Frequently Asked Questions


Was James Cook really a Captain?
When Cook set sail in 1768 on his first voyage of discovery aboard Endeavour he held the rank of lieutenant. Soon after his return to England in 1771 he was promoted to the rank of commander. He never actually held the rank of captain, but in 1775 was promoted to the higher rank of post-captain.
Any person in charge of a ship is known as its captain, and so it was quite natural to refer to him as Captain Cook.

Are there any living descendants of Captain Cook?
James and Elizabeth Cook had 6 children. 3 of them died in infancy. Two of the others (James and Nathaniel) died at sea whilst serving in the Royal Navy. The youngest of the family, Hugh Cook, died whilst at college at Cambridge. None of their children had married and had children of their own, so there are no descendants from the Cook family.
Click here for an article about the family of Captain James Cook

Are there any living relatives of Captain Cook?
Yes - James Cook's sister Margaret married James Fleck, and their children married and had children of their own. Today there are many descendants of the Fleck family spread around the World. All can claim Captain Cook to be their great, great, etc... uncle.
Click here for brief information about Captain Cook's Family Tree

Was Captain Cook born at Whitby or Staithes?
He was not born at either town. He was born on 27 October 1728 at the small village of Marton in North Yorkshire. Today Marton has become a suburb of the large town of Middlesbrough on Teesside.

What were the names of Captain Cook's ships?
Captain Cook sailed on three voyages of discovery and used the following ships -
1768 - 1771 Endeavour
1772 - 1775 Resolution (with a companion vessel Adventure)
1776 - 1780 Resolution (with a companion vessel Discovery)

Was Captain Cook really eaten by cannibals?
No - the Hawaiian Islanders who killed Captain Cook were not cannibals.
They believed that the power of a man was in his bones, so they cooked part of Cook's body to enable the bones to be easily removed. It was the cooking of his body which gave rise to the rumour of cannibalism.

Where is Captain Cook buried?
Captain Cook was killed at Hawaii on 14 February 1779. A week later his remains were formally buried at sea in Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii.

Updated: October 2008


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Serpell, thank you for your interesting question. I have found the following coordinates by referring to Cook's own journal, and by using Google Earth.
The coordinates for Kiritimati Airport are 1 degree 59minutes 10 second North, and 157 degrees 21 minutes West of Greenwich, according to Google Earth and Wikipaedia.
Captain Cook recorded the coordinates for the island as 1 degree 59 mintues North, and 202 degrees 30 minutes East of Greenwich which equates to 157 degrees 30 minutes West.
Cook took his measurments on Cook Island which lies at the western end of the island, at the mouth of the lagoon. So you would have expected the Longitude to have been a few minutes smaller than that at the airport. Cook's measurements look pretty accurate to me. Where did you get the 3 degree discrepancy from?
By Cliff Thornton on 5/21/2020 5:19:56 PM Like:1 DisLike:1
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Question--I am working on a talk about the Aeon wreck on Kiritimati in 1908 (my grandparents were passengers on her) and I noticed that Captain Cook's fix of 1°58' N and 202°28'E differs about 3° in longitude from the Kiritimati airport longitude. What would cause this difference? A slight error in his chronometer, a different spheroid model for the earth, or ??. Respectfully, Serpell Edwards
By Serpell Edwards on 5/18/2020 8:49:23 PM Like:1 DisLike:0
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Hazel, ideally you need to visit Stdney nd have a look at the life-size replica of Captain Cook's ship Endeavour. But if you cannot get to see it, you can take a virtual tour by visiting the following website
Yes Cook's visits to the islands of the Pacific did affect the indigenous peoples, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. The accidental introduction of European diseases decimated some of the local populations. When Cook's chatrts were published whalers started visiting the Pacific Ocean and simply took islanders captive to serve on their ships when they needed extra crew. Your questions each deserve longer answers than I have room to type, But you will find some of the answers on this website. Use the site's search facility on the home page to look for relevant articles.
By Cliff Thornton on 4/3/2020 3:56:17 PM Like:1 DisLike:0
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What was it like on captain cooks ship? Did his exploration have an affect on indigenous people on the islands he visited?
What impacts did his explorations have?
By hazel webber on 4/3/2020 5:36:41 AM Like:1 DisLike:0
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Stephen, Captain Cook's ships, the Resolution and Discovery were off Macau for 5 weeks, from 5 Dec. 1779 to 13 January 1780. They anchored to the south west of the island of Taipa. Unfortunately Captain Cook did not visit Macau, as he had been killed at Hawaii in February 1779. Not all of the supplies that were needed were avaiable at Macau, so a boat was sent up to Guang Zhou. It was there that the crew discovered the demand for the pelts of sea otters. Pelts that had been acquired cheaply from people living along the coast of N-W America were sold at a great profit in Canton. Details of the visit were recorded in the ship's Log and the journals of officers.
By Cliff Thornton on 3/7/2020 11:47:40 AM Like:1 DisLike:1
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Did Captain Cook visit Macau?
By Stephen Anderson on 3/7/2020 7:09:11 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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did not know about captain james cook until i saw the website
By samuel on 2/11/2020 4:20:35 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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H. Pape, I recommend that you have a look at the 1995 book by Karl H Marquardt. "Captain Cook's Endeavour" it is part of the "Anatomy of the Ship" series published by Conway Maritime Press. Amongst the many pages of detailed drawings of different aspects of the ship, there is a page showing 15 different block and tackles used on the ship. But I have not seen any references in the book to the sizes of ropes.
By Cliff Thornton on 8/21/2019 8:00:07 AM Like:0 DisLike:1
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I am building a 1:24 scale model of the Endeavour. and am ready to start on the rigging. Can anyone direct me to info about the sizes of rope used for various lines, or the sizes of blocks suh that I can be reasonably accurate. I can deal with the scale issues.
By H. Pape on 8/20/2019 12:44:11 AM Like:1 DisLike:1
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Jehu, as a researcher you are welcome to make use of the Captain Cook Society website, which has over 1,000 pages about James Cook.
By Ian Boreham, Webmaster on 4/7/2019 5:23:14 PM Like:0 DisLike:1

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