Cook Navigation Manuscript

Scope and Content

This is a paper manuscript consisting of 20 folios. It is entitled 'Directions for sailing from the harbour of Halifax to Quebec, by James Cook, Master of His Majesty's Ship Northumberland'. The text is written in Cook's hand throughout. Pasted into the manuscript is a table showing latitude and longitude of capes, etc.; and also a list of names, mostly of native chiefs.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Cook was born in November 1728 in Marton in Cleveland. He became an apprentice to some shipowners in Whitby. In 1759 he became master of his own ship, the Northumberland. The following winter, while laid up in Halifax, he studied mathematics and attained a sound knowledge of astronomical navigation. Cook went on to become an eminent circumnavigator. He made many geographical discoveries, including establishing knowledge of the Southern Pacific. He also managed to keep a crew at sea without serious losses from sickness and death, which was unusual at that time. Cook was killed by natives of Hawaii, in 1779.

Conditions Governing Access

Accessible to all registered researchers

Acquisition Information


Other Finding Aids

'A Descriptive Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Library of University College London', by Dorothy K. Coveney, London, 1935.


'James Cook's manuscript sailing directions in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and the St Lawrence River', by Andrew David, 1979.

Geographical Names