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James Cook - Early Life

James Cook - Early Life
Silver medal manufactured in London by Matthew Boulton in 1772. Rare silver issue of the famous medal issued for the departure of Cook's second voyage in the Resolution and Adventure. It is one of only 142 specimens struck in silver. The silver medals, and two in gold, were commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks for his private use. Acquired in 1894. 
Australian Museum 
photographer: AM, Anthropology Dept - Yvonne Carrillo-Huffman
 
James Cook (1728-1779), one of the most accomplished English explorers, reached the far corners of all seven continents during his lifetime. He is remembered mostly for his three long journeys around the world, on which he made numerous geographical and scientific discoveries.

James Cook was born in the village of Marton, Yorkshire on 27 October 1728. With basic schooling he went to work and at the age of 17 became an apprentice to the Walker Family, ship owners, at the port of Whitby. Here he educated himself extensively in navigation and mathematics. In 1755, after gaining a good experience as ship's master, Cook enlisted in the Royal Navy as an ordinary sailor. In this role he sailed, on board of the Eagle, a 60-gun ship, to the North American Coast. He worked his way up the navy ranks, quickly rising high enough to command a survey ship. His first assignment was to map the estuary of the St. Lawrence River before the naval assault on Quebec. He also surveyed the coast of Newfoundland. His observations and mapping were outstandingly accurate. Those surveys as well as the observing and recording of the eclipse of the sun in 1766, paved the way to Cook's future success.

On his return to England in 1762 Cook married Elizabeth Batts of Shadwell, the only daughter of a provincial family. In their seventeen years of marriage they saw each other only every few years and even then only for a few months at a time. All their six children and Cook himself died before Elizabeth.

The quality of Cook's surveys and scientific observations as well as patronage from his former commander, Sir Hugh Palliser, resulted in his appointment as Captain of the barque "Endeavour" in 1768.

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