eafarer and explorer born in Yorkshire, U.K., on 27th October 1728.
His first job was an 18 month apprenticeship in a grocery and haberdashery but he gained a release from his employer and joined shipowners John and Henry Walker, working on colliers based at Whitby.
By 1752 he was a mate and knew how well these sturdy vessels performed in the seas around Britain.
Declining command of a collier, Cook joined the Royal Navy in 1755 and was quickly promoted for his skills in navigation.
With Britain and France at war with each other, Cook served in Canada where he surveyed and charted the St. Lawrence River, enabling Britain to anchor 200 ships in the Bay of Quebec without loss.
Cook married in December, 1762, and spent the next 5 years charting and surveying the coastline of Labrador and Newfoundland.
Cook was then promoted to First Lieutenant in May, 1768 and charged to a voyage of discovery in the southern oceans. He was to be accompanied by the astronomer Charles Green and the wealthy botanist Joseph Banks. The project had been commissioned by King George 111, a keen astronomer himself.
Cook then found the Whitby collier Earl Of Pembroke and bought her for the navy, paying £2,800 for the vessel and renaming her Endeavour.
After a refit on the Thames, the Endeavour set sail from Plymouth bound for Tahiti, via Rio De Janeiro, on August 26th, 1768, with a crew of 71, 12 marines and 11 scientists and their servants.
Cook, in the bark Endeavour, was commissioned by the Royal Society to observe the transit of Venus from the island of Tahiti. This was to happen on January 3rd, 1769.
The observation recorded, he then circumnavigated both North and South Islands of New Zealand, killing some Maori when crew went ashore for fresh water.
Exploring the East coast of Terra Australis, he sighted land on April 19th and landed at Botany Bay on April 29th, 1770, staying for eight days before heading northwards. The name Botany Bay came from Joseph Banks but was originally called Stingray Bay. Cook claimed the land in the name of King George 111.
Endeavour struck a reef on the Great Barrier Reef on June 16th and guns and ballast had to be jettisoned to refloat the ship. She then headed north and rounded the tip of Cape York on August, 26th, 1770.
Some crew died and others became seriously ill in Batavia, on the way home, and by the time the vessel reached Cape Town the crew was severely depleted.
Cook arrived back in England on July 13th, 1771, with glowing reports of the new land. He had circumnavigated the world and solved the mystery of the great unknown southern continent.
Exploration was coursing through the blood in his veins and he was off again.
In 1773 he had the first recorded sighting of the Aurora Australis.
On 22nd October, 1773, Captain Cook feasted with the King of Tonga. Cook was reported as to stripping to the waist and loosening his hair. He was then presented with a giant turtle by the King.
Cook was killed by natives in a dispute over a boat in Hawaii in 1779.
|The Endeavour replica|