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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
Captain Cook

(James Cook, 1728–79)
Explorer who made many important discoveries in the Pacific. Born the son of a labourer in Yorkshire, he learnt his seamanship in vessels trading from Whitby and then joined the navy. In 1768 he was put in command of HMS Endeavour, which had been built in Whitby as a collier. His instructions were to take readings of the transit of Venus, as seen from Tahiti in June 1769, and then to search for a continent believed to exist in the south central Pacific. In his party was Joseph *Banks, whose botanical observations were one major achievement of the voyage. Another was Cook's charting of *New Zealand and of the east coast of *Australia, not previously visited by any European.

Returning to England in July 1771, he set off again a year later with the Resolution and the Adventure. This voyage (1772–5) proved conclusively that there was no undiscovered continent north of the ice fields of the Antarctic, and added many new groups of islands to the map of the Pacific. On his third voyage (1776, again in the Resolution) Cook explored the Pacific coast of north America in the hope of finding a northwest passage from the Atlantic. He then wintered in Hawaii, where he was killed in a skirmish with natives resulting from the theft of one of his ship's boats..

He had been the first explorer to take a consistently scientific approach, whether in charting treacherous coasts, in the use of the newly improved chronometer for better navigation, or in the care of his crew. Cook's insistence on a supply of fresh vegetables and fruit meant that these were the first voyages of comparable length to be free of scurvy.(In this he was following the discoveries of the Scottish physician James Lind, who had proved in 1754 that citrus fruit protects against scurvy.) Cook's birthplace at Marton, near *Middlesbrough, is kept as a museum.

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