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Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Captain Cook letter found
Replica of Endeavour
Cook's crew endured great hardship
A letter from Captain James Cook to the Admiralty after his first epic voyage to Australia has been discovered on the back of a picture frame after more than 200 years.

The letter, valued at 20,000, was found attached to a frame in the library of Brancaster Hall in Norfolk.


I have made it and I am nearly home

Captain Cook's letter to the Admiralty

The handwritten note, letting the Admiralty know he had returned safely, is believed to have been written by Captain Cook on his ship Endeavour on his return to England in 1777.

It was penned at the end of his historical three-year voyage to chart the coasts of New Zealand, East Australia and Tahiti.


It is almost the equivalent of the Star Trek crew returning to Earth

David Park of Bonhams

The letter was found by a valuer from Bonham's auction house.

Bonhams' head of books and manuscripts David Park said: "There must have been a great deal of satisfaction for Cook in writing such a letter to the Admiralty saying `I have made it and I am nearly home'.

"It is almost the equivalent of the Star Trek crew returning to Earth."

The opportunity to send a letter during the voyage was virtually "non-existent" and would have depended on him seeing another vessel going in the right direction and handing it over for delivery, added Mr Park.

He believed that the letter was probably passed to a small Kent fishing boat a few miles off the English coast and then relayed to the Admiralty in London.

It recalls the hardship endured by the Endeavour's crew which was almost halved by malaria and dysentery.

With the letter was a bill sent by Captain Cook to the Treasury for ship supplies on a later expedition.

The bill is expected to fetch 4,000 at Bonham's in December.

Yorkshire connections

It is not known how the letter or the bill reached Brancaster Hall but ancestors of the Simms-Adams family, who own the house, had connections with Whitby in North Yorkshire, where Captain Cook first became interested in ships.

The Endeavour set off from Plymouth in 1768 and sailed around Cape Horn and into the Pacific until it reached Tahiti.

From there, Cook observed the transit of the planet Venus across the sun.

On leaving Tahiti, Cook sailed to the North Island of New Zealand and east coast of Australia and discovered Botany Bay, near what is now Sydney.


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30 Aug 02 | England
20 Aug 02 | Entertainment
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