Lt James Cook
It’s safe to say, I think, that most, if not all people with a smattering of history or interest in it, have read or heard something about Captain Cook and his voyage of discovery aboard “HMB Endeavour“. At the time of his epic voyage he was but a lowly lieutenant (pronounced leftenent; we English are a weird lot but at least we know how to speak and pronounce our own words) but as he was given command of the ship he was the ‘Captain’.
Now that I’ve got that little lot sorted I thought perhaps I’d write a little about some other members of the ships company. The Royal Navy’s have ships companies or complements never crew, and that’s something else sorted! And to start I’ve selected the youngest man aboard when the ”Endeavour’ sailed, one Isaac George Manley.
Those of you inclined to Google every unfamiliar name like me will find that Wikipedia have got a little about young Isaac but the information is incorrect as to his position on the ship; they state that on the voyage he ‘ as a teenager had been a naval officer with Capt. Cook on the first voyage of the ‘Endeavour’ ; nothing could be further from the truth.
Young Isaac signed on at the ripe old age of 12 years as the Master’s servant, couldn’t get much lower than that; as an indication of what his job entailed; first job in the morning was to empty the Masters chamber pot. The senior members of the ships company and Mr. Bank’s party had the use of chamber pots, the seaman and Marines used the “pissdale’s” (that is the correct term for the urinals dotted about the upper deck of the ship) and it was the job of lowly seaman like Isaac to empty them.
Now the Master is not to be confused with the captain, he was not a commissioned officer as such but his work did encompass commissioned officer duties; in fact he did much more than the officers; barring the captain; and is well worthy of his own post.
During the voyage home to England Isaac was appointed Midshipman (5th February 1771) and then went on to a fairly successful career in the Royal Navy, seeing fighting service against the French slowly climbing through the officer ranks eventually rising to the rank of Admiral of the Red. But not successful enough to warrant a knighthood.
He died in 1837 aged 82; the last surviving member of Cooks first great voyage of discovery.