James Cook was born on 27th October 1728 at Marton-in-Cleveland, the village now almost swallowed as a suburb of Middlesbrough in the heart of Cleveland. His father was also called James Cook and came originally from Kelso in Scotland. He married Grace Pace at Stainton-in-Cleveland and worked as a farm labourer on a Mr. Mewburn’s farm, the Cook family living in a small cottage at Marton. In the village church, St. Cuthbert’s, on 3rd November 1728 their second son was christened James.
James Cook senior was later employed as farm manager or bailiff at Airyholme Farm, Great Ayton, a few miles further inland from Marton. The owner of Airyholme, Thomas Scottowe, showed concern for young James and consequently became his patron, sponsoring him at the village school. At that time education was non-compulsory; only for those who could afford it. The schoolmaster, Mr. Pullen, had ample opportunity to study the boy placed under his charge in the tiny room where lessons were given. He soon observed young Cook to be strong on mathematics.
above: The type of cottage in which James Cook was born at Marton-in-Cleveland
below: The school Cook attended in Great Ayton
inset : The inscription above the doorway