775.

Cook retired and eventually a third voyage was planned to find the Northwest passage (Atlantic to Pacific Ocean) setting sail in 1776 on the Resolution and a sister ship Discovery. Cook sailed to New Zealand onto Tahiti then north discovering Cook Islands, Christmas Island and smaller Hawaiian Islands then on to the northwest American coast, rounding the tip of the Alaska Peninsula through the Bering Strait into the Arctic Ocean, reaching ice Cook turned southward stoping at the Island of Hawaii. The local people accepted Cook as a god. Leaving on 1779 returning a week later after stormy seas damaged the ship. Whilst in Kealakekua Bay one of the ships long boats was stolen. Cook devised a plan for its return by taking the Chief hostage, a scuffle began, muskets fired and a fight was on. Cook is injured, bleeds, eventually dies, the crew returns to England in 1780.

BOOK - CAPTAIN COOK, Life and Voyages of the Great Navigator. Click here