James Cook FRS (7 November 1728[NB 1] – 14 February
1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in
the Royal Navy. Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to
making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved
the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of
Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded
circumnavigation of New Zealand.
Cook joined the British merchant navy as a teenager and joined the
Royal Navy in 1755. He saw action in the Seven Years' War, and
subsequently surveyed and mapped much of the entrance to the Saint
Lawrence River during the siege of Quebec. This helped bring Cook to
the attention of the
Admiralty and Royal Society. This notice came at
a crucial moment in both Cook's career and the direction of British
overseas exploration, and led to his commission in 1766 as commander
of HM Bark Endeavour for the first of three Pacific voyages.
In three voyages Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely
uncharted areas of the globe. He mapped lands from
New Zealand to
Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean in greater detail and on a scale not
previously achieved. As he progressed on his voyages of discovery he
surveyed and named features, and recorded islands and coastlines on
European maps for the first time. He displayed a combination of
seamanship, superior surveying and cartographic skills, physical
courage and an ability to lead men in adverse conditions.
Cook was attacked and killed in 1779 during his third exploratory
voyage in the Pacific while attempting to kidnap Kalaniʻōpuʻu, a
Hawaiian chief, in order to reclaim a cutter stolen from one of his
ships. He left a legacy of scientific and geographical knowledge which
was to influence his successors well into the 20th century, and
numerous memorials worldwide have been dedicated to him.
1 Early life and family
2 Start of
Royal Navy career
3 Voyages of exploration
3.1 First voyage (1768–71)
3.3 Second voyage (1772–75)
3.4 Third voyage (1776–79)
3.5 Return to Hawaii
4.1 Ethnographic collections
Navigation and science
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
8.1 Biographical dictionaries
8.3 Collections and museums
Early life and family
James Cook was born on 7 November 1728 (N.S.) in the village of Marton
Yorkshire and baptised on 14 November (N.S.) in the parish church
of St Cuthbert, where his name can be seen in the church
register. He was the second of eight children of James Cook, a
Scottish farm labourer from
Ednam in Roxburghshire, and his locally
born wife, Grace Pace, from Thornaby-on-Tees. In 1736, his
family moved to Airey Holme farm at Great Ayton, where his father's
employer, Thomas Skottowe, paid for him to attend the local school. In
1741, after five years' schooling, he began work for his father, who
had been promoted to farm manager. For leisure, he would climb a
nearby hill, Roseberry Topping, enjoying the opportunity for
solitude. Cooks' Cottage, his parents' last home, which he is
likely to have visited, is now in Melbourne, Australia, having been
moved from England and reassembled, brick by brick, in 1934.
In 1745, when he was 16, Cook moved 20 miles (32 km) to the
fishing village of Staithes, to be apprenticed as a shop boy to grocer
and haberdasher William Sanderson. Historians have speculated that
this is where Cook first felt the lure of the sea while gazing out of
the shop window.
After 18 months, not proving suitable for shop work, Cook travelled to
the nearby port town of
Whitby to be introduced to friends of
Sanderson's, John and Henry Walker. The Walkers, who were Quakers,
were prominent local ship-owners in the coal trade. Their house is now
the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. Cook was taken on as a merchant navy
apprentice in their small fleet of vessels, plying coal along the
English coast. His first assignment was aboard the collier Freelove,
and he spent several years on this and various other coasters, sailing
between the Tyne and London. As part of his apprenticeship, Cook
applied himself to the study of algebra, geometry, trigonometry,
navigation and astronomy—all skills he would need one day to command
his own ship.
Mrs Elizabeth Cook, by William Henderson, 1830
His three-year apprenticeship completed, Cook began working on trading
ships in the Baltic Sea. After passing his examinations in 1752, he
soon progressed through the merchant navy ranks, starting with his
promotion in that year to mate aboard the collier brig Friendship.
In 1755, within a month of being offered command of this vessel, he
volunteered for service in the Royal Navy, when Britain was re-arming
for what was to become the Seven Years' War. Despite the need to start
back at the bottom of the naval hierarchy, Cook realised his career
would advance more quickly in military service and entered the Navy at
Wapping on 17 June 1755.
Cook married Elizabeth Batts (1742–1835), the daughter of Samuel
Batts, keeper of the Bell Inn, Wapping and one of his mentors, on
21 December 1762 at St Margaret's Church, Barking, Essex. The
couple had six children: James (1763–94), Nathaniel (1764–80, lost
aboard HMS Thunderer which foundered with all hands in a
hurricane in the West Indies), Elizabeth (1767–71), Joseph
(1768–68), George (1772–72) and Hugh (1776–93), the last of whom
died of scarlet fever while a student at Christ's College, Cambridge.
When not at sea, Cook lived in the East End of London. He attended St
Paul's Church, Shadwell, where his son James was baptised. Cook has no
direct descendants—all his children died before having children of
Royal Navy career
Further information: Great Britain in the Seven Years' War
Cook's first posting was with HMS Eagle, serving as able seaman
and master's mate under Captain Joseph Hamar for his first year
aboard, and Captain
Hugh Palliser thereafter. In October and
November 1755 he took part in Eagle's capture of one French warship
and the sinking of another, following which he was promoted to
boatswain in addition to his other duties. His first temporary
command was in March 1756 when he was briefly master of Cruizer, a
small cutter attached to Eagle while on patrol.
In June 1757 Cook formally passed his master's examinations at Trinity
House, Deptford, qualifying him to navigate and handle a ship of the
King's fleet. He then joined the frigate HMS Solebay as
master under Captain Robert Craig.
James Cook's 1765 chart of Newfoundland
During the Seven Years' War, Cook served in North America as master
aboard the fourth-rate Navy vessel HMS Pembroke. With others
in Pembroke's crew, he took part in the major amphibious assault that
Fortress of Louisbourg
Fortress of Louisbourg from the French in 1758, and in
the siege of
Quebec City in 1759. Throughout his service he
demonstrated a talent for surveying and cartography, and was
responsible for mapping much of the entrance to the Saint Lawrence
River during the siege, thus allowing General Wolfe to make his famous
stealth attack during the 1759 Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
Cook's surveying ability was also put to use in mapping the jagged
coast of Newfoundland in the 1760s, aboard HMS Grenville. He
surveyed the north-west stretch in 1763 and 1764, the south coast
Burin Peninsula and
Cape Ray in 1765 and 1766, and the
west coast in 1767. At this time Cook employed local pilots to point
out the "rocks and hidden dangers" along the south and west coasts.
During the 1765 season, four pilots were engaged at a daily pay of 4
shillings each: John Beck for the coast west of "Great St Lawrence",
Morgan Snook for Fortune Bay, John Dawson for Connaigre and Hermitage
Bay, and John Peck for the "Bay of Despair".
His five seasons in Newfoundland produced the first large-scale and
accurate maps of the island's coasts and were the first scientific,
large scale, hydrographic surveys to use precise triangulation to
establish land outlines. They also gave Cook his mastery of
practical surveying, achieved under often adverse conditions, and
brought him to the attention of the
Royal Society at a
crucial moment both in his career and in the direction of British
overseas discovery. Cook's map would be used into the 20th
century—copies of it being referenced by those sailing
Newfoundland's waters for 200 years.
Following on from his exertions in Newfoundland, it was at this time
that Cook wrote that he intended to go not only "farther than any man
has been before me, but as far as I think it is possible for a man to
Voyages of exploration
First voyage (1768–71)
Main article: First voyage of James Cook
In 1766, the
Admiralty engaged Cook to command a scientific voyage to
the Pacific Ocean. The purpose of the voyage was to observe and record
the transit of Venus across the
Sun for the benefit of a Royal Society
inquiry into a means of determining longitude. Cook, at the age of
39, was promoted to lieutenant to grant him sufficient status to take
the command. For its part the
Royal Society agreed that Cook
would receive a one hundred guinea gratuity in addition to his Naval
Endeavour replica in
Cooktown, Queensland harbour — anchored
where the original Endeavour was beached for seven weeks in 1770
The expedition sailed aboard HMS Endeavour, departing England on
26 August 1768. Cook and his crew rounded
Cape Horn and continued
westward across the Pacific to arrive at
Tahiti on 13 April 1769,
where the observations of the Venus Transit were made. However,
the result of the observations was not as conclusive or accurate as
had been hoped. Once the observations were completed, Cook opened the
sealed orders which were additional instructions from the Admiralty
for the second part of his voyage: to search the south Pacific for
signs of the postulated rich southern continent of Terra
Australis. Cook then sailed to
New Zealand and mapped the complete
coastline, making only some minor errors. He then voyaged west,
reaching the south-eastern coast of
Australia on 19 April 1770, and in
doing so his expedition became the first recorded
Europeans to have
encountered its eastern coastline.[NB 2]
On 23 April he made his first recorded direct observation of
indigenous Australians at
Brush Island near Bawley Point, noting in
his journal: “...and were so near the Shore as to distinguish
several people upon the Sea beach they appear'd to be of a very dark
or black Colour but whether this was the real colour of their skins or
the C[l]othes they might have on I know not.” On 29 April Cook
and crew made their first landfall on the mainland of the continent at
a place now known as the Kurnell Peninsula. Cook originally christened
the area as "Stingray Bay", but later he crossed this out and named it
Botany Bay” after the unique specimens retrieved by the
Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander. It is here that James Cook
made first contact with an aboriginal tribe known as the Gweagal.
After his departure from
Botany Bay he continued northwards. He
stopped at Bustard Bay (now known as Seventeen Seventy or 1770) at 8
o’clock on 23 May 1770. On 24 May Cook and Banks and others went
ashore. Continuing north, on 11 June a mishap occurred when HMS
Endeavour ran aground on a shoal of the Great Barrier Reef, and then
“nursed into a river mouth on 18 June 1770”. The ship was
badly damaged and his voyage was delayed almost seven weeks while
repairs were carried out on the beach (near the docks of modern
Cooktown, Queensland, at the mouth of the Endeavour River). The
voyage then continued, sailing through
Torres Strait and on 22 August
Cook landed on Possession Island, where he claimed the entire
coastline that he had just explored as British territory. He returned
to England via Batavia (modern Jakarta, Indonesia), where many in his
crew succumbed to malaria, and then the Cape of Good Hope, arriving at
the island of
Saint Helena on 12 July 1771.
Cook's journals were published upon his return, and he became
something of a hero among the scientific community. Among the general
public, however, the aristocratic botanist
Joseph Banks was a greater
hero. Banks even attempted to take command of Cook's second voyage,
but removed himself from the voyage before it began, and Johann
Reinhold Forster and his son
Georg Forster were taken on as scientists
for the voyage. Cook's son George was born five days before he left
for his second voyage.
The routes of Captain James Cook's voyages. The first voyage is shown
in red, second voyage in green, and third voyage in blue. The route of
Cook's crew following his death is shown as a dashed blue line.
Second voyage (1772–75)
Main article: Second voyage of James Cook
Shortly after his return from the first voyage, Cook was promoted in
August 1771, to the rank of commander. In 1772 he was
commissioned to lead another scientific expedition on behalf of the
Royal Society, to search for the hypothetical Terra Australis. On his
first voyage, Cook had demonstrated by circumnavigating New Zealand
that it was not attached to a larger landmass to the south. Although
he charted almost the entire eastern coastline of Australia, showing
it to be continental in size, the
Terra Australis was believed to lie
further south. Despite this evidence to the contrary, Alexander
Dalrymple and others of the
Royal Society still believed that a
massive southern continent should exist.
James Cook witnessing human sacrifice in
Tahiti c. 1773
Cook commanded HMS Resolution on this voyage, while Tobias
Furneaux commanded its companion ship, HMS Adventure. Cook's
expedition circumnavigated the globe at an extreme southern latitude,
becoming one of the first to cross the
Antarctic Circle (17 January
1773). In the
Antarctic fog, Resolution and Adventure became
separated. Furneaux made his way to New Zealand, where he lost some of
his men during an encounter with Māori, and eventually sailed back to
Britain, while Cook continued to explore the Antarctic, reaching
71°10'S on 31 January 1774.
Cook almost encountered the mainland of Antarctica, but turned towards
Tahiti to resupply his ship. He then resumed his southward course in a
second fruitless attempt to find the supposed continent. On this leg
of the voyage he brought a young Tahitian named Omai, who proved to be
somewhat less knowledgeable about the Pacific than Tupaia had been on
the first voyage. On his return voyage to
New Zealand in 1774, Cook
landed at the Friendly Islands, Easter Island, Norfolk Island, New
Caledonia, and Vanuatu.
James Cook's 1777 South-Up map of South Georgia
Before returning to England, Cook made a final sweep across the South
Cape Horn and surveyed, mapped and took possession for
Britain of South Georgia, which had been explored by Anthony de la
Roché in 1675. Cook also discovered and named
Clerke Rocks and the
South Sandwich Islands ("Sandwich Land"). He then turned north to
South Africa, and from there continued back to England. His reports
upon his return home put to rest the popular myth of Terra
Cook's second voyage marked a successful employment of Larcum
Kendall's K1 copy of John Harrison's H4 marine chronometer, which
enabled Cook to calculate his longitudinal position with much greater
accuracy. Cook's log was full of praise for this time-piece which he
used to make charts of the southern Pacific Ocean that were so
remarkably accurate that copies of them were still in use in the
Upon his return, Cook was promoted to the rank of post-captain and
given an honorary retirement from the Royal Navy, with a posting as an
officer of the
Greenwich Hospital. He reluctantly accepted, insisting
that he be allowed to quit the post if an opportunity for active duty
should arise. His fame extended beyond the Admiralty; he was made
a Fellow of the Royal Society, and awarded the Copley Gold Medal for
completing his second voyage without losing a man to scurvy.
Nathaniel Dance-Holland painted his portrait; he dined with James
Boswell; he was described in the
House of Lords
House of Lords as "the first
navigator in Europe". But he could not be kept away from the sea.
A third voyage was planned and Cook volunteered to find the Northwest
Passage. He travelled to the Pacific and hoped to travel east to the
Atlantic, while a simultaneous voyage travelled the opposite
Third voyage (1776–79)
Main article: Third voyage of James Cook
A statue of
James Cook stands in Waimea,
Kauai commemorating his first
contact with the
Hawaiian Islands at the town's harbour in January
On his last voyage, Cook again commanded HMS Resolution, while Captain
Charles Clerke commanded HMS Discovery. The voyage was ostensibly
planned to return the Pacific Islander,
Omai to Tahiti, or so the
public were led to believe. The trip's principal goal was to locate a
Northwest Passage around the American continent. After dropping
Omai at Tahiti, Cook travelled north and in 1778 became the first
European to begin formal contact with the Hawaiian Islands. After
his initial landfall in January 1778 at Waimea harbour, Kauai, Cook
named the archipelago the "Sandwich Islands" after the fourth Earl of
Sandwich—the acting First Lord of the Admiralty.
From the Sandwich Islands Cook sailed north and then north-east to
explore the west coast of North America north of the Spanish
settlements in Alta California. He made landfall on the Oregon coast
at approximately 44°30′ north latitude, naming his landing point
Cape Foulweather. Bad weather forced his ships south to about 43°
north before they could begin their exploration of the coast
northward. He unknowingly sailed past the Strait of Juan de Fuca,
and soon after entered
Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island. He anchored
First Nations village of Yuquot. Cook's two ships remained in
Nootka Sound from 29 March to 26 April 1778, in what Cook called Ship
Cove, now Resolution Cove, at the south end of Bligh Island, about
5 miles (8 km) east across
Nootka Sound from Yuquot, lay a
Nuu-chah-nulth village (whose chief Cook did not identify but may have
been Maquinna). Relations between Cook's crew and the people of Yuquot
were cordial if sometimes strained. In trading, the people of Yuquot
demanded much more valuable items than the usual trinkets that had
worked in Hawaii. Metal objects were much desired, but the lead,
pewter, and tin traded at first soon fell into disrepute. The most
valuable items which the British received in trade were sea otter
pelts. During the stay, the Yuquot "hosts" essentially controlled the
trade with the British vessels; the natives usually visited the
British vessels at Resolution Cove instead of the British visiting the
village of Yuquot at Friendly Cove.
After leaving Nootka Sound, Cook explored and mapped the coast all the
way to the Bering Strait, on the way identifying what came to be known
Cook Inlet in Alaska. In a single visit, Cook charted the majority
of the North American north-west coastline on world maps for the first
time, determined the extent of Alaska, and closed the gaps in Russian
(from the West) and Spanish (from the South) exploratory probes of the
Northern limits of the Pacific.
HMS Resolution and Discovery in Tahiti
By the second week of August 1778 Cook was through the Bering Strait,
sailing into the Chukchi Sea. He headed north-east up the coast of
Alaska until he was blocked by sea ice. His furthest north was 70
degrees 44 minutes. Cook then sailed west to the Siberian coast, and
then south-east down the Siberian coast back to the Bering Strait. By
early September 1778 he was back in the Bering Sea to begin the trip
to the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands. He became increasingly
frustrated on this voyage, and perhaps began to suffer from a stomach
ailment; it has been speculated that this led to irrational behaviour
towards his crew, such as forcing them to eat walrus meat, which they
had pronounced inedible.
Return to Hawaii
Cook returned to
Hawaii in 1779. After sailing around the archipelago
for some eight weeks, he made landfall at Kealakekua Bay, on 'Hawaii
Island', largest island in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Cook's arrival
coincided with the Makahiki, a Hawaiian harvest festival of worship
for the Polynesian god Lono. Coincidentally the form of Cook's ship,
HMS Resolution, or more particularly the mast formation, sails and
rigging, resembled certain significant artefacts that formed part of
the season of worship. Similarly, Cook's clockwise route around
the island of
Hawaii before making landfall resembled the processions
that took place in a clockwise direction around the island during the
Lono festivals. It has been argued (most extensively by Marshall
Sahlins) that such coincidences were the reasons for Cook's (and to a
limited extent, his crew's) initial deification by some Hawaiians who
treated Cook as an incarnation of Lono. Though this view was first
suggested by members of Cook's expedition, the idea that any Hawaiians
understood Cook to be Lono, and the evidence presented in support of
it, were challenged in 1992.
Main article: Kidnapping of
Kalaniʻōpuʻu by Captain James Cook
The Death of Captain James Cook, 14 February 1779, an unfinished
painting by Johan Zoffany, circa 1795.
After a month's stay, Cook attempted to resume his exploration of the
Northern Pacific. Shortly after leaving
Hawaii Island, however, the
Resolution's foremast broke, so the ships returned to Kealakekua Bay
Tensions rose, and a number of quarrels broke out between the
Europeans and Hawaiians at Kealakekua Bay. An unknown group of
Hawaiians took one of Cook's small boats. The evening when the cutter
was taken, the people had become "insolent" even with threats to fire
upon them. Cook was forced into a wild goose chase that ended with his
return to the ship frustrated. He attempted to kidnap and ransom
the King of Hawaiʻi, Kalaniʻōpuʻu.
That following day, 14 February 1779, Cook marched through the village
to retrieve the King. Cook took the King (aliʻi nui) by his own hand
and led him willingly away. One of Kalaniʻōpuʻu's favorite wives,
Kanekapolei and two chiefs approached the group as they were heading
to boats. They pleaded with the king not to go until he stopped and
sat where he stood. An old kahuna (priest), chanting rapidly while
holding out a coconut, attempted to distract Cook and his men as a
large crowd began to form at the shore. The king began to understand
that Cook was his enemy. As Cook turned his back to help launch
the boats, he was struck on the head by the villagers and then stabbed
to death as he fell on his face in the surf. He was first struck
on the head with a club by a chief named
Kanaʻina (namesake of Charles Kana'ina) and then stabbed by one of
the king's attendants, Nuaa. The Hawaiians carried his body
away towards the back of the town, still visible to the ship through
their spyglass. Four marines, Corporal James Thomas, Private
Theophilus Hinks, Private Thomas Fatchett and Private John Allen, were
also killed and two others were wounded in the confrontation.
The esteem which the islanders nevertheless held for Cook caused them
to retain his body. Following their practice of the time, they
prepared his body with funerary rituals usually reserved for the
chiefs and highest elders of the society. The body was disembowelled,
baked to facilitate removal of the flesh, and the bones were carefully
cleaned for preservation as religious icons in a fashion somewhat
reminiscent of the treatment of European saints in the Middle Ages.
Some of Cook's remains, thus preserved, were eventually returned to
his crew for a formal burial at sea.
Clerke assumed leadership of the expedition, and made a final attempt
to pass through the Bering Strait. He died of tuberculosis on 22
August 1779 and John Gore, a veteran of Cook's first voyage, took
command of Resolution and of the expedition. James King replaced Gore
in command of Discovery. The expedition returned home, reaching
England in October 1780. After their arrival in England, King
completed Cook's account of the voyage.
David Samwell, who sailed with Cook on Resolution, wrote of him: "He
was a modest man, and rather bashful; of an agreeable lively
conversation, sensible and intelligent. In temper he was somewhat
hasty, but of a disposition the most friendly, benevolent and humane.
His person was above six feet high: and, though a good looking man, he
was plain both in dress and appearance. His face was full of
expression: his nose extremely well shaped: his eyes which were small
and of a brown cast, were quick and piercing; his eyebrows prominent,
which gave his countenance altogether an air of austerity."
James Cook Collection: Australian Museum
Hawaiian feather cloak held by the Australian Museum
Statue of Cook, Greenwich, London
John Webber's Captain Cook, oil on canvas, 1776
Australian Museum acquired its "Cook Collection" in 1894 from the
Government of New South Wales. At that time the collection consisted
of 115 artefacts collected on Cook's three voyages throughout the
Pacific Ocean, during the period 1768–80, along with documents and
memorabilia related to these voyages. Many of the ethnographic
artefacts were collected at a time of first contact between Pacific
Peoples and Europeans. In 1935 most of the documents and memorabilia
were transferred to the Mitchell Library in the State Library of New
South Wales. The provenance of the collection shows that the objects
remained in the hands of Cook's widow Elizabeth Cook, and her
descendants, until 1886. In this year John Mackrell, the great-nephew
of Isaac Smith, Elizabeth Cook's cousin, organised the display of this
collection at the request of the NSW Government at the Colonial and
Indian Exhibition in London. In 1887 the London-based Agent-General
for the New South Wales Government, Saul Samuel, bought John
Mackrell's items and also acquired items belonging to the other
relatives Reverend Canon Frederick Bennett, Mrs Thomas Langton, H. M.
C. Alexander, and William Adams. The collection remained with the
Colonial Secretary of NSW until 1894, when it was transferred to the
Navigation and science
Cook's 12 years sailing around the Pacific Ocean contributed much to
European knowledge of the area. Several islands such as the Sandwich
Islands (Hawaii) were encountered for the first time by Europeans, and
his more accurate navigational charting of large areas of the Pacific
was a major achievement.
To create accurate maps, latitude and longitude must be accurately
determined. Navigators had been able to work out latitude accurately
for centuries by measuring the angle of the sun or a star above the
horizon with an instrument such as a backstaff or quadrant. Longitude
was more difficult to measure accurately because it requires precise
knowledge of the time difference between points on the surface of the
earth. The Earth turns a full 360 degrees relative to the sun each
day. Thus longitude corresponds to time: 15 degrees every hour, or 1
degree every 4 minutes.
Cook gathered accurate longitude measurements during his first voyage
due to his navigational skills, the help of astronomer Charles Green
and by using the newly published Nautical Almanac tables, via the
lunar distance method—measuring the angular distance from the moon
to either the sun during daytime or one of eight bright stars during
night-time to determine the time at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich,
and comparing that to his local time determined via the altitude of
the sun, moon, or stars. On his second voyage Cook used the K1
chronometer made by Larcum Kendall, which was the shape of a large
pocket watch, 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter. It was a copy of the
H4 clock made by John Harrison, which proved to be the first to keep
accurate time at sea when used on the ship Deptford's journey to
Cook succeeded in circumnavigating the world on his first voyage
without losing a single man to scurvy, an unusual accomplishment at
the time. He tested several preventive measures but the most important
was frequent replenishment of fresh food. It was for presenting a
paper on this aspect of the voyage to the
Royal Society that he was
presented with the
Copley Medal in 1776. Ever the observer,
Cook was the first European to have extensive contact with various
people of the Pacific. He correctly postulated a link among all the
Pacific peoples, despite their being separated by great ocean
stretches (see Malayo-Polynesian languages). Cook theorised that
Polynesians originated from Asia, which scientist
Bryan Sykes later
New Zealand the coming of Cook is often used to
signify the onset of colonisation.
Cook carried several scientists on his voyages; they made significant
observations and discoveries. Two botanists,
Joseph Banks and Swede
Daniel Solander, were on the first voyage. The two collected over
3,000 plant species. Banks subsequently strongly promoted British
settlement of Australia.
Artists also sailed on Cook's first voyage.
Sydney Parkinson was
heavily involved in documenting the botanists' findings, completing
264 drawings before his death near the end of the voyage. They were of
immense scientific value to British botanists. Cook's second
expedition included William Hodges, who produced notable landscape
paintings of Tahiti, Easter Island, and other locations.
Several officers who served under Cook went on to distinctive
accomplishments. William Bligh, Cook's sailing master, was given
command of HMS Bounty in 1787 to sail to
Tahiti and return with
breadfruit. Bligh is most known for the mutiny of his crew which
resulted in his being set adrift in 1789. He later became governor of
New South Wales, where he was subject of another mutiny—the Rum
Rebellion was the only successful armed takeover of an Australian
government. George Vancouver, one of Cook's midshipmen, led a
voyage of exploration to the Pacific Coast of North America from 1791
to 1794. In honour of his former commander, Vancouver's ship was
named Discovery. George Dixon, who sailed under Cook on his third
expedition, later commanded his own. A lieutenant under Cook,
Henry Roberts, spent many years after that voyage preparing the
detailed charts that went into Cook's posthumous Atlas, published
Cook's contributions to knowledge were internationally recognised
during his lifetime. In 1779, while the American colonies were
fighting Britain for their independence,
Benjamin Franklin wrote to
captains of colonial warships at sea, recommending that if they came
into contact with Cook's vessel, they were to "not consider her an
enemy, nor suffer any plunder to be made of the effects contained in
her, nor obstruct her immediate return to England by detaining her or
sending her into any other part of Europe or to America; but that you
treat the said Captain Cook and his people with all civility and
kindness, ... as common friends to mankind." Unknown to Franklin,
Cook had met his death a month before this safe conduct "passport" was
Cook's voyages were involved in another unusual first. The first
recorded circumnavigation of the world by an animal was by Cook's
goat, who made that memorable journey twice; the first time on HMS
Dolphin, under Samuel Wallis, and then aboard Endeavour. When they
returned to England, Cook had the goat presented with a silver collar
engraved with lines from Samuel Johnson: Perpetui, ambita bis terra,
praemia lactis Haec habet altrici Capra secunda Jovis. (“In fame
scarce second to the nurse of Jove,/ This Goat, who twice the world
had traversed round,/Deserving both her master's care and love,/Ease
and perpetual pasture now has found.”) She was put to pasture on
Cook's farm outside London, and was reportedly admitted to the
privileges of the Royal Naval hospital at Greenwich. Cook's journal
recorded the date of the goat's death: 28 March 1772.
James Cook and family in St Andrew the Great, Cambridge
A US coin, the 1928 Hawaiian Sesquicentennial half dollar carries
Cook's image. Minted for the 150th anniversary of his discovery of the
islands, its low mintage (10,008) has made this example of Early
United States commemorative coins both scarce and expensive. The
site where he was killed in
Hawaii was marked in 1874 by a white
obelisk set on 25 square feet (2.3 m2) of chained-off beach. This
land, although in Hawaii, was deeded to the United Kingdom. A
nearby town is named Captain Cook, Hawaii; several Hawaiian businesses
also carry his name. The
Apollo 15 Command/Service Module Endeavour
was named after Cook's ship, HMS Endeavour, as was the space
shuttle Space Shuttle Endeavour. Another shuttle, Discovery,
was named after Cook's HMS Discovery.
Blue plaque for Captain James Cook, at 326 The Highway in Shadwell,
East London, England
The first institution of higher education in North Queensland,
Australia was named after him, with
James Cook University
James Cook University opening in
Townsville in 1970. In Australian rhyming slang the expression
"Captain Cook" means "look". Numerous institutions, landmarks and
place names reflect the importance of Cook's contributions, including
the Cook Islands, the Cook Strait, Cook Inlet, and the Cook crater on
the Moon. Aoraki/Mount Cook, the highest summit in New Zealand, is
named for him. Another Mount Cook is on the border between the US
Alaska and the Canadian
Yukon Territory, and is designated
Boundary Peak 182 as one of the official Boundary Peaks of the
Hay–Herbert Treaty. A life-size statue of Cook upon a column
stands in a park in the centre of Sydney: its inscription "Discovered
this territory 1770" has been challenged as rendering Aboriginal
One of the earliest monuments to Cook in the United Kingdom is located
at The Vache, erected in 1780 by Admiral Hugh Palliser, a contemporary
of Cook and one-time owner of the estate. A huge obelisk was built
in 1827 as a monument to Cook on
Easby Moor overlooking his boyhood
village of Great Ayton, along with a smaller monument at the
former location of Cook's cottage. There is also a monument to
Cook in the church of St Andrew the Great, St Andrew's Street,
Cambridge, where his sons Hugh, a student at Christ's College, and
James were buried. Cook's widow Elizabeth was also buried in the
church and in her will left money for the memorial's upkeep. The 250th
anniversary of Cook's birth was marked at the site of his birthplace
in Marton, by the opening of the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum,
located within Stewart Park (1978). A granite vase just to the south
of the museum marks the approximate spot where he was born.
Tributes also abound in post-industrial Middlesbrough, including a
primary school, shopping square and the Bottle 'O Notes, a
public artwork by Claes Oldenburg, that was erected in the town's
Central Gardens in 1993. Also named after Cook is the James Cook
University Hospital, a major teaching hospital which opened in 2003
with a railway station serving it called
James Cook opening in
2014. The Royal Research Ship
RRS James Cook
RRS James Cook was built in 2006 to
RRS Charles Darwin
RRS Charles Darwin in the UK's Royal Research Fleet,
and Stepney Historical Trust placed a plaque on Free Trade Wharf in
Shadwell to commemorate his life in the East End of
London. In 2002 Cook was placed at number 12 in the BBC's poll of the
100 Greatest Britons.
Australian places named by James Cook
European and American voyages of scientific exploration
Exploration of the Pacific
List of places named after Captain James Cook
List of sea captains
Death of Cook
^ Old style date: 27 October
^ At this time, the
International Date Line
International Date Line had yet to be established,
so the dates in Cook's journal are a day earlier than those accepted
^ a b c Rigby & van der Merwe 2002, p. 25
^ Robson 2009, p. 2
^ Stamp 1978, p. 1
^ a b c d e f g h Collingridge 2003
^ Collingridge 2003, p. 15
^ a b c Horwitz 2003
^ Hough 1994, p. 11
^ a b c Rigby & van der Merwe 2002, p. 27
^ "Famous 18th century people in Barking and Dagenham: James Cook
and Dick Turpin" (PDF). London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 June 2012. Retrieved 5 March
^ Robson 2009, pp. 120–1
^ Stamp 1978, p. 138
^ Robson, John (2009). Captain Cook's War and Peace: The Royal Navy
Years 1755–1768. University of New South Wales Press.
pp. 19–25. ISBN 9781742231099.
^ McLynn 2011, p. 21
^ a b c d e Williams, Glyn (17 February 2011). "Captain Cook:
Navigator and Pioneer". BBC. Retrieved 5 September
^ Capper, Paul (1985–96). "The Captain Cook Society: Cook's Log".
Life in the
Royal Navy (1755–1767). Retrieved 22 September
^ Kemp & Dear 2005
^ Hough 1994, p. 19
^ Whiteley, William (1975). "
James Cook in Newfoundland 1762–1767"
(PDF). Newfoundland Historical Society Pamphlet Number 3. Retrieved 27
^ Government of Canada (2012). "Captain
James Cook R.N." Historic
Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
^ Hough 1994, p. 32
^ Collingridge 2003, p. 95
^ Rigby & van der Merwe 2002, p. 30
^ Wikisource:1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cook, James
^ Beaglehole 1968, p. cix
^ "The Sydney Morning Herald". The Sydney Morning Herald. National
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^ "Cook's Journal: Daily Entries, 22 April 1770". Retrieved 21
^ "PAGES FROM THE PAST". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of
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^ "Once were warriors – smh.com.au". The Sydney Morning Herald. 11
November 2002. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
^ Robson 2004, p. 81
^ Beaglehole 1968, p. 468
^ "Captain Cook: Obsession & Discovery. (Part 2 of 4) – Britain
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Archived from the original on 7 April 2013. Retrieved 5 March
^ Hough 1994, p. 180
^ McLynn 2011, p. 167
^ Hough 1994, p. 182
^ Hough 1994, p. 263
^ "Captain James Cook: His voyages of exploration and the men that
accompanied him". National Maritime Museum. Archived from the original
on 21 April 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2007.
^ Beaglehole 1974, p. 444
^ Rigby & van der Merwe 2002, p. 79
^ Hough 1994, p. 268
^ Collingridge 2003, p. 327
^ Fish, Shirley (2011). The Manila-Acapulco Galleons : The
Treasure Ships of the Pacific: With An Annotated List of the
Transpacific Galleons 1565–1815. AuthorHouse. pp. 360–.
^ Collingridge 2003, p. 380
^ Hayes 1999, pp. 42–3
^ "Resolution Cove". BC Geographical Names. Retrieved 6 March
^ Fisher 1979
^ Beaglehole, John Cawte (1974). The Life of Captain James Cook. A
& C Black. pp. 615–23. ISBN 0-7136-1382-3.
^ a b c Obeyesekere 1992
^ Sahlins 1985
^ Obeyesekere 1997
^ "The Death of Captain James Cook, 14 February 1779 – National
Maritime Museum". National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 11 July
^ a b Obeyesekere, Gananath (1997). The
Apotheosis of Captain Cook:
European Mythmaking in the Pacific. Princeton University Press.
pp. 310–. ISBN 0-691-05752-4.
^ Collingridge 2003, p. 410
^ a b Samwell, David; Townsend, Ebenezer (Jr); Gilbert, George;
Hawaiian Historical Society; Ingraham, Joseph; Meares, John;
Cartwright, Bruce (1791). Extracts from Voyages Made in the Years 1788
and 1789, from China to the Northwest Coast of America: With an
Introductory Narrative of a Voyage Performed in 1786, from Bengal in
the Ship "Nootka". Paradise of the Pacific Press. p. 76.
^ Dibble, Sheldon (1843). History of the Sandwich Islands.
Lahainaluna: Press of the Mission Seminary. p. 61.
^ "Muster for HMS Resolution during the third Pacific voyage,
1776–1780" (pdf). Captain Cook Society. 15 October 2012. p. 20.
Retrieved 27 October 2014.
^ Collingridge 2003, p. 413
^ Collingridge 2003, p. 412
^ Collingridge 2003, p. 423
^ "Better Conceiv'd than Describ'd: the life and times of Captain
James King (1750-84), Captain Cook's Friend and Colleague. Steve
Ragnall. 2013". The Captain Cook Society (CCS). Retrieved 10 October
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Cook (Reprint ed.). Hawaiian Historical Society. p. 20. Retrieved
14 August 2011.
^ Thomsett, Sue. "Cook Collection, History of Acquisition". Electronic
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voyage to the Pacific Ocean ... – Google Books. 2. London: W. and A.
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^ "Celestial Sphere: The Apparent Motions of the Sun, Moon, Planets,
and Stars – Earth, North, Axis, Approximately, Latitude, and
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Health of the Crew of His Majesty's Ship the Resolution during Her
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^ Sykes 2001
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^ "The Endeavour Botanical Illustrations at the Natural History
Museum". nhm.ac.uk. 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
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royalnavalmuseum.org. 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
^ Phillips, Nan. Vancouver, George (1757–1798). Australian
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Whittemore, and Mason. pp. 123–24. Retrieved 22 September
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p. 144. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
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from Magellan to Orbit. p. 125. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
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from the original on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
^ Gray, Chris (11 November 2000). "Captain Cook's little corner of
Hawaii under threat from new golf". The Independent. Retrieved 12
^ "Call Signs". NASA. Retrieved 21 May 2011.
^ "Space Shuttle Endeavour". John F. Kennedy Space Center website.
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^ Sidney 1981, p. 160
^ "Planetary Names: Crater, craters: Cook on Moon". Gazetteer of
Planetary Nomenclature. USGS/NASA. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
^ "Aoraki Mount Cook National Park & Mt Cook Village, New
Zealand". Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 21
^ "Map of Mount Cook, Yukon, Mountain – Canada Geographical Names
Maps". Retrieved 21 September 2011.
^ Knaus, Christopher (23 August 2017). "Captain Cook statue: Sydney
refers 'discovery' claim to Indigenous board". The Guardian. Retrieved
23 August 2017.
^ Soon after this was reported in media, the plinth of the statue was
vandalised: Me, Cameron; Robertson, James (26 August 2017). "Vandals
deface Hyde Park statues in
Australia Day protest". Sydney Morning
Herald. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
^ Koziol, Michael (26 August 2017). "Vandalism of Hyde Park statues is
a 'deeply disturbing' act of Stalinism, says Malcolm Turnbull". Sydney
Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
^ "CCS – Cook Monument at the Vache, Chalfont St Giles – Access
Restored". Retrieved 22 September 2011.
Great Ayton – Captain Cook's Monument". Retrieved 20 September
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Australia. 26 January 1935. p. 16. Retrieved 27 September
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captcook-ne.co.uk. 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
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Beaglehole, J.C., ed. (1968). The Journals of Captain
James Cook on
His Voyages of Discovery. I: The Voyage of the Endeavour 1768–1771.
Cambridge University Press. OCLC 223185477.
Beaglehole, John Cawte (1974). The Life of Captain James Cook. A &
C Black. ISBN 0-7136-1382-3.
Collingridge, Vanessa (2003). Captain Cook: The Life, Death and Legacy
of History's Greatest Explorer. Ebury Press.
Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe (2006). Pathfinders: A Global History of
Exploration. W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-06259-7.
Fisher, Robin (1979). Captain
James Cook and his times. Taylor &
Francis. ISBN 978-0-7099-0050-4.
Hayes, Derek (1999). Historical Atlas of the Pacific Northwest: Maps
of exploration and Discovery. Sasquatch Books.
Horwitz, Tony (October 2003). Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where
Captain Cook Has Gone Before. Bloomsbury.
Hough, Richard (1994). Captain James Cook. Hodder and Stoughton.
Kemp, Peter; Dear, I. C. B. (2005). The Oxford Companion to Ships and
the Sea. OUP. ISBN 978-0-19-860616-1.
Kippis, Andrew (1788). Narrative of the voyages round the world,
performed by Captain James Cook; with an account of his life during
the previous and intervening periods.
McLynn, Frank (2011). Captain Cook: Master of the Seas. Yale
University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11421-8.
Moorehead, Alan (1966). Fatal Impact: An Account of the Invasion of
the South Pacific, 1767–1840. H Hamilton.
Obeyesekere, Gananath (1992). The
Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European
Mythmaking in the Pacific. Princeton University Press.
Obeyesekere, Gananath (1997). The
Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European
Mythmaking in the Pacific. Princeton University Press.
ISBN 978-0-691-05752-1. With new preface and afterword replying
to criticism from Sahlins
Rigby, Nigel; van der Merwe, Pieter (2002). Captain Cook in the
Pacific. National Maritime Museum, London UK.
Robson, John (2004). The Captain Cook Encyclopædia. Random House
Australia. ISBN 0-7593-1011-4.
Robson, John (2009). Captain Cook's War and Peace: The Royal Navy
Years 1755–1768. University of New South Wales Press.
Sahlins, Marshall David (1985). Islands of history. University of
Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-73358-6.
Sahlins, Marshall David (1995). How "Natives" Think: About Captain
Cook, for example. University of Chicago Press.
Sidney, John Baker (1981). The Australian Language: An Examination of
the English Language and English Speech as Used in Australia, from
Convict Days to the Present. Melbourne:
Stamp, Tom and Cordelia (1978).
James Cook Maritime Scientist. Whitby:
Whitby Press. ISBN 0-905355-04-0.
Sykes, Bryan (2001). The Seven Daughters of Eve. Norton Publishing:
New York City and London. ISBN 0-393-02018-5.
Wagner, A. R. (1972). Historic Heraldry of Britain. London: Phillimore
& Co Ltd. ISBN 978-0-85033-022-9.
Wharton, W. J. L. (1893). Captain Cook's Journal during his first
voyage round the world made in H.M. Bark "Endeavour" 1768–71.
Albert, Jean-Max (1983). Les nouveaux voyages du capitaine Cook.
Angoûlème, France: Acapa. ISBN 2-904353-00-3.
Aughton, Peter (2002). Endeavour: The Story of Captain Cook's First
Great Epic Voyage. London: Cassell & Co.
Edwards, Philip, ed. (2003). James Cook: The Journals. London: Penguin
Books. ISBN 0-14-043647-2. Prepared from the original manuscripts
by J. C. Beaglehole 1955–67
Forster, Georg, ed. (1986). A Voyage Round the World. Wiley-VCH.
ISBN 978-3-05-000180-7. Published first 1777 as: A Voyage round
the World in His Britannic Majesty's Sloop Resolution, Commanded by
Capt. James Cook, during the Years, 1772, 3, 4, and 5
Hawkesworth, John; Byron, John; Wallis, Samuel; Carteret, Philip;
Cook, James; Banks, Joseph (1773), An account of the voyages
undertaken by the order of His present Majesty for making discoveries
in the Southern Hemisphere, and successively performed by Commodore
Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret, and Captain Cook, in the
Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour drawn up from the journals
which were kept by the several commanders, and from the papers of
Joseph Banks, esq, London Printed for W. Strahan and T. Cadell ,
Volume I, Volume II-III. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
Kippis, Andrew (1904). The Life and Voyages of Captain James Cook.
George Newnes, London & Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
Richardson, Brian. (2005)
Longitude and Empire: How Captain Cook's
Voyages Changed the World University of British Columbia Press.
Sydney Daily Telegraph (1970) Captain Cook: His Artists — His
Voyages The Sydney Daily Telegraph Portfolio of Original Works by
Artists who sailed with Captain Cook. Australian Consolidated Press,
Thomas, Nicholas The Extraordinary Voyages of Captain James Cook.
Walker & Co., New York. ISBN 0-8027-1412-9 (2003)
Villiers, Alan (Summer 1956–57). "James Cook, Seaman". Quadrant. 1
Villiers, Alan John, Captain
James Cook Newport Beach, California:
Books on Tape (1983)
Williams, Glyndwr, ed. (1997). Captain Cook's Voyages: 1768–1779.
London: The Folio Society.
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"Cook, James (1728–1779)". Australian Dictionary of Biography
(online ed.). National Centre of Biography, Australian National
University. 1966. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
Williams, Glyndwr (1979). "Cook, James". In Halpenny, Francess G.
Dictionary of Canadian Biography. IV (1771–1800) (online ed.).
University of Toronto Press.
Mackay, David. "Cook, James". Dictionary of
New Zealand Biography.
Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
The Endeavour journal (1) and The Endeavour journal (2), as kept by
James Cook – digitised and held by the National Library of
The South Seas Project: maps and online editions of the Journals of
James Cook's First Pacific Voyage, 1768–1771. Includes full text of
journals kept by Cook,
Joseph Banks and Sydney Parkinson, as well as
the complete text of John Hawkesworth's 1773 Account of Cook's first
Digitised copies of log books from James Cook's voyages at the British
Atmospheric Data Centre
James Cook at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
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LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
Log book of Cook's second voyage: high-resolution digitised version in
Cambridge Digital Library
Digitised Tapa cloth catalogue held at Auckland Libraries
Collections and museums
The Library of the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia
specialises in collecting works on Captain James Cook, his voyages and
Cook's Pacific Encounters: Cook-Forster Collection online Images and
descriptions of more than 300 artefacts collected during the three
Pacific voyages of James Cook.
Images and descriptions of items associated with
James Cook at the
New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
"Archival material relating to James Cook". UK National
James Cook Birthplace Museum
Captain Cook Memorial Museum
Captain Cook Memorial Museum Whitby
Cook's manuscript maps of the south-east coast of Australia, held at
the American Geographical Society Library at UW Milwaukee.
Captain James Cook
Johann Reinhold Forster
Paintings of the death of Cook
Zoffany's Death of Cook
Statue in The Mall, London
Transit of Venus
Transit of Venus observed from Tahiti
Kidnapping of Kalaniʻōpuʻu
James Cook Collection: Australian Museum
Copley Medallists (1751–1800)
John Canton (1751)
John Pringle (1752)
Benjamin Franklin (1753)
William Lewis (1754)
John Huxham (1755)
Charles Cavendish (1757)
John Dollond (1758)
John Smeaton (1759)
Benjamin Wilson (1760)
John Canton (1764)
William Brownrigg /
Edward Delaval /
Henry Cavendish (1766)
John Ellis (1767)
Peter Woulfe (1768)
William Hewson (1769)
William Hamilton (1770)
Matthew Raper (1771)
Joseph Priestley (1772)
John Walsh (1773)
Nevil Maskelyne (1775)
James Cook (1776)
John Mudge (1777)
Charles Hutton (1778)
Samuel Vince (1780)
William Herschel (1781)
Richard Kirwan (1782)
John Goodricke / Thomas Hutchins (1783)
Edward Waring (1784)
William Roy (1785)
John Hunter (1787)
Charles Blagden (1788)
William Morgan (1789)
James Rennell /
Jean-André Deluc (1791)
Benjamin Thompson (1792)
Alessandro Volta (1794)
Jesse Ramsden (1795)
George Atwood (1796)
George Shuckburgh-Evelyn /
Charles Hatchett (1798)
John Hellins (1799)
Edward Charles Howard (1800)
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