On this day, 27th October 1728, James Cook, the explorer...

On this day, 27th October 1728, James Cook, the explorer, navigator and cartographer who charted the east coast of Australia, was born.

James Cook was born at Marton in North Yorkshire, on 27 October 1728, the son of a farm labourer. When he was about 17 years old, Cook joined the merchant navy in the coastal town of Whitby and spent his apprenticeship and early career working on trading ships along the English coast and in the Baltic. After 10 years in the merchant navy, Cook entered the Royal Navy, and showed an aptitude for surveying, mapping and navigation. He honed these skills in military conflicts against France but his talents had been noticed by the Royal Society, which was keen to send British ships to the Pacific for research and exploration purposes.

Captain James Cook’s three epic voyages to the South Seas, between 1768-1779, transformed the way Europeans viewed the Great South Land and the Pacific Ocean. Read more in our Discover Collections feature.

The State Library of New South Wales holds many original manuscripts, pictures and mementos relating to James Cook.

[Captain James Cook], 1775 / watercolour drawing by John Noble

Portrait of Captain James Cook / painted by Sir Nathaniel Dance. Engraved by Cosmo Armstrong.