The Family Tree of Captain James Cook (1728-1779)

Created and updated by Rod Fleck

Notes for Margaret COOK

Buried St. Germain's Churchyard in an unmarked Grave
Margaret was the seventh child born to Grace Cook (nee Pace) and James Cook, she was born at Airyholme Farm, Great Ayton, Nth Yorkshire where her Father was employed as a Bailiff, in the month of July, 1742.
Three Children, only, from this nuptial tie reached maturity and married to produce further issue, her elder Sister Christiana, elder Brother, James; who was later to become the most celebrated Navigator and Circumnavigator in History.
Margaret married James Fleck, a Fisherman/Shopkeeper of Redcar, Nth. Yorkshire, at the Parish Church, Great Ayton by License granted by the Rev. Mr. Hide, on Tuesday the 4th of September, 1764; their marriage was witnessed by her Father, James: Brother, James: and her Uncle by marriage, Solomon Mease.
Their marriage lasted 40 years and produced a total of 8 Children, she died on Tuesday the 16th of October, 1804, after an extended illness and was buried within the St, Germain's Churchyard, Marske-by-the-Sea.
During the latter part of her life the family fell on bad times and letters were forwarded to Sir Joseph Banks requesting that he solicit aid from the Government for their welfare -

(The following are the actual transcripts of the Letters, as extracted from Cook's Papers held by the Mitchell Library, Sydney, ML. C697.)
Originals in the Grey Collection at the Public Library, Auckland, N.Z.

* * * *
No. 17

Redcar, near Guisbrough, Yorkshire,
August 11th, 1801.
Sir Joseph Banks.


Though I have not the honor of being personally known to you yet, as an act of common humanity I trust you will excuse the freedom of this letter; my object being to interest your benevolence in favor of the sister of the great Captain Cook who when living enjoyed so much of your friendship and patronage - His sister Margaret Fleck the wife of James Fleck is a poor fisherman of this town is still living, both she and her husband have been very industrious, and have had a large family, but now being far advanced in years, are unable to earn a competent livelihood and are thereby reduced to a state of great distress - That the sister of so great a man as Captain Cook, who rendered such important service to his Country and to mankind, should in her old age remain in a state of the most object poverty must excite the commiseration of every humane mind and I am sure her case requires only to be known to be instantly relieved - I am persuaded you have both the inclination and the power to obtain from the Government or otherwise such small provision for her and her husband, as will satisfy their wants and rescue them from their present distressed situation.

I make this solicitation purely out of charity to the poor old woman and from regards to the memory of Captain Cook and I shall be extremely happy to transmit you any further information it may be necessary in order to obtain for her any relief, that a proper certificate of her identity, age and circumstances should be produced.

In the hope that this may meet your favourable notice, I am sir

very respectfully
your most obedient & humble servant

Martin Rudd.
one of his Majesty's Justices of
the Peace for the North Riding
of Yorkshire.
Redcar near Guisborough
August 23rd, 1801.


I beg to make my best acknowledgments to you for the polite and ready attention you have paid to my statement of the distressed circumstances of Captain Cook's sister, she has of course followed the advice you have so kindly given, and being an illiterate woman I have written a letter for her to her sister-in-law Mrs Cook, which she has signed - and annexed therto is a certificate from the Minister and Church Warden of this Parish which must amply satisfy Mrs. Cook at to the nature of Mrs. Fleck's situation.

I have taken the liberty of enclosing her letter for your perusal and will you have the goodness to forward it to Mrs. Cook - if a favourable answer should be returned Mrs. Fleck will inform you of it, and return her thanks to you for your friendly attention to her.

If contrary to expectation, no answer should be returned or an unfavourable one I will then transmit to you a regular certificate more detailing Mrs. Fleck's age and circumstances, together with those of her husband to whom she has been married about 40 years and by whom she has had a large family.

If a provision could be extended to him is case he survives his wife, it would be great charity for he has been a very honest industrious man.

If Mrs. Cook should disappoint our hopes and decline any provision for Mr. & Mrs. Fleck in their old age which however I am far from supposing will be the case, I have then no doubt of you humane intercession with Government in their favour proving successful, you will then give another mark of your friendship for our great Navigator, as well an another instance of your known charity and benevolence which induced me to make known her distress to you.

I have the honor to remain, sir.

Very respectfully yours,

Martin Rudd.

- - - - - - - - - - - A letter was received by Martin Rudd addressed to Mrs. Cook, early September, 1801, containing 10 Pounds, from Sir Joseph Banks.
- - - - - - - - - - -

Redcar near Gisbrough,
September 10th, 1801.
Sir Joseph Banks,


I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of your letter enclosing your very handsome and truly charitable donation of ten pounds for Mrs. Fleck the sister of the late Captain Cook - I can assure you it is an act of great and well timed charity for in consequence of a very unfavourable season for the catching of lobsters and crabs, which is now the occupation of her husband, they have been reduced to great distress indeed, and as you rightly conjecture have been in a great measure supported by charitable contributions, it appears to me the best mode of administering your bounty to them not to give them all the money at once but to advance it by weekly allowances as their necessities may require it, I propose to follow that mode of relief and when the money you have so kindly and generously given them in that way all expended I will of course take the liberty of transmitting to you the account and vouchers of the expenditure.

I believe it is now about three weeks since Mrs. Fleck's letter to Mrs. Cook was sent, but I do not find that any answer has yet been received, perhaps she may be absent from home or ill but should no answer be returned in a month or two I think we may conclude that Fleck's application in that quarter does not meet with success - Should that be the case I will as I before mentioned transmit you a proper certificate of Mrs. Fleck's situation and I hope there can be no doubt of your generous and humane application to the Government for a small pension for her proving successful - I am sure you will agree with me that it would be little short of a national disgrace to suffer the sister of Captain Cook to pass her old age in want of the common necessaries of life, or in a parish workhouse.
I have the honour to remain, sir

with very great respect
your most humble & most obedient servant
Martin Rudd.

October 7th, 1801

Sir Joseph Banks.


The bearer of this is Captain James Fleck the eldest son of Margaret Fleck and nephew of the late Captain James Cook - I have desired him to wait upon you to thank you for the humane and charitable attention you have shown to his mother.

He is I believe a very meritorious young man and has already by his industry and good conduct raised himself to be a Master of a Trading Vessel - I think you will find in his countenance a strong resemblance of his late uncle whose genius he also appears to inherit in no small degree.

His conduct to his mother has been exemplary, and I am persuaded you will see with a livery interest a young man so nearly related to our celebrated Navigator, and of whose good conduct I am happy to bear testimony.

I have the honor to remain
with sentiments of very great respect
you most obedient & humble servant.

Martin Rudd.

(Note by Sir Joseph Banks)

The young man tells me that Mrs. Cook has sent him 225 Pounds which enabled him to purchase a share in the Vessel he now commands, Mrs. Cook has told him to pay the interest of this money 11 Pounds 5 shillings a year, to his mother.

He has two brothers, one of whom commands a small vessel, the other is with James Fleck.


Sir Joseph Banks' reply to Martin Rudd, regarding his attempt to solicit aid from the British Government for Margaret Fleck (nee Cook) came early in 1802.

No. 18 Soho Square. January 26th, 1802.

Mr. M. Rudd.


I have been confined to my bed for a long time by illness and have not yet ventured aboard or you would sooner have heard from me.

Before my illness I took an opportunity to state to the Admiralty the case of Mrs. Fleck but I cannot say I have made any impression, I was answered that Government had previously provided for Captain Cook, his wife and all his children, and that if the bounty of the public were in this case to be extended to the other relations it would prove a precedent for applications the extent of which no one could foresee
This I consider as a flat refusal and I believe I have now nothing to expect from the quarter where you were, and myself, expected the most. I was glad to learn that Mrs. Cook whose pension is only 200 Pounds a year, had desired her nephew James to pay the interest of 225 Pounds, which she lent him to enable him to purchase a share in the Ship he is a Master of, to his mother whether this sum of 11 Pounds 5 Shillings with what her sons can spare her will be a sufficient assistance to Mrs. Fleck and her husband you will be best to judge, if not a private subscription, may I think be obtained sufficient to purchase a annuity for the two lives of Mrs. Fleck and her husband, on this subject I shall be glad of your opinion, and am sir,

Your very humble servant,

Sir Joseph Banks.

- - - - - - - - - - -
The reply, thanking Sir Joseph Banks for the generous conduct to Captain Cook's relations, by Martin Rudd for Margaret Fleck was made almost immediately

Mitchell Library NPL:M(C697)
No. 20 Redcar, January, 29th, 1802.

Sir Joseph Banks


I have again to express how much I feel myself honored by your correspondence and I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 26th inst.

The truly humane and benevolent interest you have shown for the poor relations of our great Navigator at the mere solicitations of a stranger must excite the admiration of every friend to virtue.

I was on the point of writing to you to acquaint you with my having just finished the distribution of your private charity to Mrs. Fleck which has been expended in various articles of food and clothing - the vouchers for the expenditure are not worth sending by the post, but for my own satisfaction I beg to sub join a certificate from the Minister of this Parish, of the due and proper distribution of your bounty - In the course of my administering the charities in her behalf I have had a better opportunity than before of discovering the character and conduct of Mrs. Fleck which with extreme concern I must say is not so regular or proper as I was lead to believe, it appears that she is addicted to inebriety and I have much reason to apprehend that what is given in a pecuniary way is converted to improper purpose I confess that when I interested myself in her behalf I was not appriged of her propensity that way being so strong - I knew herself and her family to be in a state of deplorable distress, and it appeared a subject for regret to see the sister of Captain Cook in so distressed a condition hence my application to you, sir, which has produced so conspicuous an instance of your humanity and I trust we at least derive from the business that inward satisfaction which always accompanies a benevolent action, Mrs. Cook, very much to her credit had settled on Mrs. Fleck an annuity of 20 Pounds to be paid to her by her son James Fleck out of the money which Mrs. Cook generously lent him to purchase a Ship.

The reasons alleged by Government for not granting Mrs. Fleck an annuity appear to me very satisfactory, and as her conduct turns out to be not so regular as could be wished, and as she now possesses nearly a competency, I think our exertions in her behalf ought here to terminate.

I beg to repeat my sincere acknowledgments for the condescension and politeness with which you have honored me in this affair, and I remain with sentiments of the

Greatest respect, sir,
your most obedient and very humble servant

Martin Rudd.

I have examined the vouchers produced to me by Martin Rudd esqr., of Redcar for the expenditure of the sum of ten Pounds transmitted to him by the charity of Sir Joseph Banks for the relief of Mrs. Fleck, sister of the late celebrated Navigator Captain Cook, and I do hereby certify that the said benefaction of 10 Pounds has been judiciously and properly administered for the benefit of the said Mrs. Fleck and her Family.

Witness my hand this 29th January, 1802.

Joseph Wilkinson, Minister of Redcar.

No. 21

M. Rudd to Sir Joseph Banks soliciting assistance for James Fleck, Captain Cook's nephew.

Marton Lodge near Stockton on Tees
April 22nd, 1805.


Mr. James Fleck the nephew and heir-at-law of the great Captain Cook brought me your letter of the 8th inst., as you do me the honor to desire him to apply to me to explain the kind of office which he solicits you to obtain for him, and also for my certificate of his ability to discharge in a creditable manner the duties of the office he desires to procure, I am anxious to give you every information in my power.

He is the Master of a coasting vessel which he purchased a few years ago by the kindly aid of Mrs. Cook the widow of Captain Cook who lent him I understand upwards of 200 Pounds for that purpose, from various circumstances but principally through misfortune he is now under the necessity of selling his vessel,

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