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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Brodie, I will send you some of the data which you seek, rather than list it all here. But things are not as simple as you may think. For instance, the Endeavour did not just have an anchor, she carried 4 different anchors for use in different sea conditions, ranging from the small kedge anchor weighing 3 1/2 cwt. to the sheet anchor weighing 21 cwt. All of the sails are drawn to scale in the book "Captain Cook's Endeavour" by Karl Heinz Marquardt, published in 1995. Good luck with your project.
By Cliff Thornton on 1/13/2019 8:55:56 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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here in New Zealand HMS Endeavour hold a special place of affection for us. I am writing a book on hemp and looking for any statistics of what was carried on her.
size and weight of sails and rope...also weight of anchor and it's rope length and diameter please...regards brodie
By brodie andrews on 1/11/2019 12:50:55 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Michael, you are not alone in wondering why Cook did not receive some greater accolade for his achievements. The protocol involving British awards prevents the posthumous award of titles to individuals. If Cook had lived , he may well have risen to the rank of Admiral, but he could not be promoted to that rank after his death. Similarly he could not be awarded a knighthood after his death. There was a similar outcry for Horatio Nelson to receive an award after he was killed at Trafalgar. As Nelson was dead, his brother received an Earldom in recogntion of his brother's service for his country.
By Cliff Thornton on 7/26/2018 11:12:19 PM Like:0 DisLike:1
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why wasn't Captain Cook given a knighthood.
By michael desmond on 7/26/2018 12:50:39 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Hi Loretta, you will find the answer to your question in Cook's Log, Vol. 38, No. 4, p45 (2015).
For those who do not have accesss to that publication, the following remains were returned to the Resolution at anchor in Kealakekua Bay - leg bones, two hands, scalp, lower jaw, his feet.
Cook was known to be over 6ft tall, and the length of the leg bones matched his stature. One of Cook's hands still bore the scar from an exploding powder horn in the mid 1760s. The scalp included the hair and his ears.
By Cliff Thornton on 7/8/2018 8:34:19 PM Like:1 DisLike:0
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I am often asked which of Cook’s remains were returned to his crew. How did they know for sure that they were his remains
By Loretta Sullivan on 7/8/2018 10:58:11 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Michael, good question, which I do not know the answer to for certain. Maybe somebody in the Navy could add their their knowledge of this this would work today. Personally I would expect the crew to have referred to Cook as Captain, although any letter to him would address him as Lieutenant. Remember there were two other officers on Endeavour who were also lieutenants (Hicks and Gore), so referring to Cook as the captain would avoid any confusion.
By Cliff Thornton on 4/3/2018 8:42:35 PM Like:0 DisLike:1
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Would James Cook have been referred to as"Captain" or "Lieutenant" by members of the Endeavor's crew?
By J. Michael Watt on 4/3/2018 7:25:18 PM Like:0 DisLike:2
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Noel, the details of Captain Cook's remains were recorded in the journals kept by the officers on board the Resolution. Remember that there was a ship's surgeon and surgeon's mate who would be able to identify what bones were returned. What reached the press was just a portion of what was known.
By Cliff Thornton on 1/30/2018 8:32:30 PM Like:0 DisLike:1
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There's a reference in a newspaper article to Cook's death. It states that the Hawaiians returned to his crew his 'hat and thigh' -likely the femur? Not heard of this relatively precise description.
By Noel Humphries on 1/11/2018 10:45:58 AM Like:0 DisLike:1

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