James Cook, portrait by Nathaniel Dance, c. 1775, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Captain James Cook, FRS (27 October 1728 – 14 February 1779) was an English explorer, navigator and cartographer. He made three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, mapping many areas and recording several islands and coastlines on European maps for the first time. He is most notable for the British finding the east coast of Australia, finding the Hawaiian Islands and the first mapping of Newfoundland and New Zealand.

During his lifetime, he sailed twice around the world. He crossed the Antarctic Circle and found new islands and landscapes in North America and the South Pacific. During his trips, he spent a lot of time on science experiments, and mapping new areas. He also wrote a lot of books about what he found.

Cook's life

Cook was born on 27 October 1728 in Marton in Yorkshire. He was a son of a Scottish farmer. He was educated at the school in Great Ayton, and at 17 he began work in a shop at Staithes. At 18, Cook became a sailor, and became an apprentice to John Walker of Whitby. Walker's business was transporting coal. Cook learned mathematics and navigation from Walker. Cook was not just a normal seaman. He studied as much as he could. That is how he learned a lot of good knowledge about navigation and science. He was sent on three expeditions with the ship called Endeavour all over the world.

His goals on these missions were:

  • to find the Southern continent (terra australis incognita)
  • to make astronomical measures of Venus
  • to map new lands
  • to take over the land for the British King George III
  • to watch for good places for new military bases
  • to find new routes between the Pacific and the Atlantic.

Cook's Family

He had four sons  and one daughter. Their names were Elizabeth Cook, Hugh Cook, George Cook, Nathaniel Cook and  Joseph Cook. His father’s name was James Cook. He had 3 sisters and 2 brothers. Their names were Mary Cook , Margaret Cook, William Cook , Jane Cook and John Cook.


James Cook for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.