Born into a labouring family in Yorkshire in 1728, James Cook would enjoy a swift rise through the ranks of the Navy and thanks to his acute mathematical and mapping skills was soon offered command of his own ship.
In 1768 he was offered the position to captain the 'Endeavour Bark' and he traversed the east coast of Terra Australis on their first voyage in 1770. It would be on Cook's recommendation and glowing accounts of the fertile land he found at Botany Bay that English convicts would be sent to establish a penal colony in Australia in 1778.
His three voyages in the Endeavour would have him discover and chart several islands including Tahiti, Hawaii and a circumnavigation of New Zealand. He was killed during his third voyage of the Pacific after a fight with the native Hawaiians in 1779.