History

James Cook

History

A memorial to Captain James Cook, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Francis Chichester was unveiled in the south cloister of Westminster Abbey on 4 October 1979. All three men had circumnavigated the globe by sea in different eras. The mosaic of coloured marbles within the oval memorial shows a map of the world, with lines tracing the routes taken and with the three ships shown. The sculptor was Eric Fraser and within the stone border are depicted doves, dolphins and an oak and laurel branch. The Latin inscription around the edge can be translated:

"Circumnavigators of the world, Sir Francis Drakw, James Cook, Sir Francis Chichester"

James Cook, explorer, was born on 27 October 1728 at Marton in Cleveland in Yorkshire, a son of James and Grace (Pace). Apprenticed to a ship owner he learnt his seamanship in the North Sea. In 1755 he joined the navy and served in North American waters. He charted part of the St Lawrence river which enabled the British fleet to get up to Quebec. He married Elizabeth Batts in 1762 and had six children. He carried out surveying work in Newfoundland and for the Royal Society he undertook a voyage to observe the transit of Venus at Tahiti in the Endeavour. While surveying the coast of Australia he discovered Botany Bay and in the Resolution he undertook two voyages and circumnavigated the world. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. While wintering in Hawaii endeavouring to find a north-west passage he was killed by the local inhabitants and his body was buried at sea.

A photo of the memorial can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004