January, 1764, found James Cook living at home in Shadwell with his wife, Elizabeth, and their first child, young James. It was a rare time of domestic life for Cook.
However, he was still occupied with matters to do with his work. He had to complete the charts from his first year’s survey and assemble supplies and equipment for the second year before returning to Newfoundland in April.
Early in 1764, Hugh Palliser was appointed Governor of Newfoundland replacing Thomas Graves, who had not yet returned to Britain. There was some urgency for the appointment as the French had raised a problem that needed immediate attention. By the terms of the settlement in 1763,1 French fishermen retained the right of access to that part of the Newfoundland coast known as the “French Shore”, which lay between Cape Bonavista in the southeast and Pointe Riche on the Northern Peninsula. The French were now disputing the extent of the French Shore. They claimed that Point Riche was one and the same as Cape Ray, the south-western point of the island. If this point was accepted, it would have extended French access to the whole of the west coast.
The British set about refuting the claim, and Palliser was entrusted with the task. He, in turn, employed Cook to find evidence to support the British viewpoint that the capes were two entirely different places. Cook was asked to obtain all the maps and descriptions of Newfoundland he could find in London bookshops, so he briefly set aside his surveys and preparations for returning to Newfoundland to become a detective. He soon reported back to Palliser that there was no basis for the French claim, and that Point Riche and Cape Ray had always been the distinct locations at either end of the west coast.
Cook knew Palliser of old, having served under him in Eagle between 1755 and 1757,2 and they had both been at Quebec and St. John’s in 1762. Even though Cook had been only one of the ship’s master’s mates at the time, Palliser had been aware of Cook’s abilities, and would have approved of Cook’s appointment as a surveyor of Newfoundland. Cook was, no doubt, looking forward to working again with the new governor, but he obviously held the old one in very high regard as he wrote to Graves,
your favourable recommendation of me to the Admiralty, together with many other signal favours I have received during the short time I have had the honour to be under your command shall ever be had in the most gratfull remembrance and tho' Captain Pallisser, who is appointed to the command in Newfoundland is a Gentleman I have been long acquainted with yet I cannot help being sorry that you do not enjoy that officer longer.3
The other major event in early 1764 involved James and Elizabeth Cook purchasing a 61 year lease on 7 Assembly Row (as the terrace was called). They would not move until Cook had completed another season in Newfoundland.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 26, volume 39, number 12 (2022).
your email address will not be published