James Cook, the Circumnavigator, was a native of the district of Cleveland, Yorkshire, but of his ancestry there is now very little satisfactory information to be obtained. Nichols, in his Topographer and Genealogist, suggests that "James Cooke, the celebrated mariner, was probably of common origin with the Stockton Cookes." His reason for the suggestion being that a branch of the family possessed a crayon portrait of some relation, which was supposed to resemble the great discoverer. He makes no explanation of the difference in spelling of the two names, and admits that the sailor's family was said to come from Scotland.
Dr. George Young, certainly the most reliable authority on Cook's early years, who published a Life in 1836, went to Whitby as Vicar about 1805, and claims to have obtained much information about his subject "through intercourse with his relatives, friends, and acquaintances, including one or two surviving school companions," and appears to be satisfied that Cook was of Scotch extraction. Dr. George Johnston, a very careful writer, states in his Natural History of the Eastern Borders, that in 1692 the father of James Thomson, the author of The Seasons, was minister of Ednam, Roxburghshire, and a man named John Cook