James Cook: Celebrated North Country Explorer

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1728-36 James Cook born (27 Oct) and lived in Marton, now part of Middlesbrough.

1736-45 Cook’s family moved to Great Ayton, where he attended the local school.

1745-46 Cook apprenticed to William Sanderson, haberdasher and grocer of Staithes

1746-55 Cook apprenticed to John Walker, a Whitby shipowner

1755-68 CANADA

1755 Cook joined the Royal Navy and saw active service in the English Channel and Atlantic

1758 During the Seven Years War sailed with the fleet to Canada where he learned to survey and assisted with the charting of the St.Lawrence River which helped with the siege and fall of Quebec.

1762 Returned to England and married Elizabeth Batts.

1763-67 Surveyed the coast of Newfoundland during the summer periods, returning to Britain for the winters.


1768 Cook chosen to lead expedition to the South Seas. Left Plymouth (Aug) and travelled via Madeira (Sep), Rio de Janiero (Nov-Dec) and Tierra del Fuego (Jan 69) to Tahiti

1769 On Tahiti (Apr-Jul) Cook completed his first task – the observation of the Transit of Venus (3 Jun). Then sailed around the Society Islands (Jul-Aug) and searched for the southern continent before heading for New Zealand.(Jul-Oct).

1769-70 Circumnavigated New Zealand and charted the north and south islands.(Oct 69-Feb 70)

1770 Endeavour sailed north along the east coast of Australia (Apl-Aug).Struck the Great Barrier Reef (10 Jun) and repaired in Endeavour River. (Jun-Aug)

1770-71 Arrived for repair at Batavia, Java (Oct-Dec 70). The crew caught fever and many died there or on the return journey via Cape Town (Mar-Apr 71) to Britain (Jul71).


1772 Cook in the Resolution and Furneaux in the Adventure left Plymouth (13 Jul) and sailed via Madiera (Jul-Aug) and Cape Town, South Africa (Oct-Nov) towards the Antarctic in search of the southern continent.

1773 The ships become the first recorded to cross the Antarctic Circle (17 Jan 73) but become separated in fog. Ships rendezvoused in New Zealand (Feb-May) and set off to explore the central Pacific, calling at Tahiti (Aug) and the Friendly Islands (Tonga) (Oct). The ships became separated and never meet again. Both ships sailed separately to New Zealand. (Nov) The Adventure returned to Britain (Jul 74).

1774 Cook attempted another search for the southern continent (Nov 73-Oct 74), sailing to Easter Island (Mar), the Marquesas (Mar), Tuamotu Islands and Tahiti (April), New Hebrides (Jul-Aug), New Caledonia (Sep), Norfolk Island (Oct) arriving New Zealand. (Oct-Nov)

1774-75 Returned to Britain via the Southern Ocean, Tierra del Fuego (Dec), South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands and Bouvet Island, Table Bay, South Africa, St.Helena and the Ascension Island, arriving Plymouth (30 Jul)

On his return Cook was presented to the King, made a member of the Royal Society, promoted to post-captain and wrote up his account of the voyage

1776-1780 THIRD VOYAGE

1776 Cook sailed in Resolution to search for the North West Passage. Rendezvoused with Discovery at Cape Town and set sail for New Zealand (1 Dec)

1777 Visited Tasmania, New Zealand and the Cook Islands (Jan-Mar), the Tongan Islands and Tahiti (Apr-Dec)

1778 Sailed to the Hawaiian islands, Oregon and Nootka Sound (Jan-Apr) before searching for the North-West Passage off Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, the Arctic and the north-east coast of Russia.(May-Sep)

1779 Visited Hawaiian Islands. Cook killed Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii (14 Feb)

1779-80 Resolution and Discovery explored the other Hawaiian islands before resuming the search for the North-West Passage. Visited Kamchatka (Apr & Aug-Oct 79) and the Arctic and sailed back to Britain via Macao and the Cape of Good Hope.

1780 News of Cook’s death reached Britain (Jan) before the Resolution and Discovery arrived back in England (Oct)

Early Life | Canada1st Voyage2nd Voyage3rd Voyage


Project partners: British Library, North East Libraries and Archives Council, Captain Cook Birthplace Museum

All enquiries to Phil_Philo@middlesbrough.gov.uk
or write to:

Captain Cook Birthplace Museum
Stewart Park


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