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Captain James Cook

Greatest explorer of his age
Cook's early life and career
Cook and the Pacific voyages
HM Bark 'Endeavour'
Science and natural history on Cook's voyages
Navigation
The aftermath
Cook's later years
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Greatest explorer of his age

Humble origins

Captain James Cook.
View full size imageCaptain James Cook. © NMM
James Cook was the greatest explorer of his age. He was born in 1728, the son of a Yorkshire farm labourer. Cook rose from these humble origins to lead three voyages of exploration to the Pacific between 1768 and 1779.

Cook's voyages changed Europe's understanding of the world and also its shape.  They were planned as scientific explorations and were sponsored by George III, the Admiralty and the Royal Society.

Although the voyages were not really designed to enlarge Britain's empire, colonisation of Australia and New Zealand followed them. 

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Find out more
Fact fileCaptain James Cook
Surveyor of Australia and the Pacific
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Fact fileHM Bark ‘Endeavour’
Captain Cook's ship for sailing to the South Seas
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GalleriesFamous Thames ships
The great and the good
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GalleriesDeptford Royal Dockyard collection
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StoriesDeptford and Woolwich: London's Royal Dockyards
The rise and decline of Henry VIII's Dockyards
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GalleriesThe transit of Venus
See the first photographs of a transit of Venus, taken by astronomers of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, in 1874
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Related Resources
Related Galleries6 Galleries
Related Images58 Images
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National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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