Captain James Cook

Captain James Cook

Captain James Cook
James Cook R.N., F.R.S. was one of our greatest circumnavigators and his maritime career started in Whitby. He was employed on Whitby ships on the coal run operating down the east coast. From here he jumped ship and joined the Royal Navy. He worked on ships in Canada during which time he carried out a survey of Newfoundland and further survey work which helped the successful capture of Quebec. From here he was recommended to lead three voyages in Whitby ships to the Pacific to :

  • observe the transit of Venus and discover New Zealand and the east coast of Australia
  • look for the southern continent
  • look for the Bering Strait but he was killed by natives en route
Feather Cloak Piece ETH487A
Part of a feather cloak obtained
by Cook in Hawaii in 1777
Davis Backstaff used in Navigation

The exhibits in the Cook wing illustrate his association with Whitby and events of the voyages (1768 – 1779). Five exhibits are of particular interest and importance :

  • an original hand-drawn map, signed and made by James Cook as a non-commissioned officer, when he surveyed the coast of Newfoundland
  • four pages of manuscript in the handwriting of James Cook forming the only known surviving part of the original draft of his “Journal” describing incidents on his voyage towards the south pole in 1773-74
  • probate copy of his will
  • report on the transit of Venus in 1769
  • models of “Resolution” and “Endeavour”
Model of the ‘Endeavour’ made by Graham Leech solely using matchsticks!

No visitor should come to Whitby without also visiting the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Grape Lane in Whitby.