Henry Roberts (1756–1796)
Roberts was an officer in the Royal Navy who served with Captain Cook on his last two voyages.
Roberts served as lieutenant on Cook's HMS Discovery, where he was entrusted with many hydrographic and cartographic tasks, and also met then-midshipman George Vancouver. Roberts spent many years after that voyage preparing the detailed charts that went into Cook's posthumous Atlas. He was also on Cook's HMS Resolution where he was to make a painting of the ship. In 1790, Roberts was appointed commander of the newly built HMS Discovery on another round-the-world voyage with George Vancouver as his first lieutenant. However, the Nootka Crisis called both men to duty elsewhere, and upon its resolution, Vancouver was given command of the historic voyage. Roberts died on 25 August 1796, Captain of HMS Undaunted in the West Indies, where he contracted yellow fever.
James Cook (1728–1779)
Cook was the most important navigator of the Age of Enlightenment, a period that saw the mystery of the Southland resolved, the discovery of New Zealand, Hawaii, numerous Pacific Islands and confirmation that a Northwest Passage did not exist.
Cook was born in Yorkshire, England, the son of a Scottish labourer and apprenticeship for three years under John Walker, a Quaker coal-shipper of Whitby. In 1755 Walker offered him a command, but instead Cook joined HMS Eagle and within a month was master's mate. After two years on the Channel service, he was promoted master of the Pembroke, and in 1758 crossed the Atlantic in her and took part in the siege of Louisburg and the survey of the St Lawrence River that led to the capture of Quebec. Returning to England in 1762 he married Elizabeth Batts (1742-1832?) of Shadwell, whom he was to rarely see in the ensuing years at sea.
Cook then famously commanded three voyages that ended with his death on the island of Hawaii on 14 February 1779.