James Cook (1728-1779)

James Cook

1728 Captain James Cook was born on the 7th of November at Marton, Yorkshire, England. He was an explorer who did three great trips on the oceans, trips that changed the known world, adding on the world’s map: Australia, New Zeeland and Antarctica and also big parts of Pacific.

1736 His family moved to Great Ayton.

1744 Cook started to work in Staithes.

1746 He moved to the South, at Whitby; he worked for John Walker, a coal transporter. He had been working for 11 years for this Quaker learning about Navy, sailing on coal transport ships along the entire Eastern Coast of England, in Norwegian, Irish and Baltic harbours. He was already Second Mate at 27 years old.

1755 He was employed within Royal Navy as a simple seaman. He was rapidly promoted and became a Captain when he was 29.

1759 Cook was sent to Canada where he was given the hard task to explore St. Lawrence River. Succeeding to face the natives, who were usually hostile, he safely drove to the end the mission to map the channel on which British fleet transported General Wolfe and his people in order to attack Abraham heights and to conquer Quebec City which was led by French people.

1760-1767 He explored Newfoundland Islands, St. Pierre and Miquelon near Canada’s shore. He wrote a work about solar eclipse he had observed from Newfoundland’s shore in 1766, this being his great chance.

    Impressed by his work and his fame as a skilled sailor, Royal Society and Admiralty decided to send Lieutenant Cook to an expedition on South Pacific to make other astronomical observations and to establish once and for all if Terra Australis exists or not. Only few parts of the stretched land had been explored and nobody was sure on this, nobody knew for sure if it was about a continent or not.

1768-1771 During this period, the first trip around the world took place on Endeavour ship, a coal transport vessel from Whitby, transformed, with approximately 85 people including a group of scientists, among who Joseph Banks was, too. After a stop in Tahiti, in the spring of 1769, Cook navigated towards South to search the unknown continent and arrived to New Zeeland six weeks later. During the majority of cases, the contacts with Maori were friendly and peaceful. He surrounded and mapped the both islands (the strait between them bears his name) and, in Queen Charlotte Gulf, Cook took formally into possession the islands, in the name of King George III.

Endeavour left New Zeeland and went towards North and 19 days later Cook saw for the first time the great continent, Australia. He sailed to Eastern Coast and finally anchored in Botany Gulf. He landed again together with a small group and planted the unionist flag in order to reclaim the land that was called New South Wales. He seized large territories without dropping any drop of blood, but despite of these expeditions he was on the brink of disaster when Endeavour crashed a reef while they were coming back home.

1772-1775 He left for his second trip with Resolution and Adventure vessels. Now, his mission was to explore the seas around Antarctica and to “finish Southern hemisphere discovery”. This second trip lasted three years, time during which Cook founded 60.000 miles (108.000 km) sweeping Southern Atlantic, becoming the first man who circumnavigated Antarctica and mapped big white spaces of Pacific Ocean, including Marquesas and Tonga islands. This trip established the world’s map as we know today, the notes regarding frozen Antarctica opening the way for polar explorers of next centuries.

1776-1779 The third and the last Cook’s expedition was done to search the Nordic landscape – a maritime crossing that crossed the upper side of the Earth uniting Atlantic with Pacific. Having Resolution and Discovery vessels, newly promoted Captain Cook left in 1776 sailing through Australia and New Zeeland before going towards Northern Pacific, on the unmapped waters beyond Bering Strait. His way was blocked by an ice wall at Frozen Cape and after exploring Northeast Siberia, Cook returned to warm Southern Pacific. The two ships anchored in Kealakekura Gulf, in Hawaii, on January, 1779.

1779 On the 14th of February, James Cook was killed in Hawaii, during a brawl with the natives, a fight that began because a boat had been stolen. He said one day: “I have the ambition to go not only farer than a man has ever arrived, but also as far as a man can go”.[1]



1 - James Cook (1728-1779), ro.biography.name



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