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Summary:  British sailor and navigator.  Captain of the Endeavour during its discovery of Australia

Date:  Born 27th October 1728; Died 14th February 1779

Location:  Born in Yorkshire, England


The HMS Endeavor

    James Cook, a now famous explorer, was born on 27th of October 1728 in Yorkshire, England.  As a youth, he worked in a draper's shop in a Yorkshire port. Cook likely watched the large ships coming into port and perhaps even listened to the crashing waves as he worked.  He also loved to hear the stories of foreign lands told by old English sailors.  At age 18 James, who had always longed to go to sea, was allowed by his father to take an apprentice's position on a coal company's ship.

Captain Cook's voyages

    On the ship, Cook, who was proving to be an enthusiastic worker and a skilled navigator, rose rapidly through the ranks and at the age of just 27 was offered command of a company ship.  Instead, he joined the Royal Navy as an ordinary seaman, rose through the ranks again and was sent to Canada for navigation experience.


    At age 34, Cook married Elizabeth Batts who was a committed Christian.  For the next 5 years he was surveying and mapping the coastlines of Labrador and Newfoundland.



    James Cook was placed in command of an expedition to Tahiti, from which the scientists on-board would observe the transit of Venus.  There were also some other orders, but these were not to be opened until the Tahiti observation was over.  The ship, the Endeavour, with 94 men on-board left England on 25th August 1768.  On 3rd June 1769 the transit was observed.  The Endeavour continued south towards New Holland and soon arrived at New Zealand.  Cook spent 6 months sailing around and mapping New Zealand.  His efforts proved that the country was not part of New Holland as many had previously supposed.  After this great discovery, he continued west toward New Holland. 

The Death of Captain Cook

    On 20th April 1770 at 6:00am, the Great South Land or New Holland was sighted and 8 days later, the Endeavour landed it's crew at what became known as Botany Bay. A week after the landing, Cook, who had completed surveying the area, headed north, mapping the coastline as he went.  The Endeavour's crew landed another 3 times.  


    One of these times was a forced landing in which the Endeavour needed repairs. While on shore the sailors discovered many fascinating, new creatures, not the least of which was the kangaroo.  On 22nd August 1770, Cook officially claimed the Great South land for King George III, ruler of the British Empire.  After this, the Endeavour left what is still known as Possession Island and soon headed home for England.  The voyage had taken 3 years.  Perhaps unknowingly at the time, Cook's exploration and favourable reports had paved the way for successful settlement in the land that has come to be known as the Commonwealth of Australia.  In many ways, Australia owes its current status to the efforts of that Englishman who was named Captain Cook.


    On 14th February, 1779, Captain James Cook, was murdered by natives of Hawaii during his 3rd visit to the area.


Written and Researched By

Cody B. Mitchell


One People One Destiny - A Christian History of Australia by Mike Spencer

Watch "Captain James Cook: Crash Course"

One of the best known sailors (at least in Australia), Cook was an expert navigator and seaman.  He was responsible for the discovery of Australia.
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