Captain James Cook, FRS, RN (7 November 1728 – 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.
Whitby is a seaside town, port and civil parish in the Borough of Scarborough and English county of North Yorkshire. Situated on the east coast of Yorkshire at the mouth of the River Esk, Whitby has a combined maritime, mineral and tourist heritage, and is home to the ruins of Whitby Abbey where Caedmon, the earliest English poet, lived. The fishing port emerged during the Middle Ages and developed important herring and whaling fleets, and was where Captain Cook learned seamanship. Tourism started in Whitby in Georgian times and developed with the coming of the railway in 1839. Tourist interest is enhanced by its location surrounded by the high ground of the North York Moors national park and heritage coastline and by association with the horror novel Dracula. Jet and alum were mined locally, and Whitby jet, which was mined by the Romans and Victorians became fashionable during the 19th century.
The earliest record of a permanent settlement is in 656, when Streonshal, was the place where Oswy, the Christian king of Northumbria, founded the first abbey, under the abbess, Hilda. The Synod of Whitby was held there in 664. In 867, the monastery was destroyed by Viking raiders, and was re-founded in 1078. It was in this period that the town gained its current name, Whitby, (from "white settlement" in Old Norse). In the following centuries Whitby functioned as a fishing settlement until, in the 18th century, it developed as a port and centre for shipbuilding and whaling, trade in locally mined alum and the manufacture of Whitby jet jewellery.