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A Yorkshireman's tribute to:

Captain James Cook R.N.


Captain James Cook

Parish Church, Stockton-on-Tees.

Photograph courtesy of Julie Mason.

In Stockton-on-Tees parish church there is a memorial to Captain James Cook and an altarpiece made of wood from one of Cook's ships the Resolution 


Captain James Cook, R.N. (1728-1779)

The latin inscription on the Coat-of-Arms reads:
 Circa orbem Nil intentum reliquit
Around the globe He left nothing unattempted.

A bronze statue of the famous circumnavigator, on the base of which is carved Captain Cook's coat-of-arms, was erected on the West Cliff at Whitby, Yorkshire, on a piece of ground known as People's Park and was presented to the town by Sir Gervase Beckett, M.P. for the then Whitby Division of the North Riding. It was unveiled by Admiral Lord Charles Beresford on 2nd October, 1912.

The statue is a fine example of the work of an eminent sculptor, Mr. John Tweed.


Memorial plaque

During the Bicentenary celebrations held in the town in 1968/69 commemorative plaques were unveiled by the High Commissioners for Australia and New Zealand to mark Captain Cook's first voyages to the antipodes in the Whitby-built ship 'Endeavour'.

The wording on the south facing plaque above reads:

Captain James Cook R.N.


This plaque is to commerate the men who built the Whitby ships.

'Endeavour', 'Resolution', 'Adventure', 'Discovery'

used by

Captain James Cook. R.N.; F.R.S.

and also

the men who sailed with him on the greatest voyages of exploration of all time.

1768-1771 1772-1775 1776-1778

Unveiled in the presence of the High Commisioners of Australia and New Zealand

on 26 Aug. 1968.

The Bicentenary of his first voyage.


Memorial reading

North facing plaque read as follows:

This plaque was presented by the people of Canada to commorate the 250th Anniversary of the birth of

Captain James Cook R.N.; F.R.S

and was unveiled by the High Commisioner for Canada

The Honourable Paul Martin, P.C.C.C.Q.C.

October 1978.

Cette plaque don du peuple Canadien en commeration due 250 eme Anniversaire de la naissance du

Captaine James Cook R.N. F.R.S

fut inauguree par le haut-commisaire due Canada

L'Honourable Paul Martin C.P.C.C.C.R

Octobre 1978



In the eighteenth century, the Pacific Ocean was still virtually uncharted. Ever since Magellan made the first European crossing in 1520 there had been rumours of a large southern continent called Terra Australis Nondum Cognita (the southern land not yet known). French, Dutch and English sailors, including Francis Drake, had hunted in vain for this mythical land.

In 1758, Cook was master of the Pembroke, a 1,250 ton, 64-gun man-of-war. In early 1759, the Pembroke joined a blockade of the Saint Lawrence River designed to prevent French ships from carrying supplies to the fortress colony of Quebec. Cook led patrols up and down the river, charting every hazard, and marking a channel for the warships to follow. During the British assault on Quebec City, Cook successfully navigated the massive Pembroke up the narrow, twisting, and frequently shallow waterway.

Without the help of Ship's Master James Cook, it is doubtful whether the British troops could have taken the fortress by surprise.

In 1768 James Cook was selected to lead an expedition to observe the transit of Venus due in June 1769, during which the planet Venus would cross the face of the Sun, the expedition would also be given a secret mission to find the southern continent and to explore new lands in the Pacific Ocean

On 26th August 1768 the Endeavour set sail from Plymouth, stocked with 18 months supplies, and with 94 men aboard. Accompanying Cook were Joseph Banks, the botanist, Daniel Solander, a naturalist, and Charles Green, from the Greenwich Observatory.

Cook's first voyage was to sail around Cape Horn in the Endeavour and into the Pacific, anchoring by the island of Tahiti on 3rd June 1769.. After an idyllic stay in Tahiti, and successfully observing the transit of Venus, Cook then took the Endeavour on to the North Island of New Zealand where they met Maori with war canoes, before sailing on to the South Island. He chartered completely the North and South Islands and found neither island was joined to a large southern continent.

Mount Cook, New Zealand

Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Endeavour continued towards the island discovered by the Dutchman, Abel JansenTasman in 1642 who named it Van Dieman's Land (later to be re-named Tasmania). They then sailed west and discovered and claimed possession of the east coast of New Holland and New South Wales, what we now know as Australia, anchoring in Botany Bay.

Hardy Reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef

Hardy Reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Endeavour was nearly wrecked on the coral reefs to the north but repairs were made and on the 12 June 1771 the ship travelled northwards via New Guinea, towards Batavia (modern Jakarta) where unfortunately many of the crew died of fever.

Hobart, Tasmania

Hobart, Tasmania

Cook had managed to protect his crew from the sailors' scourge of scurvy by making sure that high standards of cleanliness were kept on board ship and that the crew ate as many fresh vegetables as possible.

Cook monument, Ship Cove, New Zealand

Captain Cook monument, Ship Cove, New Zealand

The Kurnell Peninsula was the site of Captain Cook's first landing in Australia and the first meeting of European and Aboriginal cultures. The peninsula is situated at the south short of Botany Bay in the south of the City of Sydney.

Kurnell Peninsula, Australia

Kurnell Peninsula (link)

(Photographs© by kind permission of Daphne Salt)

On this voyage, Cook became the first to chart accurately a substantial part of the Australian coastline and fix the continent in relation to known waters, leading to settling expeditions soon after.

Location map of Kurnell Peninsula

©photo courtesy: Daphne Salt

Map of Kurnell Peninsula

Cook's charts are so accurate that they can still be used today.

The Endeavour carried 94, officers, scientists and crew, two greyhounds plus a milking goat and stores for the voyage. Built originally to carry a crew of seventeen, she must have been bursting at her seams.

Captain Cook monument, Sydney, Australia

Captain Cook monument Sydney, Australia.

Captain Thomas Watson

A Captain Thomas Watson was involved in erecting three memorials to Captain Cook. The first memorial was erected in 1854-55, by Watson and the Rev. James Walker. It was an obelisk approximately 12 feet high, similar to the one in Macquarie Place in Sydney.

The second memorial erected by Captain Watson was a statue of Cook outside his Captain Watson's house in Randwick,New South Wales it was carved from Pyrmont sandstone by a local sculptor, William McGill in 1874.

The inscription reading: "To the memory of Captain James Cook R.N. The celebrated navigator and discoverer of this territory. Born at Morton Yorkshire 27th October A.D. 1728. Killed at the Sandwich Islands". 14th February 1779

The third memorial in which Captain Watson was instrumental was a statue of Cook erected in Hyde Park, corner of William Street and College Street, unveiled on 25 February 1879, a few months before his death

The Bark Endeavour returned to port in 1771, a voyage of three years, having been reported missing, lost to the unknown seas, but the battered Whitby ship with pennants flying and the great Royal Navy Ensign clearly to be seen on her quarter deck, sailed up the Channel and anchored off the Downs. There were only 56 aboard her now, plus the indestructible goat. The Bark Endeavour - Resolution- Adventurer and the Discovery, a splendid quartet of Whitby built ships, commanded by Cook, conveys a maritime memorial to his aspiration and to the skills of Whitby shipwrights.

On his second voyage, after nearly a year at home, Cook embarked on his search for the theorised Great Southern Continent, what we know now as Antarctica. With little ceremony thetwo tiny ships Resolution and Adventure set sail from Plymouth Sound at 6:00 am on 13 July 1772 facing a three year voyage. Arriving at Capetown, South Africa some 109 days later. sailed around the Cape of Good Hope withk two Whitby colliers - the Resolution and the Adventure. On this expedition Cook tested a chronometer, or sea clock, designed by John Harrison. Its successful performance meant that Cook and all future navigators were able to fix longitude much more accurately than before.


Between January 1773 and January 1774 Cook's ships entered the Antarctic circle several times, but because of the intense cold were forced to turn back only 121 km from Antarctica's coast.



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Date Last Modified: 25/04/08