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In 1745 at about the age of 17 James Cook left the Airy Holme farm at Great Ayton where his father had the position of bailiff, to take up an apprenticeship with a grocer and haberdasher, William Sanderson at Staithes. The shop where Cook first slept with the pound of the waves roaring in his ears was pulled down around 1812 and rebuilt in Church Street. The very sea which first attracted him so much has now claimed the area of the original site.

In July 1746 Sanderson helped Cook obtain a new apprenticeship with John and Henry Walker, Quaker shipowners of Whitby. A longlasting friendship was cultivated with the family and they encouraged his study of mathematics and navigation in his attic room in the dwelling at Grape Lane.

Cook's first taste of life at sea was aboard the Freelove, a collier trading between Newcastle and London, and he stayed with her for two years. His first voyage was from 26 February 1747 to 22 April 1747. There is a record of his name on the "Muster Rolls" kept at the Seamen's Hospital, Church Street, Whitby of two Freelove voyages: 29 September 1747 to 14 December 1747 and 26 February 1748 to 7 June 1748. Other periods have been hard to trace.

The Freelove was built as a collier at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk in 1746 and was acquired at an early date if not immediately by the Walkers. On Cook's first voyage she was a three masted vessel, square-rigged, of 341 tons, 106 feet in length with a beam of 27 feet (Beaglehole). She carried a complement of 19: master, mate, carpenter, cook, 5 seamen and 10 servants or ,apprentices.

Cook immediately came under notice if only for the fact that he was unusually tall for a seaman, being over 6 feet tall and also he was older than the usual apprentices.

Walker had a new and larger ship under construction. She was the Three Brothers, and Cook took part in her rigging and fitting out. He transferred to it in June 1748.

James Cook's apprenticeship was thus served in the North Sea, the nursery of seamen. The Freelove was built for strength and had a shallow draft to withstand grounding in the shoals which abounded off the coast. His experience was to convince him on the type of vessel he would choose for his first epic-making voyage of discovery some 22 years later.

In an issue on 12 February 1979 Togo depicted the Freelove on a 60F stamp..

Books of reference:
Life of Captain James Cook by Beaglehole.
Seamen's Seaman by Allan Villiers.
Voyages of Captain James Cook by Rex and Thea Rienits.
Explorations of Captain James Cook in the Pacific by Grenfell Price.

Douglas Gibson

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 305, volume 7, number 4 (1984).

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By SuperUser Account on 4/20/2022 12:31:08 PM Like:0 DisLike:0
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i love the way u get so much info
By bonnie-sue oliver on 5/27/2019 2:06:56 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Dear Howard, thank you the update on your possible visit to the UK. If you could be in Whitby in mid to late October you will be able to see the various events celebrating the birth of James Cook on 27 October 1728.
By Cliff Thornton on 4/5/2019 3:07:16 PM Like:0 DisLike:1
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Dear Cliff,
Sorry for this long delay in reply. We are looking at 2020 possibly September. We have friends in Kent who have a business near Edinburgh and they may convey us to Whitby. I would be so excited to connect with the members of your society or current members of the Walker family if they still reside in Whitby. Unfortunately some photos I had seen as a child of Capt. Wakefield Earle Simpson were lost when my mother passed away in 2011. I do remember a photo of my mother as a four year old sitting on a sea captains lap. He was dressed in a dark thick uniform and had a captains cap on his head. His hair was silver and shoulder length and he sported a full silver beard. I do have a photo of his gravestone. He was the original Capt.Wakefield Earl Simpson's ggg grandson. I recently saw an episode of the auto show " The Grand Tour" with Jeremy Clarkson and crew and Walker House was evident across the river from the site where they had the grand marquee set up and the white back wall of the 3-4 story house could be clearly seen. Last year my best friend Mr David Fitts visited Whitby and brought back photos and post cards that he purchased at the Capt. Cook museum in the house and on my recent birthday In January he sent me a birthday card with a print copy of a painting of the ruby red front of the building hence my grandmother's nomenclature of RUBY MANOR. I hope we can meet when we come over. There are some other stories that my Grandmother told me regarding the family that are very interesting that may be known or not by your society regarding antecedents and decendants of Captain Walker and Capt. Wakefield Earl Simpson. Kind Regards Howard Hollow
By Howard Hollow on 4/4/2019 7:09:14 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Dear Howard, I am delighted to read of your lineage back to the the Walker family of Whitby.
I will contact you to discuss possible arrangements for your visit.
By Cliff Thornton on 4/16/2018 12:29:30 PM Like:2 DisLike:1
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I am the 6th generation grandson of Captain John Walker. My Great Grandfather was Captain Wakefield Earle Simpson who sailed to Australia in the 1850's I believe in a collier. His gggg grandfather was Captain Wakefield Earle Simpson who married Dorothy Walker, Captain Walker's daughter and was left Walker House by Capt. Walker. My grandmother Maysel Dawe ( nee Earle Simpson) told me many stories of Ruby Manor as she called Walker House in Grape Lane Whitby. My Great grandfather is buried in Fawkner Cemetery in Melbourne Australia. I wish to come to Whibty in 2019 or 2020 and would like to meet up with anyone connected to Walker's or James Cook. Please reply.
By Howard Hollow on 4/16/2018 5:27:56 AM Like:2 DisLike:0

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