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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Robert, I will contact you directly with some suggestions.
By Cliff Thornton on 5/25/2022 12:22:27 PM Like:0 DisLike:1
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Hi Folks. I have been a sailor and fan of Captain Cook for decades. I had a recent car accident and due to physical injuries and financial difficulties I need to sell much of my possessions, including a fairly large group of Capt Cook, Endeavour and nautical items. I though you folks should be the first to look these over. Is that any way I can post an document showing the available items? Thanks. Take care & stay safe.
By Robert on 5/23/2022 9:19:55 PM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Thomas, yes I am aware of the books written by Margaret Cameron-Ash and her conjectures about what Cook might have seen. According to Cook's entry in his journal for 5th May 1779, he took a shore part to explore the land on the north side of the bay. They went along the coast for a distance of what Cook estimated to be 3 ir 4 miles. He wrote "We met with nothing emarkable,..."
After leaving Botany Bay, Endravour sailed north following the coast, Cook recorded that "at Noon we were ....about 2 or 3 Miles from the land and abreast of a Bay or Harbour wherein there appear'd to be safe anchorage which I call'd Port Jackson. It lies 3 Leagues to the northward of Botany Bay..."
The 3 Leagues mentioned by Cook is equivalent to 9 miles, which can be compared with the shorter distance that the short party ventured on 5th May. All the available evidence suggests that Cook was unaware of the existence and the extent of Port Jackson, except for what he saw passing the Heads. He did record the coordinates for the location of the entrance to Port Jackson. But on none of his charts of the east coast did he indicate any inlet at the point marked as Port Jackson.
The Journal of Joseph Banks shows that he was part of the shore party on 5th May. He does not record anything out of the ordinary in his record of the excursion.
The suggestion, that Cook would disobey his secret orders fron the Admiralty and NOT record the details of Port Jackson, I find quite ludicrous, but then the conjecture that this junior officer submitted a verbal report to the Admiralty is one that can neither be proved nor disproved.
If Cook HAD reported verbally the benefits of Port Jackson to the Admiralty, why did not the First Fleet head straight for that location, rather than waste time visiting Botany Bay first?
By Cliff Thornton on 1/30/2022 8:17:12 PM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Did Captain Cook observe Port Jackson, but not survey or make a written report. There is conjecture whether he was aware of the harbour and made a verbal report to the Admiralty upon his return.
Hence, the First Fleet relocated from Botany Bay to Port jackson before the French discovered it.
By Thomas James on 1/24/2022 2:46:38 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Yes you are correct, Captain Cook dies at Hawaii. The nearest he got to Namibia was when he stopped at Cape Town for supplies. Oh, and one other thing, Cook couldnt swim !
By Cliff Thonton on 12/5/2021 4:42:58 PM Like:0 DisLike:2
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Hi, I'm watching a program re: Namibia's mysterious Ojitkoto Lake; where they claim Captain Cook was swimming and was never seen again or found. It is many incidents like this that is the reason that the Namibia people do not swim in this lake.
Here, it is said Captain Cook died in Hawaii [which i always thought]
What's true?
By s_moskowitz@optonline.net on 12/4/2021 11:20:40 PM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Ashlyn, thank you for your question. After Captain Cook had been killed, his body was divided up between the Hawaiian chiefs in accordance with the local custom. Those parts of Cook's body that were cooked, were treated in that way to enable the bones to be easily removed from the body. To Hawaiians the bones were the most important parts of the body as they believed that the power of an individual resided in the bones, even after they were dead. Some people think that Cook's body was cooked because the Hawaiians were cannibals, but that is incorrect, there is no evidence to suggest that the Hawaiians were cannibals. Lieutanent Clerke, who assumed command of the expedition after the death of Captain Cook, managed to get back most parts of Cook's body. He placed the remains in a coffin and gave the late Captain a ceremonial burial at sea. As the coffin was not lead lined, the wood and its contents would have disintegrated in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean over 250 years.
Was Cook good or bad, that all depends upon what factors to use in judging him. He visited all the Pacific Islands in peace, and his visits did little to affect the people that he visited. But having produced charts of the Pacific showing where these islands were, they were visited by all sorts of people who were intent on making money from the idlands and they had little care for how they treated the indigenous people. So in my opinion Cook was a good man who left the islands as he had found them, it was those who came after him that caused so many problems for the indigenous peoples.
By Cliff Thornton on 4/30/2021 11:35:48 AM Like:1 DisLike:3
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Hello, I am learning about explorers and I want to know what happened after the Hawaiians cooked Cooks bones? What did they do with the bones? Who buried him at sea? Has anyone ever found his bones at the bottom of the ocean? Is James Cook good or bad? Thank you!
By Ashlyn on 4/30/2021 4:52:13 AM Like:0 DisLike:2
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MBrown, James Cook did not have access to a Harrison chronometer until his second voyage of exploration (1772-1775). So he could not have used a chronometer in charting the St Lawrence river. He may have had to make his own calculations of longitude, but I would be surprised if there were no landmarks with known coordinates.
By Cliff Thornton on 1/5/2021 12:25:28 PM Like:0 DisLike:2
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Did Captain Cook use the Harrison chronometer in addition to the lunar method to determine longitude when mapping the St. Lawrence River? If so which voyage.
By mbrown@med.miami.edu on 1/4/2021 10:23:38 PM Like:1 DisLike:3

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