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Captain James Cook

Captain James Cook

Famous Yorkshireman, Captain James Cook was the ablest and most renowned Navigator this or any country has produced: -
2018 marks the 250th anniversary of James Cook setting sail on HM Bark Endeavour to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun in the Pacific Ocean and travel further to search for the Great Southern Continent wrongly believed to exist in temperate latitudes. Finding nothing, Cook then sailed to New Zealand and mapped the complete coastline, making only minor errors. He then sailed west and was the first to navigate, chart and name most of the Australian east coast and many places there today owe their place name to him.

James Cook was born on 27 October 1728 in Marton. In 1736, the family moved to Aireyholme Farm, near Great Ayton, where Cook attended the village school from the age of eight.

Cook often climbed nearby Roseberry Topping, enjoying the views of the sea. At 16, he left to be a shop assistant in William Sanderson’s grocery store in Staithes.
In 1746, Cook moved to Whitby to start work as an apprentice seaman to Master Mariner John Walker. When not at sea, Walker lodged Cook in the house he and his brother owned in Grape Lane, which is now the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. His eagerness to learn earned him vital command skills such as navigation, astronomy, geometry and algebra. After 9 years in Whitby he received an invitation to command one of the coal ships, which he turned down in favour of enlisting as an able seaman in the Royal Navy. Before long, he had risen to the rank of Master, a senior non-commissioned officer in the Royal Navy.

Cook’s navigational skills were instrumental in mapping Newfoundland, which brought him to the attention of the Admiralty and The Royal Society. This led to his commission in 1768 as commander of HM Bark Endeavour for the first of three Pacific voyages.

Amongst Cook’s many distinctive achievements and contributions to knowledge and science was to succeed in circumnavigating the world without losing a single man to scurvy-

• In 2002, Cook was placed at number 12 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons

• The Apollo 15 Command Shuttle and Space Shuttle ‘Endeavour’ were named after Cook’s HMS Endeavour as was the space shuttle ‘Discovery’ named after Cook’s HMS Discovery

• Numerous institutions, landmarks and place names reflect the importance of Cook’s contributions, including the Cook Islands, Cook Strait, Cook Inlet and the Cook Crater on the moon.

• Cook's voyages were involved in another unusual first. The first recorded circumnavigation of the world by an animal was by Cook's goat, who made that memorable journey twice; the first time on HMS Dolphin, under Samuel Wallis, and then aboard Endeavour. When they returned to England, Cook had the goat presented with a silver collar engraved with lines from Samuel Johnson: Perpetui, ambita bis terra, praemia lactis Haec habet altrici Capra secunda Jovis. (“In fame scarce second to the nurse of Jove,/ This Goat, who twice the world had traversed round,/Deserving both her master's care and love,/Ease and perpetual pasture now has found.”) She was put to pasture on Cook's farm outside London, and was reportedly admitted to the privileges of the Royal Naval hospital at Greenwich. Cook's journal recorded the date of the goat's death: 28 March 1772.