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James Cook was born on Nov. 7, 1728 in Marton, Yorkshire, England and was baptized on Nov. 14th of the same year.
At 18, he became a merchant navy apprentice for coal shippers. In 1755, only a few months before earning command of his own ship, he volunteered for service in the Royal Navy.
Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.
It was on 22 August 1770, on Possession Island, a small island in the Torres Strait Islands group off the coast of far northern Queensland, Australia, known as Bedanug or Bedhan Lag by the indigenous Australian inhabitants, the Kaurareg people, that Captain James Cook claimed possession of the whole of the eastern coast of Australia. 
In his journal he wrote:
"Having satisfied myself of the great Probability of a passage, thro’ which I intend going with the Ship, and therefore may land no more upon this Eastern coast of New Holland, and on the Western side I can make no new discovery, the honour of which belongs to the Dutch Navigators, but the Eastern Coast from the Latitude of 38 degrees South down to this place, I am confident, was never seen or Visited by any European before us; and notwithstanding I had in the Name of his Majesty taken possession of several places upon this Coast, I now once More hoisted English Colours, and in the Name of His Majesty King George the Third took possession of the whole Eastern coast from the above Latitude down to this place by the Name of New Wales, together with all the Bays, Harbours, Rivers, and Islands, situated upon the said Coast; after which we fired 3 Volleys of small Arms, which were answer’d by the like number from the Ship." .
In 2001, the Kaurareg people successfully claimed native title rights over the island (and other nearby islands). .
On his third exploratory voyage in 1779, Cook was attacked and killed while attempting to kidnap Kalaniʻōpuʻu, the Ali'i (native chief) of Hawai'i (the island), in a bid to exchange him for a stolen long boat. 
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