Posts Tagged ‘Captain Cook’

Lord Sandwich

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

John Mantagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792)  The 4th Earl of Sandwich waLord Sandwich by Thomas Gainsboroughs a man of ambition who combined a political career with a life-long interest in the Navy and all things maritime.  First Lord of the Admiralty on three occasions, reformer of naval dockyards and supporter of voyages of discovery,  Lord Sandwich was friend and patron of Captain James Cook.

Having completed his education and the customary Grand Tour of Europe, Sandwich took his seat in the House of Lords in 1744, joining the Board of Admiralty in 1744.  Becoming First Lord of the Admiralty in 1748, he worked closely with Admiral George Anson to tackle the state of the naval dockyards.  Sandwich was the first head of the Admiralty to actually visit the dockyards in nearly a century.

Losing his office in 1751 due to shifting political alliances, Sandwich was reinstated in 1771 and remained until 1782.  He was in office when Cook returned from his first voyage aboard the Endeavour (1769-72).  Impressed by Cook’s achievements, the 4th Earl was one of the few people to recognise Cook as the true leader of the expedition, rather than the publicity-hungry botanist Joseph Banks.  Sandwich backed Cook’s proposal of embarking on a second voyage – this time to seek out the Great Southern Continent.   Cook always acknowledged his debt to the Earl, asserting that without Sandwich’s action and support, the second voyage would never have taken place.

When Cook returned from his second voyage, Sandwich saw that he was justly rewarded by promoting him to the rank of Captain.  He then spent considerable time overseeing the publication of the official accounts of Cook’s voyages.  A man of huge charm, Sandwich was happy mixing with the company of all sorts of men, and was particularly willing to promote men of humble origin or obscure background, to back their professional expertise against better-born but not technically expert superiors.

Nevertheless, the 4th Earl has sometimes been represented as a man of colourful reputation,  described as a rake and gambler by Victorian historians.  Whilst Sandwich certainly gambled, this was unavoidable in polite society at the time, and the Earl appears to have been restrained in the sums he bet.  The Earl’s fondness for gambling has given rise to an interesting creation story for the infamous household snack which shares his name.  The Earl apparently invented the ‘sandwich’ due to his reluctance to quit the gambling table for dinner!  Whilst there is no evidence to prove this,  the common sandwich is certainly named after the 4th Earl,  who most likely ate slices of cold salt-beef between toasted bread at his writing-desk whilst spending long hours on correspondence!

This portrait of Lord Sandwich, painted by Thomas Gainsborough, can be viewed at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Grape Lane, Whitby.  For this year’s commemoration of the 4th Earl why not knit  a sandwich and enter the Captain Cook Museum competition.  Details and knitting patterns can be found on their blog

Captain Cook Artefacts

Monday, September 12th, 2011
Grape Lane entrance, Whitby

Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Ever wonder where a museum, in particular a small museum, gets its collection and how it continues to expand? Often pieces are given on loan, especially when larger Museums have no room to display them.  The Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby was able to show a collection of pre-contact artects from the Pacific via an unusual route.

Joseph Banks, the Botanist who sailed with Cook, brought back these early pieces on The Endeavour and gave them to his old College, Christ Church, which kept them in a cellar for over 100 years before they finally pased them to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.  They then kept them for another 100 years in their cellar.  They were finally identified by Pitt Rivers staff recently but unfortunately they had no room to display them.   The Captain Cook Museum thus took the opportunity to offer to display them in Whitby.

Many museums around the country loan parts of their collection to venues where they will stand out rather than being held in store.

For more information visit the Captain Cook Memorial Museum website at


Captain Cook Museum

Monday, July 11th, 2011
Image courtesy of Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Image Courtesy of Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Intermezzo are very pleased to be taking part in the Adopt A Museum project in conjunction with Museum140.  Our chosen Museum is the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby in Yorkshire.  The Museum was opened in 1987 and houses a fantastic collection associated with Cook including original letters, paintings, maps, and Pacific artefacts

The Museum is in Grape Lane, Whitby, in the 17th century Grade I listed house owned by the ship owners Captains Henry and John Walker, to which Cook came as a young man to be apprenticed to the younger brother, John, in 1746.

Cook’s success with a varied diet meant he did not lose a single man to scurvy on all his voyages, contrasting with disastrous losses on earlier sea journeys.

The Museum was the winner of Welcome to Yorkshire’s White Rose Award in 2005 and a finalist again in 2008 and is accredited under the UK’s Museums, Libraries and Archives accreditation scheme.

We look forward to providing many more tales from the Museum and would encourage you to a visit a fascinating Museum telling the story of an influential man in British history.

To talk about the Adopt A Museum project on Twitter use the hash tag #adoptamuseum