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"Well, sir, he's very intelligent and ambitious. His knowledge of seamanship is second-to-none! And if I trust my favourite barmaid in Halifax, he also just became captain of his own man-o-war. He's also an expert at deciphering secret codes... A man with such a skill is certainly an asset to our cause."
―Christopher Gist describing Cook to Shay Cormac, 1758.[src]

James Cook (1728 – 1779) was a British explorer, cartographer, navigator and captain in the Royal Navy, as well as an unwitting ally of the Templar Order. During the Seven Years' War, he served as master of HMS Pembroke and participated in the Siege of Louisbourg, the Siege of Quebec City, and the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.


Early life

On 7 November 1728, Cook was born in the village of Marton in Yorkshire, the second of eight children. At the age of sixteen, he moved to the fishing village of Staithes and later took on an apprenticeship in the merchant navy. During this time, Cook studied algebra, geometry, navigation, and astronomy, which would serve him well during his naval career.[1]

Seven Years' War

Cook: "Sailing with you is certainly... interesting."
Gist: "Trouble does seem to find us, it's true."
—Cook on his adventures with Shay and Gist, 1760.[src]

After rising through the ranks of the merchant navy, Cook volunteered for service in the Royal Navy.[1] In late 1757, he was made master of HMS Pembroke and sent to the Colonies, where he made the acquaintance of frontiersman and Templar Christopher Gist. While Gist and his fellow Templars considered Cook a valuable asset to their cause, they elected to keep him in the dark regarding the Order's existence, believing the man's character to be too honest to adequately keep secrets.[2]

Cook being introduced to Shay

In June 1758, Cook discovered that the French planned to launch a preemptive attack against the Royal Navy fleet and turn the tide in the Siege of Louisbourg. Once Gist and his allies had been notified, they set out to defeat the French ships, with Shay Cormac taking the helm of HMS Pembroke. After facing several fireships, they were able to destroy the reinforcements, allowing the Royal Navy to continue unimpeded and launch a decisive offensive on the Fortress of Louisbourg.[2]

Following the Siege of Louisbourg, Cook was called on to track down Adéwalé, the captain of the Experto Crede. Successful in this endeavor, he informed his friends that their target resided at the fort on Île des Pins, after which he departed.[2] In the next year, Cook participated in the Siege of Quebec City and the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. During this time, he also began mapping the coast of Newfoundland, which caught the attention of the Admiralty and the Royal Society, and launched his career as an explorer.[1]

Later on, Cook encountered Shay once again at Percé. When asked whether he knew anything about Louis-Joseph Gaultier, Chevalier de la Vérendrye, Cook told Shay that the man had departed for Anticosti Island a few days earlier. Cook also offered his assistance in any future matters, which Shay soon took him up on, having found encrypted maps of de la Vérendrye that detailed the man's course.[2]

Cook questioning Shay and Gist's allegiance

At Shay's request, Cook joined him and Gist on the Morrigan to track down de la Vérendrye. They subsequently became embroiled in a battle with de la Vérendrye's Man O' War, the Gerfaut, and her escorts.[2]

After de la Vérendrye had been dealt with, Cook questioned whether Shay Cormac and Gist were part of a larger group, but mistakenly assumed they received orders from the King, rather than a secret organization. Before Cook departed, Shay gave him de la Vérendrye's maps and promised him his patrons would contact Cook regarding the sponsoring of future voyages.[2]

Search for the Northwest Passage

After several voyages, Cook retired, yet in 1776, he volunteered to find the Northwest Passage, a sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that had been sought for centuries. However, despite his expertise and extensive research, he failed in this objective, encountering nothing but icebergs.[3]

Personality and characteristics

"The man has an annoying habit of strict honesty and a total lack of anything resembling guile. Makes it a little hard to keep secret business secret, especially when his mathematical brain is clever at cracking codes."
―Gist on Cook's character, 1758.[src]

Highly intelligent and skilled as navigator, Cook nonetheless remained a man of humble character. Still, when it came to sailing, he was not content with merely traveling to areas that had already been well-mapped, such as the West Indies. Cook demonstrated a passion for exploring uncharted territory, as demonstrated by his interest when Shay mentioned the possibility of a landmass being located east of Madagascar.[2]

While amiable and always willing to aid Shay whenever the two crossed paths, he was reportedly incapable of keeping secrets. This lack of competence when it came to deception was the chief reason that Gist and the other Templars decided to keep the captain in the dark about their true allegiance.[2]