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Cook Museum Whitby

Cook's Letters

Above may be seen one of the letters from Cook to Captain John Walker, written on 17th August, 1771, describing some of the sights and events of the First Voyage.

Six letters in all survive between Cook and Walker. Two of these may be seen in the Museum, and the others are reproduced in facsimile. The words and lines are closely packed on the page, and it may be that Cook was writing in haste - for example, in August 1771 he had only returned to England the month before. The letters were written to a trusted and interested friend, and remain testament to the enduring friendship between Walker and his old apprentice.

The Sandwich correspondence

Lord Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty, was closely involved in preparations for the Second and Third voyages, and in ensuring that the results were published afterwards.

His correspondence with Joseph Banks about accommodation on Resolution throws an intriguing light on relations between the Royal Navy and civilians on such voyages. There is also a friendly letter from Sandwich to Banks, saying that he had sent Dr. Solander a live camelion and discussing arrangements for the Third Voyage.

Correspondence with Johann Reinhold Forster reveals that Sandwich stoutly defended Cook against Forster's accusations of 'vulgarisms' and inaccuracies in his language.

The Museum has original letters telling one part or another of the Cook story. They include a note written by King George III expressing his regret at the news of Cook's death, and documents signed by Cook's wife, Elizabeth, such as the Power of Attorney shown right.

Cook to Captain Hammond

Captain William Hammond was an important shipowner and merchant in Hull.  The Museum has two letters to Hammond, who had sold the Whitby-built colliers, Resolution and Adventure, to the Navy in 1772.  Cook evidently knew him quite well.

In one letter Cook informs Hammond that the ships are well matched and "answer in all respects as well as I could wish". Resolution indeed remained Cook's preferred vessel. 


Elizabeth Cook's Signature

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