Last May returning from touring the replica Endeavour at Whitby my husband Norman and I sought evidence of a sailmaker from Gainsborough who had sailed with Cook.
A local ex-R.N. man clearing a nearby churchyard that is associated with the Pilgrim Fathers had heard of such a man but did not know the location of his grave. However, the verger, Mr Eddie Scarsebrook of All Saints Church, who was not present that day, sent me the following information.
Richard Rollett did not wish to sail on the second voyage with Cook and a letter from Rollett to another sailmaker asking him to be his replacement, and confirming that he, Rollett, had other more pressing commitments, is said to exist.
Rollett, the reluctant master sailmaker of H.M.S. Resolution on her second voyage round the world, died on January 20th 1824, and was buried in the churchyard of All Saints Church at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, between the first and second lime trees on the right on entering the main West gates. Some years ago tombstones were cleared from the churchyard and Rollett's tombstone is now fastened to the wall just inside the main door of the Tower entrance.
Mr Scarsebrook feels sure Rollett came from a local family as he remembers a local shopkeeper of that name some years ago.
The inscription on the tombstone reads:-
TO THE MEMORY OF
FORMERLY MASTER SAILMAKER
OF H.M.S. RESOLUTION
CAPT. JAMES COOK IN HER
2nd Voyage ROUND THE WORLD
DIED 20TH JANUARY 1824
We next visited West Ashby House, close to Horncastle, Lincolnshire [see Cook's Log, page 1080, vol. 17, no. 4 (1994)]. Here, we were very warmly welcomed by the present owners who allowed photographs to be taken of the front door casing, which is said to come from the Shadwell home of Captain Cook. I feel that it came from Assembly Row, Mile End, the house he purchased. Through it can be seen the beautiful staircase which is also said to have come from the same London house. The wife of the owner hails from New Zealand, and I thought it appropriate that she should own such Cook related artefacts.
We visited Gainsborough again recently and saw the headstone and took photographs.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1506, volume 21, number 2 (1998).