Captain Cook had links with Staithes and Whitby. His famous voyages were recorded in his own journal. This article includes some extracts from his second visit to the Island of Tahiti.
"We proceeded further, and came to a chief who I shall call Lycurgus; this man entertained us with broil'd fish, coconuts, etc with great hospitality, and all the time took great care to tell us to take care to our pockets, as a great number of people had crowded about us. Notwithstanding the care that we took, Dr Solander and Mr Monkhouse had each of them their pockets picked: The one his spy glass and the other of his snuff box. As soon as the Lycurgus was made acquainted with the theft he dispers'd the people in a moment, and the method he made use of was to lay hold on the first thing that came his way and throw it at them, ad happy was he or she that could get first out of the way. He seem's very much concern'd for what hapned, and by way of recompence offered us but everything that was in his house; but we refused to accept of anything, and made signs to him that we only had wanted the things again. He had already sent people out after them, and it was not long before they were returned...
A hog weighing about 90lb was brought alongside the ship for sale, but those who brought it would not part with it for anything we could offer them but a carpenter's broad axe, and this was what we could not part with; they carried it away. Thus we see those very people but 2 years ago prefer'd a spike Nail to an axe of any sort, have so far learnt the use of them that they will not part with a pig of 10 or 12lb's weight for anything under a hatchet, and even those of an inferior small sort are of no great esteem with them, and small nails such as 10d, 20d or any under 40d are of no value at all; but beads, particularly white cut glass beads, are much valued by them..."
This morning Tootaha came on board the ship, and was very desireous of seeing into every chest and drawer that was in the cabin. I satisfied his curiosity so far as to open most of those that belong'd to me. He saw several things that he took fancy too, and collected them together; but at last he cast his eyes upon the adze I had from Mr Stephens that was made in imitation of their stone adzes or axes. The moment he lays his hands upon it he of his own accord put away everything he had got before, and asked me if I would give him that, which I very readily did, and he went away asking for not any one thing more, which I knew by experience knew was a sure sign he was well pleased with what he got..."
"...This day one of the natives, who appeared to be a chief, dined with us, as he had done some days before; but then there was always some women present and one or the other of them put the victuals into his mouth, but this day there hapned to be none to perform this office. When he wasn't help'd to victuals and desir'd to eat, he sat in the chair like a statute, without once attempting to put a morcel into his mouth, and would certainly have gone without his dinner if one of the servants had not fed him. "
One day an astronomical quadrant was stolen. Captain Cook decided that action had to be taken. He was going to capture several canoes and even thought of arresting chiefs until the items were returned. He found that the chief Tootaha was actively looking for the item. Yet due to misunderstandings the chief had already been detained.
"The scene between Toobouratomita and Tootaha; when the former came into the fort and found the latter in custody was really moving. They wept openly over each other for some time. As for Tootaha, he was so far prepossessed with the thought that he was to be kill'd that he could not be made sencible to the contrary till he was carried out of the fort to the people, many of whom expressed their joy by embracing him; and, after all, he would not go away until he had given us two hogs, notwithstanding we did all in our poweer to hinder him, for it is very certain that the treatment he had met from us did not merit such a reward."
The natives were spotted with items which were clearly not traded with the Cooks ship. It was obvious that some other ship had visited the Island. Captain Cook attempted to get information about these other ships.
"This day Mr Banks and I took Tootouratomita on board the ship and show'd him the print containing the colours worne by the ships of different nations, and very soon made him understand waht we wanted to know which of them was worn by the ships that were at Ohidea. He at once pitched upon the Spanish flag and would by no means admit any other."
Yesterday complaint was made to me by some of the natives that John Thurman and James Nicholson, seamen had taken by force from them some several bows and arrows and plaited hair, and the fact been proved on them they were this day punished with 2 dozen lashes each.
Between 2 and 4 o'clock this morning, one of the natives stole out of the fort an iron rake, made use of for the oven. It hapned to be set up against the wall, and by that means was visible from the outside, and had been seen by them in the evening, as a man had been seen lurking about the fort some hours before the thing was missed. I was informed by some of the natives that he watch'd an opportunity when the centinel's back was turned, he hooked it with a long crooked stick, and haled it over the wall. When I became to be informed of this theft in the morning I resolved to recover it by some means or other, and accordingly went and took possession of all canoes of any value I could meet with, and brought them into the river behind the fort to the number of 22, and told the natives then present (most of them being the owners of the canoes) that unless the principal things they stol'n from us were restored I would burn every one, not that I intended to put this in execution, and yet I was very displeased with them, as they were daily commiting, or attempting to commit, one theft or other, when at the same time - contrary to the opinion of everybody, I would not suffer them to be fir'd upon, for this would have been putting it in the power of the centinels to have fir'd upon them upon the most slitest occasion, as I had experienced before.
- The Journal of Captain Cook, Scarborough Library.
To read more about Captain James Cook see: http://www.cookmuseumwhitby.co.uk/