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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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:0
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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 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:2
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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 on 1/4/2021 10:23:38 PM Like:1 DisLike:3
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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:2 DisLike:3
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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:2 DisLike:2
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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:2 DisLike:1
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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:1

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