Chris Scott Wilson                   Writer                                             


It has  also been written he spent some of his leisure time in fishing cobles, and it was likely at Staithes he began to acquire skills that would later pay dividend. After eighteen months at the shop, the situation aggravated by a misunderstanding over a newly minted South Sea Company shilling which James took from the till in exchange for one from his pocket, he reached the conclusion his career lay at sea. Obviously satisfied with the explanation about the shilling, Sanderson took Cook to see one of his friends at Whitby.

    John Walker and his brother Henry were Quaker ship owners who lived in Whitby’s Grape Lane. It has also been speculated Cook stayed at a house in Haggersgate but this belonged to John Walker's younger cousin, also called John and also a master mariner. A stroll around the cemetery at St Mary’s church on  west cliff reveals many headstones bearing the Walker name. Their ships were cat-barks, and it was on Freelove that Cook was introduced to the sailor’s life, entering an agreement that bound him to John Walker as a ‘three years servant’. The Walkers, like many ship-owners, made a practice of laying up their vessels for the winter rather than risk them when the sea’s temper was at its worst. When Freelove wintered at her home port, Cook worked aboard during the day helping with routine maintenance and overhaul, but he lived ashore with the Walkers at their Grape   Lane   House.   On   the   opposite   side   of   the

...more Captain Cook, Man of the Sea


Grape Lane, Whitby, also known as 'Grope Lane' because there was little streetlighting at night. The house bearing the white plaque on the right was the Walkers' house where Cook lived.


Formed in 1711, the South Sea Company was a joint stock venture intended to reduce national debt, and granted a monopoly to trade with South American Spanish colonies. The company barely made a profit, but the possibility of vast potential returns enticed speculators to trade heavily in company shares, grossly inflating their value. The bubble burst in 1720 and the shares bottomed, resulting in fortunes being lost. Although many banks and some companies issued their own currency, the S.S. mark on a general issue shilling shows the silver used by the mint came from the South Sea company.

The South Sea Bubble

The South Sea Bubble