People associated with Cook in the Royal Navy between 1755 and 1762


James Cook joined the Royal Navy in June 1755 and was appointed to HMS Eagle. He stayed with the Eagle until June 1757. He then sat and passed his master's examination at Trinity House, close to the Tower of London. His first posting after his promotion was to HMS Solebay,which he joined at Leith in Scotland. The Solebay and Cook made a single short cruise to the Shetlands and back. Cook was then transferred to a new ship, the Pembroke. After a patrol in the Bay of Biscay, the Pembroke sailed to Noorth America in 1758. Cook stayed with the ship in North American waters until just after the fall of Quebec in 1759. He was then transferred to HMS Northumberland. Cook was master of the Northumberland, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, until late 1762.

William Adams

William Adams was promoted to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy on 22 September 1759 just after the siege of Quebec. At the same time he was appointed captain of HMS Northumberland, the flagship of Commodore Alexander, Lord Colvill in the North American squadron. Adams, therefore, joined the ship at about the same time as James Cook was appointed its master.

Adams had become a lieutenant on 26 March 1750 and a commander on 02 August 1758. On that date he was given command of the Hunter, a sloop. The Northumberland returned to Quebec in 1760 as part of the force sent to protect the city from French forces trying to recapture it. Adams was replaced on 21 September 1760 as captain by Nathaniel Bateman and he was transferred to the Diana. Adams left the Diana on 25 January 1763 and, according to the book Commissioned sea officers of the Royal Navy, 1660-1815, he died a few days later on 03 February 1763.

There is, however, a will for a William Adams of Portsea, which was written on 10 September 1763 and proved on 03 January 1764. It is by no means certain that this is the William Adams connected to Cook. This will is witnessed by Gawler Rickman, who is mentioned in the will of Charles Clerke, who sailed with Cook, suggesting close links with naval officers.

The will mentions three children but no wife so she has presumably died earlier. There is one son, Tomlin, and a birth record exists for him from St. Nicholas Church, Rochester in Kent (another naval town), dated 10 October 1756 and listing the parents as William and Martha. The two other children are daughters, Mary and Martha Maria. It may be that Martha Adams died in childbirth and the third child was named for her. Working back in time there is a marriage record for William Adams and Martha Thrall at St. Mary's Church, Portsea for 31 October 1743.


Nathaniel Bateman

Nathaniel Bateman took over as captain of HMS Northumberland under Commodore Alexander, Lord Colvill in 1760. He remained with the ship, for which James Cook was the master, until it returned to Britain in November 1762.

A biography of Admiral Rodney by Donald Macintyre records that:
Nathaniel Bateman ... had been raised from the lower deck as a reward for
conspicuous gallantry - in his case during Mathews' ill-starred Battle of Toulon

[in 1744].

This does not fit in with naval records that show Bateman had become a lieutenant on 05 July 1756. It seems more likely that Bateman performed his gallantry during Admiral John Byng's "ill-starred" defeat in the Mediterranean on 20 May 1756. It seems strange that Bateman would have had to wait 12 years for his reward. He was promoted a commander on 22 September 1759 and given command of the sloop, Hunter immediately after the siege of Quebec. He was further promoted to captain on 31 March 1760 and appointed as captain on HMS Eurus. He remained with the Eurus until 14 August 1760. A month later Bateman replaced Adams as captain of the Northumberland on 22 September 1760.

Bateman remained with Colvill and Cook on the Northumberland based in Halifax, Nova Scotia until August 1762 when they all took part in the relief of St. John's, Newfoundland. Bateman left the ship on 08 December 1762 after it had returned to Britain. Early in the new year, on 24 February 1763, Bateman moved to the Ludlow Castle and remained there until 18 July 1764 as captain. He may have commanded the Bellona, a guardship at Plymouth from 1765 to 1767.

On 20 February 1776, he transferred to the Winchelsea until 25 July 1778 when he was appointed to HMS Yarmouth. On 17 April 1780, Bateman was still in command of the Yarmouth, part of the British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney, which engaged the French under Admiral de Guichen off Martinique in the West Indies. Admiral Rodney sent out directions and signals that virtually all of his captains found difficult to understand and implement. As a result, the battle proved indecisive. Rodney blamed his captains for not delivering him a famous victory and was very critical of most of them but Bateman was singled out for a court martial. At the court martial in New York, Bateman was found guilty and he apparently insulted the judges after being sentenced. (Court Martial minutes PRO 30/20/18). He was dismissed from the navy but, on 13 November 1780, his name appeared on the superannuated captain's list.

James Cook named Bateman's Bay on the south New South Wales coast. It is probable that is was to honour Nathaniel Bateman though another Bateman, John Bateman, had been one of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty in the mid-1750s.

There are several wills for Nathaniel Batemans in the late eighteenth century but none match Cook's captain. Neither are there BDM records that are clearly for him.


Thomas Bisset.

Thomas Bisset (Bissett?) was master of HMS Eagle while Cook was aboard the ship from 1755. His will, written in August 1760 lists him as master of HMS Stirling Castle, under Captain Michael Everitt. The will was proven two years later in August 1762.

The will leaves everything to his wife Jannet in the parish of New Church in Plymouth. Little else is known about Bisset at this stage (September 2005). He may have been of Scottish origin as there are records for many Bissets in Scotland and a marriage record for a Thomas Bisset with a Jannet Whittick in 1756 in Perth. The will makes no mention of children.

While Cook make no mention of Bisset in his log, it is probable that as the first master on a Royal Navy ship that Cook served under, Bisset had a strong influence on Cook and how to behave as a warrant officer.


Alexander Colvill, 7th Baron Colvill (1717-1770)

Alexander Colvill was the son of John Colvill, 6th Baron Colvill and his wife Elizabeth. He was born on 28 February 1717 in Dundee and joined the Royal Navy in 1733 on board HMS Line. He passed his lieutenant's examination in 1738 and is believed to have been made a lieutenant in 1739 serving in that capacity in the West Indies on the Alderney. In 1742, he transferred to the Mediterranean fleet.

On 06 March 1744, he was promoted to captain and given command of the Dursley Gally. He then took charge of HMS Leopard on 21 September 1744. He distinguished himself over the next few years and returned to Britain with the Leopardin 1748 with £5,000 prize money. He left the ship on 19 December 1748.

For a month from 11 March 1749, Colvill had command of the Shoreham. He then transferred on 06 April to HMS Success and spent the next three years until 1752 in New England. On 10 January 1753, he was given command of the 70 gun HMS Northumberland, on which he sailed for the next nine years. Colvill took part in the capture of Louisbourg in 1758 and was present at the siege of Quebec in 1759. After the French surrender, Saunders appointed Colvill as commander-in-chief of the North America Station on 16 October 1759. A few days earlier, Saunders had transferred a new master, James Cook, to the Northumberland from the Pembroke.

Colvill took his ships back to Halifax in Nova Scotia but returned to Quebec in 1760. 1761 and most of 1762 were spent at Halifax, where he engaged in improving the dockyard facilities. News reached Colvill in July 1762 of the French capture of St. John's in Newfoundland so he sailed to Newfoundland to take part in the recapture. Colvill took the Northumberland back to Britain in late 1762 and his connection with Cook ended then when both left the ship. Colvill was made rear admiral on 21 October 1762.

Colvill was appointed port admiral at Plymouth in 1763 but later that year was persuaded reluctantly to take on again the North American command where he remained until 1766. He was never employed again after his return to Britain. He died on 21 May 1770 at Drumsheugh, near Edinburgh. He married Lady Elizabeth Erskine in 1768 but they had no children. However, he did have children with several women in North America.

He had given Cook the opportunity to prepare charts in Canada and Newfoundland and his commendations brought Cook to the attention of Thomas Graves, Governor of Newfoundland. Cook named a cape in New Zealand after Colvill. There is a short biography in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, v.3, pp.131-133.


Robert Craig.

After qualifying as a master in 1757, James Cook wnet north to join HMS Solebay at Leith, near Edinburgh.Cook spent two months with the ship before being transferred to the Pembroke. His captain for the short stay on the Solebay was Robert Craig, about whom only a little is known.

His birth and early life remain unknown. However, he joined the Royal Navy and, on 27 February 1741, became a lieutenant. Near the end of the War of Auatrian Succession, Craig was promoted to commander on 23 June 1748 and two months later, on 21 September 1748, was given command of the sloop Vulture. This command lasted until 16 June 1749.

When the next war, the Seven Years War, was underway Craig was promoted to captain on 04 January 1757. He had taken command of the Solebay a few months earlier on 01 February 1757 when Cook joined the ship in the July. Craig relinquished command on 25 January 1759. In 1758, Craig, while on the Solebay was wounded in the throat by a musket-ball during an engagement with a French privateer. This accident possibly caused his retirement from the service and may ave led to his eventual death. No further actions are known for him. He is believed to have died in 1769 in England.


Joseph Hamar.

During the early 1740s until 16 December 1745, Captain Joseph Hamar was in command of HMS Flamborough in South Carolina and Georgia waters, helping protect communities there from the Spanish. (The Flamborough was a 6th rate, built at Woolwich in 1707 and rebuilt at Portsmouth in 1727). Hamar must have stayed on in America after the war finished as there are references to Hamar having built a wharf at Port Royal Island, South Carolina. His will refers to a silver cup and cover given to him by the merchants of Carolina, presumably in thanks. He must also have had dealings with the Bahamas as the will refers to assets connected with Providence Island in the Bahamas. There is a Hamar Street in Beaufort, South Carolina, named after Joseph Hamar, who in 1748 was assigned two lots of land on the street.

Joseph Hamar had become a lieutenant on 05 May 1735 and a commander on 10 June 1740. He was given command of the Royal Escape on 11 June 1740, based at The Nore at the mouth of the River Thames, and remained with the ship until 22 October 1741 when he was promoted to captain. A few days later, on 27 October, Hamar was appointed to the Flamborough.

It is not known when and where Hamar was born. In 1753, on 05 July, he married Elizabeth Limeburner at St. Dunstan's church in East London. Elizabeth's father was Captain Thomas Limeburner, who had command of the Seahorse in American waters during the War of Austrian Succession (1739-1748) so was a colleague of Joseph Hamar. The following year a daughter, Margaret Elizabeth was born at Greenwich on 04 June 1754.

On 07 May 1755, Hamar was appointed as captain of and re-commissioned the ship HMS Eagle at Portsmouth. It was then that the paths of Hamar and James Cook crossed. However, it is unlikely that they had much actual contact. Cook, who joined the ship at Spithead in late June of that year as an able seaman, would only have spoken to his captain if and when he was spoken to by Hamar. In early August, Hamar took the Eagle out to patrol off southern Ireland. A gale damaged the ship and Hamar, believing the main mast was broken, took the ship into Plymouth. Inspection proved that the mast was not broken and Hamar left the ship on 29 September, apparently relieved of his duties by an unhappy Admiralty.

Hamar became a Superannuated Rear Admiral in October 1758. The Superannuated Flag Officer scheme had been introduced in 1747 as a means of removing incompetent officers. As they would never be given an active command again, they were given the opportunity to retire on the half pay of a rear admiral instead. Hamar was still recorded as such on the Navy List for 1766.

His wife Elizabeth had died and Hamar remarried. His second wife, Ann(e), was the widow of William Berry and she already had a son, also called William. Hamar's will, written in late 1773 in Manchester, refers to his house in Hampstead, North London. His wife Ann(e), daughter Margaret Elizabeth and stepson William are all mentioned in the will. Hamar must already have been ill as he died in early 1774, the will being proved in March of that year. (Some records incorrectly state he died on 14 January 1773.)

Hamar's daughter, Margaret Elizabeth, married the Reverend John Arden on 15 May 1775 in Wellesbourne, Warwickshire and died in Yoxall, Staffordshire in May 1842. The Ardens had a son, Francis Edward, who became the vicar of Gresham in Norfolk. Francis Edward married Rachel Pinkard about 1802 and they in turn had a son called Humphrey Hamar in 1815. Humphrey Hamar Arden emigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1853 and settled in Taranaki. He and his two sons, Francis Hamar (1841-1899) and Francis (1851-?) were all painters and examples of their work survive. Among them is a painting by Francis Hamar Arden of the nearby volcanic mountain, Mount Egmont, named in 1770 by their great, great grandfather's colleague on the Eagle, James Cook.


John Simcoe.

John Simcoe was James Cook's captain on HMS Pembroke from 1757. Cook sailed with him until Simcoe's death off Anticosti Island at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in Canada on 15 May 1759, when Simcoe died of pneumonia.

John Simcoe was born on 28 November 1710 in Staindrop in County Durham, Northeast England. His parents were William and Mary (nee Hutchinson) Simcoe who had married earlier that year on 03 January 1710 in Staindrop.

At some time Simcoe joined the Royal Navy. At some time, Simcoe became a close friend of Samuel Graves, who was rising through the ranks at the same time. Graves, born 1713, became a lieutenant in 1740 and a captain in 1744). Simcoe became a lieutenant on 07 August 1739 and received his first command on 19 December 1743, that of a bomb vessel, the Thunder. On 28 December 1743, Simcoe was made a captain and appointed to HMS Kent but only remained with the ship until 18 February 1744.

Simcoe transferred to be captain of HMS Seahorse, part of the Royal Navy squadron based at Jamaica. In 1745, he was still in Jamaica, this time in command of HMS Falmouth, having been moved to that ship on 29 January 1745. Simcoe left the Falmouth on 24 October 1746 but it was several months before he joined a new ship, the Prince Edward on 14 March 1747.

While still captain of the Prince Edward, John Simcoe married Catherine Stamford in Bath Abbey on 08 August 1747. The war finished and Simcoe left the Prince Edward on 12 September 1748 allowing the Simcoes to make their home at Cotterstock in Northamptonshire, where they had four sons. The two eldest, Paulet William (possibly named after Charles Paulet (sometimes Powlett), another captain in West Indies waters) and John William, both died in infancy while the youngest, Percy, drowned in the River Exe in 1764. Only the third boy, John Graves, survived to adulthood.

A sign of the friendship between Simcoe and Graves happened in 1750. Samuel Graves married Elizabeth Sedgwick, the daughter of John Sedgwick from Staindrop on 19 June 1750 at St. George's Church, Hanover Square, London. It is probable that Simcoe introduced the couple.

When war resumed Simcoe was appointed as captain of the St. George on 03 July 1756. He remained with the ship until he was given command of HMS Pembroke, a new ship, on 05 April 1757. Later that year, he took the ship out to patrol in the Bay of Biscay. In 1758, the Pembroke crossed the Atlantic to take part in the siege of the French fort of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island. The Pembroke suffered on the crossing and had to remain in Halifax for repairs when the rest of the fleet continued on to Louisbourg. Eventually, the Pembroke reached Louisbourg just as the fort surrendered.

James Cook encountered Samuel Holland, an army engineer, surveying on the beach at Kennington Cove. Simcoe gave Cook the opportunity to learn how to survey from Holland. In 1759, Simcoe and the Pembroke sailed from Halifax as part of the British fleet heading for Quebec. However, Simcoe died from pneumonia on 15 May 1759.

Simcoe's widow, Catherine, moved from Northamptonshire, taking her two surviving sons to live in Exeter in Devon where she had friends. The younger boy, Percy, died in 1764 and Catherine Simcoe died in 1767 leaving John Graves Simcoe as the only surviving member of the family.

John Graves Simcoe was born on 25 February 1752, at Cotterstock, his middle name honouring his godfather Samuel Graves. The young Simcoe attended the Free Grammar School in Exeter, and, in 1766, he entered Eton College. After Catherine's death in 1766, Graves looked after his godson. Simcoe moved on to Merton College, Oxford in 1769, but had returned home to Exeter by 1770. He entered the army in April 1770 and was stationed at Plymouth.

In 1775, he was promoted to captain and sailed to North America in 1776, landing on Staten Island, New York in July 1776. In June 1778, he was granted the provisional rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and on the 19th of December 1781, his rank was made permanent.

Simcoe returned to England and, on 30 December 1782, married Elizabeth Posthuma Gwillim at Buckerell in Devon. Elizabeth was the niece of Samuel Graves. Graves's first wife had died and, in 1769, Graves had married Margaret Spinkes from Aldwinkle in Northamptonshire (just a few kilometres from Cotterstock). Margaret's sister, Elizabeth, had died giving birth to young Elizabeth Posthuma in 1762 and as the father, Thomas Gwillim, had also died, Samuel Graves raised his niece.

Elizabeth was very wealthy in her own right and the Simcoes purchased an estate at Wolford near Honiton in Devon and close to the Graves. They built Wolford Lodge, which remained in family hands until 1923, and enlarged and improved the estate over the next few years.

In 1790, Simcoe was promoted to Colonel and was also elected to Parliament as MP for St. Mawes in Cornwall. The next year, he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the new province of Upper Canada and he sailed for Quebec in September 1791. Simcoe remained in Canada for five years and left the colony in July 1796. He accepted a new position in San Domingo as Civil Governor and, in 1797, Simcoe took up his new post. However, he only lasted eight months and returned to England. On 26 February 1798, he was appointed Lieutenant of the County of Devon, and in the following October was gazetted Lieutenant-General. By 1806, Simcoe was in poor health and he died on 26 October in Exeter. He was buried at the Wolford Chapel on the family estate near Honiton. Simcoe and his wife had eleven children. Elizabeth died in 1850.

The survey group from on board HMS Pembroke was remembered when a lake in northern Ontario was named Lake Simcoe after John Simcoe. A river flowing into it is called the Holland River after Samuel Holland, while the place where it enters Lake Simcoe is Cook Bay after the explorer.


John Wheelock

John Wheelock took over as captain of HMS Pembroke in mid May 1759 following the death of the previous captain, John Simcoe. The Pembroke was part of the British fleet advancing up the St. Lawrence River to attack the French stronghold of Quebec. On board the Pembroke as master was James Cook.

Wheelock had been made a lieutenant on 26 June 1741 during the War of Austrian Succession. He served on the Duke, a fireship, between 1746 and 1751, even taking charge in the absence of Captain Coleman for several months in 1746. Following several years of peace and near the beginning of the Seven Years War, he was promoted to commander on 19 February 1756. He had command of the Fly sloop during 1756 and into 1757. Wheelock made captain on 21 December 1757 and was given command of HMS Squirrel.

Wheelock left the Squirrel to take over on HMS Pembroke in 1759. He remained with the ship after the fall of Quebec when Cook moved to HMS Northumberland. The Pembroke sailed to the West Indies and Wheelock was still in Jamaica and Cuba in 1763. In February 1764, they were back at Portsmouth.

In 1769, Wheelock had command of HMS Achilles, at that time, a guard-ship at Portsmouth. From there he moved in 1771 to HMS Modeste. In 1778, Wheelock and HMS Sultan, his latest ship, were part of Admiral Byron's fleet that left Plymouth on 09 June bound to New York. In December, the British sailed south to the West Indies following d'Estaing and French fleet.

Wheelock died in early 1779 and his will was proven in London on 20 March 1779. His brother, Anthony Wheelock of Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight was executor and one beneficiary. The other beneficiary in a codicil of the will was Mary Davis from Alverstoke, next to Gosport. Anthony Wheelock died in London two years later. The brothers were descendants of Abraham Wheelock. They may have been the sons of Bryan Wheelock, who worked at the Board of Trade in London. He was a clerk there from 1700 to 1714 and then deputy secretary to the Board until his death in 1735.


Links to other pages

The following links lead to other pages with further information.

John Robson's Captain Cook pages Captain James Cook on the Eagle