This is a transcript of the will of British explorer and naval officer Captain James Cook (1728 - 1779). His will was dated 14 June 1776 and proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 24 January 1780.
The text of the will is based on the original will, as signed by Cook, held by the National Archives (UK) in its collection of wills of famous people: see PROB 1/17. A registered copy of the will is also available in the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury: see PROB 11/1060/263.
The original spelling, capitalisation and punctuation have been retained.
In the Name of God Amen
I James Cook Commander pf His Majesty’s Sloop the Resolution — being of sound and disposing mind memory and understanding (praise be to God) Do make and publish this my last will and Testament in the manner following (that is to say) First my will is that all my Just Debts and funeral expences be fully paid and satisfied and after payment thereof I do hereby give and Bequeath to my dear Father Mr James Cook of Redcar in the County of York for and during his natural Life one Annuity or clear yearly Sum of Ten pounds ten shillings to be paid and payable to him by my Executrix and Trustees hereinafter named half yearly by even and equal portions at Michaelmas and Lady Day the first payment to begin and be made on such of those feasts which shall first and next happen after my Death and I do charge and make chargeable the whole of my Real and personal Estates with the payment thereof accordingly Also I give to my Dear and loving Wife Elizabeth Cook all my Leasehold Messuage Tenement and premises with the appurtenances wherein I now Dwell situate and being in Mile-end old Town in the County of Middlesex for the term of her natural Life and after her Decease I give the same to all my Children whether borne in my life time or in Due time after my Death in equal Shares and proportions Also I give to each of my Sisters Christiana Cocker and margaret Fleck the sum or Legacy of ten pounds and I give to my good Friends Thomas Dyall of Mile end old Town aforesaid Gentleman and Richard Wise of Rumford in the County of Essex Gentleman ten pounds a piece as a mark of the great Regard I have for them and as to all the rest residue and remainder of my real and personal Estates of what nature and kind soever the same shall happen to be at the time of my Decease I give Devise and bequeath one third part thereof unto my said Wife Elizabeth Cook for her own proper use and Benefit for ever And I give Devise and bequeath the remaining two third parts thereof unto my said Wife and unto the said Thomas Dyall and Richard Wise To hold to them and the Survivors and Survivor of them his her or their Executors Administrators or Assigns In Trust nevertheless for the use and Benefit of all and every my Child and Children whether born in my Life time or in due time after my Decease, in equal Shares and proportions and my will is that their portion and portions shall be placed out at Interest upon Government or such other Securities as my said Trustees or the Survivors or Survivor of them shall think fit untill such time and times as the same shall become payable as herein after is Mentioned that is to say my Will is and I do hereby Direct that the portion and portions of such of them as shall be a Son or Sons shall be paid to him or them at his or their age or ages of Twenty one years and of such of them as shall be a Daughter or Daughters upon her or their attaining the age of Twenty one years or upon the Day or Days of her or their Marriage or Marriages which shall first happen Provided Nevertheless such Marriage be had with the Consent of my said Wife but not otherwise Provided also And I do hereby give full power and authority unto my said Trustees and the Survivors or Survivor of them his her or their Executors and Administrators to apply such part of the portion or portions of my said Children till the same shall become payable in placing him her or them out apprentice or apprentices or otherwise in their advancement in the world as they in their Discretion shall think fit and in the mean time I order and Direct that the Interest Dividends and produce of their said portions be paid and applied in and towards their Maintenance and Education respectively And my Will is and I do hereby Declare that if any or either of my said Children shall happen to Die before his her or their portion or portions shall become payable
Then the portion or portions of him her or them so Dying or so much thereof as shall remain unapplied for the purpose aforesaid shall go to the Survivor and Survivors of them and shall be paid and payable to him her or them in such and the same manner as his her and their Original portion or portions is and are made payable as aforesaid Also my Will is that my said Trustees shall not be answerable or accountable for any Loss that may happen in placing out my said Estates as aforesaid or otherwise howsoever unless such Loss shall be occasioned by or through their Wilful Default or Neglect And that they shall not be answerable the one for the other of them but each of them for his her and their own act and Deed only And I do also Direct that they shall be Indemnified of from and against all Costs and Damages which they shall sustain by Reason or on account of the Trust hereby Reposed in them And I do hereby Nominate Constitute and appoint my said Wife and the said Thomas Dyall and Richard Wise Joint Executrix and Executors of this my Will and Trustees on behalf of my said Children And hereby Revoking all former Wills I Declare this to be my last Will and Testament In Witness whereof I have to this my last Will and Testament Consisting of two Sheets of paper set my hand to the first Sheet and my hand and Seal to the last Sheet thereof This Fourteenth Day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy six
| Signed sealed published and Declared by the said Testator as and for his last will and Testament Consisting of two Sheets of paper in the presence of us who at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other have Subscribed our Names as Witnesses to the Due Execution thereof|
Alex Bassett Clemts Inn
Nathl: Austen, Joseph Neeld Clks to Mr Bassett
This is written at the bottom of the second page of the original will in PROB 1/17:
20th January 1780
Elizabeth Cook Widow the Relict of the deceased and Thomas Dyall two of the Executors above named were duly sworn (power reserved of making the like grant to Richard Wise the other Executor whenever he shall apply for the same
And: Coltee Ducarel
15th March 1780
Richard Wise the other Executor was duly sworn
And: Coltee Ducarel
Testator was late of the Parish of Saint Dunstan Stepney in the County of Middlesex but Commander of His Majesty’s Sloop Resolution and died in February 1779
At the bottom of the registered copy of the will in PROB 11/1060/263 is:
This Will was proved at London the twenty fourth day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty before the Worshipfull Andrew Coltee Ducarel Doctor of Laws Surrogate of the Right Worshipful Peter Calvert Doctor of Laws Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted by the oaths of Elizabeth Cook Widow the Relict of the deceased and Thomas Dyall two of the Executors named in the said Will to whom administration of all and singular the Goods Chattels and Credits of the said deceased was granted having been first sworn duly to administer Power reserved of making the like Grant to Richard Wise the other Executor named in the said Will when he shall apply for the same.
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