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John Bootie (1750-1771)


John Bootie, who sailed with Cook on his First Voyage, was baptised on 25 February, 1750, at St Martin in the Fields, London.  He was the son of John Bootie and Magdalen (née Pain Vin), who had married at St. Martin in the Fields on 6 September, 1741.  He had a brother, Peter, and two sisters: Esther and Mary.


Bootie joined Endeavour on 1 June, 1768, as a midshipman.  Sadly, he was one of the many casualties of the diseases contracted on Java, dying as they crossed the Indian Ocean on 4 February, 1771.1  In 1807, William Perry, who had taken over as surgeon in Endeavour, mentioned Bootie’s demise in an article in the Gentleman’s Magazine:

Compared with Cooper’s Isle, it was a pleasant garden, being variously planted; amongst other shrubs, the physic-nut was found in abundance; and Messrs.  Pickersgill and Booty made free with the kernels, without clearing away the intermediate skins, in which lies their medicinal effect; sudden and potent that proved, first as an emetic, ending a purgative, The lax continued above a fortnight, and wasted both gentlemen to shadows, but obviated all other relapses; yet to this I could not but attribute the loss of Mr. Booty some weeks after.2

One gentleman only, Mr. Booty, afterwards fell a sacrifice, struggling hard through two the last days of a miserably painful existence.  His loss I accounted for from the Parmarant imprudence.3


Bootie kept a journal,4 and a log.5  A section of his journal is reproduced in the Historical Records of New South Wales.6  Beaglehole commented about Bootie’s writing, “Bootie is one of those few people who manage to convey personality”.7


Part of Zachary Hicks’s log was written by Bootie, suggesting a close working relationship between the two.  However, Bootie may not have been totally happy on board as he inscribed his own rough log “A Log Book of the Proceedings… By John Bootie, Masters Brute”, and he wrote of Nicholas Young, “Evil communications corrupt good manners N Young is a son of a Bitch.”


Bootie Islet off the north Queensland coast was named much later for him.


John Bootie senior, a brazier, obtained a patent in 1768 for “the tinning of copper and brass vessels such as ships’ kettles”.  He obviously dealt with the Navy Board, and this connection probably led to John Bootie being selected for Endeavour.


John Robson



  1. Cook’s Log, page 1250, vol. 19, no. 1 1996). 
  2. Gentlemen’s Magazine.  1807.  Page 299.
  3. ibid.  1808. Page 766. 
  4. The National Archives (TNA).  Adm 51/4546/134-5, Journal, 27 May 1768 to 3 Sep-tember 1770
  5. TNA.  Adm 51/4546/136-9, Log, 1 June 1768 to 1 March 1770. 
  6. Historical Records of New South Wales.  Volume I, Part 1 – Cook, 1762-1780.  Lansdown Slattery & Co.  1978 facsimile reprint of 1893 original.  See Cook’s Log, page 1135, vol. 18, no. 2 1995). 
  7. Beaglehole, J.C.  The Journals of Captain James Cook.  Vol. I: The Voyage of the Endeavour, 1768 – 1771.  Hakluyt Society.  1955.  Page ccxxxv. 

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 20, volume 39, number 1 (2016).

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Are you able to email the page where he writes about Nicholas Young. I am keen to know the context of his comment
N.Young is the son of a bitch.
What made John Bootie say that?
What did he know about Nick's parentage?
By Debbie on 12/31/2019 7:40:02 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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The actual birthdate of John Bootie has not yet been discovered. It is presumed that he was born a a few weeks before the date on which he was christened (February 1750). Bear in mind that the date of his christening was using the old calendar. In those days the year did not change until April. Hence it is possible that John Bootie was born in the year that we would now refer to as 1751
By Cliff Thornton on 9/14/2017 8:40:45 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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When was John BOOTIE born????
By Anonymous on 9/13/2017 5:28:13 AM Like:0 DisLike:0

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