They Say James Cook Was the Best Navigator Ever
Born on October 27, 1728 in the Yorkshire village of Marton, James Cook worked in a haberdashery, sleeping under the counter at night before finally running away to the sea.
After years of learning his trade, Cook was made master of his own ship, and was sent to America during the Seven Years War. There, he charted the St. Lawrence channel by night, trying to remain hiden from the French guns.
Cook educated himself in surveying and cartography, mathematics and astronomy. He even contributed papers to the Royal Astronomical Society on the mathematical problems of finding a location on the moon.
In 1768, Cook was put in command the ‘Endeavour’, and sent to the Pacific to observe the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. Cook rounded Cape Horn, and arrived at the island of Otaheite, where he observed the transit. Next, he sailed for New Zealand, which was found to consist of two great islands suitable for settlement “should this ever thought an object worthy the attention of Englishmen.”
Cook then sailed for Australia and explored the east coast for two thousand miles, and took over the country in the king’s name. In 1770, Captain James Cook arrived at New South Wales.
Although the ship suffered an outbreak of malaria and dysentery, they managed to return to England. After a short period of time at home, Cook was sent out to “complete the discovery of the Southern Hemisphere.”
Cook was killed on a later voyage and a memorial was placed for him in Saint Andrews Church in Cambridge. It reads, in part:
of CAPTAIN JAMES COOK, of the ROYAL NAVY
one of the most celebrated Navigators, that this
or former Ages can boast of.”
Your mid-1700s Ancestors
All of us have ancestors who lived in the middle part of the 18th century. If your family member was in England at the time, what do you think they might have heard about Captain Cook? I wonder if his exploits and explorations were front page news. Do you know?