Captain James Cook, R.N., the Circumnavigator, was by birth a Yorkshireman, a native of the district of Cleveland, 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, and might also be one of Edward Cooke's progeny, though it has been alleged his family came from Scotland." Nichols's chief reason for making this suggestion seems to have been the possession by a branch of this Stockton family, of a crayon portrait of some relation which was supposed to resemble the great discoverer in features and expression. He does not attempt to explain the fact that James Cook and all his family invariably spelt their name without the final e, which the Stockton Cookes as invariably use.
The opinion of those of Cook's contemporaries, who had been in actual contact with him or his family, was that his father was either a Northumbrian or a Scotsman, and it would appear most probable that the last is correct. Dr George Young, a former vicar of Whitby,
who published a "Life of Cook" in 1836, went to that place about 1805, and claims to have obtained much information "through intercourse with his relatives, friends, and acquaintances, including one or two surviving school companions." He is undoubtedly the most reliable authority on Cook's early years, if not the only one, and he appears thoroughly satisfied that Cook was of Scotch extraction.
This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF. Works published before 1923, in this case 1907, are now in the public domain. and also in countries that figure copyright from the date of death of the artist (post mortem auctoris) in this case (Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland, 1st Baronet May 8, 1735 – October 15, 1811) and that most commonly run for a period of 50 to 70 years from december 31 of that date.
Dr George Johnston, usually a most careful writer, states in his book, "The Natural History of the Eastern Borders," that in the year 1692, at the time when the father of James Thompson, the author of "The Seasons," was the minister of Ednam in Roxburghshire, a man named John Cook was one of the elders of the kirk. This John Cook married, on the 19th of January 1693, a woman of the name of Jean Duncan, by whom he had a son, James, baptized on 4th March 1694, and this child, Johnston positively asserts, was afterwards the father of the future Captain James Cook.
These entries of the marriage and baptism have been verified by the Rev. John Burleigh, minister of Ednam in the year 1898, and it may be pointed out that the date of the baptism of the child James Cook agrees with the probable date of the birth of Captain Cook's father, for he died on 1st April 1778, in his eighty-fifth year. In the course of time young James left Ednam to "better himself," but owing to the whole of the church records being missing for some years after 1698, Mr Burleigh is unable to trace the time of his departure; he, however, thinks that it is almost certain that young Cook would take away with him a "testificate of church-membership," and, in that case, it is possible, though perhaps not very probable, that such testificate may still exist.