Cooks Senior American: John Gore

Lt. John Gore Gore

Lieutenant John Gore was the most senior of the three American born seaman/sailors aboard the “Endeavour” on Cook’s first voyage in 1768. Not too much is known about Gore‘s early life. He is believed to have been born in Virginia around 1729/30. He joined the Royal Navy in 1755 as a Midshipman, which is/was an advanced age for a Midshipman; usually they started around the 13/14 year mark. (see Blog Lt James Cook aka Capt Cook).

In 1760 he took the lieutenants exams, and was appointed Masters Mate aboard the HMS Dolphin, and circumnavigated the world twice before being called to serve upon the “Endeavour” , he became invaluable to Cook on the voyage because of his experience and knowledge of Tahiti and also the Pacific Ocean.

Being an American he was pretty handy with a gun (and they hadn’t had their ‘Revolution’ yet) and became the first person recorded as having shot and killed a person of Maori descent whilst the ship was charting New Zealand; he then went on to become the first person to shoot and kill a kangaroo whilst charting the east coast of Nieuw Holland (Australia).

Cook called on Gore to join him aboard the HMS “Resolution”  for his third and final voyage to the Pacific to try to find the ‘Northwest Passage’. For this voyage Gore was  first lieutenant to Cook; and it was he that eventually  sailed  the ships of the expedition home to England with the news of the death of Cook in the Sandwich Islands; Hawaii!

It was 1780 by the time Gore brought the ships home and he learned that his country of birth had declared its independence. He stayed on in the Royal Navy and was promoted to Post-Captain for his achievement in bringing the ships safely home. He died 10 years later at Greenwich, in Captain Cooks old rooms aged 60. He had circumnavigated the world four times; which in those days was some achievement .

His son John also joined the Royal Navy and rose to the rank of Rear Admiral, he also became one of the first free settlers in New South Wales, Australia in 1834.

2 thoughts on “Cooks Senior American: John Gore

  1. Brian, so Gore remained a Loyalist and didn’t become a citizen of the new republic?


    1. Yes Neill, as did his son, who became an early Aussie, thereby keeping up the family connection with this country, his father helped find it and he helped settle it. Next time you’re on duty in the midimates mess you can impart this bit of useless info to the admiring throng of visitors to the ship. Gore always seems a sad sort of bloke to me, he wanted to join the navy and as the colonies didn’t have one he had to join the RN, and then after doing those voyages with Cook arrive back in England only to find his own country of birth had split. You must wonder how he felt, loyalty to his king as well as loyalty to the country of his birth must have been a hard sad time for the man. He was obviously a fine sailor else why would Cook seek him out as his Number One (first office) on the Resolution.


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